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Monkey Manners

Aaaak! Asa scared me.

“Grandma! Grandma!” I cried. “Asa is making scary faces at me. What’s wrong with him.”

Grandma laughed. “You know not to be afraid of Asa,” she said. “He isn’t making a face. He is pointing with his lips.”

“Pointing with his lips?! Why is he doing that?
“In Thailand it is very impolite to point with your fingers. People point with their lips instead,” she said. “Like this.”

linkee 1 pointing

I laughed and laughed. “Grandma, you look so funny! I don’t want to look silly like that. I’ll just point with my foot if I want to point.” I can do that because monkeys have feet with toes like fingers.

“Oh, no, Linkee,” she said. “It’s even worse to point with your feet. Thai people think feet are impolite. You should never show the bottom of your feet, and never put your feet or your shoes anywhere but on the floor. They think it is disgusting when people put them on a table or a chair.”

“But I’m a monkey and we monkeys always use our feet,” I said.

“Monkey manners and Thai manners are different,” she said. “If you don’t want to point with your mouth, you can point with your chin – or just not point at all.”

Just then my friend Andy stomped in and plopped down in the chair. I could see right away that he was mad.

Santii

“Grandma, what’s the matter Andy?” I asked.

“Andy is in trouble,” she said. “He misbehaved in school today.”

“What did he do?” I asked.

“He walked in front of his teacher without bowing his head,” Grandma told me.

I was amazed! “That’s not bad,” I said. “He shouldn’t get in trouble for that!” Grandma sat down with me and explained.

“In America that’s not bad at all. Teachers don’t expect students to bow their heads when they walk past. Here in Thailand, though, it shows respect. Andy knew that. When he strutted past his teacher with his shoulders back and his head up, he was acting like a tough guy and showing his teacher that he didn’t have to obey her. That’s why he is in trouble.”

I sighed. I don’t like my friends to be in trouble, and Andy is in trouble a lot.

“Grandma,” I said. “That reminds me. We aren’t supposed to bow to anyone but God, right?”

“Of course, Linkee!”

“But you bow your head and make praying hands when you greet people here. Isn’t that bad, too?”

“Oh, Linkee, that’s very different,” she said. “People here don’t shake hands. They do the sa-wa-dee.” She showed me how to do it. “It doesn’t mean that we are bowing to them like a god. That’s just the way they show respect and greet people here.   There is one time we don’t give the sa-wa-dee, though,” she said. “People here do it in front of any statue of Buddha. We don’t do that, because that WOULD be offensive to God. We just stand by quietly when our Buddhist friends bow to Buddha – and we pray to our true God that He would save them.”

“Okay,” I said. “I will do the sa-wa-dee, too. Sa waa dii, kaa.”

Linkee Sawadee

“Good Linkee, “ she said. “Except that only girls and ladies say ‘kaa.’ Boys and men say “krop.’ Or ‘kop.”

“Why?” I asked. “What does kaa and krop mean, anyway. I hear everyone say it all the time.”

“It doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “It just makes the sentence more polite.”

“Polite, polite,” I grumbled. “ I don’t like being polite, especially when Thai polite is so silly.”

“Being polite is important,” Grandma said. “We want people to listen to us when we tell them about Jesus. If they think we are rude, they won’t want to hear us.”

“But that’s not fair that we have to do things their way instead of the American way or the monkey way,” I said.

“It’s not about being fair,” she said. “It’s about Jesus. If we love people we will take the trouble to learn their ways and use the manners they like. Then we can be friends and they will want to hear about how Jesus is the true God.”

“Well,” I said. “Someday you will have to come to the jungle with me and I will teach you monkey manners. You will have to point with your toes and peel bananas with your feet if you want to be polite like a monkey.”

Linkee banana

Grandma laughed. “I don’t know if I can be monkey polite. My feet don’t work that well. But, really, Linkee, being polite is about being unselfish and thinking of others. We don’t eat with our mouths open because other people don’t want to see our chewed food. We don’t smack while we eat because it is annoying for people to listen to that noise. There are a few special things to learn for each different culture, but being polite is mainly about thinking of other people and treating them like you would like to be treated.”

“That sounds familiar,” I said.

“It should!” Grandma said. “We learned that verse in Sunday School. Matthew 7:12 says “Whatsoever you would that men do unto you, do ye even so unto them.”That’s the Jesus way to be polite.”

“I think you’d better tell that to Andy, cause he still looks mad,” I said.

Grandma sighed. “I will. If he was thinking about his teacher and how she felt, he wouldn’t have been rude to her.”

“Tell him to be polite the Jesus way,” I suggested. “Then he won’t be in trouble all the time.”

“Yes,” Grandma said. She smiled. “And I will remind you, too, Linkee. All of us need to think of others first and to be polite the Jesus way.”Mo

 

Adventures with Friendship and Forgiving

I like Seattle! I had a good time there with my friends Jesse and Sylvia. Jesse and I are best buds and we went everywhere together.

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One day we went to the movies. I had never been to a movie before. At first it scared me. It was so big and so loud!

“Don’t be afraid, Linkee,” Jesse said. “It’s just like cartoons on TV, only bigger.” Jesse held me tightly, so I sat down and watched the movie with him. I laughed and laughed at the movie. It was called “Inside Out.”

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We went to the beach and looked for shells and sea glass. I didn’t find any, but that’s probably because I was too busy running and jumping and having fun.

But at the Fort Warden Park, our good times almost came to an end. At first it was lots of fun. We went in the bunkers where the army stored missles and stuff.

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It was dark in there, but I wasn’t afraid. I held tight to Jesse’s neck and we explored. Then Grandpa played robots with us. He pretended to be a robot and chased us. We laughed and laughed.

We went on a hike down a trail. We saw a big dog. I don’t like big dogs with big teeth.

“Don’t worry, Linkee,” Jesse said. “I won’t let the dog hurt you.”

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We found some cherry trees! We climbed up to pick the berries.

“Hang on to me, Jesse,” I said “I want to reach over there to pick those pretty red cherries.”

“Okay, Linkee,” Jesse said. But as I reached for the cherries, somethiing went wrong. Jesse dropped me! Down, down, down, I went, bouncing through the branches.

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Ouch! It hurt! I finally grabbed a branch and held on. I climbed down the tree and Grandpa picked me up.

“I don’t like Jesse anymore,” I cried. “He dropped me and now I hurt.” My arm felt bruised and my leg was bleeding.

“I’m sorry, Linkee,” Jesse said. He looked sad. “I didn’t mean to drop you. When you stretched so far, I couldn’t hold you.”

“Well, I still hurt!” I said, rubbing my sore arm. “You aren’t my friend any more.”

Jesse looked like he wanted to cry. I wanted to cry, too. My leg was bleeding, and I’m scared when I see blood.

Grandpa took me on his knee. He washed my bleeding leg with water from his water bottle.

“Will it be okay?” I asked.

“Your leg will be fine,” Grandpa said. “See, it has already stopped bleeding. But you have hurt something else.”

“What? Is it my arm? Is something hurt on the inside?” I asked.

“No, Linkee,” he said. “You have hurt your special friendship with Jesse.”

“I didn’t hurt it. Jesse is the one who made me fall. He should have been more careful.”

“Yes,” Grandpa said. “But he is sorry. He didn’t mean to hurt you. Jesus tells us to forgive those who hurt us.”

“Well, I don’t want to forgive him,” I said. “I’m still mad.”

“That’s up to you, Linkee. But remember all the fun you had together? Think about all the times Jesse played with you and the times he kept you from being scared. Friendship is a precious thing. Jesse loves you. I think it is silly to throw away friendship and love just because someone accidentally hurt you.”

I thought about that. Now that my arm and leg weren’t hurting so much, I stopped being angry. Jesse is my good friend, and I know he didn’t mean to drop me. I ran over and gave him a hug.

“I forgive you, Jesse,” I said.

He smiled. “Here are some cherries, Linkee,” he said. “I saved the reddest ones for you.

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After that we found a big field, just right for doing handstands. I did them the best of all, because monkeys are good at things like that. Sylvia stood on her hands, too.

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We had lots more adventures on our visit. We went on the ferry to the city from Bremerton where Jesse lives. I liked riding on the big boat.

We went to a toy store and found my cousin, Pi. That’s short for Pirate, because Pi likes to dress like a pirate.

“Ahoy, Matey,” Pi said. “Don’t you worry. I will keep Jesse company while you are back in Thailand.”

I gave Jesse a hug goodbye. I will miss him, but I can talk to him on Skype. I will be seeing him soon.

Grandpa was right. It’s silly to stay mad – especially when your friend is sorry. We would have missed out on so much fun! I’m glad that Jesse and I are still best buds.

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Linkee’s Church Adventure

I was so excited I couldn’t sit still.  I jumped from the table to Grandpa’s head and on to Molly’s shoulder.  She grabbed me and held me tight.

“No, no, Linkee,” she said.  She said something else, too, but it was in Thai, so I didn’t understand it.  I think she was telling me to calm down.

I like living here in Thailand with Granda and Grandma.  I especially like it because Bang, Andy, and Molly live here, too. So do the teenagers, William and Preston. They like to have me around, and so do all the other kids who come to the mission house in Chiang Mai. I don’t speak Thai and they don’t speak monkey, but we still are friends.

I was excited on Sunday because my new friends were coming to church.  They are stuffed monkeys, just like me. They are even gibbon monkeys.

But then I began to worry a little. “Grandma,” I said. “What if my friends don’t like our church?  Maybe I shouldn’t have asked them to come.”

Grandma looked surprised. “Why wouldn’t they like our church?”

I scratched my head and my armpit. (We monkeys do that when we are thinking.) “It’s not like the churches we went to in America. We don’t have a church building. We just meet in the living room of our house.”

“Oh, Linkee, that isn’t important! We are meeting to worship our wonderful God and to learn about Him. The type of building where we meet doesn’t matter to God.”

Well, I thought, it might matter to my friends, Blinkee and Winkee, but I didn’t say it to Grandma.

“But they might not like our singing,” I said.  Our singing does sound funny.  Some people sing in Thai and some in Lahu. Some sing in English and some even sing in Spanish when the other children’s home is here.  Their missionaries are from Mexico so those kids speak Thai and Spanish.

Grandma laughed. “We do sound a little odd, but we are singing to the Lord.  He knows all the languages and understands what we are singing from our hearts. He is happy to hear us.”

Well, He might be happy to hear us, but I don’t know about Blinkee and Winkee. I didn’t tell Grandma, but I thought they might not like the preaching, either. Grandpa will say a sentence in English and then his helper, Lek, says it in either Thai or Lahu — or in both. It depends on who comes that day. It takes a long time.  What if my friends get bored?

Suddenly I wasn’t excited anymore. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked my friends to come.

Too late. They were at the door. I ran and hid under the staircase while Molly let them in. I didn’t want to come out to see them.  They wouldn’t want to be my friends any more after they came to our church service.

“Linkee, where are you?” Blinkee shouted. “Come out and see us right now!  We don’t know anyone here and we want to see you.”  Blinkee is kind of bossy that way.  I stayed under the stairs.

I heard Blinkee calling in a loud voice, getting angrier and angrier.  I heard something else, too. It was little shy Winkee. He was crying.  I felt mean hiding under the stairs while my friend was sad. I came out to see what was wrong.  He was so relieved to see me!

Church hug

“I was scared, Linkee,” he sniffed. “I’ve never been to church. I didn’t know if anyone would like me. Then you weren’t there and I was afraid I wouldn’t have any friends to take care of me.”

I gave Winkee a big hug. “I will take care of you,” I said. “And I think you will like our church.”

“How about me?” Blinkee said.  Blinkee never lets you forget about him.

“I think you will like it, too,” I said.

church

And they did.  We sang loud in monkey while the others sang the hymns in their own languages. Then we sat quietly while Grandpa preached and Lek translated it into Thai. Afterwards, Asa who leads the singing, said everything again in Lahu in case someone didn’t know Thai well enough to catch everything.

Molly and Linkee and friends

After church we ate bananas and coconuts and played with the kids. We had a good time.

“I like your church, Linkee,” Blinkee announced. “I will come back next week.”

“I think I will, too,” Winkee said in his soft, shy voice. “If you want me, too.”

I gave him another hug. “Of course I want you!  We have the best church in the world, and I want all my friends to come.”

 

Our church sounds different than yours, doesn’t it kids?  But we are really all the same. It’s just a bit different in another country with different languages and customs.  The main thing is that we come to worship God from our hearts.  Do you have friends who don’t go to church?  Could you invite them to go with you next time?  How can you make them feel welcome and happy?  I love you and miss you very much!

Grandma

Linkee and the Elephant Adventure

Oh, no!  The elephant’s trunk came closer and closer. It looked like a big snake.  It almost grabbed me.  He thought I was something to eat.  Save me, Grandpa!

I thought I would like elephants. I’m a jungle monkey — or at least real monkeys who are like me live in the jungle.  Lots of elephants live here in Thailand and I have been telling Grandma and Grandpa for a long time that we should go and see some.  They have been very busy, though.  They haven’t done any of the fun things people come to Thailand to do.

“We aren’t here on vacation, Linkee,” Grandpa said. “We have work to do, serving Jesus.”

But finally it was time for a little vacation.  Grandma and Grandpa brought me with them to a place called Pai.

“Pie!” I said. “I like pie!  Do they bake lots of pies there?  I like banana cream pie best.”

Grandma laughed.  “No, Linkee,” she said.  “It sounds like “pie,” but it is a Thai word, “Pai” and they don’t make pies there. There are lots of things to do here, though. I think you will like it.”

And I do! We are staying in a little cabin in the country.  The owners of the cabins are nice and suggested lots of things for Grandma and Grandpa to do.  Here is a picture of me with my new friend, Noi.

Elephant Noi

She told Grandma and Grandpa they should go to ride the elephants.  I always wanted to ride an elephant!

“I don’t know, Linkee,” Grandma said.  “I’m afraid you might get hurt.”

“Monkeys ride elephants all the time,” I said indignantly.

“But those are real monkeys,” she said. “We have to take special care of you because you are a stuffed monkey.”

I pouted.  I wanted to do everything a real monkey can do.  I wanted to ride an elephant.

When we got to the place the elephants lived, I saw something I liked, right away.  Bananas!

Elephant Linkee banana“Linkee,” Grandpa said. “Those aren’t for you.  They are for the elephants.”

“Well, they don’t need to eat all of them,” I said. “Look how many there are.”

Grandpa picked me up, anyway.  The elephant came over to see us.

Elephant with Linkee

He was so BIG!  He was way bigger than me. He was way bigger than Grandpa!  He was bigger than a car.  He was HUGE!  His snaky trunk came right up to me and sniffed.

Elephant Linkee 4

“That smells like a banana,” he said. “It doesn’t look like a banana, but I will eat it anyway.”

Oh, no!  I didn’t want to go in that elephants big mouth and get crushed by those giant teeth.

“Help, Grandpa,” I yelled.  “Get me away from the elephant.”

Grandpa did.  “I don’t want to ride the elephant after all,” I said. “I don’t think you should ride it, either. It’s too big and it might eat you.”

“I don’t think he will eat us,” Grandpa said. “And if you hadn’t been eating his food, he wouldn’t have thought you were a banana and tried to eat  you.”

Maybe not, but I still didn’t want to get close to that big guy.

“May I take pictures with your camera instead of riding?” I asked.

“That’s a good idea!” Grandma said. “You can ride with the elephant’s owner on her motorcycle.”

First Grandma and Grandpa climbed up on a tall platform.  The elephant came by and they climbed on. It looked scary!

Elephant ride 2

Grandma looked a little nervous. She held on tight!  They were up so high.  They were up near the power lines. The cars went by way below.

elephant ride 4

The elephant went down to the river.  Hang on, Grandma and Grandpa!

Elephant ride 5

The elephant carried them down into the river.

Elephant ride 6

 

Then, do you know what it did?  It dumped them in the water!

elephant ride 9

 

elephant ride 8

I was glad that I wasn’t riding it, too. I don’t know how to swim.  They do, though, and soon scrambled back on top of the elephant.  Then it rolled over and dumped them in the water again.

elephant ride 7

“I think I will ride back on the motorcycle with you, Linkee,” Grandma said.  Grandpa wanted to ride back on the elephant.   The driver let him ride the elephant all by himself.   He wasn’t scared at all.

Elephant ride 12

Grandma and Grandpa had fun.  Maybe I will ride an elephant next time.  But I won’t eat the elephant’s bananas again.

Your friend,

Linkee

Hi kids!

Do you like people who take your things without asking?  That’s not a good way to make friends.  Linkee should have stayed out of the elephant’s food. Then they would have been friends and Linkee could have had a nice ride.  He probably wouldn’t have liked getting wet, though.

Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  (Matt. 7:12) If you treat people as you would like to be treated, you will probably make lots of friends.  At least, no one will want to eat you!

I miss all of you lots and lots.  When you come to see us, maybe we will take you on an elephant ride, too.

I love you!


Grandma

Linkee’s Bad Day Adventure

Finally!  I waited so long for this day!  It was National Children’s Day in Thailand.  I LOVE playing with the children.  They have been in school, so I haven’t had a chance to see them much. They leave for school early in the morning before monkeys even wake up. They are gone until almost 5 o’clock at night because they travel so far to school.

But on Children’s Day I would get to spend ALL day doing fun things with them.  Everything is free for kids on Children’s Day.  We were going to an air show at the airport, and then to the zoo, and then to the play area at the Central Festival Mall.

I climbed all over the truck and jumped up and down on the roof of the cab — I was so excited.  “When will the kids come?” I asked Grandma again.

She laughed. “Linkee, I told you about five times already that they will be here soon.  Settle down!”

But I didn’t feel like settling down.  I wanted to start having fun NOW.  I looked down the lane to see if the kids were coming yet.  You know what I saw? The BIG kids. Not my friends Supucket and Arlong and Mai and Nah Say and the rest.

“It looks like the big boys are coming with us today,” Grandpa said.  “The little kids must be riding in Brother Anond’s truck.”

What!  I like the big boys okay, but they don’t play with me.  The even act embarrassed if Grandma takes my picture with them. I wanted my FRIENDS!  I sulked all the way to the air show, but at least I would get to hang out with them once we got there.

Wow!  I never saw so many people!  Everyone in Thailand must have been at the air show.  We saw lots of children, but we couldn’t find our kids.  Brother Anond must have left at a different time, because we couldn’t find his truck.

McDonalds

“Maybe they are at McDonald’s,” I said.  We looked, but didn’t see them. We only saw this statue of Ronald McDonald. “Look, he is praying!” I said with surprise.  “No,” Grandma said, “That is the sa-wa-dii. The do that in Thailand when they say ‘hello’ to show respect.”  No one ever did that to me, but I guess people don’t usually show respect to monkeys.

Ronald

We walked for miles and saw lots of airplanes, but we never did find my friends.  By now I was in a bad mood.  I looked forward to this day for so long, and now a big part of it was wasted.  I didn’t even want to look at the airplanes.  We piled back into the truck and went to the zoo.

“Don’t worry, Linkee,” Grandma said. “I’m sure we will see the kids there.”

But we didn’t!  The zoo was so crowded, that we never did find them.  I met a lemur.

Lemur

“I’ve never seen an animal like you,” he said.

“Well, you never shopped in the gift shop then, because there were lots of animals like me there,” I said.

“No,” he said. “I’ve never been in a gift shop.”

“That’s because they don’t let animals like you in,” I said. “Nah, n-a-a-h.”

“Liinkee, you aren’t being kind!” Grandma told me. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be kind. I felt mean because my special day was turning out to be so disappointing.

We didn’t see the kids, but we saw an ostrich. Grandpa lifted me up so I could see it better.

ostrich

“What is that thing?” it asked. “Is it something to eat?”  “Grandpa, I think we better go,” I said.

We saw an elephant.

elephant

It was big but friendly. I didn’t want an elephant friend, though. I wanted my children friends.  I wouldn’t talk to him.  I saw a real Gibbon monkey like me.

Gibbon

I wouldn’t talk to him, either. We saw this funny place.

Poo poo

“I wonder what kinds of things they make from animal poo?” Grandpa said.

“I wonder who would want something made from animal poo!” Grandma said.

I was so upset, I didn’t even smile and beg to go see what was in the poo gift shop. We walked and walked, and looked at crowds of children until our eyes ached, but we never did find our kids.

Surely we would find them at the Central Festival play area.  It has games and things to climb on and things to bounce on. It is a fun place for a monkey. Kids, too.

Then the worst thing happened!  The big boys didn’t want to go.  “Mai mii baht,”  Wichi said.  The others nodded.

“What did he say?” I asked Grandma.  “The boys don’t have money,” she said. “They are too big for the play place and the mall isn’t fun without money.”

“Well, give them some money then and let’s go,” I said.  Grownups sometimes don’t think of the obvious answer to problems.

“We already gave them the cash we had with us,” she said. “And the mall is expensive. It would take a lot of baht for them all to buy even something small.” Can you believe it?  We went home!  My special day was such a disappointment that I cried.  Loudly.

Grandma held me and patted me on the back. She spoke kindly, but  firmly to me.  “Linkee, I’m sorry you were disappointed.  Some days are like that. You will have many days in your life that will not be like you planned. You can choose to be happy with what you have instead of what you expected, or you can choose to be miserable and to make everyone else miserable.  I think if you hadn’t been thinking of what you DIDN’T have today, you would have enjoyed being with the big boys and seeing the airplanes.  You would have made new friends with the animals at the zoo.  Grandpa and I would have had lots more fun with a happy monkey instead of an angry whining one, too.”

I thought about that. If I wasn’t mad about missing my friends, I probably would have been climbing all over those airplanes. And I never got that close to live animals before. I could have had new friends.  Grandpa and Grandma looked very tired. I felt bad that I had given them a hard day.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  I gave Grandma a hug. “I wish I had enjoyed the airplane show and the zoo instead of pouting.”

“That’s okay, Linkee,” she said.  “And you have tomorrow.  You never know what fun thing will happen tomorrow.”

And she was right!  The girls came over to wash their hair. There are pesky little bugs here that keep on getting in their hair. Grandma washes it for them with special shampoo and puts funny hats on them. They played with me and put a hat on me, too.  We had lots of fun.  Little Gracie stayed all afternoon and played with me.  She gave me lots of hugs. What a good day!

Linkee and girls

I’ll try to remember when I have a disappointing day to look for things to enjoy anyway.  And I’ll wait to see if tomorrow is a better day!

Your friend,

Linkee

Hi Kids,

Do you ever have disappointing days like Linkee did?  There will be days like that!  But we know that God is in charge of all the things that happen to us.  They might not be what WE expect, but they are what He planned. We can either be mad and sad, or we can choose to be happy with what He gives us.  Did you know that — that you can choose to be happy or sad?  If you take the day God gives you, and choose to be content with it, you will have lots more fun  And you never know the wonderful things God has for you. It might be tomorrow!

I love you — and miss you s-o-o-o much!

Grandma

Linkee and the Angry Flower Adventure

Thanksgiving again!

In the U.S., people only get one day a year for Thanksgiving, but here in Thailand, we have them all through the month of November.  This time we went to a village high, high, up in the mountains.  Grandma thought it was very pretty and took a lot of pictures. I guess it was pretty, but I was more interested in finding something interesting to do.

I wanted to see the decorations.  Last week at Na Hui they decorated with fruit.  When Thanksgiving was over, we took the fruit down and ate it.  That’s the kind of decoration I like!

But the Plang Hoc church only had flowers. The food on the offering table didn’t look very interesting to me, either.  It was mainly rice and bags of brown stuff.

“Where are the bananas?” I asked Grandma.

“They don’t have as many bananas here,” she told me. “This high in the mountains they mainly grow tea.  Those bags of brown leaves there on the table are bags of tea people brought for an offering.”

Well, I like bananas better.  You can’t eat tea.  I wondered if you could eat flowers?

“Na Say,” I said. “Lift me up so I can look at the flower decorations.”

She did, “Linkee, you are just supposed to smell the flowers,” she said. “I don’t think you are supposed to play with them.”

Linkee Plang Hoc 1

I wasn’t going to play with them!  I was going to eat them.  But I smelled them first to see if they smelled like something to eat.  Umm.  Maybe not.

I decided to forget about eating for a while and just play with the kids.  Danosong always has a fun game to play.

Plang Hoc Danosong

Ma Li and Pa La Di played hide and seek with me.  They tried to hide behind Grandma’s fan, but I found them.

Plang Hoc Ma Li and Pa La Di

Selah and Mai wanted a turn playing with me, too.

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But I was getting hungry!  Maybe those flowers wouldn’t be too bad.  They LOOKED good.  I grabbed one to test it.

Plang Hoc flowers

As I pulled on it, it made a funny noise — kind of  a buzzing sound. No it didn’t. Something ELSE made a buzzing sound. It was a bee!  It was in the flower I pulled out of the flower arrangement, and it wasn’t happy!  It flew right onto my nose and stung me!

Ow!  It hurt so much! It felt like my nose was on fire.

“Grandma,” I cried. “My nose is burning off!  What will I do without a nose?”

Grandma dug in her big bag to find her ointment. “I know it hurts,” she said. “But your nose won’t really burn off.”

“Well, it feels like it,” I sniffed. “Why did that mean bee have to sting me?”

“Well, Linkee,” she said. “Were you supposed to pull a flower out of the arrangement?”

“I was just going to eat one little flower,” I said.  Wowee, my nose felt like one big pain in the middle of my face!

“You knew better than to eat the decorations.  They aren’t a snack. They are to make the church pretty.  The people want to thank God for being so good to them, so they do their best to make the church look special.”

“Well, I don’t think it looks so special,” I said. “It looks very plain to me. It needs some paint and they don’t even have chairs to sit on.”

“None of that matters to God, Linkee,” she said. “What matters is that they give their best to Jesus.  That’s what He cares about.  He knows they don’t have much, but they give out of the little bit they have because they love Him so much.”

The ointment was making the pain go away, so I didn’t feel quite so grouchy. I guessed that if God liked the decorations so much I shouldn’t eat them after all.

The kids were sorry I was hurt.

“You can have some of these berries, Linkee,” Supucket said. “I found them growing behind the church building. We have a bush like that behind our dorm and we like to pick and eat them.”

He handed me a green berry, about the size of a cherry. I bit into it. It was sour!

“Quick, take a drink,” Supucket said. He handed me  a bottle of water. I took a big gulp — and suddenly I tasted something sweet.

Supucket smiled. “That’s the way these berries are.  They taste bad when you eat them, but after you drink water, you have a good taste in your mouth.”

I thought it was really strange and did it again. Yes, it worked!  But I decided I didn’t like the sour more than I did like the sweet, so I let Supucket eat the rest of the berries.

After the service, we had lunch. Guess what? We had bananas for dessert!

Your friend,

Linkee

Linkee and the Mysterious Pig in the Bedroom

“Grandpa, come quick!” I yelled.  “There is a pig in the bedroom.”

“Linkee, how could a pig be in the bedroom?  I think you made a mistake,” he said.

“There IS a pig. I can hear it,” I said. “They sound just like that when I go down to the pigpen to tease them.”

“Linkee,” he said sternly. “You know you are not supposed to be out wandering around without a grownup.  It’s too dangerous for you.  And you especially have been warned to stay away from those pigs.”

Oops, I hadn’t meant to tell Grandpa about that.  I know I’m not supposed to tease the pigs, but they are so funny when they see me jumping around on their fence.  When I throw things in the pen, they run and make funny snorty noises — just like the one in the bedroom was making right then.

“Just come and see,” I said desperately. “That pig will make a big mess in the bedroom.”  It’s true! Their pen stinks and is always nasty.

Grandpa got up from the table where he was studying and came with me to the bedroom. I jumped on his shoulder so the pig wouldn’t get me when he opened the door.

“Be careful,” I said.  “He may run out and knock you over. One almost knocked me off the fence one time.”

“Linkee,” Grandpa said in his warning voice.  He was going to talk to me about being naughty — but I wanted to find out about the pig.

I hung on tight around Grandpa’s neck. He opened the door — and we didn’t see a pig. We saw Grandma!  She sounded just like a pig! She was saying “nnnggaaaa,”  “nngggguhhh,”  “nnnuugggnnn”

I almost fell off Grandpa’s shoulder, I was so surprised.  “Grandma,” I cried. “Why are you making pig noises?”

Grandma laughed. “I’m not trying to make pig noises, Linkee,” she said. “I’m trying to make Thai sounds.  They have sounds that we don’t have in English.  This is one of them.”

What a surprise!  “Do the Thai people talk like pigs?  I haven’t heard the children talk like that.”

“I don’t think I’m saying it quite right,” she said. “This word is the name of a fruit.  It’s called “nga.” We are supposed to say it through our noses. That’s what makes it sound piggy.”

I couldn’t imagine what kind of fruit would have a name like that, but it was time to go to Thanksgiving at Na Hui.  The children were glad to see me.

Image

Grandma stuck me in her purse while she took pictures of the kids.  She didn’t see Gracie come over and pick me out of the purse.  Gracie gave me a big hug.  She likes me a lot!  I liked the hug, but I was worried I would be left behind, because Gracie was staying home that day.  The other kids saw, though, and pointed me out to Grandma.

Pig Linkee girls

“Linkee has to come with me today,” she told Gracie. “Put him in my bag, please.”  Gracie is little, but I think she understands some English. She put me back in the purse.

We got to ride in Grandpa’s new pickup.  I wanted to ride in the back with the kids, but Grandma thought I would be safer up front.

We didn’t have to travel very far to this Thanksgiving.  We heard lots and lots of singing, like always. Then Grandpa preached and Brother Anond translated what he said into Lahu and into Thai.  HE didn’t sound like a pig.

Then it was lunch time.  There was lots and lots of food. And there was a big plate of nga.  This is what it looked like.

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They looked like  strawberries with green hair. Grandma gave me one, but I couldn’t figure out how to eat it.

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“I will help you,” she said. She cut it open, and out popped the juicy, white insides. It tasted sweet and yummy.

“I think it should have a nicer-sounding name,” I said. “Not like an angry pig.”

“That reminds me, Linkee,”  Grandpa said. “We need to talk about someone disobeying and teasing the pigs.”

Oops! I did it again.  I accidentally told about being naughty.  Why do I do that? Grandpa might have forgotten about it.  But I had reminded him, so I had to stay in the room that night. I couldn’t go out to play with the children.

“We want you to remember to do right,” Grandpa said. “We don’t want you to get hurt.  You might not always understand why we tell you that you may not do some things, but we always have a good reason.  You must trust us and obey.”

I decided I might as well obey. It seems like Grandpa and Grandma always find out when I’ve been naughty, even when they don’t see me. I wonder why that happens?  Grandma brought home some nga. Maybe she will let me have some for a snack when she comes back from playing with the kids.

Your friend,

Linkee

Hi kids,

I think I sound funny, too.   Can you say “nga?”  If you say “song” and leave off the “so”  you will have the “ng” sound.  Nga really do taste yummy!

Have you ever done something in secret, like Linkee did, and then someone finds out? I think God lets mothers and fathers — and grandmas and grandpas — find out secret things, because He wants to help us raise our children right. We want to keep you safe and happy!

Sometimes God will tell you things in His word that are hard to understand. Sometimes it will be difficult to obey.  Remember that God always sees you.  He only forbids the things that are bad and will hurt you.  He disciplines you because He loves you.

I love you, too — lots and lots!

Grandma

Linkee’s Scary Jungle Adventure

Real monkeys!  I could hardly wait to see them!  I’m a stuffed, toy monkey, not a real one, but I always wanted to meet the real thing. Would they look like me?  Would they be glad to see me?  I like being a toy and living with lots of children, but sometimes I think being a real monkey and living wild in the jungle would be better.  Just think, real monkeys don’t have to obey any rules.

I heard that there were two real monkeys in the village of Longkhoad.  Brother Anond told the children, “Don’t get near the monkeys. They will bite you.”  But they wouldn’t bite me, I was sure.  I hoped I would get to see them.  Maybe they would play with me. Maybe they would say, “Come live with us in the jungle.”  I would never have to obey.  I wouldn’t have to sit and be quiet. A wild monkey can act wild.  That sounded like fun to me.

And I did meet real monkeys. But they got me into big trouble!

We went to a Thanksgiving service in a village called Longkhoad.  All the children and all the workers at the children’s home went by taxi. Well, they call them taxis, but they are really just pickup trucks. They really squeeze all the kids in the back as tightly as they can!

I rode with Grandma and Grandpa and Brother Anond in the Brother Anond’s pickup.  It took a long time to get there as we traveled along winding curves through the mountains.

At last we got to the village.  “Where is the turkey?” I asked Grandma. “Don’t they have turkey for Thanksgiving here?”

“It’s a different kind of Thanksgiving,” she told me. “They don’t just have one day to celebrate like they do in America.  Instead each church has a special day to give thanks. They invite all the people in the village and from other churches. They have special services with singing and preaching. Then they eat special Thanksgiving food — but it isn’t turkey and dressing!”

We went into the church and I saw right away that something was missing.

“Where are the chairs?” I asked.

“They don’t have enough chairs for everyone,” Grandpa said. “They only have a few.  We will collect an offering today to buy more chairs. Today everyone will sit on the floor.”

Longkhoad Thanksgiving

And they did!  Would you like to sit on the floor during church?  I liked it, but Grandma sat on a chair when they offered it to her.

I saw something else interesting.  Bananas!  Why were there bananas on the pulpit?

“The things by the pulpit are Thanksgiving offerings,” Grandma told me. “People bring rice and fruit and vegetables they have grown as a ‘thank you’ present to God.”

I was surprised. “Does God eat bananas?” I asked.

Grandma smiled. “No, Linkee.  The church gives the bananas and other food to the children’s home.  The Bible says that when we give to poor people with our hearts full of love for Jesus, it is just the same as giving it to God.  God sees that they brought what they have, though it isn’t very much.  He will bless them for loving Him and giving this gift for him.”

Gracie reached her arms up to Grandma, and Grandma knew just what she wanted. She wanted to play with me.  Grandma handed me down to her and Gracie hugged me.  Now was my chance.

“Gracie,” I whispered to her. “Take me over to the bananas.”  I liked bananas.  And I was hungry. I would like to eat one now.”

Longkhoad Linkee Gracie took me over and sat me down right on top of the bananas.  I started to take one,but then I remembered something. God sees us all the time — and I didn’t want Him to see me take His banana. I decided I wasn’t THAT hungry.

The Lahu people like to sing, and they sang and sang. There were a lot of children there, and they sang a lot of special songs, too.  Grandpa preached about being thankful, and Brother Anond repeated what he said in the funny Lahu language.

Then it was time to eat.  There wasn’t a turkey, but there were strange balls of pork and many vegetables I didn’t recognize.  I wasn’t hungry because I thought of something.  Now, while Grandma and Grandpa were busy, I could go and find the real monkeys.

The children played with me while they were waiting for their food.  When no one was looking I slowly, carefully, I edged closer to the door, and then slipped outside. As quick as a flash I scampered across the churchyard and into the jungle trees.  Up, up, up I climbed.  Surely the monkeys would be around here in the trees. I looked for a long time. Then I saw them.

Hylobates_lar_pair_of_white_and_black_01 But something was wrong. They didn’t look friendly.

“What’s that thing?” the white monkey asked.

“I don’t know,” a black monkey answered. “Do you think it is good to eat?”

“No, no,” I cried. “I’m a monkey, too.”

“You don’t look like a monkey to me,” said White Monkey.  “Your fur doesn’t look right.”

“Yeah,” said Black Monkey. “And you are too little to be a real monkey.”

“I’m not a REAL monkey,” I said.  “I’m a toy monkey.”  I was nervous. Those monkeys looked MEAN.

“I want to know what you are,” Black Monkey said. “If I bite off your arm I can find out what is inside you.”

My stuffing felt all quivery.  Those monkeys were big. They had sharp teeth. They could bite off my arm with no problem.  But they were bigger than I am.  How could I get away?  I turned to run away.  I slipped and fell out of the tree.  Down, down, down I fell — splat to the ground.

Oof!  That hurt!  But I had to get up and run because the monkeys climbed down the tree almost as fast as I fell. I ran and ran to get away.  Could I get back to Grandma and Grandpa before the monkeys ate me?

“There you are, Linkee,” Supucket said. “Grandma is looking everywhere for you. It is time to go.”

He picked me up and carried me with him.  Would the monkeys chase Supucket, too?  I looked back.  No, they turned back and climbed up the tree.

I hugged Supucket and was happy to climb in the taxi with him.  I didn’t like meeting real monkeys after all.  It is hard to be quiet and I like to act wild, but I decided I didn’t want to live wild in the jungle after all.  It was too scary!

Longkhoad Supucket

I was happy to ride back to the children’s home where I am safe and loved.

Your friend,

Linkee

Hi kids!

I’m glad Linkee survived his adventure and is safe at home!  What do you think he learned during his jungle adventure?  Do you think rules are bad or good?  We don’t always like to obey the rules, but they keep us safe.  That’s why we have them!

What did you think about the Thanksgiving service?  How is it different from the Thanksgiving you will have?  I hope one thing is the same. I hope you will be thankful to God for all the good things He has given you.

I miss all of you so much!  I have lots and lots of children here, but I miss my own special kids!  I love you!

Grandma

 

 

Linkee says “Hello”

Hello Linkee in bag

I gasped for air!  Whew!  I thought I was going to smother down in the bottom of Grandma’s giant purse.  I squirmed and wiggled until I was on top again.

“Be careful, Linkee,” she said. “I don’t want you to fall out.  If you got lost now, we would never find you.”  She stuffed me down a little further in the bag.  I didn’t want to get lost. We had already said goodbye to all our friends and now we were ready to get on the airplane.  I had never been on an airplane before, and I thought it was just a little bit scary.

Hello Linkee in airplane

Well, it was mostly boring.  I spent lots of time asleep under the seat.  There was nothing to do and nobody to play with. At last we arrived — in Thailand.

Hello Linkee airport

I could tell right away it was different.  Everyone was talking, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  There were signs everywhere, but they were in a strange, curly alphabet — not the abc’s like I had been learning.

Grandma had told me I would like it here, and I do!  That’s because there are always lots of kids around to play with me.  I don’t know what they are saying when they talk to me, but we can still have fun, even if we can’t talk to each other.

Hello Santee and Sarah head

Yesterday the kids had a special singing class.  Grandma and Grandpa took me over to hear them sing.

“They speak the Thai language in school and here in the children’s home, but they come from villages where everyone speaks Lahu,” Grandma told me. “We don’t want them to forget how to speak their native language, so they have special Lahu singing class.”

Hello Singing

I wondered why they didn’t have a Lahu talking class, but I figured it out.  The people here love to sing, and they sing all the time.  The kids probably like the singing class better.

“Dang is playing the guitar,” Grandpa said.

I was shocked. “I thought we didn’t say that word,” I said.  “You said it was close to a very bad word and we shouldn’t say it.”

“No, no,” Grandpa said. “I wasn’t saying a bad word. Dang is his name.  It’s not the kind of name they have in America, but lots of people are named Dang here.”

I thought that was pretty funny, but I had noticed that my new friends all had funny names like Pa La Di, and Nittipong, and Petumpong.

Dang looked like he was having fun. I wanted to play the guitar.

Hello Dang1

“Please, please, let me play the guitar,” I whispered in Dang’s ear.

He said something in the strange Lahu language. I think he said “okay.”  Or maybe he said I was tickling his ear.  I decided he wouldn’t mind.  I tried to play the guitar, but it was harder than it looked.

Hello Dang 2

I climbed around the room, looking for someone to play with me.

“Don’t bother the children while they are singing,” Grandma called to me.  Ma Li and Pim weren’t bothered.  They liked playing with me.

Hello Ma Li and Pim

Arlong wasn’t bothered, either, because he was taking a nap, sitting straight up.  I think he was tired.

Hello Arlong

I have lots of fun with the children. Grandma and Grandpa do, too. The kids like all the toys we brought and they like to have Grandma teach them English.

Today we went to church here at the children’s home, and then we went to another village and Grandpa preached again.

It was a long way to travel and I got tired of sitting still so much.

“But, Linkee, that’s why we are here,” Grandpa said. “We have come to teach the people here about Jesus and that is what we are doing. Some things will be hard, but it will be worth it for these people to know Jesus better.”

I was still tired of sitting still — but then I heard some exciting news.  Next week we are going to a big party in one of the villages.  They have real monkeys there!  Brother Anond said the children should stay away from them because they bite.  Do you think they would bite a stuffed monkey like me?  Surely not!  Maybe I will have an exciting adventure to tell you about next time.

Your friend,

Linkee

Hi kids,

Grandpa and I have had a busy time moving into our new little home.  You would think it is funny, because they are just two rooms that aren’t connected to each other. We have to go outside to go from the bedroom to our kitchen/living room. We like it, though, and we are comfortable.

We love the children here, but we still miss you very much!  We’ve seen Sylvia and Jesse and the Kentucky grandkids on Skype. I hope we can see the rest of you on Skype soon.

Grandpa has been preaching a lot.  He is at another church right now — the third one today.  Tomorrow he will go and preach in a big prison. He is happy, because he loves to tell people about Jesus.

I teach the children English, and study the Bible with the grown up ladies. They love to learn about Jesus, too.

We pray for you every day, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

Love,

Grandma

Linkee Says Goodbye

We are here!  We are in Thailand!  Already I’ve had a lot of adventures. This is a very different place than America.

But first I want to tell you about the last adventure I had before I left.  After all the travels I took with Grandma and Grandpa, we ended up in the place we started, Newcastle, Oklahoma.

“Today we will go to church at Sherwood,” Grandma said.  “The kids here have been reading your stories and really like you, Linkee.  I want you to be on your best behavior.

When someone tells me I must be especially good, it always makes me want to be especially naughty.  Anyway, if these kids have been reading my blogs, they KNOW I’m not always good.  But I told Grandma I would try to behave.

The kids were certainly glad to see me!  Right away I started having fun.  All the kids hugged me and played with me.

Sherwood Karisa

Ruthie and her Grammy made special badges. “These are for the Linkee fan club,” she said. The badges were hearts with monkeys on them. All the kids wore the special badges. I had one, too. I felt very proud.  Ruthie’s Grammy even made me a special bag to ride in.

Sherwood Ruthie

I had lots of friends here!  Suddenly I was sad at the thought of going so far away from my new friends.

Sherwood Gabe

But soon I was busy playing.  I played on the ping-pong table with Caleb, Karisa, and Elijah.  I tried to catch the ball.

Sherwood ping pong

“Linkee!” Caleb said. “We are playing ping-pong, not keep-away!”

I didn’t care what we played, as long as I could play, too.

Lots of people gave me hugs. I gave hugs and kisses, too.

Sherwood Abigail

Sherwood Alison and Libby

Sherwood Lydia

Sherwood Julia

Sherwood Eli

Sherwood Callie

Sherwood Caleb

Sherwood Hailey

Sherwood Charity

Sherwood Elijah

Macy couldn’t hug me, but I gave her a kiss.

Sherwood Macy use

Jacob thought I was funny.

Sherwood Jacob

Isaac was wearing glasses.  I decided I would like to wear glasses, too. I tried to take them off.

“No, Linkee,” Isaac said. “Glasses aren’t toys.  I need them to see!  Let’s find something else for you to play with.”

Isaac glasses

I played with Levi.  He brought his horse Harry to meet me.

Shewood Levi and Horse

The grown ups ate while we played. They had a big party. But everyone looked sad.

“Everyone is sad because we are moving far away to Thailand,” Grandma said. She looked sad, too.

I didn’t want to leave my new friends. I liked having a fan club. I liked having lots of people to play with.  I had an idea.

“Nobody wants us to go to Thailand,” I said to Grandma. “And you and Grandpa are sad about going. So let’s just stay here.  Don’t you think that’s a good idea?”

Grandma held me on her lap.  “It’s not about what we want or what will make us happy, Linkee,” she said. “We are going to Thailand because God wants us to go there.”

“How do you know?” I asked. “Did He send an angel with a message for you?”

“No,” she said. “But He did let us see lots of people who don’t know anything at all about Him.  When we were in Thailand we also met many people who are Christians, but they don’t have anyone to teach them more about God.  And we saw many children who don’t have mothers and fathers.  They need us there. God spoke to us quietly in our hearts and let us know this is the new job He has for us.  When God tells us to go, we know that is what we must do. He is the boss!”

I thought about that.  Did she say something about children?

“Yes, Linkee,” she said. “There are children there.  I think you will be happy to get to know them.”

I didn’t want to leave my friends in America, but if Grandma and Grandpa are going, I guess I will go, too. Grandma is always saying that God knows best, so maybe I will like it there.

And I do!  I will tell you all about my trip and about my Thailand friends next time.

Your friend,

Linkee