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!
“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.
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.
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!