Thursday, April 3, 2008
Meeting 'Royalty' at Baan Tawai
Can i begin by saying how disappointed i was that we were told we weren't allowed to take photos once the wife of the Prince arrived (so sorry, i have no evidence this happened). But the whole experience kind of has so many great analogies that could be used in a talk one day.
So it started last week when i went to visit the disabled workshop with some visitors from Australia. Boonchu asked if i could go down again on Wednesday afternoon to take some pictures for her cos some 'important' person's wife was coming. Of course i couldn't quite work out who's wife it was, but hey, i had a free afternoon, so why not go and see what the fuss is all about.
So i rock up just after my lesson and the first thing i notice is that i'm way 'underdressed' in a green t-shirt and jeans while everyone else is in their 'yellow' shirts (or pink or blue kings shirt) or in traditional thai dresses. Hmmmm...... ok, so it must be someone special coming to visit. Where can i go and hide? :) So we go set up the display in the Salah on the main street and wait for the arrival of this 'wife'.
The Salah that we're in
As we're waiting, the level of security around us slowly begins to increase. There are all these men in black suits, Military Police, normal police, we're getting told to collect our shoes and position them elsewhere, to turn off our phones, to put our camera's away....so who is it that's coming cos this is getting pretty serious in terms of what we are and aren't allowed to do. So i'm trying to ask Choy (one of my friends down there) who's wife is it and looking through the dictionary, i started to get a better picture of who it was. The 2 words she found meant that it was either the King's wife (whao!!) or the 'commoner wife of a Prince'. In either case, i suddenly realised WHY the level of security was beefed up and why we had collect our shoes, make sure we were sitting on the ground and not even on a chair, sit in a certain way so that our feet were pointing away from the 'princess'. It was all to make sure we were in a position of respect, that we were acting appropriately.
It was also really interesting to see how all my thai friends were feeling in anticipation of meeting the Princess. As they saw her walking down the street towards us, you could see them wiping their sweaty palms, trying to work out what they would say to her when she arrived. As she arrived, they were clearly struck by the fact that she came to visit, showed interest in their works and asked them questions. It was quite amazing to see this 1 lady walk down the street with an entourage of about 50 people, meeting the locals, getting down amongst the people, seeing people respond to her appropriately (not to mention the many shopping trolleys that miraculously appeared out of the blue to collect & transport all the gifts that she was receiving from all the local businesses - good to see that shopping trolleys have a universal use outside the supermarkets here too).
As the foreigner there who was still not exactly sure who it was that was coming, i honestly just couldn't quite share their same level of excitement and anticipation. To me, it was just really interesting to watch their reactions and see the level of respect that these guys had for Royalty. How they just knew what was the appropriate way to act. If you understand WHO it is that you're 'dealing with', then you will act appropriately.
I couldn't help but think that if these guys were acting like this for this lady who married into royalty, what should our response be to God, who really is the one who deserves to be honored, revered. Sitting on the floor with my feet pointing behind me, being told i couldn't take photos etc. It was a real practical insight into a whole new level of reverence of what it means to bow before our maker and fall facedown before Him because he IS God. It really was a great taste of something i'd never experience in a western culture.
But it also got me thinking, as a foreigner there, i clearly didn't know what the most appropriate ways was to pay respect to this individual. I only knew cos my friends were kindly telling me what to do and how to it. If they didn't tell me, then i'd never know and who knows what would've happened. But what about people who don't know God? Who don't know who he is or how they should be responding to Him appropriately? Isn't that even more serious then the wife of the Prince?
It was funny, despite all the anticipation to the meeting, it was over in just a few minutes. As soon as the princess had moved on, everyone just started packing up and it was over. She showed interest while she met them, but what about after? How blessed are we to have a God who not only takes an interest in what we do, but is also involved in our lives, who cares for us, who sustains us. How much greater is this God of ours!
For those who are praying, please pray for those who don't know God and aren't in a relationships with him, that we can be telling them about Him so that they too can act appropriately to the God who is the creator, sustainer and saviour of this world.