I actually want to talk about the flowers that fill our home, but I will do it as I describe our recent Open House. Actually, it wasn’t really an Open House, but a festival that the Thai call “งานขึ้นบ้านใหม่” (“ngahn kuen bahn mai“). In the Thai tradition, it is a gathering of friends and neighbors to celebrate a family moving into a new house that has been built (or purchased). We are renting this beautiful home with funds provided by World Missions Division of the Presbyterian Church (USA). We wanted to set aside time to publicly acknowledge that this home has been given to us by God’s people for the glory of God and to dedicate this house to the Lord. So, we invited friends and neighbors to come on a Sunday afternoon for a brief service of worship, followed by a reception with snacks and punch. Mom invited Ajarn Arun, a former seminary student of Dad’s and now a pastor and long-time friend, to be the person to lead the worship service.
Mom wanted some flowers for the porch, so I went to the local flower market. Flowers are plentiful here and very inexpensive, so I found some beautiful flowers and ceramic pots so we could put them out on the porch for about $30. Meanwhile, I wanted to make my favorite pineapple sherbet punch for the reception, but pineapple sherbet does not exist here. Instead, we used dry ginger ale, pineapple juice, pineapple slices and lime sherbet and made a wonderful punch.
Inside the house, we had flowers, as well. We purchased a beautiful orchid when we first moved into the house in June. It sits on a small end table in the living room. We have been told that it will bloom for several months and then be dormant for several months before blooming again, probably next spring. We have learned through hard experience how to care for these plants. They need to be watered frequently, but the water also needs to drain rapidly so the plant is not sitting in moist earth or standing in water. With proper care, orchids can survive and thrive for years, but the long dormant spell between times of blooming can be discouraging. Our orchid plant in the USA bloomed continuously for more than two years and was never dormant.
Mom got an orchid as a gift from her children for her birthday. That plant is spectacular, with large blossoms and a deep, delicious fragrance that fills the house. This plant sits on the coffee table in the living room. It is difficult to imagine the size of these orchids, but there is a thumbnail photo of it below that includes a twelve-ounce glass of water to help with perspective. Needless to say, the orchids would be too large to wear as a corsage. The room this orchid is in, our living room, was the center for the service of worship. Ajarn Arun and other guests who were helping with the worship service were seated in that room. Ajarn Somchai, the current Director of McKean Rehabilitation Center, brought a recorder and played the melodies to the hymns that had been selected for the service. Ajarn Boonyawat, the pastor of First Church, gave one of the prayers.
Ajarn Arun and his wife, Kuhn Urah, had come to visit Mom on her birthday the previous Sunday. When they came that day, they brought another beautiful orchid with them as a gift for Mom. That orchid sits on another end table in the living room that, by now, has been renamed the “Orchid Room.” It is another stunning plant with large white orchids, each bloom large enough to be a corsage by itself. When Ajarn Arun came this Sunday, he brought small printed programs for our service of dedication. These programs had scripture readings, hymns with the verses all printed out, and a responsive reading. He said a few words about Mom and Dad and their service to the church and their impact on his life. Mom talked about the house and how she wanted it to be used for God’s purposes. Then, at the end of the service, we all stood together and read “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” (translated into Thai). He had no idea that it is one of my favorite prayers.
Klaus and Sivilai Prinz were two of the guests at our gathering and they brought yet another fabulous orchid to grace our home. This one sits on the telephone table in the living room and has blossoms almost as large as the orchid plant that is sitting on the coffee table. Klaus and Sivilai worked with Mom and Dad when Dad was the Director of McKean Rehabilitation Center here in Chiangmai and they have been friends of the family ever since. They are representative of the guests that came that day – Klaus is German and Sivilai is Thai. We also had Kathryn from New Zealand. Hans from Germany and his wife, Joy, who is Thai. Molly from Australia and her husband, Teng, who is Thai. Molly and Teng brought another flowering plant that we will plant in our yard.
Bill Yoder, also came and brought the final orchid for our “Orchid Room” – a beautiful, delicate plant that hangs from the curtain rod in front of a door that we never open. Bill is from the USA, though he has lived in Thailand for forty years as a missionary with the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is now retired, but still very active in the community. My friend, Beth, was there. Ajarn Drirat, the Manager of McKean, was there with his wife and daughter. And, of course, the entire Sa’adprai family. There were others who came, both Thai and foreigners. It was truly an international affair. We borrowed twenty-five chairs from First Church and every one was used. For about forty minutes, our house was filled with the sound of singing, of scripture being read, and of prayers being said. After that, everyone stayed for the punch – which was a big hit – and to catch up on the news from everyone else. Laughter filled the air!
But there is no one on earth who can create works of art like the flowers that filled the house that day and still delight us each day as we rediscover their beauty. These new flowers join the plumeria, jasmine, gardenias, and other flowers we have planted in our yard since we came. It is amazing art… and all a part of God’s creation.