I'm not sure what kind of picture you conjure up when you think about pastors, I tend to imagine someone dressed in slacks with maybe a shirt tuck in, with a good, proper hair style. So, I was a little surpised (although I must say, pleasently surprised) when I met the pastor of the local church I am working with in Bongti, Thailand.
First, I thought he was a short, little wizard man of some sort. His hair was white and poking untamed every which way. Even his eyebrows shut up stubbornly defying grafity. He had giant 80ish glasses on and a red stained mouth opened in a big smile. I have to say his eyes where a little bit like Santa Clause's like he new some great, happy secret he was just waiting to share with everyone. He was quite pleasent to meet.
His name or title is Poo Thera Bee Bay, which in translation literally means, Grandpa Teacher. Isn't that a great title? He likes to wear sarangs, and to ride his bicycle (slightly wobbally) all over the town. He is a great chewy of beetle nut, and a just generally seems happy all the time. I believe he is around 85 yrs old and I keep telling myself I need to be like him.
One day, I was hanging out with a large family gathering that was butchering a pig for a big celebration. We are all standing around the river, watching the pig get killed and cleaned near the water, when all of a sudden a laughing blur comes hurtling at me from behind and tries to push me into the little river. It was Poo Thera or Grandpa Teacher! He was laughing his head off and trying to push all the his little grandkids in too. He managed to get a few of the younger boys in, to their great surprise and accompanied with shouts of anger. It just tickled me pink to watch him being such a goose.
Then, another favorite memory of mine, is when he painted all of his finger and toenails bright, sparkly hot pink. Why? I have no idea but I couldn't help but smile as he went up to preach, all manly in his sarong and pink finger nails. Oh, this is another great time too. It was Christmas day and the church was having a great, big celebration that included a reenactment of the Christmas Story and loud singing of songs by soloists. Well, Poo Thera went up there with his sarang, beetle nut chewing, Santa Clause twinking eyes, pink fingernails, and an electic guitar. He played and belted out in good fashion (and in English) Jingle Bells. Needless to say, he rocked that little church.
But, my favorite memory of him is every sunday he gets up in front of the concregration and leads them in singing the same hymn every week, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. And suddently I realize where that happy, twinking, goofyness of his nature comes from, his hope in Jesus. And that's the greatest lesson I have taken from this crazy, white haired Grandpa Teacher.