Friday, August 8, 2014

Thai Mothers' Day Surprise

Our ward member, Oui, who invited us to her school last year for their Mothers' Day program (honoring the Queen's birthday) is now in high school, 7th grade, and invited us to come again. Her mother could not attend and she wanted me to represent her mother at her school program.

Singing a traditional Thai Mothers' Day song

The hugs

Oui's mother warned us that the mothers would be honored. Elder Sowards thought it might be the same water ceremony we had at the church on New Years. I was happy to be with Oui, but a little apprehensive as to what might happen.

I sat through the honors program wondering and praying that whatever happened, it would all turn out well. We were the only foreigners there--and the only ones with non-black hair besides the Asians who had bleached theirs. I admit I worried about having to pose for a picture with all the mothers and have my blaring gray/white hair glowing.

After the students sang traditional songs, and were honored for achievements, male students lined about 30 chairs across the front of the gymnasium. They'd invite groups of mothers to come up and sit, then the mother's children came and knelt before them, bowed (the traditional waay). Some had three children at the school, so for them it was a group hug. The hugs lasted for a full minute. The children bowed again and the group filed back to their seats. A new group came up. There were lots of tears involved--an emotional ceremony honoring their mother.

Elder Sowards and I had not come unnoticed, and our very presence seemed to attract a lot of attention. When I stood to go up with the last group of mothers, I heard gasps, then a light wave of applause. It took all my courage to walk up and take my seat. Oui came and knelt before me, and with all the other mothers and children, we hugged. Many watched.

When our turn was over, we stood to walk back to our seats, but the leader of the assembly stopped me and asked me to sit again. I grabbed Oui hoping she would stay with me. Elder Sowards had come up to take pictures and he also was invited to take a seat by me. The students all became very quiet. We were given microphones and asked to introduce ourselves to the assembly. Elder Sowards said hello in Thai which set off more applause. He briefly said in Thai that we were from the USA and that we had 5 children. Then I said thank you for welcoming us--in English, then thank you in Thai.

What an experience. After the students filed out to go home, we went to talk to the leader. He asked if we would come back every day to teach English.

Our schedule doesn't allow for it, but teaching English is one of the fun things we do--and learning Thai culture. Happy Mothers' Day!

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