Remember this post about gambling, arrests, and loaning money? It was probably one of the more complicated periods of time in our neighborhood, and it hasn’t really ended in some ways. Since loaning Mong Ey the money to avoid being jailed, we came home in the middle of the day to find her and a few friends gambling in our yard, where they felt they couldn’t be arrested behind our gate. We had to be quite forceful to say we don’t agree with her gambling illegally, and the key for our gate that we gave her for the garden & safety was not be used for gambling. If we found her gambling again, we would take away the key, and they wouldn’t be able to use the garden while we weren’t there or store their bicycles in their for safety.
It is really difficult to extend grace; it is really difficult to know how to be loving and how to not be walked on. It is really difficult to know what to do in controversial, cross-culture situations, and it’s even more difficult in a language you are learning. Every sentence becomes such a carefully and limitedly worded effort!
I have wondered if we did the right thing to give her the money, to be direct about the gambling, to be so forceful with the language I barely know. Would we still be friends? Has the relationship changed completely?
I still don’t know the answers to most of these questions or any of the other million questions I ask. But when we got back from our trip, we did receive payment back of the 1,000 baht (about $30) we loaned! It came in this little pink envelope.
It might not mean much to you, and maybe it shouldn’t mean that much to me, but I felt so thankful. It was like a symbol of friendship, of mutual respect. In some ways it has showed us that all the really difficult conversations have made the friendship deeper.
So we’re thankful!