Some of you seemed ticked that I made this a 2-parter, but goodness, it would have been killer long. (It’s STILL going to be killer long.) Speaking of, here’s my original tuk-tuk post and then yesterday’s. You’re gonna need to read both to understand this one.
Before I get back to the story, I just want you to know that Panha talked about how good God is and how badly he wants his dad to know Jesus OVER and OVER and OVER throughout our 40-minute chat. I’m not writing all that out, since so much repetition doesn’t make for a very good blog post. But it made for a FABULOUS conversation, and I get giddy every time I think about all the glory God was getting every 30 seconds. Panha just couldn’t get over God, and I, for one, hope he never can.
I hope I never can either.
So, when you and I last talked, Panha and Veasna and their mom were jumping up and down about the $600 God had given them. “A miracle,” Panha kept saying. “God did a miracle for my family.” Now, remember, a new tuk-tuk costs $1100. But they were actually going to need more than that. For one thing, you can’t just go down to the Honda Tuk-Tuk Dealer and pick out the shiniest one in your favorite color. You have to order it, and it has to be built for you.
And there’s some kind of festival going on (something about water?) right now in Cambodia, and all the tuk-tuk makers are pretty busy with that and will be for awhile, so Vanna (Panha’s dad) won’t get his tuk-tuk until the end of November. That’s a long time to go without a “paycheck”–especially when you don’t have a savings account of any kind (or a credit card). So, they took the $600 and bought a moto, which I assume Vanna will be able to use to sell rides to people while he waits for his tuk-tuk.
I had a question for Panha, and I’m sure some of you are thinking the same thing. “How can you keep the new tuk-tuk from getting stolen?” I asked him. They had already brainstormed on this one. “We found a better way,” he told me. For one, they’re going to buy sheets of metal to put behind the gate in front of their house (more $). Then you won’t be able to see through, and this should deter potential criminals. They’re also going to park the tuk-tuk about a meter away from the house (instead of three meters), so they’ll be able to better hear what’s going on outside.
One of Panha’s American friends (those clueless Americans, I tell you) asked him if he was going to get tuk-tuk insurance. Panha laughed kindly and explained that Cambodia is not America. There is no such thing as tuk-tuk insurance. Or really any kind of insurance for that matter. Whatever happens happens. You pick up the pieces and move on.
‘I have an idea, Panha,” I told him. “You should sleep in the tuk-tuk.” He laughed. They had actually talked about that. “We already sleep so close together,” he told me. Four teenage boys in a tiny room. “You could take turns sleeping in the tuk-tuk,” I said. “It would be fun!” (easy for me to say as I climb into my queen-sized bed with one other person and multiple pillows)
Okay, so we’re at the part of the story where Veasna and Panha’s boss gives them some INCREDIBLE NEWS. Some of their friends in the states (people they know and people they don’t–some of YOU) have given even more–they now have $1100. The boys didn’t even know what to do. A (their boss) suggested they go tell their mom at her workplace (a cafe). So they did.
“We decide to play a trick on her,” Panha told me.
“Oh no!” I said. “Panha! Tell me you didn’t!” I could see the gleam in his eye quite clearly on my computer screen. “I go to her workplace with a very sad face, and I say, ‘Mom, they cannot give us $600 like they promised.” Imagine his poor, sweet mother’s face falling and her shoulders drooping.
“PANHA!” I said. “That is AWFUL! That’s HORRIBLE!” He just grins at me.
“They cannot give us $600….but they can give us $1100!” he tells his mom. Oh my word, I can picture the gasping, the rejoicing, the elation. And hopefully, she gave her impertinent son a gentle slap across the head. I would have.
The total is now hovering around $2000 (Gabe chatted w/Panha on Skype today) and will be enough for a $1300 tuk-tuk instead of a “low-end” one. And the metal sheet and the make-up income and the cost of “souping” up the moto engine so it’s strong enough to pull a tuk-tuk filled with ample-sized Americans.
Panha was soooo concerned about assuring me that he would keep extra careful track of all their expenses and send us a list. He told Gabe the same thing, like he couldn’t stress it enough. I kind of waved him off like, don’t worry about it, dude. Gabe told me he stopped Panha and said, “Panha, I trust you.” I love it. And get this–he was so pumped that there would be enough money for everything AND enough to give one-tenth back to God. That was so important to him that he be able to do that.
Now, the EXCITING part. Remember how Panha had invited his dad to church? Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail from A to Yvonne which she sent to me:
Gave the money to the boys tonight and they just can’t stop freaking out! They are completely overwhelmed by God’s love and provision. On Sunday, their dad is going to church for like the second time in his life! The power team is there-the weight lifting dudes-and the boys are gonna ask one of the church leaders to love on their dad and build a relationship with him. They are praying he gives his heart to the Lord on Sunday. Please ask people to pray. This may be the day we’ve been seeking God for during the past 2 years with the boys!
Panha told me that, after the tuk-tuk fiasco and the money coming in, his mom told his dad he needed to go to church this Sunday. And he promised her he would.
“Panha,” I said, “you do realize, don’t you, that none of this would have happened if your dad’s tuk-tuk hadn’t gotten stolen?”
Panha very much realized that. “God’s ways are so big!” he said. And then he told me–oh, this is soooo cool!–that he’s been talking to his pastor and the church staff, and they have some plans set in place for Sunday. He knows that his dad (and even his mom, who is a believer) might not feel very comfortable in church. They are going to “collect” some people his age to introduce themselves to him so he can make some friends and feel more comfortable.
“I want my dad to give his life to Jesus,” Panha kept saying. “My expectation is that he will raise his hand up and say that Jesus is Lord. I don’t know if that will happen, but I know it is not impossible. I will trust God. And I will pray.”
Wanna hear something cool? Panha’s mom told his dad that the people who did this amazing thing (gave the $) are all people who believe in Jesus. “This money did not come from people who don’t know Jesus,” she said.
“He listen to my mom better than me,” Panha said smiling. And apparently it made quite an impact on him.
“Please tell your friends thank you for me,” Panha’s dad told him. “And may God bless them.”
Panha told me, “I have never heard my dad say this. Only Christians say, ‘God bless you.’ I cannot believe my dad say this to me to tell to you.”
Will you join me in praying for Panha’s dad, that God will get a hold of him and never let him go? That he’ll give his life to Jesus and that God will set his soul on fire for his country?
What an honor and a privilege to take Vanna Yin before our God in prayer.
(And don’t hate me, but I have a teensy bit more to share tomorrow. I promise this is not a gimmick, but you really don’t want to miss it. Hint: this will be no ordinary tuk-tuk. It’s going to be “holy.”)