Changing Seasons

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Nope, I thought as I peered out the front of the tuk tuk at the edge of the water flooding over the road. The road was impassable. For the next two months, it remained that way.

Each Sabbath, we went to the “sand place,” as my children affectionately call it. There, rather than the typical clay mud, the topsoil is mostly sand and smooth stones. Trees and short grasses thrive, but not much else. The location, convenient for keeping mostly clean, provided a great high spot where the kids could play, build sand castles, chase minnows and frogs along a small stream, and enjoy a relaxing Sabbath out in nature.

While we were there, I would check the level of the flooding over the road. Each time, I would see that it had receded, its previous level marked by muddy leaves. But the sharp turn and dip for the bridge still seemed hopelessly lost in deep, murky water.

Then the weather changed. Downpours gave way to brief showers. The breezes felt stronger when a storm would approach, but as fast as they arrived, they would leave. Heat lightning became more common, and the humidity receded.

One day when Jephthae left to teach English, our kids peered at me with excitement. “Sand place!” Ethan announced. Normally we didn’t go during the week, but I felt strangely drawn to it. When we arrived there, we found a couple of frogs along a stream. We named the first one Freddy, and while we debated the gender of the second one, it escaped into the water. That disappointment quickly vanished with the excitement of finding a minnow. After we had played a while, we freed all our critter captives and headed back to the tuk tuk.

I decided to go and check the flood level. As we drove toward the villages, familiar faces greeted us, and children cried out “Hello!” as they ran along beside us.

Lined on both sides with trees, the road ran straight as it gradually descended. As we drove along, we began to notice that the lower leaves were crusted with dried mud from the receding floodwaters. Down near the bridge, the water was much lower. The Sekong River was receding rapidly. Within a couple weeks, assuming no major storms, I guessed that the bridge would be visible again.
Dry season is a scourge of dust. Little grows, and everything turns dusty brown. It starts to get cold, and the chilly showers are particularly unpleasant. Yet dry season lifts my heart. Maybe it’s because the roads are clear and the villages are easier to access. Maybe it’s that I get to visit the village chief who lives on the other side of the flooded bridge. Maybe it’s because we get to search for property in hopes of putting down some roots here. Whatever it is, the changing of seasons gladdens me.

Building takes place during the dry season, and people tend to be outside more. It’s easier to sleep outside under a mosquito net and watch the stars. And, more importantly, it’s easier to travel to villages to preach the gospel. For all these reasons, we praise God for each passing day as dry season begins.