Dad’s work takes him and the family overseas to Bangkok, Thailand. Gavin finds himself in an international school with thousands of students. At a Boy Scout excursion, while everyone is swimming in the falls, a huge boulder suddenly crashes into the water. Is everyone safe?
“Everyone out of the water!” Gavin yelled as he waded out himself. At that moment, his dad who had been taking pictures above the pool was hurrying down.
“Is everyone all right?” His face was ashen white and his eyes studied the boys who were making their way out of the pool.
Gavin had seen some figures at the top of the cliff after the boulder had hit. “I’m going up on top before those guys send another boulder down!” Gavin told his dad.
Reaching the top of the cliff, Gavin called out to the two laughing boys who were heaving another boulder into place.
“Hey,” he yelled, trying to catch his breath, “you—can’t—do—that!” The boys who obviously didn’t understand him, looked at each other. Their smiles disappeared as Gavin tried to explain.
“You could kill someone!” Gavin motioned with his hands. “Don’t roll these rocks down on the swimmers!” With serious faces, the boys backed away and slunk off into the jungle.
When he got back down to the pool, Dad was standing at the edge of the water.
“Everyone’s accounted for,” Dad told him. He was watching the boys swimming again in the water, but his eyes kept glancing up to the top of the falls. “I saw that boulder coming down, but there was nothing I could do. I yelled, but no one could hear me above the noise of the falls.” Dad shook his head. “It is only God’s intervention that kept that boulder from crushing someone.”
Gavin nodded in agreement. It was a subdued group of boys that rode back in the vans that evening.
When he got off the bus Monday morning, Gavin saw his buddy Chuck waiting for him.
“Where were you Friday night, man?” Chuck questioned. “Teen Club was wild!”
“You know I don’t do Friday nights,” Gavin said. “Besides, you missed a great trip to the falls with the scouts.”
“And I don’t do scouts,” Chuck shook his head.
“So we’re even,” Gavin said. “Hey, you want to compare answers?”
“That’s what I’m waiting for,” Chuck sat down on the bench. Gavin’s friendship with Chuck had come together over their mutual interest in doing well in algebra. Before class, they often compared the results of their homework. If their answers didn’t agree, they both began reworking the problem. Their teacher, Mr. Branson had encouraged his students to compare their homework. “It’s a team effort that helps both of you,” he had often said.
Later that afternoon at home, he got a call from Richard.
“Hey, why don’t you come to choir practice?” Richard asked Gavin. He had noticed Richard in the choir on Sabbath and was glad for the invitation.
“See you tonight,” he promised.
That night Lindsey and her friends sat in front of the guys as more adults arrived for the practice. Mr. Thomas, the choir director, introduced the song they were going to sing.
“What part do you sing?” Richard asked under his breath.
“I’m learning bass,” Gavin answered. He’d begun to learn the harmony part in the church choir at home before leaving for Thailand.
Gavin didn’t know any other guys who sang church songs. He was glad Richard did. Being a part of a group that was praising God in rich harmony was exciting and meaningful to Gavin.
“We’re going to have singing bands this Sabbath afternoon. Are you coming?” Richard asked Gavin after practice.
“Sure! Where are we going?” Gavin asked.
“The orphanage on the outskirts of town,” Richard said. “It’s fun because the kids really love to see us.”
Richard was so different from any friend Gavin had ever had. To sing, go out on witnessing activities, study the Bible, or pray would have called sneers from most of the friends Gavin used to have. But it was cool to be with someone who enjoyed sharing Christ with others.
Among the many adjustments to their lifestyle in Thailand was hiring a maid. While at first Dad had roundly refused such an idea, friends explained how this actually helped the local people make a living and showed good will. So with much reluctance, Dad hired a young Thai mother, Somchit.
One evening Gavin forked the last bite of cherry pie into his mouth.
“Where did Somchit learn to make such good pie?” he picked up his plate to lick it, but glanced at Mom, who was watching him, and put it down again.
“That was good!” Lindsey agreed. Then a look of concern crossed her face. “Mom, what is wrong with Willychai’s leg?”
Willychai was Somchit’s son. Gavin had noticed his useless, curled up leg. As he had watched him limp, he remembered his year and a half on crutches. He felt for him!
Mom shook her head sadly. “I don’t know, but I plan to find out.”
Days later, Mom had some hopeful news. Dr. Carlsen was willing to examine Willychai. He was an orthopedic surgeon at Bangkok Adventist Hospital.
“That’s great!” Dad beamed. “Does he think he can help him?”
“I’ve made an appointment for him on Thursday, so we’ll see,” Mom said.
Somchit agreed and when the exam was completed, Dr. Carlsen explained to Mom and Somchit that Willychai appeared to have contracted polio as a baby. The effect of the disease would continue to cause his leg to curl up tighter and tighter unless he had some corrective surgery.
“He said he will operate on Willychai free of charge!” Mom exclaimed to the family.
“Wonderful!” Dad said. “But surely there are hospital expenses.”
“Yes,” Mom nodded. “He said it is best to ask the family to pay what they can, and then if we—“ Mom looked at Dad.
“Of course,” Dad answered her unfinished question, “we will pay for the rest of the bill. If Dr. Carlsen is willing to do the surgery, that is the least we can do!”
It took several weeks, but when both stages of surgery had been completed, the family went to the hospital room. Willychai sat with his good and bandaged legs dangling off the bed. Somchit and her family stood quietly around the bed. Dr. Carlsen came walking briskly into the room.
“Well,” he said cheerfully, “let’s see how it looks.”
As the doctor unwrapped Willychai’s leg, the family members each held their breath. Would Willychai really be able to walk and run?