The Joys of Illiteracy (Part 2)
About a year and a half ago, on our third day in Thailand, we wrote a blog about not being able to speak or read Thai and the difficulties that come with this handicap (like accidentally purchasing a pastry with "mystery meat" filling!) By now, most missionaries would be writing about how much progress they've made and how all those little communication problems that they ran into when they first arrived are becoming a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it seems that we are not "most missionaries!"
We are in very odd situation. We chose to learn Akha instead of Thai because we are working with the Akha people, however we are still living in the country of Thailand. So, although we do great when we're in an Akha village, when we are down in the city (where everyone speaks Thai), we are not much better off than the day we stepped off the plane. This fact, was clearly illustrated by our egg experience yesterday.
Paul and I were out running errands and decided that it would be fun to make chocolate chip cookies. So we stopped by a market to pick up some eggs on the way home. Buying eggs in Thailand is very different from buying eggs in America. I could tell you all the ways it's different, but I think that's another blog altogether, so I'll just tell you the one thing that matters for this story; there are three different colors of eggs: white, brown and pink. I've always thought that the pink dye was to signify that the egg was hard boiled while the white and brown were both fresh eggs. I normally buy brown eggs because that's what they sell at the market in MaeSalong, but the vendor that we went to yesterday only had white and pink eggs. So we bought 5 white eggs and headed home.
When it came time to make the cookies, I cracked the egg only to find that it was hard-boiled. Not only was it hard-boiled, but the yolk was a funky oily orange and the egg white had an odd opaque chalky appearance (Not like any hard boiled egg I've ever seen ... And certainly not anything I was interested in tasting!) So, with the cookies half made, I sent Paul off to the market again to get brown eggs this time. He came back with fresh eggs and the cookie project was saved.
Later, I got to thinking how all of that day's "egg hassle" could have been averted if I only knew how to say "Are these eggs fresh or have they been cooked already?" in Thai. While it can get pretty frustrating to continue having these moments even after a year and a half in Thailand, we've learned to laugh at our mishaps. And I comfort myself with the fact that I can say "Is this egg hard-boiled?" in Akha (even though that didn't help me much yesterday.) All in all, we're happy with the language path God has us on ... despite the slight inconveniences it sometimes creates in the city.