Not in the Plan

I sat at my friends’ home in Doi Saket, Thailand last Saturday.  It was my last day in country.  We’d decided a quiet day was in order.

We planned to rest, read, pack, maybe watch a movie.  Nothing strenuous had made it into our plans.  My flight was scheduled for 11:55 PM, and I was good with that and a peaceful day.

Things were on track to accomplish the day as planned.  About 2 PM it started to smell like Colorado this past summer . . . that would be burning wood.  I checked the house.  I looked out the windows on three sides of the house.  There was nothing to see.  I went back to reading my book.

Soon a noise like gunfire started assaulting my ears.  I wasn’t OK with that.  I have issues with gunfire.

About the same time, my friend, Lana, came out of her room and said, “What’s going on?”  She ran to a different set of windows and found the answer.  The vegetation at the edge of an adjoining property was on fire.

The very green bamboo and other plants that had been watered by months of rain was exploding and burning.  Some of the bamboo was easily 40 feet tall.  While it was comforting to know no one was firing a gun, I wasn’t too thrilled to see the world burning so close to home.

Another comforting thought was that there is a creek separating the two properties.  That comfort didn’t last.  It didn’t take too long for some of the bamboo to topple and bring the fire to our side of the creek.

We grabbed the garden hose and started soaking things before the bamboo fell.  At the same time, a neighbor came over and grabbed a bucket and tried to dip water from the creek to help with the soaking.  Neither of the hoses reached very far. Definitely not far enough to get to the area where the fire spread to our side.

I ran back in the house and grabbed a large bucket/trash can and snagged another bucket from the carport.  We started a rather crude but effective bucket brigade.  With the neighbor filling the buckets and Lana throwing water on the fire, I made more than a few trips back and forth with the buckets.  About as soon as we had the small fire on our side out, the firemen arrived.

There were two of them with a truck with its own reservoir.  They checked out what we accomplished, and then went to work on the fire across the creek.  They worked hard to keep enough pressure in the fire hose to get the water to span the distance.  They ran out of water before the fire ran out of fuel.

They made a trip back into town to refill the truck.  While they were gone, the village head and a few other people showed up.  Once the truck returned, they helped with some different nozzles and different techniques.  By the time the truck was empty a second time, there was still some smolder left, but everyone was satisfied that the fire didn’t have a real chance of spreading.

It put my mind even more at ease when I saw the neighbor across the creek hauling buckets of water to pour on whatever was left.

Being a volunteer firefighter wasn’t part of my plans for the day, but it’s part of my memory of the day.


What’s happened to you lately that wasn’t part of your plans, but became a rich memory?



17 responses to “Not in the Plan”

  1. Wow is right…. I too am glad you are safe & home. Your question- I suppose all of us could give many answers, but perhaps might struggle with the second phrase. Not all that happens “outside” of our well-laid plans becomes a rich memory. Sometimes quite the contrary. Yet because God is our Shepherd all can sill be well with our souls. A very blessed Christmas, my dear friend.

  2. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on what makes a rich memory. I’ve just about come to the final thought that once plans go awry and there’s a good (though not planned) outcome, it’s an event we remember much more readily. When everything comes off without a hitch, it’s usually not quite as memorable.

    Merry Christmas to you and the whole Texas Flock!

  3. I’m not sure there’s anything I WANT to add to my resume . . . things just keep adding themselves! 🙂

  4. As a pastor and parent, it feels like my world is about disruption. I think that a rich life is made up of a collection of disruptions, though. And there’s no disruption like being in a foreign country, out of your element, up in someone else’s house.

    Pretty cool that you got to go through something like that and blog about it, eh?

    Spending time with your brother is always disruptive in the best way.
    He has a thing for unstatusing my quo.

  5. I heartily agree with Chris! Life’s interruptions are often what makes us stronger and brings us closer, isn’t it? Now you’ve fought fire, you can fight anything! And I love your photo collage. It tells the story without the words. Beautiful.

  6. I’m glad you guys had decided to hang out at home so that you could keep a lid on that fire!!!
    James and I were talking about the Christmas story, and how the birth of Jesus, as far as Mary and Joseph were concerned, was an unplanned event! That somehow struck me in a new way this year. Even before He was born, Jesus was a problem, especially for Joseph. I wonder if I’m ready to be surprised, even in a negative way, by Him. I think I’ve become far too comfortable with the whole thing.
    Merry Trisem, Soul!

  7. Good thoughts on the incarnation, Soul. Jesus was a stumbling block right from the beginning of his earthly existence. I’m so glad Mary and Joseph kept going!

  8. Thanks for the encouragement! It’s good to think I can take on big, scary things now that I’ve helped fight a fire. Thanks for your kind words about the collage. It was fun to put together.

  9. Thanks for the encouragement! It’s good to think I can take on big, scary things now that I’ve helped fight a fire. Thanks for your kind words about the collage. It was fun to put together.

  10. Chris–you make me laugh. I think one of the reasons I like blogging is the reflective process of it. And yes–he has a way of unstatusting most quo’s. It’s his spiritual gift.

  11. Wow Sheryl, a bamboo fire before flying out would be surprising and slightly tense. Glad you are all okay.

    I had a pleasant event evoke a rich memory for me. Recently I had the privilege of being out of the country for a week. The markets there had guavas — which I hadn’t had for a decade!. I saw them, raced over and picked up the yellow fruits, inhaling greedily. The familiar fragrance was heady, sweet, and made me suddenly burst into tears. 🙂

    Thanks for understanding that story, as a fellow TCK.

    Jennifer Dougan

  12. Oh, Jennifer! I know that feeling–getting lost in a happy memory that doesn’t have just one moment attached to it–so bittersweet! I’m so glad you had your guava moment.

    Yes–the fire was surprising and tense. Many of the presents I gave for Christmas morning came from Thailand–lots of pottery wrapped in bubble wrap and newspapers. They held the fire and smoke scent a little too well. It was fun to watch everyone’s expressions and hear the, “Oh! This is from Thailand!” as soon as they smelled it.

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