This week I’ve shared peeks at some of the characters from The Heavens Are Telling, which will be released next month. Today is the final installment and I want to introduce you to two of my favorite characters from this book: Simon and Vireak. Simon works with Deliverance and has been given a very unique assignment; Vireak is a Cambodian monk with a troubled history and a dark secret:
“Megan had given Simon instructions to find Heng and Kolab, the caretakers of the church he would live in, when he arrived. He disembarked from the moto, thanked the driver with a healthy tip, and walked through the center of the village. He found the merchants at the market to be kind, but their smiles in response to his inquiries verified that he had a long road ahead of him. Frustrated at the language barrier, he looked around, praying for God to show him a way.
He noticed a monk sitting at the edge of town under a large tree where the rust colored road forked. He’d heard somewhere that monks knew English and hoped he was able to ask his questions respectfully.
Simon approached the monk slowly, surprised to find a man nearly his age. The man sensed Simon’s approach and met his gaze. He sported a shaved head; Simon knew that monks shaved out of reverence; a sign of piety. The monk’s eyes were a deep brown, his mouth curved slightly, as though if given good reason, he would smile easily. He watched Simon expectantly, seemingly not surprised to see an American man standing before him.
“Good afternoon,” Simon began in English; he bowed his head with his palms placed together under his chin, as Megan had taught him to do.
The monk’s eyes lit up. “Good afternoon,” he answered. His accent was thick and his voice was deeper than Simon had expected.
Simon took a step closer and squatted, one knee in the dirt, his arm resting casually on the other. “I wonder if you could show me the right way to go.” He gestured behind him. “I don’t think the villagers understand me.”
The monk gave a slow grin. “Not many have reason to speak English. We don’t see many English speakers outside of the Peace Corps volunteers, and they speak Khmer.”
“Right.” Simon pulled a piece of paper out of his back pocket. “Well, I don’t know if you can help me. I’m not sure if you know many people in the village.”
“I’ve lived here my entire life. I should be able to help.” The monk leaned forward to see the papers. Simon held them out and located the names of the caretakers. “I’m looking for a married couple, Heng and Kolab? I’m told they take care of the old missionary building.”
A shadow passed across the monk’s face. Simon glanced at the cloudless sky, wincing into the bright sun, then back to the man. The monk wiped his hand over his shaved head, and then dropped his hand against his chest.
“Yes, I know this Heng and Kolab.” The monk pointed a shaky finger toward the village. “Past the end of the market, up through the trees. They are on higher ground. The road will break off to the right and there should be a small trail.” His voice wavered, his eyes closed in memory. “There will be a row of trees that have low branches in a line. At the end of them is a large sign.”
Simon, sure he could find it, rose. He thanked the monk and turned toward the market. After a step, he turned back. “A large sign. What does it say?”
The monk opened his eyes, staring down the road with flat eyes.
“It says, ‘No Christians Allowed’.””
Excerpt from The Heavens Are Telling, available October 2014**
** I hope you enjoyed the small window into The Heavens Are Telling. Next week the publishers are hosting a pre-read event. If you have a Kindle, Nook, smart phone,or any kind of device that you can download the Kindle app to, you will have an opportunity to read the book before anyone else. Stay tuned for details and a sign up!
If you have not read The Earth is Full, you’ll want to start with that. Most reviewers said that once they started The Earth is Full, they couldn’t put it down. Read it this weekend (available here) so you will be ready to preview The Heavens Are Telling next week.