Girl on a mission
Taylor Bye, Talon Staff Writer
Charissa Cable settled herself at a Dunn Brothers table for two, draping her thin coat on the back of her chair, and sipping her hot chocolate contentedly, poised for the first question.
With her warm brown eyes, shoulder length milk-chocolate colored hair, and a bright smile: Charissa Cable will have you at hello. When you see her walking through the Minnehaha Academy corridors, Charissa seems like your average 14-year-old freshman, but once you start talking to her, you’ll realize she’s had experiences you could only dream of. That’s because she happens to be a missionary’s daughter.
The goody-two-shoes-stereotypical reputation that comes with being a preacher’s daughter is definitely felt by Charissa.
“There is a lot of pressure put on you to be a role model,” Charissa said as she took a sip of her chocolaty drink. “You need to be a good example for people.”
Although there’s a lot of pressure to be the perfect role model, being a missionary’s daughter comes as a blessing for Charissa.
“I’m thankful for this experience,” Cable said about being a missionary, “The easiest part is being able to talk about God in their native language.”
This is her first year back in the US since she was in third grade. So the language to which she refers to isn’t English, it’s Thai. Charissa was born in Bangkok, Thailand (which is her mother’s homeland) and calls Bangkapi, a small district in Bangkok, home.
The Cables prove that you don’t have to go far to make a difference. Charissa’s family (consisting of father Steve, mother Nopaluk, sister Sarah and brother Ben) started a school in Thailand, to teach English to the Thai people.
The school is called Santisuk, which means peace. Like MA, it has Christ as the foundation. The courses are two hours a day for 15 days, a total of 30 hours and five levels.
Here’s a description of another place the Cables spread the will of God.
You enter a slum village, not far from Bangkok. Dirt roads and water so filthy, it makes you gag when you think about drinking it. The houses, if they can even be called that, are made out of scrap metal and the people are so poor and dirty, they treasure soap as if it were pure gold.
Charissa and her family offered soap to the people of this area who are less fortunate then most, and the people were touched deeply by the gesture.
“You don’t know what you have until you see someone who has nothing,” said Charissa. She described the thankfulness of these people for what most people see as an everyday toiletry.
At a Christ-centered school, it seems easy to take knowledge of God for granted. When she hands out the soap and tells them that God loves them, they ask a question we might construe as silly: “Who’s God?” Somebody that most of us know is a total mystery to these people, and they are instantly “eager to learn more.”
“I think the most important thing people need to know about being a Christian is that we’re sinners,” Charissa said taking a more serious tone, “but also the fact that we are forgiven by God and saved through Jesus who died for us. I also think we especially need to teach kids this. They’re the next generation and they should know about God.”
As she settled back into her chair, holding back tears of empathy, she broke the emotional moment with a tale that takes the analogy of ‘kid in a candy shop’ to a whole new level.
At the village, there were about 10 to 12 kids packed in. We were giving out candy to occupy the kids while some others talked to the adults,” Cable remembered, “but when we had walked away, the kids still wanted more.”
She started laughing then, “so we look around, and there’s like 10 to 12 kids running after us, trying to get the candy. Once they got to us, they were jumping all around so we had to hold the boxes up above our heads to get them to calm down.”
Soap and candy are only some of the things the average American takes for granted. But there is another culture shock Charissa (who hasn’t been back in the States for 6 years) found. Only this particular experience didn’t happen in a candy store or a bathroom but in a place where some of us might go often: McDonald’s.
“In Thailand, at a coffee shop or a McDonald’s, when we were done we’d just leave our trays there and someone, like a waiter, would go and pick it up,” she said with a slightly embarrassed giggle, “and in America, the first time I went to McDonald’s, after I was done I just left it there. When I turned around later, someone from another table went over and cleaned it up for me and I was just kind of like ‘oops!’”
Charissa observes “the people here are very patriotic, very all for one and one for all.” We are also very “friendly and kind” according to Charissa, and people see her like that, too.
“Charissa is kind of like the phrase, ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’,” said freshman Jennifer Mrozek. “She’s a very sweet person, and you can’t help but like her, but she can dish it out when she needs to. She’s not afraid to speak her mind.”
Charissa’s father, the Rev. Steve Cable, agrees.
“I think the best advice I can offer my kids is to not be afraid to be different,” he said. “Charissa definitely exhibits that quality.”
Charissa smiles as the interview draws to a close. She wraps her red jacket around her, throwing her empty cup in the trash.
Charissa is certainly different from your average freshman, and much more than a missionary’s daughter.