The Johnson’s were second generation missionaries to
Mrs. Johnsons’ parents were missionaries in the southern
Mrs. Johnson had heard many strange stories while growing up with national children while on summer breaks. It seemed wherever there were jungle in
With their residence set up in a small village near the Ping river this mystique of the unknown must have been great indeed for they were almost 100 kilometers away from any other missionary and any western influence. But they preferred it that way since they could then immerse themselves in the surrounding culture while meeting the needs of the people. Mrs. Johnson was a nurse and Mr. Johnson busied himself with teaching and helping build permanent structures for those in need of shelter.
Sometimes odd things happen when you are hundreds of miles away from civilization. The Western mind almost automatically tries to categorize it in our rational way. But sometimes some things happen that just defies all known logic and previous experiences.
Mrs. Johnson was always eager to share these odd bits of the unexplained in her missionary talks while on furlough back in the states, and one of the more fascinating stories she told was of the Naang Maai Paa, or the little fairy of the wild forest.
The Naang Maai Paa lived deep in the forest and hated human beings. They looked like humans but were not, the villagers considered then to be spirits who took shape to guard the forest. They were as small as a child, but unlike our Western idea of fairies these spirit beings of the wilderness were little hairy people who lived in the earth underneath large trees.
Mrs. Johnson had always thought the creature a superstitious legend until a series of mysterious happenings in the early 60s.
In some of the new houses erected by her husband and other members of the local church, food began to disappear in the middle of the night. These houses were built in newly cleared land at the edge of the forest on a mountainside. The thieves never struck the same house twice in a row, but seemed to make a route going back and forth along the base of the mountain. It was not long after exchanging stories that they deduced the thieves pattern and set up a trap for the perpetrator. Mrs. Johnson’s husband joined them as they lay wait for the thief to make his move.
So they kept armed vigil around the house and waited. It was not until, morning was almost upon them that the criminal showed up. But curiously they did not see him enter the house, but only as he exited. It was a little Naang Maai Paa with it’s arms full of fruit and dried meat. It quickly waddled towards the woods when one of the national pastors, thinking it was a child jumped in front of it and raised his flashlight to its face.
From Mrs. Johnson’s account there were two screams heard by all the watchmen, that of the national pastor and the other of the fairy thief. When the others came to his aid the thief was gone, less some pieces of plunder to be sure, but he was long gone into the forest. However they found the pastor shaking on the ground, for he was sure he had seen a demon.
The three foot tall creature was covered in thick reddish fur and had black skin with yellow eyes. Its teeth were fangs and when it screamed there came a stench from its mouth that smelled like rotting flesh. The pastor was sure he had seen a Naang Maii Paa, and he was sure it was a demon from hell.
There were searches the next few days but they turned up nothing but some possible footprints that had been partially washed away by rain. The food runs ceased from that point on however.
Mr. Johnson was sure that the pastor had seen a monkey of some kind, but the nationals were sure that it was a fairy of the wild forest. The stories of their trickery had been passed down from generation to generation, and every once in a while there would be a sighting when someone ventured deep into the wood.
What was the creature that raided those lonely houses almost half a century ago? Was it a monkey, demonic being, or something else? Whatever it was it had a definite taste for Western foods since almost all the perishables stolen were not normal Thai food.
The local Buddhists told the Christians it was the Naang Maii Paa demanding an offering for encroaching on its land.
Today the rainforests of
And what of the Naang Maii Paa?
Although retired from the mission field for many years she still keeps in contact with local friends she made long ago.
The forests are silent as they are burned into oblivion.
Until Next Time,