Thursday, April 28, 2011


Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to a Thai Christian funeral for the first time. One of the women at the Nakornping church died pretty suddenly from leukemia and the funeral started the next day. She had a young son and it was so sad to see the slide show of her with her family. It was really interesting to me how it is similar to a Buddhist funeral but without all the Buddhist things. It really is Thai but really is Christian as well. It lasts for several days and they have many people come visit the house and the family feeds everyone and they have the coffin there with lots and lots of flowers and pictures. At the Buddhist funeral I went to there was a long line of monks that were chanting in Pali and everyone waied the whole time. At the Christian funeral it was mostly like a church service with lots of eating and greeting the family. There was singing of some very old hymns that I didn't know in English, let alone Thai, but I was able to kind of read and sing along. The sermon after that was good from what I understood and I learned a few new words listening. One of my favorite things about Thai funerals is the shiny flashy lights that they put on the coffin. At this particular funeral, the electricity wasn't too great so all the other lights went out at one point and were flashing for a while so it was kind of crazy looking and felt more like a disco than a funeral. It was great to see all of the churches together again, even if it was for a really sad occasion so it was a good opportunity to show some unity and love. And it was the last time I will see some of them before I leave.

Dinner with P Rung and Onglee

With Becky and friends on top of a hotel

On a lighter subject, I haven't payed for any of my meals lately because everyone is treating me to last dinners and lunches. Its great! I've been able to go out with P Rung and Onglee, P Tik and Awn, Marvin and Oi, Becky, Robert, and Ying. I am going to miss all of these people so much! I also had my last English class today with my student Jo and she brought me a funny stuffed robot thing that there is no way I will be able to pack and bring home with me but it is still very sweet. I've officially cleaned out the junk from my whole room but I haven't actually packed anything. I'm planning on starting tomorrow. Ahh! That's crazy. I'm also getting ready for Amanda's wedding which is next Saturday and talking to my parents about getting my car and phone all set up and working again. I'm going to be very busy for a while at home and I think it will be good to help me from thinking too much about what I will be missing here in Thailand. Because I will, I know.

I even had to take a last picture with my favorite 7-11 man!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cha-am and Songkran

From today I have exactly two weeks left in Thailand. What happened?! I can't believe the time has gone by so fast, especially since Amanda and Kara left. I thought it might feel long but it has snuck up on me and I can't wrap my mind around it at all! I started compiling a list of lasts today: last foods, places, and things to buy. I don't know if I will actually do them all but I hope I can. I have been traveling so much lately it will be weird to just be here for these last two weeks but really good to say goodbye to everyone and get all my stuff together.

Last week Mark and I took the night bus on Thursday all the way to Pattaya to see Berm before we all went together to church camp in Cha-am. His birthday was a few days earlier so we got to celebrate with him and see a few of the sights we didn't see last time we were there. We also got to hang out with his little nephew Game who is hilarious. He went with us around town and loved doing everything! He also tried to talk to us a lot in Thai and would get frustrated when we didn't understand everything. It was really funny. He also had a CRAZY laughing fit and wouldn't stop for like 15 minutes. It was also good to see that Berm's parents were feeling better because they both have been having health issues, which is why he's been home for two months.

 Game and Berm at Shabushi for Berm's birthday

Visiting a vineyard in Pattaya

On Saturday the three of us drove from Pattaya to Cha-am to help set up camp. Cha-am Beach Camp is where lots of Churches of Christ from all over Thailand come together for a week at the beach and worship and learn together and get to see other believers when they may not all the rest of the year. It actually started on Tuesday night so we were REALLY early. But is was great to meet the people from Bangkok who were in charge and we were really glad to have something to do. They were super welcoming and asked us to help with many things like making name tags and digging holes and setting up the food stalls. We had to use our Thai skills a lot and we learned lots of new words. Our new friends Tan and Lin really enjoyed teaching us slang that you would never learn in school. It was hilarious. We had also been told that it would be miserable hot and we would hate having to sleep on the beach all week, but it was actually really nice weather, not raining and not too hot.

Playing Phase 10 with Lin, Ai, and Tan

Hanging out on the beach with new friends

When camp actually started Mark and I helped sell drinks with our new friends and were able to take orders in Thai. I only messed up a couple of times. I forgot the word for can instead of bottle and gave this little boy the wrong thing and he looked at me like I was crazy! Many of the people there are from small towns where there aren't very many farangs (foreigners) so they were really scared to talk to us or order from us. Its weird to have people scared of you. I helped in the kids class one day and a mom plopped a baby down next to me and the baby looked up at me, made a shocked face, and started bawling. It was fun in the kids class because their Thai is about the same as mine so I could understand a lot but I don't really know craft words so I would just point at stuff and act things out. All in all it was a really good time to see the church coming together and to see how it really is a full body here because I really only work with young adults and I sometimes forget about the whole picture.

Having fun

Selling drinks with P Tum

Thursday we left and came back to Chiang Mai on another night bus with a few hours in Bangkok. I was actually able to find my way around after having been there 3 years ago! I was amazed. We wanted to get back in time to celebrate the last day of the Thai New Year, Songkran, with our friends here in Chiang Mai. After only a couple hours of sleep we went with our Chinese friends to the moat in the city. We spent all day throwing water on each other and everyone walking by. It was crazy and so fun! Some people put ice in their water and it was freezing. I got a sunburn and a few scrapes from my bucket I used to throw water but it was really great and a good way to connect with some of the Chinese students I didn't know very well.

Yai getting splashed

Tong playing in the water

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Angkor of Faith 5

You might have read about my last trip to Cambodia in December. Well I went again this last week and it was nothing the same but so amazing! Angkor of Faith is a week when Christian youth from all over Asia come together to serve the kids in Siem Reap. This was the fifth time that they’ve had it and the first time that it was planned by some of the younger generation, my age not the missionaries. I had heard lots of great things from friends here and some from the States who have been and I was expecting great things. Last time we taught English at schools and gave out donations and it was good but this week I loved being able to hang out with the kids everyday who left their things to sell outside and ran in and jumped into my arms ready for a day of fun.

I had several kids who really attached themselves to me and I was able to really invest my time and energy in them. Niang came everyday and loved loved loved holding my hand and hanging on me. He loved singing and everyday when we would singe praise songs he would sing so loud and then sing them again to me at dinner.

Deaun didn’t speak much English but her smile would melt any heart. She loved to have me pick her up and spin around really fast. She didn’t show up all the time but she knew when dinner time was and always came running up in time to give me a hug and order some fried rice.

Rexar was one really crazy kid. He would climb all over me and say the funniest things. He wanted to give hugs and kisses to everyone and was a really good photographer. He gave me a tour of Angkor Wat and then proceeded to drink all of my water. He's the little bugger on the right trying to kiss me.

I got to visit the orphanage that I went to on AFCO 08 and I found my favorite little girl who slept in my arms the whole time. She is so much bigger now and so loving and precious. I picked her up and she wouldn't let go of me the whole time we were there. It is a Christian orphanage and the kids sang us some really great songs and prayed together and it was so touching. I am so thankful there is a good place like that in Siem Reap for kids that need a home.

My international group was such a blessing to me. I loved meeting people from lots of different countries. In my group there were people from Singapore, Malaysia, China, and South Korea, and me, the American by way of Thailand. It was really good listening practice to figure out what everyone was saying in English but with their own accents. I had a great time with Elaine who is from China but studying in Singapore right now. She said she was excited that I would be her first American friend and liked to practice her English with me. Elaine was so sweet and we had fun going through Angkor Wat together the last day. Sheena was our fearless group leader and I just loved her! We are both kind of in the same place right now, just out of college and trying to figure out how best to serve the Lord so we had some really good discussions. And she was just fun! 
Elaine and I at Bayon
Sheena getting her hair done by the girls
In all it was an amazing trip and so great to see the youth of Asia come together to serve the kids in Cambodia. P Robert mentioned several times how this trip really felt like we were able to do more than just play with the kids and help them, we were able to teach them about our Savior and it was so great to hear them singing praise songs as they rode home on their bicycles. Please pray for the continued work in Siem Reap with these children and for the unity of the church here in Asia through its young people that were at AoF 5 this week.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Babysitting and Bus Sitting

Today I am home at the Zone alone trying to get over a cold while Mark and Robert are taking the Chinese students to the caves. It's a good time to catch up on the blog. This weekend Mark and I went to Phayao with our friends Nathan and Neung to babysit for the mission team there while they had a workshop. Pretty much the only kid I ever see is Onglee on Sundays so it was great to hang out with the 6 kids from the team. They are so cute and full of energy and we had a blast playing games and having dance competitions and watching movies. It was a good time to catch up with the adults as well and see how their ministry is growing since we saw them last. They are having worship every Sunday rotating between their houses and they are inviting lots of their neighbors and friends and it is really encouraging to hear about the connections they are making with people in the community.

Meg loves to take pictures

Feeding everyone lunch

On Saturday Mark and I went to Mae Sai, the Burma border, from Phayao to renew our visas. It turned out to be a lot more complicated than we thought getting all the right buses but our Thai was equal to the challenge and after a long day of bus sitting we made it back to Chiang Mai. One of the buses was a fan bus that wasn't too full at first but as we went it got more and more crowded til we were pretty much sitting on top of each other and sweating like pigs. Two girls started talking to me on that bus that were students from Phayao and we had a lovely Thai conversation that felt like it was straight from a class exercise. I actually could understand all of her questions and asked some of my own. I've been feeling frustrated with myself that I don't want to practice my Thai more so that was a good confidence booster.

Dao and Onglee at Amanda and Kara's going away party

Yesterday my friend Dao came to the Zone to say goodbye. Finals are this week and all of the Thai students and going home for their summer break. I won't see her again before I leave on May 1 so I was sad. She hasn't been coming very often this semester but always brings a big smile and hug when she does. Her friend Bew also came and gave me a hug and we promised to Skype to practice our English and Thai. This coming Saturday I am going to Angkor of Faith 5 in Cambodia. The Thai team has a lot of responsibilities so we have been planning and buying things to prepare. Apparently Thailand has the cheapest stuff around so we bought hygiene items for all the kids, about 200, and are taking them with us. It is going to be interesting to see how we fit all of the stuff into our bags. I'm really excited to see all the kids again and get to know some more international friends from all over Asia!

Monday, February 28, 2011

All Alone - But So Not Alone!

Now that Amanda and Kara are gone it is weird to write this by myself. I am very used to writing and speaking and thinking in "we." But now it is just a different "we" I guess.  I have so many friends here it is funny when people ask me if I am lonely now. Mark is still here, will be here until August, and we do all of the intern things together. And pretty much everything else, too. In Thai class I have several good farang friends  that I can talk to about home and hang out with. Awn comes by almost everyday to hang out and study and it has been so fun to speak Tinglish with her and to hear how she is learning more about Christ all the time just by hanging out at the Zone.

LST just left yesterday and it was sad to see them go but as always, there is no normal here at the Zone and we already have some other friends staying here a few days that have been traveling around the world. Kara said one time that when people are here it seems like they have always been here and when people leave it feels like they have been gone for years and its really true.

This week Mark and I are starting new English classes to try to pick up where the LST group left off. We will have group classes and will probably be doing a kind of continuation of reading in the Bible where the students left off in the LST book. I am excited and ready to teach again. It is really a nice break to not teach when LST is here but I think I feel a lot more useful when I am teaching. Also my Thai class is over in 2 days and I will be done with learning Thai ( in a classroom) forever! I'm kind of glad to have some time off from it, it has been getting harder and more frustrating. But I'm glad to know so much now!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

กระดูกแห้ง- Dry Bones!

So, I broke my leg. After an exciting morning with Kara and Laquita at the Tiger Kingdom, we decided to make a pit stop at some elephant statues to take an “America’s Next Top Model” photo shoot.  The last shot was of me and Kara jumping off the backs of two elephants while holding hands. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but in actuality it was the decision which would change the course of my time in Thailand. I jumped off the elephant and landed wrong, I knew immediately that I had broken something in my leg. I could hear the break vibrate throughout my body. Even now when I close my eyes I can hear the sound of the cracking replay in my head. While I lay there screaming profusely Laquita just stood there laughing at how good of an actress I was. When I took my hand off my foot, they could see that something was not right. Kara later stated, “I could tell that something was not right, it looked like your food was not attached.” Two passerby’s on their motorbikes over heard the horrible screams and stopped to help. They thought I had been bitten by a snake. After seeing that I had actually broken my leg, one of the men called an ambulance. 

Amanda needed a nap so I (Kara) am going to continue. We waited for about 40 minutes for the ambulance to come. When it finally arrived it turned out to be a pickup truck with a cover on the back. They laid her in the bed of the pickup, but they didn’t secure her to anything so she was rolling all over the place.  Laquita and I tried to tell her some jokes to get her mind off the situation, but Laquita told one about diarrhea and that made her want to throw up even more.  The ambulance had a very loud siren, it but stopped at every red light and no one got out of our way. At the hospital they took her to the emergency room and everyone in the room grabbed her leg to assess the situation. They actually grabbed and poked and twisted it. They said they needed an x-ray to determine if it was fractured when it was clearly broken. This was when Hilary and Mark showed up after getting a rot dang from the Zone because we had to leave the truck at the statues. They walked up and heard some blood curdling screams and Hil said, “Yep, we found her, I’d know that scream anywhere.”  In the ER they said her tibia was broken and she had to be admitted to wait for the specialist to talk about surgery. They wanted to put in an IV to give her fluids and pain medicine, but it was Amanda’s first experience with one and she wasn’t very excited about it. She’s a little afraid of needles, ok a lot afraid of needles, but she was very brave and she got some good pain medicine through it, so it was all worth it.
There doesn’t seem to be too many rules here at the hospital. I have been in every room, including the emergency room and operating room, with Amanda and I’ve had to do some of the duties of the nurses even though there are plenty of nurses here. I pushed her bed to the second floor and was in charge of the broken leg when moving her. It’s been quite an adventure. Eventually we got a private room with a fan, its own bathroom, a balcony, a minibar and a TV with Thai stations. It’s pretty luxurious. They had to put a wooden splint on her leg in ER, but the only one they had was for about a 6 foot man, so it didn’t exactly fit her body very well.  It did keep things from moving around though. The only problem was that once she had the splint on there was no way to get her pants off. The only course of action was to remove her pants with scissors! Nothing exciting had been happening for about 3 hours, but right when they began to cut off her pants we had 5 people come to visit. We were so glad to see them, but it was very ironic that it happened when Amanda was the most naked. We waited just a little longer and the doctor finally came. His English was pretty good but we were glad we had our Thai friends to talk to him too. We definitely wanted Jan to be there with us to talk to the doctor and help us decide what was best. The doctor told us that after looking at the x-rays he discovered that both of the bones in Amanda’s lower leg were broken and she would definitely need surgery. The question after that was when and where. After much discussion, everyone decided the best thing to do would be to fly back to the States and have surgery there. We had a group prayer with several of the church members and then we waited for Amanda to have a cast put on at around 10 that night. The cast will help keep her bones stable on the flight to America.  Mark and Hil had to take Laquita to the airport so I stayed with Amanda. We were all glad that Quita was able to be with us in this crazy time, but it was sad that her ended this way. Right before it was time to get the cast the nurse came in and said it was time to pee pee. Aside from her using the term “pee pee,” this seemed like a normal request. However, when Amanda tried to start moving toward the restroom the nurse stopped her and pointed at the bed. It quickly became clear that she wanted Amanda to “pee pee” in the bed. Naturally, Amanda refused, the nurse eventually got her a bed pan, and we all had a good laugh about it. Next, we were off to the operating room. They had to put her to sleep while they set the bones because it was going to hurt A LOT. Amanda did great and she now has a beautiful blue cast. The drugs made her pretty loopy though. She started asking everyone for pizza and trying to talk to the nurses in Thai. I’m not exactly sure what she said, but everyone seemed to think it was really funny. They took some more x-rays after that and the bones looked much better.  We headed back to our room to try and get some sleep, but we found out that sleep is hard to come by in the hospital. The doctor woke us up at about 12:30 to talk about the x-rays and then the nurses came in about every hour and turned on the lights to give Amanda medicine and take out the IV and things like that. 
In the morning she had physical therapy, which means they taught her how to use crutches. It took them a long time to find short enough crutches for her. We think she is the shortest farang they have ever seen. She worked up quite a sweat practicing going up and down the stairs. After that she needed a shower.  Amanda has always had a dream of getting a sponge bath and let’s just say it wasn’t as good as she had hoped. In fact it was one of the most awkward times of her life. But we have all had a good time laughing about all the weird and different things that have happened while at the hospital. 
Hil and Mark were able to talk to Korean Air and get our tickets changed to depart this Wednesday, the 16th and arrive home on the night of the 17th. It is a answered prayer that we didn’t have to pay anything extra and we could get a flight so fast. They also contacted lots of people that needed to know what was going on, like fiancées and sisters and the church. I will be flying back with Amanda and now we both have to pack up several months of stuff in only 1 day. It could be really fun. We will miss everyone here and were looking forward to these last two weeks, but are excited to see our families and fiancées even sooner than expected. We’re realizing all of the blessings that we’ve been able to experience through this ordeal: support from our Christian family here and at home, friends who are willing to do anything to help, knowing some Thai to help get around, to hear one of our non-Christian friends pray for the first time, that Amanda didn’t take the last Thai class and waste her money, that the tickets were so easy to change, that Amanda’s Mom is able to come home and take care of her for a while, and that she could get an appointment with a doctor at home so quickly.  These things are proof that God is in control. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. Please continue praying that we have a safe journey home and that Amanda’s road to recovery is quick and as smooth as possible. See you in America!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Top Ten of the New Year!

We are going to do a new series of Top Tens and we are starting with favorite experiences of the New Year as today is the Chinese New Year. This list is in no particular order because we would all want to rank them differently.

1. Amanda and Hilary have officially completed Thai 3! This is Amanda's last Thai class so we are glad she is pretty much fluent now :) Hil has one more and will start again on Monday. It has been great to connect with the people in our class and learn to speak, read and write in Thai.

2.Rise up Thailand was a Christian concert that we went to at Payap University here in Chiang Mai. It was very inspiring for us to see that many Christians from all over the world coming together for the soul purpose to praise and worship God.

3.Teaching English in Baw Gaew. We had the amazing opportunity to travel to the mountain village of Baw Gaew and teach 8 English lessons to a group of 100 7th, 8th and 9th graders. It was such a blessing to spend time with these students and teachers!

4.Robert's return. Robert went back to America the first week in December to visit his father who was in bad health. He was there over a month and returned in mid January. We were very happy when he returned to Chiang Mai.

5.Amanda and Drew's day of adventure. Amanda and Drew go to go on a fun day of adventure in the mountains. We went zip lining, white water rafting, elephant riding, bamboo rafting, and were able to visit a butterfly and orchid farm. It was so much for us to get to spend the day together and get to see God in the beauty of nature together.

6.Fiancees! Andy and Drew got to spend almost two weeks in Thailand with us and it was wonderful! They got to be a part of all the things we do at the zone and see how we live our day to day lives. We loved having them here!

7.LST parties have been really great so far. We had a Words and Things party and a Groundhog's Day party. Many of the Chinese students Mark studies with have been attending and several of our friends that had been studying English with us in between LST groups. It is great to connect with them when we aren't actually teaching right now.

8.We got a new LST group that will be with us until the end of February. It is made up of a Tom and Helen, a married couple, and Sheila and Michele, an aunt and niece duo. They are so much fun and are up for anything. They are great additions to the zone!

9.The five churches in the Chiang Mai area all met here this last Sunday and we had about 120 people crowded into the top floor. It is so fun to see everyone and the singing was amazing with that many people in one place.

10. Laquita is here visiting for Africa. She went to A&M with us and is serving abroad in Kenya for a year. We look forward to spending the next two weeks with her and showing her around Thailand!