Toe Update and Other Things…

My toe is feeling much better…I’m still hobbling, but not as bad…and it is now looking much less bruised. Thank you for remembering me and my toe! 🙂 

Christmas was quite the adventure. Christmas Eve was filled with eating, fun, smiles, and the true Christmas Story. There was a progressive dinner that I was invited to. We went to 5 different homes and sang, ate, read the Story, had Communion, ate some more, exchanged gifts, and watched part of White Christmas. By the time we made it to the last home for the movie, we were all whipped. I left with my team-mate’s family to go to their house at around 11:30. We had to go…if we wanted Santa to come. 🙂 

Sure enough…Santa found me even here! Can you believe it? And although there is no snow…which is so odd for me…it was still Christmas here. Our Savior still came to save us…He was still born…and we still celebrate it. What an awesome thing! Even without snow! 🙂 My team-mate’s made it such a wonderful time. I truly felt “at home” and so welcomed. They had a stocking filled for me, some sweet presents, and even a Santa hat so I could fit in with the rest of the family and their Santa hat’s. 

katie_christmas

Rain came the day after Christmas…which made it gloomy…and only added to the fact that Christmas had come and gone. Thank goodness today was a bright and sunny day! I LOVE THE SUNSHINE! It just brightens my spirit…

Thank you all for your thoughts and special Christmas wishes you sent me. I love you all!

“He gives His people strength; He blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

Merry Christmas To YOU!

I wish you a very very Merry Christmas this year. I hope you can spend time with family, enjoy the smiles, cherish the memories, and take every little thing in…to savor. I’m looking forward to spending time with people here…although I will miss my family and friends dearly. This will be the very first Christmas away from home…but He will provide. I have already been touched by some small things that He has sent my way…enjoying listening to Christmas music is one of them. I always love the cheer it brings…and the fun memories I have of years past. 

Enjoy your day and make lots of memories you will never forget. 

Blessings to you all…MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This One’s A Hodge-Podge…

I realized this morning that there were several things on my camera that I hadn’t shown to anyone…it was time for a new “mix” of things to share with you. 

Fireworks were fun at the celebration for the King’s birthday. There were tons of people, tons of camera’s, and lots of music, laughter, and  noise. It was located at the International Garden, with an old temple as the backdrop. Quite gorgeous actually…

fireworks

My Dad had asked to see a picture of my office…so here you go. It’s pretty, a big huge window with tons of light…looking out onto a big green yard with trees and bushes. The rooster crows all day long…it’s hilarious…and really lovely! I adore him…wherever he is. I haven’t even seen him…but I sure can hear him.

office

And finally…the piece de resistance…just what you wanted to see on my blog…my foot! HA! I know it’s kinda gross…but I thought I had to share it. I broke my toe yesterday morning, the middle toe. Ugh…nothing is quite as embarassing as breaking one’s toe on the way to turn off an alarm. Yep…I ran into my camera case with wheels and must have hit it just right to bust my toe. Oh, it hurt…not a fun way to wake up in the morning. Thankfully, my co-worker noticed that it didn’t look quite right when I got to work and I was hobbling around. We went to the hospital…so I got to see what the medical care is like here…and I got in and out, with x-ray, doctor check, and some stuff to help it heal, all for around $30. The miracle of foreign health care…

foot

So…that’s what I’ve been up to recently. Please do lift up my foot…as silly as that sounds. It makes it hard to get around…and it is just painful. 

Blessings to you all!

How the Soul Reacts…

Mae Sariang. That’s the correct spelling of the village I traveled to this weekend. It is similar in size to my hometown in Michigan, maybe around 10 or 15 thousand people. The surrounding area is much more rural. The land is covered in rice fields, all brown and black from the recent burning of the field after harvest.

Three Thai teachers, one Thai woman from Mae Sariang who now lives in my city, three farang (white American) children, and around 10 other M’s went on the trip. Fleece Navidad was a mission set out to deliver 1,000 fleece coats to the children of 7 different schools in the area. Four of the schools were larger, ranging from 150 students to 250, then the other three were smaller, ranging from 59 to around 100. 

Day one: I woke up late, using my new alarm clock for the first time. Sunday morning and only 20 minutes or so to get ready for church. As you can clearly tell, it was not a pretty sight. (This was before I got myself together…I just rolled out of bed. I know some of you were thinking, “She went to church like this?” Admit it.)

   

I managed to make it to church on time and catch a ride with the family I was to ride up the mountain with. After lunch, we loaded up the 11 passenger van and got on board. I sat in the last row, next to Khruu Fon (pronounced crew phone). She teaches Thai at the office. We had a nice visit and I learned a lot about her; we giggled and both got embarrassed by our lack of knowledge of the other person’s language. Gotta just grin and bear it when you get embarrassed in these sort of situations.

Here is my language teacher, Khruu Nai (crew n-eye), she and her husband were on the trip as well. 

Arrived in Mae Sariang in the late afternoon, after 3 hours on the bumpy, windy, and bladder crunching road. I made it without getting sick, thank heaven for Dramamine. The Riverhouse. A beautiful hotel. Khruu Fon and I shared a room; the balcony looked out over a river and the trees glowed perfectly for us as the sun began to set in the distance. Little did I know what the next day would bring. 

I had left my apartment praying, and hoping, for a good experience. I simply wanted to be useful to the Father. I didn’t know what this meant, in what capacity. I had a goal of documenting the trip and thought if the volunteer group could use what I captured, that would be great. 

Khruu Fon and I got up around 5:30 to be at breakfast at 6:30. We left the hotel and arrived at the first school, Huay Po with 177 students and 14 teachers. We met outside, the children were on large mats, with their shoes off. They brought us small trays with a glass of water and a cup of coffee. We unloaded the trucks. Big bags of coats, bags of candy, boxes of a small book we were giving out that contained the Christmas story and some Christmas carols, and beanie babies, as an extra treat.  First there was an introduction, then a song and game, then Pastor John gave a short message and told the students and others listening that he would leave some cards containing information on what he had shared. We passed out the coats, the beanies, and candy.  There were so many cameras. I had a large camera, another photographer had one, a videographer was on the trip, then the others had small camera’s to document the experience as well. 

We went on to the next school: Baan Mae Kong Pae, with 75 students.  This school was much poorer, had much less government funding. The children were beautiful, even with their raggedy old clothes, wholes in their socks, and no jackets in the fairly cool weather, leaving runny noses and dirty faces. My heart began to hurt. We had the same schedule for this school. Something inside me just ached… I couldn’t place my finger on it, but as we left, the tears began to flow. I turned my face toward the window, so other’s wouldn’t see.

What was going on? I have seen poverty before. I have spoken with folks that have had nothing, not even means to have a meal. I have been touched by an old woman who had nothing, even in the dead of winter, she had no doors, no windows, no heat, and no electricity. Why were these feelings attacking me? I began to think, “This is not enough! They need so much more!” I knew we were sharing with them the Message, but I kept feeling like it was just a short snippet, and no one was really listening or could pay attention with the other classmates around them making noise. I cried…and cried. 

The final school of the day was way up on a mountain. It looked down on the valley and the tiny village. This was the poorest school we visited. The children were so well behaved…but I found myself again returning to my rage, fear, heartache, desire to do more, and lack of trust in the work of the Holy Spirit. I had to step outside. Some women from the village came up to see what all the commotion at the school was about. We took pictures together, we talked…or rather they talked to me and I laughed and shook my head “I don’t understand.” They laughed…

I spoke with some co-workers and shared what was going on in my heart and mind. I just couldn’t get over this feeling of “not doing enough.” I felt selfish taking their pictures, and sad that there were so many others doing the same, as if we were taking something from them.  We returned to the hotel and I went straight to my bed. I laid down and stared at the sealing. “What are You trying to show me? What do these feelings and thoughts all mean? I know You sent me here for a reason, was it to teach me I can’t do this?”  Friends, it was a rough couple of hours. But you know what? He is SO MUCH BIGGER than all of our fears, regrets, questions, and SO MUCH BIGGER than what Satan can do to distract and discourage. 

In those 2 hours on my bed, He really taught me some hard lessons. One: the importance of long term M’s and their work in these communities, not that one person can change a whole community or system, but that we need people committed to spending their days working with such people, sharing the Good News with them as much as possible. Two: I was sent to share what is going on here, where many people are not given the opportunity to come. Taking pictures is something that I can share with you, to show you where our efforts are going and how He is moving, even in small mountain villages. Three: I love children! It was so encouraging to be reminded that He has gifted me with love and joy for babies, all shapes, sizes, and colors. Four: He’s already blessed me with a passion for the people here. It didn’t take long…Five: People have been lifting up this small trip for months and they’ve given their time and money to support the trip. I forgot many of these things when I was struggling earlier. 

This was a hard trip. I was pushed over by a wave of emotion and waves of defeat. But guess who made the waves…and my emotions? I found myself, by the end of the trip, rejoicing in the small little smiles I caught out of the corner of my eye, seeing a teacher in the back reading (actually reading every page) of the books we had handed out, and noticing the one child in 10 that was so intently listening when the Good News was given. I believe He showed me these things to remember why He sent me here. He loves His children, all of them. I too should continue to love them…and He’s given me a heart to do so. 

I hope this video finds you well and you can watch and see the magnificent wonders that He has made. We all were blessed to be able to go and give in this way. Blessings!

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Other Fun Things…

First of all, I promise, an in-depth account of my weekend in the mountains is on it’s way. I have it ready to post, however I’m having technical difficulties with some of the media I am attempting to have on the post. Sorry for the delay…it’s coming. 🙂 

I have other things I’d like to share…for instance this…

tamarind

What is it you ask? Well…believe it or not…you actually eat this “fruit” known as tamarind. Yep…you break the outer shell, which you can see here, and chew on the inner “flesh.” Sounds gross…but it’s actually quite tasty. It’s full of vitamin C and B vitamins, plus is supposed to lower cholesterol. Haven’t sold you on it yet, have I? That’s ok…I’ll bring some home to share. 🙂 

Also, I have an addition to my home…a Christmas tree! It’s quite the little Charlie Brown tree…with…let’s see…maybe 14 branches total and maybe 5 feet tall. Three string of garland, 2 strings of lights, and now one sheep ornament pull the whole thing together. It makes it feel a little bit more Christmas-y in here…

thai_christmastree

thai_christmastree2

More news…I have now driven twice in the city…in a stick shift truck…on the opposite side of the street. Whew…scary! I’ve stalled it twice in the road…but thankfully no one was hurt and I only got honked at by one person. Honking is actually really rare here, it’s considered very rude. I hope to be able to drive by myself soon, and then have a little more freedom to explore the city. 

Please continue to lift up my transition here. I hate to admit it, but everything is just a bit harder, a bit more stressful, and more tiring. I feel like I have not truly been myself these past few weeks. I am excited for the time when all of this seems “normal” and I “fit in.” 🙂 Hope that time actually does come. HA! 

Blessings on your day!

It’s Almost Like He Knows What He’s Doing…

First full week down…

I think it’s been 11 days since I arrived. Language class is going well, learning more and more, like numbers, colors, how to order a beverage, and other fun things. The thing I have noticed is even though it seems fairly “easy” to learn, once you are out and hearing locals speak…it becomes a whole different ball game. They speak fast…and muffled. Granted they probably think the same of me and my English. It will take time…but I’m still optimistic at this point. 🙂 

Yesterday I was shown some really cool things. I’ve come to realize that the people here are lovely. I try not to stereotype anything but most people I have met here have a super sweet demeanor, caring hearts, and a quiet disposition; all things that I can really feel at home with, especially the quiet. I went to a Christmas party of sorts the other day and found myself hanging out with just the 3 local people. The 12 or 13 other American’s were…well…American (not saying that’s good or bad)…and the Thai people were…sweet, calm, fun-loving, a little quieter, and caring. It was just neat to see that maybe He knew what He was doing when Thailand was given as an assignment location. Just maybe… 🙂 

There’s nothing much more comforting than really feeling “at home” with the people you’ve been sent to. Amazing! I’m so thankful…not thankful enough! 

Please remember to lift up this weekend. As long as nothing changes, I will be headed to a small village in the mountains, near the border. It’s called…Mossaria…I think!? I hear people say it all the time…but I have no idea how to spell it. When I return on Tuesday I will try to post an update with more precise details and hopefully pictures.

Several people are going to deliver coats to 7 schools, play with the kids, and share the Christmas story. It is about 3 hours from the city. I’m excited, but hoping I can be a “usable tool” for whatever work needs to be done.

Blessings to you all! Thank you for your thoughts, caring emails, and sweet spirits! 🙂

Language Shmaynguage

Two hours of language a day is a great way to learn a lot, and have an over-fried brain. 🙂 Khruu Nai (pronounced crew n-eye) is a cute little lady. She’s maybe in her 40’s and really quiet. She giggles a lot at me, especially when I make a mistake on one of the 5 tones. There’s high, mid, low, rising, and falling tones. When you mix them in a sentence, it sure feels like you are singing…it’s quite fun actually…just difficult. 

I’ve finished phonetics and moved on to conversation classes. Yesterday I learned how to ask what something is called, three colors (red, green, and orange), how to say, “I don’t know,” “What did you say?” and “My name is Neisha.” 🙂 It’s slow…but I’ll get there. 

I hope to go to the zoo this weekend, that’s one of my goals. I’d also like to hunt around a bit near my apartment. There are literally hundreds of temples in the city, this is something I must investigate. 

Oh, I made my first real meal (well, sort of real) in my apartment. I found out that one of my hot pads on my two warming pad “stove” doesn’t work. Also, my toaster oven is really powerful…it can burn toast in like seconds…not that I would know this from experience or anything. 🙂 Oatmeal turned out well, but sifting through the brown sugar to get the small pebbles and rocks out was not the funnest thing to do. I’m not sure how to perfect that talent…there must be an easier way than what I did…just sifting through with my fingers. 

Oh…something you can certainly lift up. There is a young man in the “convenience shop” in the downstairs of my apartment building. His name is Wy (pronounced like we) and he seems very nice, but in need of some friends. Remember him when you can, that maybe myself and my co-workers and others can come in and be a support for him.

Blessings!

Search Me

Why do I pray? Do I pray to say I prayed an hour? 
Why do I love? Do I want you beholden to me? 
Why do I help? Do I help to hear my name called out?
And why do I sing? 

Chorus:
Search me and know my heart, oh Father. 
See if there is any wrong thing in me. 
All I have ever really wanted –
Clean hands and a pure heart. 

Why do I give? Do I give so I can get a blessing? 
Why do I praise? Do I praise to do the right thing? 
Why do I serve? Do I serve so others will serve me?
And Why do I sing? 

Chorus:
Search me and know my heart, oh Father.
See if there is any wrong thing in me. 
All I have ever really wanted –
Clean hands and a pure heart.

~Sarah Groves~

Leprosy…

Sunday was a new experience for me. I went to “The Gathering,” a large service here with nearly 200 people, mostly M’s and mostly Westerners. Music was a blessing, singing some well known worship songs as well as a few Christmas songs.

The message was entitled “The Face of Sin.” Referring to Leviticus 13, we looked at how one may relate sin to leprosy. Question: If sin attacked your face, what would it look like? If it was all over your face and body, what would you do about it?

Wow, never thought of it that way. The tricky thing with sin is that it is internal for the most part. Granted, our heart and motivation will eventually show on the outside, but people don’t see our thoughts, feelings, desires, and deepest secrets, “but God knows your hearts,” Luke 16:15.

What if the ugliest of sins were all over my skin? What if they were all over your skin?

The speaker went on to state 7 characteristics of sin:

-sin is deeper than the skin

-sin spreads slowly but surely (it’s sneaky)

-sin corrupts and isolates

-sin repulses God

-sin must be destroyed

-sin can be cleansed and conquered

The first important step is recognizing our sin. If we don’t begin to see it, we can never be saved, we will never seek His healing.

The good news? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

The speaker reminded me, “The thing that can kill, can be killed. The thing that can destroy, can be destroyed.”

So, I am provoked to almost desire my sin to show like leprosy. Wouldn’t that give such a motivation to act on repenting…to act on bringing all of me before the Father? I challenge you, and myself, to look at our sins as if they were seen by everyone else.

Fireworks…Elevator…Nimmanahaeminda

The last two days have been quite full of adventure…and some eye-opening events as well. Yesterday, as I have mentioned, was the king’s birthday. Besides having many businesses closed and parties practically all day, there was a huge ceremony held at night with precisely 990 fireworks…the commentator said so, or at least that’s what my team members translated. 🙂 We walked around the international garden where the celebration was held and went to practically every country in “garden form”…places like Japan, Nepal, Kenya, Germany, China, Australia…but no America. Oh well…

This morning my co-worker’s wife, Susan, took me around town. I feel much more comfortable with getting around. Now there’s just the feat of learning to drive a manual, and on the “wrong” side of the street. He he! There’s really not much that one cannot find here. Many things are imported as well. 

Later, I headed down the elevator to meet another journeygirl for dinner. Standing there in “the box,” I realized how funny the whole elevator situation is. I push the button to get on and hop in the small 4×4 room with a national. She smiles at me, I smile at her, we both do a little bow thing as a form of “hello,” I push the button for the ground floor, the door closes, we look away from each other, and generally try to avoid eye contact for the rest of the seemingly eternal trip down 11 stories. It’s so funny…when you can’t speak the language, there’s not much to say besides hello and goodbye. HA! This form of interaction has happened many times to me already…all you can do is smile. 🙂 The extent of my vocabulary at this point is just “Hello,” “Thank You,” and “Can you discount this for me?” 🙂 

Sarah, the journeygirl I went to dinner with, met me downstairs and we headed to a popular street called Nimmanahaeminda…can you imagine that you actually pronounce this like “knee-men-hay-men?” Not really what it looks like, right? Anyway, Sarah and I went to dinner then…a massage! WHOA! One whole hour of really good massage for only…230 baht…about $7. That’s enough reason to get a massage here everyday…plus never want to have one back in the States again! It was great…but left me really sleepy. 

So, as you can tell, my days have been rather busy with fun and interesting things to see, do, and eat. Beyond all these activities, I’ve really noticed how modern the city really is, yet so far behind in many other ways. They honor their king, actually they worship him, yet have no idea or regard for the King of Kings. They strive for happiness and sanook (fun) and do good only to receive good in the next life. There is a key ingredient missing in their lives. Please lift these people up…your heart can’t help but break when you see some of the lost faces wandering past you, eyes glazed, hearts numb, and searching for something that’s right in front of them…please keep ’em in your thoughts!