Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday


The boys hitching a ride in Joe's truck.

Wednesday is our long service day. It starts at 9:30 with a service meeting. By the time we get to the territory, a little after 10, it's already plenty hot. Despite the temperature, I find myself wishing I had some of those arm cover sleeve things the Japanese sisters wear. When a Japanese sister offered to give me a pair of hers, I accepted them gladly because I am getting a wicked farmer's tan. Also, the top side of my arm and the underside of my arm look like two different species.


We knew we would be working our neighborhood so Amy wanted to have break at our house. We baked brownies and got treats and drinks for them. Then around 11, a group of sweaty, wilted people found their way to our house. We set up the fans to try to cool everyone off. They were so surprised to have break all taken care of for them. And that the brownies were homemade :) We gave multiple tours of our tiny yet comfortable home. As usual, the safety of our hammocks was questioned and as usual, they were proved trustworthy. Anyway, it was an unusually nice break. Then we went back out.



At lunch, we went home briefly then met up with Cut to drive to her studies. One of them is Nong Wan, an outrageously sweet girl who just glows with happiness on her study. She wants to study twice a week and she's 8. Also, Amy had to apply to a school so she could get a student visa and stay for another year. She's going to school to learn Thai. I'm kinda jealous. After that, we dropped her off at home and she made dinner while Cut and I continued with studies. I met Amy back at 7 for our last study of the day which wrapped up at 8:30. We got home and a few minutes later, Cut arrived with her Bible student, Molly, and we all had dinner together.

Then we played with balloons. Yeah, balloons. The old timey kind where you squeeze the plastic out of a tube and blow through a tiny straw to inflate them? They're a great end to along day, lemme tell you.

Oh and I had my first Thai massage last night. This could be the start of something beautiful.

I got my phone working yesterday. I feel like a real girl now. I already got my first wrong number too. Someone called me like 4 times in a row. At first we thought it was telemarketers but the persistance was weird. Then when I answered, he couldn't understand me. I passed him off to Cut and he explained that this was his girlfriend's number but he must have dialed it wrong. (Four times??) After she cleared all that up, he decided to ask her for dating advice. The reason he was calling his girlfriend (over and over and over again, not like a creeper at all) was that she broke up with him and he wanted to know what he could do to get her back.
Cut said, "Well you need to talk to her to find out what's wrong. What was her reason for breaking up?"
"She didn't want to be with me anymore." he  replied.
"Well.... that's pretty much all I can do for you then. Ok I gotta go!"

It's too bad I don't speak Thai yet. I've got loads of dating advice just ready and waiting to hand out to wrong numbers. Something to look forward to.

This is a good picture of the beach because it doesn't show you all the old men in speedos.

We play a version of Spoons here where no one REALLY loses a round, you just get your face drawn on. With blue eyeshadow. I think the drawing is their favorite part.  

You can't tell, but I just ate pink soup.
Ok bye.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't Panic

Can I just say that all my dreams are coming true? That this assignment is even better than I imagined? Would you believe me??

That doesn't mean I haven't freaked out a few times.

At assembly, I got overwhelmed and cried. I'm just surrounded by people who are doing so much more than me that I began to question if I should even be here. That maybe im not capable enough. There's so much to learn!! I think my expectations of myself were a liiiiiittle too high? :) I've since gotten a fresh perspective. So what if I don't know what i'm doing yet? I'm trying. I'm learning a bit more each day. It will come in time. Don't panic.

I'm helping teach some of the brothers and sisters english and the other night I taught them some important words: stressed out and overwhelmed! It happens to all of us from time to time. Someone disappears for a day or two and the next time we see them we ask, Are you ok? Because of the language barrier they just say, "I'm tired". But that doesn't really explain it. After I taught them what overwhelmed meant, one brother started nodding and saying "Yes, yes that's me!!" It just feels good to be understood. Now we can explain ourselves a little more to each other and be in a better position to help each out when we need to :)

So now it's great! I just have to strike the right balance. There's obviously plenty to do in the ministry and in the congregation. There's also all kinds of studying that needs to be done. Then too, having enough to do socially here is not a problem. The problem is learning when you have to say no! We go out to eat together all the time and over to each others houses, or the beach...There's just never a shortage of things to do or people to see. I have two Bible students in Thai already that are asking excellent questions and studying ahead...I just can't communicate with them yet! After going on a call like that, it makes me want to go home and study Thai for hours. But there's not always time for that. So i'm learning to pace myself. It's good to really work hard at something for Jehovah though. You have an amazing sense of satisfaction and accomplishment afterwards. I thought I would have so much extra time here because I wouldn't have TV, or work but... I was wrong! Ah well, it's good. We're never bored :)


Studying at a floating market!

Last Saturday it was quite hot in service and most everyone just went home and went to bed after lunch. I'm not used to having the sun suck the life out of me. It's weird, when I get that hot I can't think straight, I feel weak. I just kind of shuffle along and smile at people while saying my little presentation and handing them a tract. It was in the midst of this heat induced stupor that I turned a corner and saw a cow with horns running at me. Making angry cow noises. You may doubt that cows can make angry noises, but I assure you, they can. I wasn't really sure if I was hallucinating or not until my friend Natasha grabbed me and said "I think we need to run!" So we ran and hid behind a cement telephone pole (hey, at least it was something) but the cow crossed the street and kept coming for us. I looked over at an elder on the other side of the street for suggestions but he was just watching the whole thing in shock. Well, just when it looked like things were about to get personal, the cow swerved a bit and decided to pass us by, followed by a man with a lasso who was yelling at it to stop. So, it wasn't trying to kill us I guess. We took a break after that.

That evening, we had Amy's Bible study over for dinner and made her spaghetti. She and her children couldn't figure out how to eat it! I felt bad. I thought, this is how Japanese people feel when they see me try to use chopsticks... But the evening was a success. I was drawing with her daughter afterwards and she drew a sky with a sun and clouds and a little person hovering over everything. Then she giggled and pointed to the person and said "Prayahowa" which is Jehovah's name in Thai. How cute is that? It struck me what a privilege it is to help make someone aware of their creator and what his name is.


At our english pioneer meeting for the country we had 144 in attendance. I heard that 5 years ago they only had 40. Impressive growth! So, some points from our assembly weekend!
                                     
                                                                                 
I found the place where they keep all the single sisters.
And so many are here from Australia!
It felt more like we went to an assembly in Australia
than one in Thailand.


















How valuable is our personal study? Well when it comes to crunch time, like if we have to give a witness to an important official, what will the holy spirit be able to draw on? Only what we put in. The brother reminded us, "The holy sprit is a helper, don't make it a worker!"

This one was good for me. For a person with a bad attitude, nothing seems right. When you learn a new skill, you must first have the positive attitude that you CAN do it. In that frame of mind, you can acquire the new skill. I have since applied that to driving my bike :) and pretty much doing everything else here as well.


Joanna, a young lady who says things like, "Oh and
give my regards to Lexi!" Honest.
To keep us humble: The truth elevates our life, it does not elevate us.

Wanna guess what year the slave started encouraging us to start doorstep studies? 1937. And it was with phonographs! Silly me for thinking doorstep studies were a more recent development. We sure have come a long way though.

Another beautiful point I learned: It's not our love that gets us to the door. It's Jehovah's love. It should be readily apparent to the individual that Jehovah loves them so much that he sent us to them. How awesome is that? We're there to help them see how much Jehovah loves them. I want to keep that close to my heart when i'm in the ministry.

Thailand is often referred to as the land of smiles. Our Circuit Overseer told us that in this land of smiles, none of them compare to ours because ours come from a different place, from within. They come from our spirituality. And when we smile, people can tell the difference.

The missionary couple assigned to Bangkok.
The other day I complemented a Thai sister about how well she spoke english and she began to make all the usual apologies about how she really was terrible at it, needed to learn more, etc. Then she said, "I'm really mad at Nimrod. This is all his fault."
His parents got baptized at our assembly along with 3 others.
So true. The next time i'm frustrated with studying the language or not being able to express myself, you know who's taking the blame.

We have some pretty brazen little geckos in our house. At first they kept to the walls and tried to stay out of our way, but now...
I baked a loaf of bread the other night and left it out to cool on the shelf. When I came back, it was dark and I went to pick up the bread which normally does not wiggle when I touch it. This time was different. I screamed and dropped whatever was wiggling. The whatever it was landed on my foot where it proceeded to wiggle some more. I screamed again and decided it was time to get out of the kitchen. Since then, he has been in the trashcan and flown out when we take the lid off. He has hidden in the fruit bowl, just waiting to spring. There are literally leaping lizards in my life. Every time I walk in the kitchen, I look around nervously. Where is he today??  We did a family worship where we read out of the insight books about how baal means owner. So we decided it was time to name our little friend. He is now Baal of the Shadows. And he is everywhere.

That's all for now! I'm having a great time and looking forward to each new experience!



Assembly in Bangkok

Sorry I haven't had time to write! I promise I will soon, but I at least got a chance to put together a video of our English assembly.

I think our peak attendance was around 480 on Sunday. It was really cool getting to see English speakers from across the whole country! Our District Overseer had big news for us. He and his wife have been invited to Gilead! They most likely will be reassigned to Thailand because of the need here. When they come back they can join the other missionary couple assigned to Bangkok.

The pioneer meeting was perfectly tailored to our needs, even though it was in more accents than i've ever heard in one place. One brother gave a great illustration about our Bible students. Teaching them is like building a high-rise. When you build a high-rise, you don't stop after the first few floors. You have to see it through till you get to the top. So with our Bible students, we can't just give them the basics and expect them to take it from there. We have to stay with them through all the many levels of progress it takes to make it to baptism. Gave me ample motivation to help all my students make it to the top floor!

Ok, but now we have to go to bed so I will finish later.

video

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cats and Birds

Our neighbors have birds.

Not like normal people though. They've got like ten cages. And they have friends that have birds too. Several times a week, men come and go in trucks or on bikes with bird cages, thus adding to the menagerie. Sometimes it feels like we're living in an aviary because they're extremely vocal songbirds.

Well, the mystery of the constant bird parade was starting to get to us. Why so many birds? Why do birds come and go? Is this guy a doctor? Then Amy noticed something even weirder.

The guys that come over all sit out front, with drinks and food and cigarettes and just watch. The birds. Four grown men just a-sittin' and a-watchin' all morning. One guy even brings binoculars even though the birds are  ten feet away. At this point we thought it must be gambling. What else could keep them so entertained? Are they fighting the birds? Should we keep our distance from the bird mafia?

As it turns out, it's not half so sinister. There is a thriving bird culture here that subsists on simply hearing birds sing. People will spend a good deal of money on a bird with a great set of pipes. They trade them too! There are even bird experts that you can hire to come and listen to your little artist and then recommend what FRUIT they should eat to improve their voice! Maybe this one needs a little pineapple, but this one should take more papaya. It can all add up to victory at a competition where Thai birders gather every year in hopes of taking home the prize for best vocalist.

So, it's a bird concert going on next door? Alright.

Then there was the cat.

Or the fetus as Amy described it. We were in the middle of a study when a sister called Amy in a panic.  She had just gotten home from work and was walking away from her car when she heard a kitten crying. Upon returning to the car, she discovered that the kitten was rather awkwardly in the wheel well. Apparently, while she was at work, the mother saw the car and thought it was an extremely good hiding place for her little one. She was partially correct because the little two week old kitten, though feeble, made it home through traffic without a scratch. But what do do when one has a tiny stowaway? Call Lexi and Amy! They want a cat! A cat? Yes. A fetus, no. As Amy repeatedly stated, a cat that young away from its mother will die. We took it to the vet who did nothing but sell us some kitty formula and a preposterously small bottle. The kitten would hardly drink it though. Amy was getting more stressed by the minute.






 Now it was time to go to meeting. Amy put together a box and towels for the little thing and we took it with us. We kept in on our laps to keep it warm. Ever commented with a cat on your lap? I have. After the meeting, people had plenty of suggestions but the common theme seemed to be: take care of it yourself. But how??? It needs to be fed every three hours!! With our schedule, it was just impossible.



So Amy decided to go back to the sister's workplace to see if we could find the mother. I prayed on the way too, that we would find at least SOME acceptable mother for this cat. When we got to the neighborhood, all the neighbors recognized the kitten and described  the mother as a black cat. So we knew we were close. We put the kitten on the ground and let it cry. The neighbors and us watched anxiously to see what would happen. FINALLY, the mother cautiously came out form her hiding place and took the baby! I can't describe how good that felt. But. All the neighbors  said that there were THREE kittens. So...where were the other two? Later that night, the sister found them underneath her car as well. Also still alive and well. So she too returned them to their mother.

Who hopefully finds a new hiding place.



The happy reunion. She's not eating it, I promise.


Glen and Janelle are going back to Australia in a few days. My only consolation is, they'll be back in a few months! They're just going home briefly to work. Meanwhile, they left us with spices and various pantry items to babysit while they're gone.


Eungin, Glen, Janelle, Amy, Me


  We keep a weird pantry here. A few things you would expect: like a week's supply of ramen, coconut milk and fish sauce. Then there is that bag that looks like it should be full of coffee grounds. But it isn't. That's our yeast.
  Yes, I wanted to bake bread in our toaster oven. Our toaster oven that ONLY lets you set how long you would like your item toasted, not the temp you would like it toasted on. That means that if I want to bake bread,  I have to go in the kitchen every 7 minutes or so and turn it back on. Unless the knob gets stuck, which it likes to do. Then it merrily roasts away all by itself, wishing it could just melt down and start a fire, but we won't let it.
  Back to the yeast. Everything here comes in smaller packages. You might think yeast would fit neatly into that category. But, in a country where the serving sizes are undeniably smallish, they give you enough yeast to open a bakery. Now I feel compelled to bake bread on every occasion. That being said, the bread turned out pretty well! Crunchy crust which I like, but with the shape of a focaccia. I will take suggestions on toaster oven bread baking. Or bread baking in general, if you have them.




Janelle also totally set me up with enough calls to make me feel like a respectable pioneer. So now I can contribute to afternoon service calls! Plus, they're out of town by the lake in more of a country setting. The city is so crowded and polluted that it's really nice to get out of it for a bit.






I saw my first baby elephant and had my first cockroach fall on my arm from the roof. I expect it will not be the last.

Joe and Fa taught me some motorcycle basics and i'm feeling much more comfortable on the bike now. And by comfortable I mean that now I remember to breathe while i'm driving. But at least i'm making a teaspoon of progress. Worrying about driving that thing was keeping me up at night! Ugh. I'm bummed Jeff wasn't here to teach me though! The girls all say he's such a good teacher.

Kay that's it for now!