Friday, March 15, 2013

Elephantastic



Brandon is from Spokane, Washington and is now serving in Hua Hin. He introduced us to his friends, the elephants. He hangs out with them, bathes them, feeds them and generously scratches whatever leg they hold up. Through the course of conversation, we find out Thailand is not Brandon's first assignment as a need greater. Oh no. He served in the Sahara DESERT. I told him that should be in his intro. Hi, i'm Brandon and I used to live in the Sahara. I think if I lived in the Sahara, I would make that fact into a shirt. And wear it. But we all know that's not going to happen. Anyways, we kicked it with some elephants. No big deal.


That's Brandon to the left being a boss.
Amy's about to let her have it.






















One of the elephants took me by the
hand with her trunk and tried to walk
me around. Elephant trunks scare me a little. I was trying to figure out why and I think it's because they remind me of those nasty underground worms in Tremors. The trunks are very inquisitive, very strong and slightly snotty. Every time that thing came at me, I had to surpress a scream-and-run reflex. And I think a few times I just went ahead and screamed and ran. But once we were there for a while, I started to get over the sheer size, the bristly hair, the feeling I was about to get stepped on and I could relax :)






It's easier to wash an elephant than a dog.
That's just wrong.
Hey that's not an elephant.
They have really delicious,
uh... I mean beautiful, chickens here.
On with Hua Hin!!
When we first got into town, we met Lidia at her hall. It was around 7 at night and the hall was deserted. Deserted but open. The lights were on, the doors were flung wide and no one was there. So we wandered around their impressively well organized kingdom hall while we waited. When Lidia showed up, she was just as surprised as we were that the hall was unlocked. Turns out, they don't just leave their halls open in Hua Hin. But we had to wait for an elder to come and lock it because pioneers don't have keys here.
Lidia is an awesome Australian/Italian sister. She even somehow knew that our favorite chips are salt and vinegar and had a whole CABINET full just ready and waiting for us. Made sure we had plenty of entertainment too. Her goal is to special pioneer but foreigners are not allowed to do that in Thailand at this time. So right now she's just practicing the schedule. And learning Burmese. 
Here are some of the friends in Hua Hin...





We went out to dinner after meeting with a group from the hall. Meeting was at 5 so it's no problem to eat afterwards. I think big groups of people eating together is one of my favorite things to do here. And the food is sooooooo good... Cut got some good advice from Emi (far right) who is another young sister doing the truth on her own. She is already baptized and a very good example for others in the same situation!


Bros from Sweden and England. Taught me that Where's Waldo is REALLY supposed to be called Where's Wally. Apparently, England invented the game where you find a striped, bespectacled man in a crowd
and America just copied it. *Gasp!* Whose idea was it to call him Waldo??





Night markets start to look the same after a while but this one had something unique. GINORMOUS SHRIMP. When they're that big, I don't think you can call them shrimp anymore. The lobsters are those little things at the top left. The shrimp are those beasts at the front.



On to the palace. The beachiest palace in the world. The whole thing is built one story up from the ground to protect against flooding from the sea. It was all covered walkways from one group of rooms to another. Nothing closed in, few walls, open windows. Just ocean breeze and miles of polished wood floors. It testifies to the brilliance of Thai design though. Even though it was a very hot day, the house was the perfect temperature without a single fan or AC.

In the 1920's everyone in the house was expected to wear a specific color for each day of the week. The color of the day changed according to the iconography of each Hindu planet god.
Never complain about a restrictive wardrobe!

Thai people back then were even tinier than they are now! The king's bed was the size of a child's bed. Really surprising. If they had seen a California King, i'm sure it would've blown their minds.





Everything was blue! Except for the bathrooms, which were pink. 




There was some tree huggering going on.














Oddly enough, in Thailand it's common to get a massage from a blind person. Many places advertise 'blind massage'. So for the first time, we tried one on our vacation. Cut, Amy and I were talking with the blind men who worked there and we explained that we were Bible teachers. They asked how they could learn about the Bible. We don't have anything available in Thai Braille yet and the only audio recordings we have of our publications are My Book of Bible Stories.
So the next day, we brought them their first installment of Bible Stories! Yet another experience that probably never would've happened back home...

So yeah, it was a good vacation.
The king's beachfront office.
















Bridge to Bangkok

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thai Special Assembly Day


Welcome to our Safeguard Your Conscience assembly!




I asked Cut for a very literal translation of 'Safeguard Your Conscience' and it's something like 'keep protecting conscious feeling good bad of you'. We had 1,110 at our assembly and 7 were baptized. There was also a deaf translation of the program happening on the left side of the auditorium. 
We sat next to Mai, the Bible student from an earlier post who used to be a monk, and her family. They took the entire weekend off to come to assembly. That's a big deal because they operate a small drink shop in a night market, and the weekend is their busiest time. It was quite a sacrifice for a family of Bible students to make! 
We were very touched by the faith and trust they're showing in Jehovah already.




There are no assembly halls in Thailand. We rent out school auditoriums. So I snooped around the middle school a bit to see what those look like here...




There were 5 stories of hallways like this.

Some paintings they had laying outside the art room.

I couldn't understand the program so I used the opportunity to practice reading. I read the songs ahead of time and wrote them out phonetically so that when it came time to sing them, I could perhaps do it intelligibly. It takes me about an hour to read one song at this point. 
People bring lots of extra food to assembly and like to share so I made cookies to share with everyone. It's good being the cookie girl. People like you. People look at you with wide eyes and ask, "ARE THOSE HOMEMADE?!?!" Then the cookies get devoured. And let me tell you, most of the world does not know how good a chocolate chip cookie can be. The ones I made weren't exactly up to my standards but still, they went over well. In the new system, chocolate chip cookies are one of the first things we should share with each other. 
That's another global education work i'll be interested in taking part of.




This picture was taken AFTER assembly. Can you tell? Can you tell that it was the hottest indoor assembly i've ever been to? That even though we were inside with air conditioning, it still felt like we were in a wet sauna with all our clothes on? I think you can tell. Look at my face. But it was still great! Next time i'll tell you how the road trip went...

Sawadee ka!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Other Stuff



The Hursts


This is Josh and Bryanne.
Ok first of all, they are awesome. 
They have been using our place as a home base while they travel around Asia, coming back every few weeks to wash their clothes and restock their backpacks.  They met at Bethel where they were BOTH serving and then continued to serve there together as a married couple. After that, they went into international construction and got to work on projects in Chile and Korea. They now live in Oregon and pioneer in the same hall as Cheri. We met them on their epic tour of Asia. They travelled all over Thailand, then Cambodia and Indonesia and are currently on their way to Nepal. After that, they're heading back to the states for a few days before they go to Zambia for the next construction project. I love meeting people like the Hursts. It proves the point that a life dedicated to Jehovah is never boring.




This is the dinner we just got:
Hot wings, beef salad, Tom Ka and sticky rice.
And we got it for free!!
It was at a great restaurant that a brother works for
and he treated us.
People warned me that I needed to be careful because there are things here made with blood. I only know how to order MAYBE three things in Thai and the problem is that the little stands and restaurants here usually specialize in only a few dishes at a time. So i'll ask if they have something (invariably they won't) then we stand there awkwardly as I stare at their ingredients and try to figure out what they DO make (invariably I can't) then awkwardly, I walk away. Some days I am INCREDIBLY frustrated that I am surrounded by probably delicious food with no way of ordering it. Why not just go up and ask them to make you something, you say? Well I finally caved and did it.

 I walked up to some ladies and asked them what they made. I THOUGHT they said Udon. And I was like 'Sweet! I love udon!' Well, that's not what she said. She made it and bagged it and I started feeling uncomfortable. Weeks ago, I had said a very earnest prayer asking Jehovah to help me know if I was about to eat blood and to keep me from doing it. I had the strong urge to ask them if blood was in the soup but I couldn't remember how to say it. So I paid for it and went home. I asked Amy what she thought and she didn't know but she told me how to ask. By this time the thought of eating it was actually revolting. So I walked all the way back with the soup and... Yep! Made with blood. But they had no problem with me not wanting to eat it and replaced it with a non disgusting soup free of charge. Crisis averted. But seriously, I need to learn how to order food. I've already eaten a lifetime supply of Pad See Ew.

I'm grieving the loss of Mexican food lately. I tried to make tortillas last night. I failed. Oh what I would do for a burrito. And chips. The next time you eat a luscious burrito, realize how awesome you are and be thankful that you have burritos in your life.


We had a bad day.

Little rental bungalow we passed in service.
It started the night before with a power outage. We thought we must have forgotten to pay the bill but in reality, our fuse box had kicked the bucket. So we spent a very hot, very sleepless night tossing and turning while our fans sat motionless. Then in the morning, Amy had to take some time out of service to go check with the power company to see what happened. Meanwhile, I met with the group.
 After the service meeting, I asked Brother Wimon to look at the back tire on my bike. I had heard some nasty little rumors that it was old and ready to explode, so I wanted to check it out. Well the sentence was half out of my mouth, "Is this good or..." when he looked down and said YIKES with his face. We dropped what we were doing and went that instant to get a new tire. Great.
But that made me lose the group. I had no idea where they went. I called and got directions, but got lost. Why not call again? My phone chose that moment to run out of minutes. So I couldn't call for help. I just drove around getting more and more lost, wondering if I even could find my way back home.
Then I got pulled over by a policeman at a mandatory police check where they were pulling over ALL the motorcycles. I had all my paperwork to get a license but no license yet so he could have fined me. He took pity on me and let me go though.
 I made it home by 11:45. I decided to try to get more minutes put on my phone but I didn't know how. I had to walk around asking people if they knew how. Finally, someone did it for me. Our landlord came over and turned on our power. I started cooking lunch. The power went out again. Now I was hungry and stuck in dead house. Hours later when the landlord came back with an electrician, they got it working for real. Yay!
But what was that smell? OH YEAH. My lunch. The hot plate was on when the power went out and I never turned it off. Now the food was charred and black. Our landlord was worried. He thought, "The girls that rent my house are a fire hazard," and decided to give us a little lesson in cooking safety. Having spent a day with no service, no food and no air we decided it was officially a bad day. 


But hey, I have my  license now!

Someone got licens'd.
Fa was kind enough to take me as it is SUCH an ordeal. It's in the middle of nowhere and it takes all day. We left the house at 7:20 AM, got there by 8 and were finished by 2:30!! Kinda makes our DMVs look efficient. The written test was easy thanks to Glen who gave me very helpful tips and the driving test was a snap because Fa had me practice on an obstacle course ahead of time. The hardest part was waiting in a cold room (a refrigerator with a TV in it really) and watching two hours of the most boring instructional videos on the planet. I didn't think I was going to survive. But I did!
And thank you to Fa and Glen for making it happen. Amy had the privilege of being my first passenger. A side point: Did I tell you it costs me $2 a week for gas here? There's a good reason we have scooters.



In front of our house.

I'm going to start posting some of the fruits we have here. They like to eat mango here before it's ripe. It's crunchy and not as sweet but still oddly good. They have almost all the fruits we have back home in one form or another and plenty we don't have...

Palmelo  is a sweet mammoth grapefruit that takes days to eat.


                A gecko jumped out of this bowl as I moved it to take a picture. Love the wildlife.

These are called Shampoos! They're  a cross between an apple and a grape.
With  a hint of cinnamon.
More to come later :)


Our cats finally have names! They are Olive and Octopus. But their Thai names are Ki Bon and Ki Len. Ki Bon means a bossy whiner, which is exactly what he is. And Ki Len means playful. Which is putting it nicely. She really is more like an attack kitten. I'm actually typing this one handed as I am currently swaddling two freshly washed kittens in the other.




The invitation work is a blast! We're handing them out in Thai and English. It will be interesting to see who comes...


Next week is the Thai Special Assembly day and our road trip to Hua Hin! More about that later. But for now...

Good night.

Monday, March 4, 2013

3 Languages and a Baby



This was a very special weekend.


Pattaya had its first Russian meeting! The brother who gave the talk, Igor, is a brand new Papa too! Impressive. Having a baby for a week AND giving a public talk. Busy man!!
I was so happy for all our Russian brothers and sisters. They are so diligent about learning English, Thai and TSL but really miss hearing their mother tongue. I hope we can arrange these more often. Plus they bring lots of food and we hang out and eat after meeting. A habit I would like to get into.
I gave a tiny comment in Russian: Viera y moojestvor! (Faith and courage.) I'm learning weird little bits and pieces of Russian based on who I hang out with. Like, I know how to say "monkey with a hand grenade". When would I ever say this? Well when something or someone looks sketchy you say 'Ooh, it's like a monkey with a hand grenade.' Apparently. In the future, I will enjoy throwing that out there to Russians who think I speak no Russian. They will be correct, but momentarily astounded.

What else made this weekend special?  A deaf brother from America who now serves in Malaysia gave a talk in our hall! He and his wife want to move to Thailand so whenever they have to do a visa run, they visit a different part of Thailand to see where they might like to move. He gave a beautiful talk about avoiding spiritism. He showed us that when we are in a store buying a movie or game, Satan is watching us from the outside, waiting to see what we will choose. If we choose something with spiritism, Satan doesn't have to wait outside anymore. He gets to come right in and sit down next to us on the couch. He gets real cosy too, putting his arm around us, and shooting a look at Jehovah that says, "Told ya."
Makes you never EVER want to get anything contaminated with spiritism!

video
Not to be outdone, Brother Jordan gave the talk in Thai AND simultaneously translated bits of it into English for us (which surprised his wife who thought he had simply forgotten to speak in Thai) WHILE shouting over the torrential rain that pounded the hall for a good portion of the discourse. Then he went and participated in the sign language meeting as well. Why are there so many over achievers here??? Just kidding, I love them and they give me something to work towards :)

I will blog more later, but right now Amy and I are going to get some dinner. The cats say hi.