Yesterday I went to two places that advertised their ability to take passport photos. Neither could do it. Be advised, this part of the process could be tricky.
Next, you will catch a van which will stop a million times between Pattaya and the border. You might even get a driver who decides to cheat death the whole way, racing ahead and slamming on breaks just before he hits semi trucks and thinking the whole thing is hilarious. Don't worry, in the whole 5.5 hour drive, he will stop once for a bathroom and food break at a 7-Eleven. So you'll be fine!
BUT, if you get to the border and you only have an hour and a half to make it through before the last bus leaves to take you home... give up. You've already lost. Because this is what happens next.
First, you get your exit stamp from Thailand.
You walk across the Friendship bridge connecting the Kingdom of Thailand with the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Friendship bridge is buried under chicken wire and pointed stakes and is over a river of garbage. Symbolic much? Whatever you do, don't zoom past that thing that looks like a police office, even though it says nothing about visas or passports. If you go ahead to the next place that is actually marked with the word IMMIGRATION, the man behind the counter will just send you back. And by sending you back I mean, point off in the distance somewhere to the left and say "VISA."
Well, you go back there and you don't have your photo for the scrapbook. This makes them sad so they charge you 200 baht ($6). No big deal. Now $26 later, you are equipped with your Cambodian visa, You will only use it for the next hour.
Return to the immigration office to get it validated. Wait in line only to be turned away at the counter because you don't have a paper. What paper? Oh a paper from that unmarked desk drawer in the corner? This is the MOST IMPORTANT lesson of border crossing: Never get in any line without a little paper you fill out that basically has all the information already contained in your passport!! If you don't have it, you'll be waiting in vain, my friend. Unfortunately, this lesson took me all day to learn. Now that you have your paper, you can get that visa validated. Go across the street through a throng of motorcycle taxis to get your exit stamp from Cambodia. Cross the bridge again to re-enter Thailand. This line is crazy. Why does everyone have a paper that you don't? Go back and find it. It's 5:55 and your bus leaves at 6. There are 8 people in front of you.
cup of noodles because, hey, you've earned it. Catch the first bus home at 9am and you're good to go for another long claustrophobic ride home!
|Finally headed home!|
Congratulations, you've border crossed.
I was looking out the window on the way home. There wasn't anything too special out there, farmland, homes, trees, sky. Why am I still looking? I've seen it before. But it reminded me of Proverbs 27:20, "Neither do the eyes of a man get satisfied." They drink and drink and never get full. It's just a joy to look. Another gift from Jehovah that will never wear out.
Enough about that, let's talk about how memorial went! Memorial was special this year for several reasons. 1.) I've never been to one in a foreign language 2.) I've never been to two memorials in one night 3.) The new outline was so refreshing 4.) People we invited actually came!
I loved how the talk reached out especially to the young and those battling health problems. But my favorite quote was 'It's difficult to obey someone you don't love. It's impossible to love someone you don't know.' Using that already...
Amy had two of her students come and six children! That was so encouraging. One of the boys who came that night is very shy. He had moved and Amy lost contact with him, but another sister found the family and they were able to reconnect. She gave him My Book of Bible Stories at memorial. He's already read half of it!
One Saturday, a sister and I gave an invitation to a man walking into a store. He seemed interested and it turns out he actually was since he's been coming to the meetings ever since! I'm so thankful Jehovah let me hand him that invitation and say my little presentation. That's the only thing I could really do. I couldn't converse with him, or study with him or explain anything really. But I could give him that piece of paper. And welcome him when he comes to the hall :) But I know my brothers are taking of the rest!
I have two studies with Buddhists both out of the Pathway brochure. It's such a perfect publication for them. At first, it lets them identify the Bible with other holy books that have good advice so that they feel comfortable. Then slowly, it presents the differences and builds their trust in God's word. One of my studies speaks very good English, but the other only a little so her studies take time to extra time to prepare for. Joy, one of my students, was telling me how she talks to the King of Thailand like I talk to God. Thai people love their king, truly love him. There are pictures of him literally everywhere. But I didn't know that some of them prayed to him asking for help with their decisions! I'm just not used to such a reverential view of a political leader. And you're not allowed to speak ill of him or insinuate that he will e v e r die. So that could be a sticky subject in the future.
The Russians had their second meeting! To celebrate, a Thai sister bought a truly HUGE pot of Hungarian salmon soup from a local foreign restaurant and fed all of us who were longing for the food of distant lands. It was...well, perfect. Salmon, dill, potatoes, cream...we're still eating it actually. Makes us feel a little closer to home. We just all hung out by the pool after the special talk, eating, relaxing and enjoying ourselves a whole lot. Her generosity was very touching. And super delicious.
Ok I think that's all for now. Next time i'll be telling you about the zone visit and camping on an island with a huge group of witnesses! Good times ahead.