Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thailand! (part 1)

So, by now, I'm into my second week of my missions trip to Thailand. And the theme so far? God is good! He has been my Everything this week. So much has happened that I have no clue how to start blogging about it! My internet access has been shaky to say the least. But, I will give it a shot!!

Tuesday, June 16: Began my journey to Thailand! Charleston to Atlanta, first. Spent a few hours walking around the Atlanta airport. Got lost once and ended up having to go through security again. Yes, I am that ditzy sometimes!

Finally got on the flight to Japan. Once I am sitting there, the pilot announces that there has been a volcanic eruption in Russia! The ash is covering the path that we were going to take over the Pacific, so we have to take a longer, alternate route. As a result, we have to stop in San Fran to fuel up. Great news! :)

The flight is uneventful! I sleep, listen to music, and read. Watch a little tv on the screen way in front of me. I try to ignore the couple next to me who show way too much PDA. I think it was about 14 hours. Finally arrive in Tokyo, where they have held my next flight! Yay! I was afraid I would have to wait for another plane. The next flight took 8 hours. More sleeping and eating weird airplane food. At least I have a seat between me and the person by the window! I can move my legs! Yes!

Arrive in Bangkok. Can't keep the smile off my face. No problem getting my baggage and finding my taxi. Went to stay in the nicest hotel I've ever experienced! Slept more, took a nice long shower, and went back to the airport for my last leg of the journey. It took about an hour and we were in Krabi!

Linda and Richard were there to pick me up and they took me to their house not far from the airport. They successfully kept me up for a few more hours before I went to bed.

Friday, June 18: Time to begin work! I went with Linda and Richard to the Thai countryside. We visited people who said they were interested in learning more about God. We had a Bible study. Same on Saturday, except that the group on Saturday is mostly young girls and they are so excited to learn about God! And excited to see me, a foreigner! They call foreigners "farangs," and I hear it whispered whereever I go! Also "cow" which means white! The girls touched my hair and legs and were so interested in me. It was too cute. Two twin girls, Not and Nan, were especially smart and answered all the questions correctly! (I was told-the whole thing was is in Thai.)

Also, on Friday, we went to my school: Blai Prayawittyacom! It is WAAAAY in the country and not like my other Thai school. I finally met Niyom, the teacher who I had been in contact with before my trip. She is so welcoming and invites us to eat lunch at her house. Before lunch, she ushers me into an English classroom and leaves me there to talk to the kids! This was when those pictures were taken that are on my facebook account. I spent about 20 minutes there but it felt like a long time because I wasn't sure what to do!

Then, we go to my new house. This is where culture shock hit me! I thought that I was prepared but I definitely wasn't. It is a 2 story house. On the bottom floor it has a small living area and kitchen and bathroom. Upstairs are 3 bedrooms: mine, Suphanee's, and an empty one. There's no AC, and in my room there is no bed. The bathroom consists of a Thai style toilet (I won't get too graphic here!) and a tank of water. You use the tank of water to both flush the toilet and dip a bowl in to a take a bath. Whew! This shook me up! I wasn't ready for that!

Anyway... (it gets better! I promise!)

Saturday, June 19: Worked again with Linda and Richard. The most memorable moment from this day was the Thai funeral we attended that night. One of Richard's friend's mother died. When you get to the funeral, you go to this area that looks like a restarant or a family reunion set up. You eat dinner and there are hired cooks and waitresses. One of the dinners was chicken inards! Mmm! After you eat, you go up front and sit in the chairs for the audience. Monks are seated up front. The coffin is there, and in front of it is an image of Buddha that people go kneel in front of and light insense. Off to the side there is a platform where the monks will chant. There is a white string that is hanging down to the platform. It goes up to the ceiling and then back down into the coffin. That is so the chants that the monks say go right into the coffin.

On the platform there are these big paper fans that have a picture of Buddha on one side. The monks hold them in front of them while they chant. Linda said that they do this because they don't want to be distracted or think bad thoughts while they are chanting. On the other side, writen in Thai, it says: "You are born. You grow old. You have pain. You die." How sad. What kind of hope is that?

While the monks are chanting (which is the strangest sound), everyone in the audience wais (holds their hands in front of them in a prayer-like gesture) to show respect to Buddha. We don't wai, because we are Christians. No one even pays any attention to us. Linda told me that there is a lot of pressure on the monks because if they make one mistake during the chants, the person who died is doomed.

After the monks chant, people go up and give money to the monks. This is one way to make merit for your next life (I think). And, people have to bring money in a white envelope to give to the family. Richard had to give money for all of us.

Well, this is long enough for part 1! I'll add more later! Sorry I can't post pictures!

If you managed to make it through this whole post, leave a comment!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

1:10 AM

I thought I'd stop in and say hello since I can't sleep! Only 2 days until I leave for Thailand! I'm leaving Tuesday morning and flying to Atlanta, then Tokyo, then Bangkok. I'll spend the night there and then fly to Krabi the next day. (Click on that link to see some pictures of beautiful Krabi!) So, all together, there will be about 23 hours of flying!

And I'm pretty much ready. But my brain won't settle! At about midnight I got up and packed some of my bathroom stuff, then made up my guest bed, washed the dishes in my sink, and here I am still not tired. I guess I'll go try to sleep again!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

His love

It's truly hard to understand His love for us. These passages make it so real...

From a woman who wrote about her husband's response to her double mastectomy:

As we wept and trembled when he took my bandages off the first time, I was so ugly, scarred, and bald. I was in intense grief that I could never be a whole wife to him again. Steve held me tightly and with tears in his eyes said, "Melana, I love you because that is who I am."

I instantly recognized Christ in my husband...No comeliness in us draws Christ's attention; it is only His essence that draws Him to us.
And this one...

Put together all the tenderest love you know of, the deepest you have ever felt, and the strongest that has ever been poured out upon you, and heap upon it all the love of all the loving human hearts in the world, and then multiply it by infinity, and you will begin, perhaps, to have some faint glimpse of what the love of God is.
from Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Oh Lord, give me the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how high, how long, and how deep your love really is. And help me experience your love, though it is so great I may never fully understand it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Every last detail

I'm sitting here near tears because of God's goodness. He has taken care of everything regarding this trip. I'm just writing this because I don't want to forget how He cares for the smallest details in my life. He is SO good. My most recent example - I just got off the phone with a friend from church. Yesterday, I mentioned that I wanted to find 8 little gifts for the English teachers at the Thai school. I wanted to take them a little something American or South Carolinian! She went out and bought 8 mini Charleston baskets for me to take. What??? I mean, how sweet is that.

And yesterday, my church went above and beyond when they gave me more money for my trip. And promised their prayers over and over.

I just can't get over His goodness. And the goodness of His people. Oh Lord make me worthy of serving you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This is one of those posts...

...where I have to be real! I'd like to be all, "I'm fine! I'm brave! I'm excited! God's in control!" But the truth is, I'm scared! I'm anxious! I'm nervous!

Ok, enough with all the exclamation marks. But you get the point. These 2 pictures below represent my biggest sources of anxiety. The first picture is of the Suvarnabhumi Airport, and it represents the flight to Thailand. It's going to be long. I've done it before, and I was miserable. Unless you've been on one of these excruciatingly long flights, you just don't get it.

Second, the whole airport thing. If you know me, you know that I'm quite prone to getting lost. I have no sense of direction, and these huge airports frighten me.

Last, the hotel picture represents the night I have to stay in Bangkok alone. I'm staying in the airport hotel, so I won't have to take a taxi or anything. But I've never spent the night alone in a hotel! Really, I've never spent the night alone in any situation like this.

But, and that word is key, I KNOW this is God's will for me. I KNOW He wants me to do this. I KNOW He will protect me. And I KNOW that although it may be tough, it's really not that big of a deal. And it will totally be worth it, when I get to meet all those sweet Thai students and teachers. That is the part I can't wait for!