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!