Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lahu Christian Camp

Last week, April 8th-13th, Thomas & I travelled to a Lahu Training Center outside of Chiang Dao to help with the Lahu Christian Camp. We didn't really know what to expect, but it was pretty similar to a church camp at home.
The first day was the arrival day for everyone. After checking in & settling in, there was dinner served in the evening followed by a worship service.
The first half of the week they were burning across the road from camp
The building to the right were sleeping rooms & under the tent were classes & worship services
 The rest of the week had the same schedule each day. The "wake up" bell rang at 5:30 every morning. There was a short worship service at 6:00  & then the teenagers would break up into small groups & have devotion time. Thomas taught during the adult devotion time each morning.

One group during devotion time
 After devotion time, breakfast was served. During the day, the adults would attend classes in the church building, teenagers would attend class & have activities, and the little kids would have activities. Something unexpected for me was that the teacher for the teenagers was Linda, who is the wife of Jim who went with Stephen, Thomas, & I to Burma last year. I didn't know Linda & Jim would be at camp all week, so it was really great to meet Linda & to see Jim again. There was also a group from Korea who helped with the camp all week. They brought a lot of fun things for the kids & performed special music at worship service each night.

Linda teaching the teenagers
Group of little kids
 Each afternoon, I taught a health education class to the teenagers & adults. Mai translated into Thai for me & she did a great job! I had the opportunity to talk to Mai about health education & gave her some materials to use in the future.

Me & Mai
 Besides doing the adult devotional each morning, Thomas also taught one of the adult classes on one afternoon. Bundit translated for Thomas.

Thomas & Bundit
 After classes were finished each day, there were soccer & volleyball tournaments going on all week. They were really fun to watch!

Soccer field
Volleyball court
 After supper every evening, there was a worship service. A man from Malaysia preached every night. It was really neat because throughout the week, there were people from 7 different countries all in one place with one thing in common - worshipping God! Very awesome! (The 7 countries were Thailand, Laos, Burma, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, & America.)

There were two little kids that would randomly come up to Thomas & me throughout the week. The little girl would just appear & sit beside me for the longest time each day. She wouldn't speak to me, but when I asked her questions in Thai, she would nod her head "yes" or shake her head "no". The little boy who became Thomas's friend was very ornery! He would say things to us all week & we thought we just didn't understand him and he wouldn't answer us when we would ask him questions. We found out the last day that he didn't speak Thai, only Lahu!

 On the last full day of camp, there were thirteen kids that were baptized! We all, adults, teenagers, and kids, walked a bit down the road from camp to a small creek. While the teens were baptized, the adults were singing hymns in Lahu. This reminded me of my first mission trip to Thailand when one of our team members was baptized & the Lahu people gathered around singing hymns.

This week at camp was really a great week! It was a good opportunity to share the gifts God has given me in teaching the health education class. It was awesome to see the Lahu church at work & their love for God and just to have the opportunity to worship God with brothers & sisters from 7 different countries! It was also really special because the camp was held just outside of the village Nong Kio, the village I stayed in on my very first mission trip to Thailand in 2009. That is when I first met Mai & Bundit. It was neat to have my last "work" trip before I leave Thailand in the same place and with the same people that I first met here three and a half years ago.

Thomas, Bundit, Mai, Me
 The end of this week was the Thai New Year called Songkran. It is basically a big water fight! This was our view most of the two hour drive home - people all along the sides of the roads throwing water on anyone who passed by.

English Class Family Dinner

For awhile, I've been wanting to have a dinner at Stephen & Mary's for the kids that come to English class on Saturday mornings and their parents. I thought it would be a good way to meet the parents & get to know them & for them to know me as well. On Friday, April 5th, we finally had the dinner. There were 16 kids that came & around that many parents that came when they got off work for the day.
Girls arriving for dinner
Boys playing soccer while they're waiting
  We had "mugata", otherwise known as Korean barbecue. There are pots set up that you burn charcoal in & a metal pan that sits over the top that you boil water & vegetables around the sides & grill meat on the top. It's a very fun meal!

Charcoal pots & mats set up & ready

Kids eating - girls around one pot & boys around another

Some parents have arrived

 This meal always reminds me of making s'mores at home, but s'more ingredients are hard to come by here in Thailand - marshmallows are pretty expensive & I still haven't seen graham crackers anywhere. There is a candy here that is marshmallow on the outside & chocolate in the middle, so we bought these for dessert & showed the kids how to roast marshmallows. They really enjoyed it!

We got some group pictures while everyone was here as well.

Thomas & I with the kids

All of the kids with their parents
The night was really fun! I wasn't able to get to know all of the parents, but talked to several. They all were smiling a lot & I could tell were really enjoying themselves. I was glad to be able to have this dinner & meet so many of the parents & just have a fun night with the kids.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Catch-up Post

Hi to those of you who still check in with my blog!

Sorry for the long pause in posting! Since my one year update, I've travelled to Burma for a week of health education teaching, spent time in the States with my family & friends over the holidays, and returned to Thailand. (If you get my monthly newsletter, you know more about my Burma trip & visit home. If you don't get my monthly newsletter and would like to, leave me a comment with your e-mail address & I'll add you to my mailing list. :) )

I'm going to attempt to catch you up on my last two months here in Thailand with some updates through pictures I've taken. Writing this post made me realize I need to take more pictures of my day-to-day activities.

Shortly after I returned to Thailand, my friend Kellee turned 30 & her daughter, Kora, turned 1! We celebrated Kora's birthday with a trip to the zoo & dinner. It was a fun day!

For those who haven't heard about Kellee & her family yet, I met Kellee at a Women's Retreat in Chiang Mai that I went to in September. She's the first really good friend from the States that I've made here. She, and her family, were definitely a big answer to prayer when I needed it most. She's been a great friend & support to me in the things I go through here. Her kids, Kees & Kora, have filled my baby/kid-fix that I miss from working with the NICU babies & seeing Jaxin all the time. Her husband, Doug, was a huge help as I was moving into & furnishing a new-to-me house when I returned in January. They all are a huge blessing!

Me, Kees, Kellee, & Kora at the zoo
Doug & Kellee love sushi, so I tried it with them. It's not my favorite, but not too bad.
(The green things on top, which I thought were for decoration, are actually fish eggs! And yes, I ate them!)
About 10 days after returning to Thailand, I had to leave the country again to get a new visa. My student visa was expiring & I needed to get a new type of visa. I needed to travel to Laos for this visa run. Kellee offered to go with me so I wouldn't have to travel by myself. She & Doug had just made this trip in November & she knew what to do. (See what I mean about her being a HUGE blessing!) We left on her 30th birthday, so we made it a combination trip of visa run/Girls' Trip/30th Birthday celebration. The trip went so smoothly that it was evident God's hand was in it the whole time!

Kellee & Me celebrating turning in my visa paperwork & her birthday at Pizza Company for lunch in Laos
 As I mentioned above, I moved into a new-to-me house when I returned to Thailand. (The lease on my previous apartment was up when I went back to the States in November.) It was about two and a half weeks after I returned to Thailand that the house was finally ready (after a few challenges!). It's been good since then.

There is definitely more "wildlife" to deal with here in Thailand than in the States. In my last apartment, there was a huge lizard that would come & go in my kitchen. In this house, I've just had the occassional regular-size lizard inside the house, stray cats that fight in the yard at all hours of the night, & just this past weekend, a snake hanging from a tree eating a lizard!

Front of my new house
 The first week of February, Doug's Mom visited their family & they stayed at a hotel just outside of town. Kellee invited me to stay for a few days. It was a much-needed, relaxing few days! It's fun to be able to be a tourist again in the city you live in. We relaxed by the pool most of the time, but also went into the city to a Khantoke dinner (a Thai dinner & culture show).

View from the top pool at the hotel

Outside at the Khantoke dinner
 I'm also back to teaching the English class on Saturday mornings. There's been around 10 kids each week. I can tell that they're English language is slowly, but surely coming along!

I've also started teaching an English class on Monday & Friday evenings. These students come to the church after spending the day in school. The time starts with everyone gathered together & singing children's worship songs in English. Then, they whole group breaks into five smaller groups based on age & ability. I help teach the 8 & 9 year olds with another Thai teacher, Neen. It's been a good experience getting to know other kids & continuing to use my Thai as I get to know the other teachers.

Kids singing songs

Me teaching 8 & 9 year old class
Those are the highlights of my past couple months!

The weekday English class is taking a break until May because it is the Thai summer break here. Because of this break from teaching, I have most of my time to devote to writing some health education materials that I will be leaving here in Thailand. I'm hoping to train at least one person to be able to teach & then pass on the material to others.

I'll try to be better about taking more pictures & more regularly updating my blog with what's going on each week here in Thailand. (The internet connection at my house isn't strong enough to upload pictures & update my blog, thus why I haven't posted yet. I came into the city today & am writing this at a coffee shop. This might have to be a weekly thing. :) )

Thanks for keeping up with me!