Saturday November 17, 201

Matthew 25:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Today was a wonderful lazy (but still productive) Saturday morning. Jeff and I got some preparations done for packing and organizing the things we are mailing back to the states for our friends and family. We also made a trip to the grocery store in Nan to pick up the necessary items for the traditional Mexican dinner we planned on making tonight.

Our last effort, while it tasted good, just didn’t really turn out as true Mexican food! But this time it did; it was wonderful! We made homemade flour tortillas, cilantro-lime rice, guacamole, Baja sauce, pinto beans, chicken and venison (I can’t believe we were able to find some here!). We even made homemade flour chips! After 3 hours of being in the kitchen making food, dinner was ready and we all enjoyed a good meal. Though I am not our hosts were as fond of the food as we were, but they ate and said it was good 😊. It really was a very fun evening and I am so glad that we were able to share a bit of our favorite food with them!

Jeff making some homemade flour tortillas
Dinner is ready!

We also got to experience a real Thailand rainstorm, complete with thunder and pouring rain. It was wonderful. Here is a picture, but unfortunately the video won’t upload.


Friday November 16, 2018

Proverbs 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

We arrived at the Mae Sa school today to very warm welcome from the children. As we got off the van and walked into the school, the kids swarmed us with high-fives and hellos. I snapped this picture after things had died down a bit, but you can get a glimpse of what this looked like.

This just brought such a smile to my face and brightened my day. The kids were not just saying hello, but actually having a conversation (Good morning, teacher. How are you?). This was such a huge blessing and they truly made my day better.

Our children got all of their work done for the day with very little trouble, so, all in all it was a very nice day. When we got home our kids dispersed to play on their tablets while Jeff and I sat downstairs to visit with Wat, Grandma, and Na Na. Na Na made me a ramen noodle soup with veggies and a boiled egg. It was so wonderful, yet simple; I can’t wait to make this at home. Na Na also made the kids some chicken nuggets to go along with the Annie’s Mac and Cheese I made for them (my mom had sent like 7 boxes with her last package).

After putting the kids to bed, Jeff went with Wat to Nan for a bit of nightlife. I will leave this for Jeff to share at a later date, but they did not get home until almost 2 am, so would say that they had fun. Jeff did say that it was a loud and interesting experience, but also a lot of fun. I stayed home with the kids, which I was more than happy to do, and watched Clueless with Anjali while enjoying a nice bottle of wine.

Thursday November 15, 2018

Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Today was so much fun at the schools; hot, but fun. The kids were great and were singing along and playing the games. Anjali was with me teaching the very little ones (3 year olds) and she led them in a song of ‘open, shut, them’. I think the kids really enjoy it when my kids lead the classes, probably more than when Jeff and I do.

All of us are really tired today and despite the fun we are having, I think we are all just completely exhausted. We have been starting school for our kids at 7:30 and working for 90 minutes before our bus picks up to teach, but today no one was up before 7:30. So we have been just rolling with what comes. Everyone got out of bed, reluctantly and ate breakfast in time for us to have about 30 minutes of school time for our kiddos. But even with starting quite late this morning, everyone got all of their work done before we even got home for the afternoon. It was wonderful to come home after a long and hot day of teaching to just relax. We took this opportunity to start gathering our clothes and items that we want to ship back to the US (souvenirs, clothes we don’t need any more, etc)

We also found out that we will have two more volunteers from England join us tomorrow, and they will be taking over for us after we leave next week.

Wednesday November 14, 2018

John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Today in class, Anjali taught part of the lesson to the older kids at the preschool. She got up in front of them and led them through the lesson. It was wonderful to see her taking the lead in this project and enjoying herself. She even told us that she would like to come back to teach for a summer. To see her giving her time and enjoying it makes me so happy. I have prayed since we began this journey that they will find joy in serving and that it will somehow be instilled into our children and hopefully create a lifetime of serving others. This doesn’t mean that I only want them to volunteer, I just want them to understand the importance and the impact they make in this world when they are willing to give a bit of themselves to help others. We get so much more out of our life when we share and give to others. Winston Churchill nailed it when he said “we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” I couldn’t agree more, and I have experienced this myself. My life becomes more full and joyous when I focus more on others and less on me.

Watching Anjali in this class leads me to think that we are doing the right thing for our children. This may difficult for all of us, but hopefully, we are showing our children, by example, how to give yourself in the service of others and they are feeling first hand what you get in return. I just pray this continues to make a permanent mark on their heart!

As parents, this is not an easy thing to teach our children and we need to be examples for them, just they way Jesus was for us. We don’t need to go on a year-long trip to do this, but rather every day and every person we come into contact we can give them some of the love in our hearts. This can mean a warm smile, patience to the barista at Starbucks, a conversation with the homeless person outside our office, serving dinner at the homeless shelter, restocking or donating to a local food pantry, the options are endless. It doesn’t take much, just a commitment to ourselves, to our children, and to our world. When we make this a priority, we change our focus from ourselves to our brothers and sisters. We will feel an immediate shift in our heart and see our world as a big family rather than us and them.

This is not a fail proof plan, but rather just another one of my random thoughts as I read this daily scripture my husband has created for me.

Tuesday November 13, 2018

Luke 3:10-11 What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Jesus asks us to care for our fellow brothers and sisters in this world and this scripture speaks to just that. I may not have a lot to give at this time, but what I can give is myself and whatever skills others may find useful. In Germany, Jeff worked on a wall that saved the church a significant amount of money in repairs while I helped out at the elementary school, doing my best to use my social work skills helping special needs children who only speak German. Here in the northern rural part of Thailand they need native English speakers to teach and expose children to the language so they have a better chance at attending university. Even if it is not monetary or tangible, it is still our way to caring for our fellow brothers and sisters. Not everyone can or needs to do what we have done, but this works for us. Maybe your way of sharing what you have is at work by providing a comforting conversation to a colleague who needs a friend, maybe it is helping at the local food pantry or shelter, or volunteering at a school, a church or a nursing home, the list is endless. But the point is giving or sharing yourself with those who need it. Most of us can’t make a big difference in this world, but if we all share a small piece of ourselves, together we can make a great impact and truly change our world. I think the biggest piece of this comes in the form of sharing what we have been given with others–whether this is monetary, tangible, or just our time, these small acts combined with the small acts of others is how we make a change. 

Okay off my soapbox, today was such a fun day of teaching. I am so glad that we are here for 2 months because it is incredible how different the kids at the school are now compared to when we first got here. It seemed to take about 3 weeks or so before they warmed up to us, but now the kids are engaging, talking and singing along with us; it is so much fun. It is not just the kids we are teaching that have warmed up either, our kids are actively participating in teaching these kids, leading songs, and sitting next to kids to encourage them to sing and talk. It is such a blessing to see our kids giving so much of themselves in this process. Now there have definitely been some challenging days. I think we all are getting pretty tired and are ready for the break that will be coming as we change over to the work in India. All of the kids at one point (or maybe even several) have said that they don’t want to teach today, but once they get into the classroom they end up loving it and even tell us afterwards that they were happy they went. They really do seem to enjoy it and I am so happy because we are too!

Another riveting game of ‘telephone’ with the kids.

Monday November 12, 2018

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

We are now teaching at the preschool and elementary school every day, and we are going to be joined by two more volunteers at the end of the week. This is going to be a lot of fun and I am very much looking forward to seeing these fun kids every day for the next two weeks. They are so energetic and so excited to learn English. As much as I love teaching these kids and spending this time with them, I have a much bigger appreciation for all that teachers do. My voice is really feeling the impact of talking and singing all day long and there is no amount of water that seems to help. I would just like to say, “thank you” to all those teachers out there who do this every day for a living. I couldn’t do it.

Our kids are doing much better with their school work and are actually getting things done on time with little struggle. I sure hope this lasts and that we are more consistently having days like today.

I am also loving our time in Thailand, but just like Germany, I can’t believe it is already coming to an end. We leave here in 15 days and head for India. Time sure does fly. It takes us about 3-4 weeks to get settled and figure out a routine, and then we have about 4-5 weeks of routine before it is time to change things around again. I love it! We get a chance to get comfortable and enjoy it, and then move on to something else.

I have an observation regarding our first 4 months of this year-long journey, keep in mind that I am basing this observation only on the 2 countries we have visited thus far (Germany and Thailand). Everything moves at a different pace, a much slower pace. Plans made are pretty tentative until you are actually doing it. For example, our teaching schedule was not laid out for us prior to getting or even once we got here; it is a constant work in progress, changing as needed. The best way to describe the cultures both here and in Germany is a flexibility to change. I know that when I was home in the states, this would have been exceptionally difficult for me to accept; change was not easy and for some reason I took it as a person failure when I needed to adjust or change things. However, both volunteer opportunities, in Germany and Thailand, have been so incredibly fluid, constantly changing and evolving, and even more amazing is that both places seem to thrive with these constant changes. It makes me wonder, why is change so hard for us Americans? People here seem to be more relaxed and happier given the constant changes happening around them and I wonder if there is a sense of peace and serenity in all the change. I do not feel the same stresses that I felt at home to be constantly adhering to a rigid schedule, but rather a sense of peace to just enjoy the moment and move with the world rather than trying to make the world move with me.

Just a random Monday thought!

I just had to share this picture. I was teaching my 3-4 year olds this morning and we were trying to figure out the game of “telephone” using the word “cat”. You can see the kids laughing as their teacher was making her way around the room trying to explain the game to them. The kids didn’t get it all, but we all had a good laugh before moving on to something else. Flexibility at its best. No one got frustrated or upset, we tried something and it didn’t work, we all got a laugh out of it, and then we moved on to something else. It was wonderful!


having fun!!!

Sunday November 11, 2018

Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lordand will be repaid in full.

I don’t know where to begin. Today was a wonderful day with my family and our host, Wat, who took us up to Doi Phu Kha National Park. The drive through this national park is  stunning and completely breathtaking, plus the winding roads through the mountainside was a lot of fun for the kids. Words and pictures just cannot do this place justice. What is really amazing is that this national park is also home to ancient salt wells and the mountain villages throughout this area still mine for salt, which can be used from spa treatments to cooking. We were able to stop at one of these villages called Bo Kluea and we fully took advantage of the myriad of salt scrubs and spa treatments, to the wonderful snacks and food (including salt boiled eggs where the eggs are boiled in brine). We made a stop at a coffee shop for drinks and then were off again through the beautiful mountainside towards Nan for dinner at the night market.

This was such an awe-filled day, from the views and scenery to the food and wonderful company of Wat. The kids were happy and got along the entirety of the day, which was a nice reprieve. The people of Thailand are some of the happiest and nicest people I have ever met; every person that I see or talk with has a smile plastered on their face. I heard that this was the “land of a thousand smiles”, but I had no idea how true this statement actually was. I guess I just didn’t think it was possible given that in the US most people won’t even look at you if they don’t know you. This place is definitely one of the friendliest and most welcoming place I have ever been.

I am going to let pictures show you just what we experienced today, though as I mentioned previously, they still don’t do it justice!


Saturday November 10, 2018

Galatians 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Oh, how I love this scripture passage; it speaks to me. We may live in different parts of the world with a different language, we may have different customs and beliefs, or have different color skin, hair, and eyes, but we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. That is how I understand this scripture; we are all connected together as brothers and sisters in this world. I see this first hand in Thailand. The Thai people have done everything in their power to embrace us as their brothers and sisters, even though we look and talk very different. We are so thankful to be in a place that does not isolate us or push us away because we are different. Our world could be so peaceful if we could just set the judgments aside and begin to see each other as family; to listen fully and to act with humility.

When we forget to listen to what others believe and just hear them speak, waiting to reply, we are unable to understand what they are saying. When we truly listen with our hearts and value the opinions of others, we open ourselves up to acceptance and love. When we love those who differ from us, whether by looks, beliefs, or whatever, we can then can live together peacefully as brothers and sisters. We are all together in this world and truly I don’t see that we are that different. If we just take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture, we will see how similar we really are to one another. We are all seeking the same things, love and acceptance; “loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty” (Mother Theresa). Instead of arguing about which way to fix this “terrible poverty” why not take the first step and make the first ripple.

My prayer for our world is to find a way to embrace our differences so we can learn from one another and to embody humility so we can understand that we may not have the answers (even though we think we do), but realize that someone else may actually have a better idea. With humility we can value another’s opinions and together we can evaluate what the best choice actually is without our need to be right hindering us. Right now we all are so focused on being right and maybe we are. Maybe we are all right, just in different ways. Maybe the solutions to the problems of our world lie in the solutions of everyone, not just one side or another; maybe there is no right and wrong, just different approaches. I guess the moral here is that maybe the answer to our worlds problems is learning to become a humble and silent listener; listening with the intent to understand, not to reply and being open to the possibility that we may be wrong.

Friday November 9, 2018

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.

Today was our last day teaching the monks. We had three classes to teach today and they all did pretty well while we focused on common phrases that they would need if they visited an English speaking country. We went over phrases like, “can you please help me?”, “where is the ________?”, “what time is it?”, and “please” and “thank you”. They did pretty well, but as usual, it is difficult to get them to speak. I did not sleep much last night and I was completely exhausted. Thankfully Jeff came to the rescue and took over when I was really struggling. I am so grateful for his recognition of my struggles and his willingness to step in and cover for me. We (actually Jeff) finished out the teaching while I helped our kids with their lessons, then we said goodbye to the monks and got a few pictures.

We got home from teaching at the temple and the kids were all done with their schoolwork for the day, they even got ahead a bit with some extra work during our afternoon at the temple. It was awesome, when we got home from teaching their were done for the day and we just got relax. Wat, our host, took us out to dinner in Wiang Sa and it was wonderful. It was a very nice family restaurant. The only downside was that Lucia started complaining that her stomach was hurting and when I took her to the bathroom we realized that she is suffering from Traveller’s Diarrhea.

Otherwise, the day was pretty routine. There is not much I can say about the scripture, as I don’t have any anxiety right now., nor have I felt any recently. I am feeling very calm about my situation and my life, but I fully agree with the scripture, good words can surely cheer you right up when you are feeling low. Anxiety truly does weigh us down and makes our life really hard to get through each day and I feel blessed to not have this as a daily struggle like so many people around the world. There are so many people who are burdened with anxiety and it makes me wonder, if we started to say kind words to the people we come into contact with each, could we help to alleviate anxiety for our world? If we all spoke kinds words to the person in front of us at Starbucks, to the cashier at Target, to the mother struggling with her children at the store, or to the next person you see on the street, would this world be less anxious and more content? This reminds me of the movie Pay It Forward, where one kid does a nice/kind thing for 5 people and the only thing he asks for in return is that they do 5 nice things for 5 new people. Maybe if we all just took a few moments to make someone’s day a bit brighter our world would be a much better place.

Thursday November 8, 2018

Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching; for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck.

The English Camp yesterday was so much fun, but today we headed to the temple to teach the monks English. When we arrived we found out that we would have two classes of monks to teach in the morning and then we are done for the day. We will then have 3 classes tomorrow.

Teaching today went very well for the first class, because they were engaged, talking, and paying attention. However, during the second class I had about 4-5 kids that were actually paying attention and trying to learn, but the rest of the class were on their phones or talking over me. Jeff ended up taking over for me for a portion of the class and he actually scolded the kids a bit. I get the impression that the kids here are not that different from the kids back in the states in so far as there are kids that want to learn and those that don’t seem to care one way or the other. When we got home today, Wat called the temple and then informed us that tomorrow will be our last day at the temple and that we will be teaching at both the schools from now on Monday through Friday. While we were happy to teach at the school, the kids at the school seem to be much more engaged in the lessons and actually wanting to learn.

The kids all did a great job working on their school work today and they actually all got their work done–this was the first time ever! It was amazing. We did school work until about 2:15 and then all the kids were done. It was wonderful. We went for a walk and just relaxed the rest of the afternoon. Today seemed like our kids finally listened and/or understood what we have been telling them about their schoolwork. They were so excited to be done so early and were a bit shocked. Jeff and I took the opportunity to share with them that when they actually get to work and focus, they can finish the work a lot faster than they have been. I am so relieved and I hope that the treats that we got for them tonight and being done so early was enough for this to continue. I am so tired of fighting over schoolwork with them!