Saturday, March 14, 2015

Flashback: Visiting Thailand

This is one of my flashback posts - a post that I wrote on my family blog before starting this blog.  These posts help me see where I've come from and what I've been thinking about over the last few years that shape where I'm going.  It's crazy to think that this was less than a year ago, and now we are here!


Thailand Part II - July 17, 2014

After our whirlwind of a first day in Thailand, we were ready to begin our mission in earnest.  Our goal for this overseas trip was to visit three organizations - all of whom work closely with the situation that is going on in Burma/Myanmar in unique ways.  We were hoping to find where God might be leading us.  The first place we went to visit was The Charis Project in Mae Sot on the Thai/Burma border.

Using the tickets we had purchased the day before, we got on the Green Bus and proceeded on the 6 hour ride to the border from Chiang Mai.  The view from the road was gorgeous, and it was wonderful seeing this part of the country that we wouldn't have otherwise seen.


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Thai Jungle

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Shaky pictures from the bus really don't do it justice.

We were greeted at the bus station by Aaron, the founder of The Charis Project.  We were blessed to stay with him and his family for the next few days.  Aaron Blue and his wife, Carrien, are doing some amazing work in Mae Sot and the surrounding areas.  The focus on their website shows the incredible work they are doing with a children's home, but they also work to empower families through education, training, creating jobs and entrepreneurship.  You really should read the Charis Project's blog to gain a better understanding of the heart that is behind all that they do.


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Aaron

The Blue family allowed us to get a peek into their lives, their city, and their ministry.  We had such a great visit spending time with their beautiful children, having lunch on the river that separates Thailand from Burma, and wandering around the Burmese marketplaces on one hand and Tesco (like a Walmart) on the other.

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The Thai/Burmese border.
We ate lunch on the boardwalk while watching this boat make multiple unofficial border crossings.

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Another view of the border.  You can see the official crossing (The Friendship Bridge) in the distance.

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A typical street in Mae Sot

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One of the more odd things we saw for sale by the street vendors - baby catfish and turtles.  Apparently, you buy them to release back into the wild for good karma.
We also got to visit the children's home that they facilitate that is a bit away from the border.  Phil just might have been obsessed with a kitty there, and I just might have been caught in a tropical rainstorm when we went to go pick up the kids from school.


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The children's home

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This farm on the property helps to pay the ongoing costs of the home.

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Phil kept taking pictures of the kitty

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View of the road and the "bus" we used to go pick up the kids from school

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Before the rainstorm
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Not too much later

Our days with them flew by quickly  We spent hours talking about the motivation behind their ministry and their faith.  It was inspiring to see this family "say Yes" to whatever opportunities that come before them.  They are the kind of people that I hope we can be - people who truly want to see Christ's Kingdom come and be His servants in that work.

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Lunch stop on the way back to Chiang Mai

I have to say that I left a little bit of my heart in Mae Sot after this trip.  I hope that we will find ourselves there again.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Finding Gifts

Sometimes it's hard to remember what life used to be like one short year ago.  A life where routine was normal.  Phil went to work in the shed outside; I homeschooled the boys.  Lunch was at noon, quiet time at 1PM, and dinner at 5:30.  Lots of spontaneous park dates with friends.  Housecleaning, cooking food, watching movies from my couch on my laptop.  Snuggling under my warm covers in bed.  It seems so long ago.

I miss the people I love in Seattle.  I miss the ease of life.  I miss the joy of friendship.  I miss being part of the many stories that are being written there while I'm away.

I miss my family in California.  Although the four months of living in transition there was not easy, I had some good, intensified time with my family.  We got to become a part of new church family and a wonderful small group that loved on us.  Yet even though we left there only a month ago, it seems more like a different lifetime.

DSCN0330Our lives have had to begin again.  We had 8 suitcases coming with us across the ocean, and everything else is new to us.  We've had to learn how to adapt quickly, and yet routine escapes us as everything is harder here.  We've become accustomed to things like: taking bucket showers, handwashing dishes in a bucket using a faucet outside, sharing our home with geckos, drinking only bottled water, not flushing our TP, and cooking over a single electric stovetop.  We've learned to appreciate the simpler pleasures in life and to be thankful for them.

And yet, I can't imagine my life any other way...  This life seems so foreign to me, and it is!  I don't speak the language, I'm still learning my way around town, and sometimes I don't know what I'm doing here.  But, I feel that same way about Seattle and California too.  Home seems elusive.

Eventually, we will be living in our new home more in the center of town.  We will have many more of the conveniences that we enjoyed in America.  We will learn the language and grow our community.  Yet, I'm grateful for this part of the story.  Not only because it helps me understand my neighbors in the village more, but also because it is teaching me that everything I have is a gift. More than just gifts of stuff.  Gifts of friendship.  Gifts of love.  Gifts of community.  Even the special gift of the memories that I have from back home.