Thursday, June 25, 2015

Processing

How are you?

It's a question we get a lot.  And thus, we have a relatively standard response...  "We're doing great. Homeschooling is going well.  We are enjoying our language lessons.  We like living in Thailand, and we are looking forward to partnering more with the Charis Project as we set up a community center to help empower the families here."

What's life like in Thailand?  How are you adjusting?

It's true.  We like Thailand.  We are adjusting fairly well, and we've tried to make that pretty clear here on this blog.  However, it's really only one side of the story.  Surface level, really.  Life is so very different here.  It's difficult to express just how much I'm constantly trying to process what is going on here.

How can I explain, for example, what it is like to sit in a sweltering hot one-room shack, knowing that this is how a majority of the people live here when I go home to my big house with A/C?

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A three-walled "house" where a mom, dad,
baby boy, and physically and mentally-disabled son
were living.
Or the time when I walked into a non-profit handicraft shop that seeks to empower the women here.  How do I tell you about my initial shock and regaining my composure when the woman who comes to help me is using crutches because one leg is severely mangled and the other one is missing?  It's obvious she stepped on a landmine in her home country which is unfortunately not a rare sight here.

How do I process what it feels like to look into a three-year old girl's face that is covered with sores and bruises, and knowing that she has been raped by an eight-year old boy this week (and not for the first time)?

How do I share what's it's like to be greeted with respect as a teacher simply because I'm white?

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The four bedroom house I live in with
my husband and two boys.
Our rent here is 1/6 of what it was in the States.
How do I deal with the knowledge that a teacher I know spent three years and then another ten years locked up as a political prisoner simply because he was an activist who desires political reform in Myanmar (something they desperately need)?  Thirteen years is difficult for me to grasp!

How do I empathize with the people here who have fled their homes because the Burmese military's Four Cuts policy and whose homes and villages have been destroyed (and now planted with landmines so they can't return and rebuild)?  Many of them are illegally in Thailand which makes them ineligible for decent pay while making them never cease to worry about deportation back to their country where they have no home.

Can I, Should I, Could I.... live incarnationally among the people we serve here?  Could I live in a bamboo or tin one-room shack with no electricity or running water?  Would that lead to burn out?  What would that look like for my kids?  Would I even be useful?  What really should my standard of living look like?

Questions like these and others like them plague my daily existence.  Most seem to have no answers, but I live in the wrestling of them.  On this blog, I've chosen to mostly focus on the good things since I know it would be all to easy to be discouraged.

Life is more complicated here.  It's not fair.  We are here doing the little we can to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this place.  How to do that the best we can is what we are striving for.

So, we are adjusting.  I think (hope!) we are adjusting well.  We are definitely functional.  I am not the same person I was before I came, but I'm not sure I'd want to be.  It's difficult to describe, so in the meantime, "Yes, we are doing well.  We like Thailand.  Thanks for asking!"



Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20th

It was June 20, 2007.  Having come to the realization that we would not be moving the Asia this year, we arrived in Seattle three months pregnant with N.  It was the beginning of seven wonderful years living in the Pacific Northwest.

It was June 20, 2013.  I was sitting in my car after leaving a MOPS meeting where I had been working on transferring my responsibilities to new moms.  Suffering from a headache, I had left the meeting early.  I did a quick drive-by our mailbox, and now I was sitting in my driveway looking through the mail for the day.  That's when I got the letter.  The letter which told me the home that made me feel settled and secure in Seattle for an indefinite time may be taken from me, leveled to the ground, and turned into a parking lot.

It was June 20, 2014.  We were stepping off our first international plane trip since our boys were born into Thailand.  We were in Chiang Mai visiting with different organizations that we hoped we might partner with in the future.  With all the insecurities surrounding our house, we were feeling the freedom to finally move overseas - something we'd been wanting to do since we got married.

It is June 20th, 2015.  Today.  What have I done today?
Well, I've...
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  • Tasted my first durian fruit since moving here
  • Chorused with a toad living in my shower drain
  • Went to my Burmese lesson
    • on my motorbike!
  • Drove our manual transmission SUV using my left hand to shift
  • I did this while driving on the left side of the road
    • AND I didn't hit anyone!
  • Watched my kids play soccer in our soi (Thai sidestreet) with some other Burmese boys
  • Avoided doing the dishes since the water in my tap is muddy
  • Drank a latte (yes, I'm still a Seattle-ite at heart)
  • Rearranged most of the furniture in my house
  • Discovered a Burmese church service happening on my soi
  • Ate dinner at a street walking market

I also didn't get any mail.  I think we'll be here for a while.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

May Happenings

DSCN0984May was much quieter than April in terms of outings and events.  We are learning more of what it looks like for our family to live in Thailand.

Phil's brother, Dan, left early this month to go help with the Nepal earthquake relief efforts with All Hands Volunteers.  We had a great time with him, and he made some pretty cool signs for the boys before he left.  He also made them as swing out of one of our cutting boards!

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We're enjoying our new house.  There are always new geckos, insects, and crawling things that want to gain our attention.  Millipedes are a favorite though.

DSCN0978Our bananas ripened this month, and our mango tree is covered in mangoes.  They are green though so we are trying to learn how to best eat green mangoes like in Mango Salad.

We've also been exploring our neighborhood more.  We live very close to Mae Tao Clinic, the Bus Station, the airport, and a large hardware store.  The boys have also discovered the "playground", an empty lot with a banyan tree with dangling vines that they like to climb on.  The boys also now have Razor-type scooters, and they will often scoot down to the shop at the end of the street to buy ice, vegetables, or a treat.

We've also been really busy with work this month.  Because of Thai immigration and labor issues, we had to close down our consignment shop and coffee bar to set up a foundation office instead.

We also had to get our two-month stamp to allow us a couple more months in country before we could apply for our year visa.  There was a lot of paperwork involved with that including Phil needing to make a trip to Chiang Mai for a couple of days.

It was a busy month of behind-the-scenes stuff, but we know it will help us do better work in the future.

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