Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bread, Flowers, and Big Water

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One of my flower deliveries
Shortly after we moved into our long-term home here in April, I began getting flower deliveries to my house on a weekly basis.  Some friends of mine, Kelli and Stephen, invest in a migrant village next to their home, and one of the ladies in the village sold flowers at the local market.  Kelli was able to help her with her business by helping her deliver flowers weekly to the farang (Westerners) here.  We were one of her customers.

Kelli realized that she could help some other women in the village by teaching them to make bread (a real treat here in Thailand!) and selling to the same customer base as the lady who sells flowers.  This gave a job to two more moms beginning in June or so.

So, when Kelli and her husband had to go out of town for a few weeks, I was asked to step in and help.  The women already knew how to bake the bread, so they just needed me to be there to let them use the oven, and drive them around for the deliveries.  I would get the added bonus of being able to practice my Burmese language with them and step into a short-term ministry role.  I was pretty excited about the opportunity.

On Thursdays, I'd pack up the boy's homeschool materials, and the boys and I would head over to Kelli's house for the bread baking.  One of the lady's sons would be there sometimes and he would play with N and Z a bit.  But, I soon learned that village life is very unpredictable.

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The vaccine clinic
The first Thursday, a big van pulled up to the house.  Some official looking people came in, and one of the ladies I was working with showed me what looked like a vaccine form.  I thought that she might want someone to take her to the clinic because someone was sick (I know that Kelli and Stephen sometimes help with transportation of this kind).  Turns out, the van was actually a mobile vaccine clinic there to help the people in the village for the morning.  The front of the house suddenly turned into a makeshift clinic.  They were there for a couple of hours, and then left.  It was neat to see how their house could be used for so many purposes.

We did deliveries of both the bread and the flowers on Friday.  It was interesting trying to get around town with people I can't communicate completely with.  The women were great though, and very patient.  Kelli left me great instructions and maps so it wasn't really much of a hassle.

The second week, though, we had our big surprise.  Thursday was uneventful, but Friday brought a whole new set of challenges.  The city was worried about the reservoir overflowing so they decided on Friday morning to let the dam out a bit.  The migrant village is a couple of kilometers away, but it is in a low area so it was severely flooded.  I learned the word for flood in Burmese that day (yei chei) or Big Water as I probably said it a hundred times.

As I drove up to the village, I saw just how wet it was.  I thought about driving down the street (after all, I have 4WD), but in hindsight I'm glad I parked a couple of blocks away on higher ground.  By the time I walked up to Kelli and Stephen's house, I was waist-deep in muddy water.  I was in constant communication with Kelli by phone as we talked about what I needed to check on.  Their house was high enough that no water was in their house, but the village was completely flooded.  We went ahead with our deliveries and noticed that a lot of places in Mae Sot were also affected, but none were as bad as the village.

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The flooding at Kelli and Stephen's around 9AM
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The water was way down by 3PM

I brought the rest of my family to the village as we wanted to monitor the situation.  There were rumors that they were going to let out the dam again, and we didn't know how that would affect things.  (Thankfully, this didn't happen).  N and Z were in the swimming clothes and enjoyed floating down the street (now a river) in a bucket.  We all arrived there around noon.  The water was still higher than knee-deep.  We finally left a bit before 4PM, and the water was mostly gone.  We were able to make sure that everyone had a safe place to eat and sleep, and to be able to notify our friends that their friends here were okay.
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N in a "boat"
We don't have adventures like this very often, but this one was for the books!
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The reservoir in June
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The reservoir in September (the day after they released some water)
You can find Kelli's version here.

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