Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 08:55 AMSept. 22nd, 2010
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Last blog from Thailand. We spent the morning visiting and saying goodbye to SS and his family today. It was appropriately hard after receiving such wonderful hospitality, grace and love from these amazing people. Somsong himself is just a cool guy who loves Jesus, life and people. His sister Jansi should receive her “saint” wings sooner rather than later. All their family, and tight knit group of friends have overwhelmed us with their hospitality. We were sad to say goodbye. We left the house about 10:30 and headed back to the hotel for shower, packing, loading and trip to the airport in KK. The girls who ran the motel were sad – they cried. They insisted that we take them to America, but if not, that we then have to return and stay in their motel, which I’m sure we will.
The ride was a mix of sad sharing and excitement to be returning home different than when we came. We have all enjoyed our time, but it has been a long time. Suwit and Neng met us at the airport. We paid our driver whom I’m sure will be happy to be home again after 12 days with these crazy Americans. He is a nice fellow, I hope somehow our grace has touched his heart. We exchanged a few more gifts with Suwit and Neng. They are a great team, Suwit with his wisdom and Neng with his infectious enthusiasm. We will miss them as well. I pray God’s continual blessing on all they do.
We did a bit of final shopping/repacking in the airport, then flew the short 30 minute flight to Bangkok. It was amazing they served a plane full of people a boxed meal and drinks so efficiently on this short flight. We can’t even get a drink from Bismarck to Minneapolis anymore on a 1 hour 40 minute flight, and these amazing folks cheerfully served a meal to a whole planeload.
We arrived in Bangkok, got 2 taxis and headed to our same hotel the Vegas. The taxis cost about $6 us apiece for the 45 minute ride. We had no problem. We knew we were in for a short night and so tried to nap at the hotel. Greg met us at about 6:30 and Aum shortly thereafter. We were to meet Au and then go to meet their families for a nice dinner of seafood. We rode a series of trains downtown, then got taxis and finally at 9pm we sat down to eat. It was a casual place, but had amazing and fresh seafood. I found something else I could not eat. A sweetgrass soup that was so tasty and so hot I started sneezing everytime I tried to eat it. The rest of the dishes were awesome.
We took pictures and said goodbye to the family. Au and Aum then wanted to show us where they lived and meet their dogs, so off we went to do that. We didn’t arrive back at our hotel until 12:30. With a 2am wakeup call scheduled, we knew it was futile to sleep much or soundly.
We woke and left for the airport and arrived in time at about 3:15am. Au and Aum met us and attended us to the ap. They soon left us after we checked in. We made our way through customs, and exit lines, and finally to our gate with just enough time to spare. Our flight left Thailand at about 5:15. We had to make an emergency landing in Hong Kong for a man who had a heart attack on the plane. We stopped for another quick run through in Tokyo, and then off for the US. We left on Sat. at 5:15 am and landed in Minneapolis at 2:30pm on Sat. We had literally spent 2 Saturdays getting home. We were tired, but happy to be this close. We had some time so called and ate and slept a bit. I rechanged the remainder of the money, and our flight to Bismarck was uneventful. Barb and Dave drove me home, and presented me with their smuggled mango stein. What a sweet gift.
It was so good to be home. Susan will not return until Tuesday, but that will give me a chance to get laundry done and resettled. It has been an awesome adventure. Thanks for reading and sharing it with me. I’ll return to my devotional blogging soon.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 09:16 AMSept. 21st, 2010
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Thur. 21st. Our last full day in Phuwiang area of NE Thailand. Off to SS’s @ 8:30. Then Diane, Dave and I left with the van for another village to a different school. Actually, the school is in a neighboring village to where they’ve opened their door to Christianity. We met Suwit, his wife, Neng, and woman from the house church and 2 of their daughters. We had a quick Sprite and then left for 2 mile trip to school. This school is near the land donated and proposed for a new church. We entered 3 classrooms where Diane, Dave and I did our routine and then Neng played some silly games with them for token candy. We sang God is so Good in English with the kids. It was all really cool. I had left 1000bot with Suwit yesterday to buy stuff for school and we still ran out of candy for the youngest grades, so he suggested I leave another 1000b for a meal for the kids. I left 800b which was all I had left.
We left school and drove up to a picturesque waterfall – but then were unable to see it because of some construction going on. We were all anxious to return to SS’s house for a party being thrown in our honor. We first ate lunch with the hostess. It was another delicious meal. We started with fresh fruit – green mango’s thinly sliced with sugar-salt-crushed hot pepper to dip. Then came rice, and fresh fried chicken and vegetable dish with beef. The fried chicken was awesome. Hand battered and fried in wok. David remarked as we drove away; “I wonder why that chicken tasted so good?” I replied: “Because 4 hours ago it was running on the street!”
We drove back to Phuwiang with a quick stop at a road side Hammock stop. I had no idea how much. I just held out my $ and the driver helped count out 250b for 3 handmade cloth hammocks. I think the boys will get a kick out of them. Less than $10 for 3.
Arrived at SS’s and found many community women coming and going. We enjoyed more good food, and much conversation, and laughter. We had sweet black rice with fresh mango that was really good. I went for a short walk to say goodbye to this humble little village. We left with Greg at 5:15, showered and left hotel for Airport at 6pm. 45 minutes to KK airport. A small but nice regional airport with 3 flights a day all to Bangkok. Very little security and no hassles. I changed the other $1000us from the church to pay our driver. His total bill was 18,000b, 1500b a day for 12 days, around $600us. He was a good and safe driver and very helpful to all of us!
Stuff seems so cheap, but at the end it’s really expensive to come here. I don’t think our church can afford to send a huge team like we did in Bolivia. If we return it will likely have to be at people’s own expense. Maybe the church can pay for supplies or materials or other expenses. We’ll have to wait and see.
I hope I get to return someday – but 12 days is a bit too long for me. We dropped Greg and Dave and I had a great visit back to the village. We said goodnights and left. They had already skyped Greg at the airport! Amazing technology. SS and Greg have become friends! Which I hope might take some load off Barb!
Tomorrow we’ll visit in the morning and leave around 10:30. Our flight is not till 2 something, so we’ll be in airport a time, but we hope to get to Bangkok and meet Au and Aum for supper. We fly on Sat at 5am and have to be at the Bangkok airport at 3. Will be a short night! Oh well, we can sleep on the plane.
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Monday, September 20, 2010, 02:04 PMSept. 20th, 2010
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
We arrived in KK and dropped Suwit, his wife and Neng at the church. The driver and I headed to find a golf course on our way to Phuwiang. He said he knew of one near the airport, because he delivered westerners there before. Well he didn’t say this to me obviously, but to Suwit, who relayed the message to me. It was a stately gated course with a fancy attached hotel and nice dining, sitting, parking areas. Looked exactly like the kind of place rich Japanese and other westerners would visit-golf-and entertain clients while enjoying the local entertainment. The pro-shop was not well apportioned with only a few hats/caps and maybe one ugly golf shirt that would fit me! I was looking for ball markers with the course logo. All they had said Calloway! I walked out to a green and inspected the grass on the course and green. It looked like bent grass on the greens, and Bermuda on the course. Must be heat resistant for this climate. I left there and began writing this on the way to SS’S.
Arrived at SS’s with tired butt! At 6pm. I have been gone since 9am. That’s a lot of traveling to visit – eat – and bless a great church in Roiet. It will be the last time on this trip that I get to visit with Suwit face to face for any length of time. Got busy catching up on the team’s day, and shared with them the news of the school miracle. Guess they experienced some emotion as the reality of our departure on Fri. began to set in. Tears were exchanged by all – including Greg. We ate another delicious meal. (Readers may think that all we did was eat…and they’d be…right!) After meal we joined SS, his sister Jansi and Gay and niece Oreney to our Legacy UMC in Bismarck, it was their wish. Oreney is a darling. I think she has a rather sad countenance; but SS credits her with helping to lead him and many others in the village to Jesus. Maybe Susan and I should have her come to US and study while living with us. It would be good for her. I could see her becoming the pastor to SS’s village. I have come to believe that family is really important to these fine folks – more so than in the US. They would have a hard time not having her around. I wondered how SS’s death will impact all of us? Jansi’s live will be most dramatically realigned. It’s too hard to think about now.
Wow, I’m really rambling. I started to say we joined the 4 into Legacy UMC. I even had an official copy of our vows and left it with them. Greg did his best to abbreviate and translate our “church” practices to their daily lives. Way cool…LUMC in Bis. ND now officially has 4 Thai members! I offered for Greg to join too, but he declined! Ha!
We parted at 8 and headed for the motel. Greg leaves tomorrow which will dampen everyone’s spirit. We leave on Fri. at 11 for 2pm flight to Bangkok. Not sure about arrangements from AP to Hotel to dinner with Au and Aum, but it will work out.
God, thanks for a really affirming day. I feel that the miracle at the school may be the whole purpose in our coming. We are going to be so exhausted and emotionally spent at the end of this – that you will have to sustain us even more! PTL. AMEN. Might try to read – good luck with that.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 08:23 AMSept 15th, 2010
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Continuation of Wed. July 20th, 2010 On the trip to Roiet I asked Suwit about any UM work in the KK area. He said there was very little. He knew of a small UMC in KK which had only a few members. I told him I’d research our work in the area before we return and I’ll try to make contact with them when we return. Just makes sense that if there is a Methodist church somewhere close, I should at least let them know what we are doing. It is pretty obvious our return will be much different than we expected. We probably won’t be building any church facilities for some time. But I believe God will use us to plant seeds and open doors like he has this time. It’s amazing that our presence and 1000b or $30US will open a Buddhist public school to begin teaching Christianity by a local pastor from a church that is only 5 months old! I’m not sure how we can help Suwit – but we’ll figure something out. Maybe a team of US teachers might come for a week of training in a school or who knows? “It has not yet been determined what we shall be...” heard that somewhere!!
We had another great lunch. The main course was stir fry with vegetables and small corn and not hot poppers, some water based soup with meat and onions; fried chicken wings, sausages and rice. It was all GREAT. I used the Hot Chili Sauce to everyone’s amazement. Then they brought fresh coconuts to drink and a dessert that was the sweetest in Thailand so far. It was sliced melon pieces – like cantaloupe in a sweet coconut thickened sauce with strands of rice stalk in it. It was great! It was a delicious meal and I of course ate too much – which pleased them immensely. They seem to find great joy in teasing me about being fat! I don’t mind!
The husband and wife joined us at the little card table dining table in the living/family/sleeping room. He was so proud to have me in his home and reassured me that he felt I was a blessing. He will become the local lay leader in a few weeks as the Pastor of their local church retires. Neng goes out there every week to work with the youth and help. Ning comes home often to help too.
The area around Roi Et is the most arid in the country. It was quite dry – in contrast to the Phuwiang area which seems much more fertile and wet. It is known as “rain farming” because they rely on rain for water and not so much irrigation.
After lunch we went to the church which was built by a mission team from Alaska. A simple structure that will seat probably 100-140. It has a separate nursery building that also functions as a day care center. One of the main guys there is a young man who is blind, and seems to also have some other physical disability. He plays the keyboard, fixes the computer and sound equipment and may actually live in a room at the church. He seemed blown away at meeting me. A couple other leaders from the church came, including an Ag Instructor from the local college. I met her son in the youth meeting on Sun. He is now at KK university.
We had a prayer of blessing and took some pix and left after 30 minutes or so. We drove through the school where dad teaches – but students had been dismissed. Back to house to exchange some gifts. They put a sash around my waist and told me that’s what they do when the prime minister enters their home. They also made me a cool blanket and a silk scarf for Susie. Back to KK we headed.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 08:31 AMSept. 14th, 2010
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Wed. July 20th I woke this morning quite early after a pretty normal Thailand night. I have to get up often because I am drinking so much in the afternoon and evening to try and stay cool. I was so hot last night I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sleep – but did. We left the hotel at 8:30 and dropped off the team at SS’s. I left with the driver and the 9 passenger van all to myself at 9 to head to Khon Keon. Met Suwit, his lovely wife and “Neng”. Had a good visit while I rested before the next leg. Our driver was hungry so he went to eat. We had good conversation about Legacy UMC’s intent to fulfill our 2 year commitment of $200 a month. They seemed very appreciative. We also talked about SS and Sukit, the gossip etc. Left it to work itself out. Greg has gotten the impression that SS and his family just sort of tolerate her too!
Anyway – the big news of the day was that the principal of the school we visited yesterday (who lives close to the woman who allows the church in her home) called her and asked/invited her to tell Suwit he and his church could begin teaching Christianity in their school. They all believe it to be a miracle – and I can’t doubt it! So now along with the Buddhist religion, Christianity will be taught by Pastor Suwit and others from the church. Way cool. The people from the churches here have come to believe that I am some “holy man” and that whatever I bless will be blessed! I’m humbled.
We left for 1 ½ hour drive to Roiet where Ning and Neng and their family grew up. Their dad is a PE teacher in the school there and an elder in the church. He and his family have been Christians for 30 years. They were saved under some missionaries of the Christian Missionary Alliance church. When the country opened to Christianity after communism some 50 years ago the American Missionaries designated the different areas of Thailand, and the C.M.A. got the KK area which is the largest of the 19 provinces. Wed. tbc.
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