Monday, February 27, 2006

In other news...

I have a roomate!

I've named him "Rob". He's small, and green, and like long walks across the ceiling. His favorite food is flies, live and wriggling. In short, a gecko found it's way into my room, and I can't catch the thing, to put it at liberty where it might survive. It really like hiding under the fridge when I'm in the room. I'm hoping he'll find his way out or I'll be able to catch him and set him free at some point. Until then, I have a companion. I set out a dish of water, but he doesn't seem too interested in it. Maybe time will change that.

Some of you may wonder what there is to do for fun around here... so I've decided to do a little Chiang Mai review for you all.
When bored:
-go for a walk! There are tons of little roadside markets and vendors to keep you busy all the time.
-go for a run! There are many picturesque parks around the city with jogging paths and exercise stations. I rather enjoy them, and use them every morning.
-go to Mike's burgers. This is a small place with big taste! It's also the home of sarcasm. The sign proclaims that is has been converting vegetarians since 1979. It's also filled with hillarious pictures, bumper stickers and more. And everyone takes advantage of the two hour guarantee. If your food is not made within two hours, IT"S FREE! My favorite bumper sticker is "Save a cow, eat a vegetarian".
-go to Walking street. On Sunday nights, two major streets in the old city are blocked off and becomes a huge market for handicrafts. It's great. It even makes a non-shopper like myself excited.
-Go to Night Bazaar. Sure, it's the tourist market, and more expensive than walking street, but it's open every night!
-Eat. And eat some more. There are WAY too many good restaurants around here.
-Walk to the nearest waterfall. I've only done this once, but it was great.
Well, that's all for now! Talk to you all soon!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tim and Clair's Farewell party

This last Thursday, we had an amazing farewell for Tim and Clair. It was from the students, to their beloved teachers. I was touched to see just how much the students were influenced by Tim and Clair, the tears shed bearing witness to this.
We had a video presentation, food and a time where the students could say a short goodbye to Tim and Clair. It was incredibly touching. I hope that someday I will be able to be such a leader as these two are.
The evening was awesome. I was in charge of decorations. You can see my little tribute to the pair. Yes, that is plasticine. Yes, that does represent about 2 hours of my work. Yes, I know that neither one is blond, or has green eyes, but my colours were very limited. And I did get Clair's t-shirt colour right! It was definitely a hit throughout the evening!

About 50 students showed up in all, many of them are no longer students here, but came to say good bye.

I'm not even sure I can communicate all that the evening meant to me. It was awesome. I hope to one day be as influencial as this couple, to leave a legacy of love like they did. These things always make me re-evaluate what is REALLY important anyways?

Keep in touch y'all!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I saw Kalen!!!!

Hello peoples!
Sorry it's been a while with no updates, I've been trying to get photos for everything to put up as well. I'll be posting about Tim and Clair's farewell party tomorrow hopefully.

Anyways, I saw Kalen! I met her and Michelle Williams (her supervisor) at the Central Airport Plaza, and of course went to Starbucks. I however, much to all your surprise I'm sure, did not have a coffee because, as part of our health lesson in class, I decided to go off the stuff for a week. That was tough. Really tough. Oh well, tomorrow is a week, and I've survived!
Anyways, after that, we went to a camp where the children from the children's home in Bon My Swan were having a day retreat. It was really cute. The next picture here is of P'Hom, who is the pastor's wife of the Bon My Swan church. She really liked me because of my language ability, and was not too happy that I had to come back into the city and couldn't stay overnight out at the dormitories. (And Cindie, who is that over my left shoulder? For those of you who want to know, that's Tara, a Canadian from the same small town as our Cindie!)
We had lunch at the place you can see, then we went to a couple of different places to buy handicrafts at wholesale prices, and then headed out to the tiny village of Bon My Swan.
The children's home out there is actually one of the Compassion sites. They go into the hill tribes and find children who have no school to go to, and allow them to apply for the program. If they are sponsored, they come and live with the other 96-97 students in Bon My Swan. This is a picture of all the kids, gathered for the evening worship and devotion time. Worshipping with them was awesome! They were all yelling out the words and doing the actions as the bright stars above shone down on us. There were even a couple that were translated English songs, so I could sing along.

Oh, and did I mention where we had supper? This was the beautiful spot where we ate, suspended over the water during sunset. It was absolutely amazing. And we had some amazing food too! My favorite was the "dancing shrimp". And no, that's not a figure of speech. They really are dancing. The live shrimp come in a little covered bowl that you shake. The shrimp then jump like crazy until they exhaust themselves and you can eat them. Every once in a while though, they will jump off your spoon. My favorite was Kalen, who screamed probably 3 times in trying to get the shrimp to her mouth, had to restart many times, and really struggled with it, and the moment she put it in her mouth, her face changes completely and she says "oh, it's good!". And we have it on video!
How much fun was that?
You can see the little white shrimp in this picture. We couldn't take the lid off for very long, or they would jump out, and once they hit the table, they aren't clean, so we'd throw them into the water.
It was a perfect day, in every respect. So thank you Kalen and Michelle!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ok, all is well again!

Sometimes I wonder...

I was just in a kind of a slump Sunday and Monday, as you could see from my last post, and then I got some news! Kalen is coming up this weekend! For those of you who don't know who Kalen is, she's another student from Vanguard who is doing her internship here in Thailand. She's been in Bangkok, and hosted me during my layover there. Now I get to host her! It will be awesome to see her. So I apologized to Jesus for my whinging (the Irish girl is rubbin' off on me a wee litl' bit!), and thanked him for the good timing, and everything has been great again!

I was reading the Bible yesterday and came across a rather interesting verse... I'm not sure if it's a "word from the Lord" or not, but a good warning anyways. It's from Deuteronomy 14:21:
"Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to an alien living in any of your towns, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner"
Anyways, I'm going to be careful who I buy my meat from. If they are Christians or Jewish, I'm gonna be just a little more wary! ;)

Today I led worship for our little meeting. I'm really not a worship leader at all. I've only done it once before, and the one person who remembers that kinda smiles shyly when she thinks about it and says "it was.... cute...". Yup, I'm a "cute" worship leader... i.e. I try hard but am not very good. The one good thing about being here though is that no one can even play one chord except me, so they have little to compare my poor talent to.
So I stumbled through two songs, but I had practiced for so long before we started that blisters were starting to develop on my fingers, so I was working so hard to push down the strings through the pain that I didn't have much time to be nervous. Or to really think about God and worship.... hmm... well, you win some and you lose some! We'll have to see if Opal ever asks me to lead again!

For those of you who keep asking, my bike IS holding up. I've managed to fix the handle bar problem almost completely, so that's not a problem anymore. But something else is starting to make a weird sound, kinda like my bike back home did before it changed gears unannounced. But this bike only has one gear. So, you may or may not soon be seeing post #3 of the "Cheap Thai bikes are REALLY cheap" series! But I hope not.

Also, I've heard about a lake that is about a half an hour bike ride north of the city... so we may have another adventure on our hands, folks! I probably won't do it this weekend, maybe the weekend after that, so keep reading!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A hard day....

Today was kind of a longer day. Mostly because I spent most of it alone. I went to church in the morning, but the pastor and his wife are in India working with a team there on a short term mission. The speaker that was invited left something to be desired. Oh well, you win some and you lose some right?
So after eating lunch, I had a nap and started to feel a little lonely. So I got on my bike, rode for about 10 minutes, parked, walked for about the same and then there I was... arrived at the Haey Keaw waterfall. So I lounged in and about the waterfall for the afternoon, read a book and ate some fruit I'd bought on the way. It turned out to be a perfect afternoon.
I feel like I'm learning a lot about living alone, in a place where my only friends are my coworkers. It's strange. But you learn to cope. And really, it's not that bad. I think I may be more of an introvert than I imagined. And it's ok to be alone.

Anyways, enough sentimentality! I'm planning to go check out a place called Mike's Burgers. I've hear nothing but good things about it, but I refused to go to such a "farang" place. But now I've been here for a month, I think it's ok.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Super Hero night!

Super hero night was certainly a super success! The Dental hygiene hero was a great hit once people found out what I was (they only have colgate here, not Crest, so realizing I was a toothpaste tube took a bit of work). And as those who know me could verify, I just love wearing capes, so even if the night hadn't gone well, I would have had fun. Everything's more fun with a cape. Also, if you were admiring Opal's Mr. Incredible outfit, I made it too.
All the staff dressed up, and even some of the students did as well. Playing some of the games was hazardous though, because of the many capes and costume bits flying around.
Jim, our local australian, shared his testimony, and it was really great.

In terms of what's been happening with my students, I'll give a quick update. My second class still has 7 people. I've been spending a lot of time with Nok lately, and it's sad because she is graduating right now, and is heading out to Bangkok in a month for work. She's super open to talking about Christianity, but as there would be no time for discipleship before she left, we are still praying about what to do.
Another student, named Run (I don't have a photo, sorry, I'll try to get one up), I've also had some great opportunities to talk with. She's said to me "You know, this God is a really good god, I can see that by being here at the Centre. And it is such a great place to be here, it's like my home." She's wants to be a Christian, but she's afraid of her parents response if she did, especially her father. She's worried that they will be very angry with her. Please pray for her and her family, that she could have the freedom to make a decision.
In my first class, I still have my 3 girls. T.O, Gift and Waan. They are great. They invited me to a concert/show that their school put on today. I was expecting something kinda like the shows we put on in jr. high back home. I was dead wrong. It was in the city's convention centre, with professional lighting and sound. It was a 3 hour program. It was the story of Thailand's history in dance, highlighting the different types of dances that are traditional around the country. They had amazing costumes. Some of the head pieces were incredibly elaborate. My two favorite were 1) a golden "helmet" of sorts with two 3 foot long crimson feathers sticking out the top, and 2) an elaborate hair style where a huge bundle of (in this case, fake) hair stuck straight up about 2 feet above their heads and then curved backwards in a loop. It looked like a monkey's tail. And most of the costumes were shimmery and shiny, so it sometimes felt like you were getting lost in a shining golden sea of coordinated movements. Also, there was one dance of about 150 children all around 5 years old, which was incredibly cute as they were all dressed up in traditional costumes.
After the program was a concert by the famous Thai band Armchair. I was nearly deafened by the appreciative shreiks of the 15 year old girls sitting around me. People also looked at me weird when I pretended to sing along.
I'm sorry, have you never heard of Armchair? Where have you been? In North America or something? They are famous around here! It's a 5 person boys band, but only the lead singer and the pianist sing. The music was pretty good (not my style, but good), but it was hard to hear due to everyone in the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs along with shreiks and laughter whenever the lead singer looked their way. And since I was in the 3rd row, that was always. Anyways, I think it's kinda like a Justin Timberlake imitation band, except that the lead singer had a hardcore mullet. Yup, mullet power all the way baby. All I know is that the girls loved it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine's Day and other news

Hey Peoples!

Well, the Valentine's day class went really well, I had 5 of my 7 students show up and they really seemed to enjoy it. My first class of 3 girls (T.O., Gift and Waan) went really well too. We went through the story of the prodigal son with them. They are such sweet girls. They bought me some Ferrero Roche's to say "thanks for being our teacher".

In other news, I taught the "Tim Tam Slam" to the team here. If you don't know what that is, ask me about it when I get back and I'll be glad to teach you!
Tomorrow night's Friday Night Party is going to be Superhero night, and I'm going to be the M.C. So please pray for that. And of course, no superhero night is complete without a visit from the Dental Hygeine Hero, who will without a doubt be making an appearance (I've been working on my costume all day!). More about that later!

School for the University students is just ending now, as they are all in their final exams and major projects, so getting time to go out with them is kind of hard right now. They end school now, and then start classes again in June, when the rainy season starts.
For grade school, they have the month of April off, but go to school year round the rest of the year with a week or two off every couple of months.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Adventure on the mountain top!

Yesterday, as will not surprise many of you, I climbed a mountain. Or rather, I walked up a mountain.
At the top of one of the mountains bordering the city there is a temple called Doi Su Thep. All day, you can see it's golden roofs gleaming in the sunshine. Almost since the day I got here, I've been trying to get someone to go with me, but alas, none would agree. So, after grabbing some supplies and my MP3 player, I headed up the long road. Because the road is made for cars, it is obviously not too steep, meaning it winds back and forth along the mountain and one adjoining mountain too. So to go up about and in about 1-2 km takes an 11 km hike.
Every fall, the freshman at Chiang Mai university hike up, and it take about 3 hours. I got up in 2 hours and 13 minutes. :)
It was quite a lot of fun. Motorists going by would usually look at me like I was crazy, but many others would honk and yell encouragements.
I finally got to the top and looked around for a while. You'll never guess who I found there! There is a jade factory showroom as well as a clifface where you can look out over the city. Then as I was walking past the songtau (public trans. red trucks) stand, one of the drivers recognized me. So we started talking, and he gave me a discount price for the way down. 20 Baht, which is half what even the local Thais pay to go down. Then, some students recognized me. They were a group of University students who were some of the people who had yelled encouragements as they passed. And they wanted to interview me. So, out came three videocameras, and they asked me all sorts of questions, until my songtau was leaving and I had to go.
And that's not all. Inside the songtau were 4 nurses and a sales man on holiday from Bangkok. After we talked for a little while, they asked if I wanted to visit the zoo with them. (It's right at the bottom of the path up the mountain). So I went with them, and the paid my admission too! It was loads of fun. And good excercise.
Today, I went to a wonderful church called Chiang Mai Christian Fellowship. I've been to a couple of churches since I came, and none of them seemed to "fit". But this one was great. Not only did they have coffee upon arrival, and the first people I met were Canadians, but also there was great worship, a good sermon, and the church hires a songtau to drive people who don't have cars. It's an awesome place. I recommend it if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai.

Some prayer requests:
This Tuesday is Valentine's day, and for my second class, I'm going to have Opal come in and speak in Thai about the greatest love story, that of Jesus and his life, death and resurrection. So please pray for that.
Also, please pray for the continuing transition of leadership, as Opal takes over and Tim and Claire wrap up their work.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cheap Thai bikes are REALLY cheap. Lesson #2.

Ok, I figure it's about time to give a quick update about the orange fury that gets me around. I told you last time about the seat coming off on the street. But I've encountered another slightly difficuly problem. Every time I put weight on the handlebars, I end up loosening the nut keeping them on. So then they start wobbling. I can usually still have good control if I rotate them so that the brake levers are pushed against my basket on the front, but it's still kinda hard when you are getting going. All this means is that every 2-3 days I have to go retrieve the monkey wrench from the tool shed at the Centre and tighten it up, but I thought some of you might laugh at the thought of me pedaling down the street on a seat that is too low with wobbly handle bars throwing me off. Surprisingly, I still make really good time, and am never much slower than the flow of traffic.

Girls night was an awesome success last night. We had a lot of fun, and 20 people showed up in all. We played some games, and ate together, and then Claire basically shared the gospel straight up with the girls, and then ended it with giving each girl a rose that had 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 attached.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres"

After that we watched "Guess Who?". The four students of mine who came were Nok, Waan, T.O., and Gift. The last three are my 15 year-old Jr. High kids, and Nok is the one that has some previous pictures up, from the second class.

In this second picture you can see Opal translating to Claire's left. To her right is Bo, a newly baptized Christian, and then my 3 students, T.O., Gift and Waan's shoulder. On the left, kind of covering Opal, is Nok.

Thank you to all of you for your prayers. I don't think you can even know how thankful I am for them. Everything has gone really well, and continues to do so.

Miss you all!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Some more pictures!

Ok, as promised, here are some more pictures for y'all!
On this first one, you can see our very serious morning staff metings. And by morning, I actually mean early afternoon. Mondays we meet at noon, every other day we meet at 1pm. From right to left you have Tim, Max (or P'Max), Jim, Wor and you can just see Jennifer's arm. Also, please notice the title to the back. SUPERBOWL!

These next two picture are from Friday Night party, which was a big success.
All the wonderful decorations you see on the back wall, I either created or adapted from other's work. It was lots of fun.

Basically Friday nights are the fun, evangelistic night, where we are a little more forward about why we have all come to the Centre. It's a lot of work, but it's definitely worth it.

Tonight it cooking night! We will be making BBQ sandwiches for the Thai's. And tomorrow will by girl's night, where all the girls who want to come, come across the street to the house the Centre owns, and play games, cook & eat together, paint nails, watch chick flicks, all that kinda stuff and then there is a short sharing period and then we have a sleepover!

If there's anything else you guys want to know about Thailand or my time here, just post your requests as comments, and I'll be sure to talk about it!

Monday, February 06, 2006


It seems that my last post, on the 4th, was not posted. I'm sorry if you've been waiting for news and none has come!

Things are going really well here. My classes are settling down, and I am having a lot of fun with my students. The other night we went to "walking street", where on Sunday nights they close down two huge streets, and people sell handicrafts and others busk etc. It's quite a lot of fun to look around, but it also gets quite busy.
The other things we went to see was the annual orchid festival. It was quite amazing. They have a big parade of sorts with these huge floats decorated with nothing but flowers. All the colouring, all the designs, everything, was made with nothing but flowers. They had one that showed the royal throne with the king on it, and some others had huge dragons or white elephants. One even was a depiction of the "common Thai", with about 8 different people made of flowers on it. It was amazing, because all the flowers were fresh. You could go up and touch them. How they managed to create these works of art and display them before the flowers wilted was beyond me.

Every Friday night we have a "Friday Night Party" for the students. This last week's theme was Superbowl. We played a lot of games, had snacks, and then I shared briefly about who Jesus is to me. 4 of my 11 students were there, as well as many of the other students. I think it was quite a success. This next week our theme is Valentine's day.

I went to a foreigner church this last Sunday. It was quite a lot bigger than the Thai church I'd been to. They had just moved buildings, so it was their first Sunday in a new location. The sermon, based on 2 Cor 4:17-18 was... interesting. I think I'll go back to the Thai church this Sunday.

Apart from that, the weather has been partially cloudy for the last couple days, and I've been quite busy keeping up with students, planning Friday night party and reading. I'm still working on "Toward an O.T. theology" by Walter Kaiser Jr., and I just finished "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden.

Well, that's about all for now. I'll talk to you all later!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Passing on the baton

I was a witness to an incredible sight yesterday.

On February first, 2006, Tim and Claire passed the leadership of the Centre to native leadership. The head of the Centre is now Opal. It was incredible. It's the goal of all (good) missionaries to work themselves out of a job, to train up local leaders who can take over and run ministries themselves. This is exactly what Tim and Claire have done, in Opal, in Max and in Wor. They are now leading the Centre with a group of foreigners around them.

We prayed both for Opal and for the new team. Tim and Claire said some amazing things. They also literally passed a baton that they had received on to Opal, and we had communion. It was incredible. In the 13 year history of the Centre, this is the first time it has been run by a Thai. Please pray for Opal and for the new lead team: Opal, Max, Wor, Rachel, Jim and Jennifer.

Ok, more later!