Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On Sunday I went to what everyone calls, “The Cement Stairs,” to watch the sunset.


Not a whole lot of color in the sky that evening, but it was beautiful anyway.



I sat there for a couple of hours watching the floating houses sway on the water. If I were to live in Thailand for a long period of time, I think I’d want to live in the middle of the river like that.


The water would rock you to sleep every night, and you’d be more secluded from the noise of your neighbors than the average Thai family. I think they may even have electricity in their houses—I heard the sounds of a radio or CD player coming from one of them. If not though, I could live by flashlight/lamplight for a while. I even like the idea of having to get into a canoe to go anywhere in town. I love water.

I read to the nursery kids with Paul yesterday (NZ Paul is back in New Zealand now, so I don’t have to keep identifying which Paul I’m talking about). I picked two of my favorite books from the small library we have here: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Where the Wild Things Are.


They were a hit. Especially the first read--for the rest of the day there were little kids running around yelling. “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!!!”

Didi stopped to talk to me at dinner last night. She’s very excited about the work I’m doing with the children’s choir. She says that School Didi has heard that I’ve started a choir and she wants me to come teach at the school as well. I told Home Didi that I’d be more than willing to teach at the school, but she’s reticent to let me go for fear I won’t be able to teach as much here. How nice to feel wanted! I really hope they let me teach at the school though. With any luck, they’ll have me teaching so much that I won’t have to be stuck in an office trying to figure out how to write a grant proposal!

Here’s a video of the older kid’s choir. I’ve started to teach them “Do a Deer.” This is the video of the first time we sang it all the way through. I think I probably sing too loudly in this video—I guess that’s a result of me trying to lead with my voice since my hands were occupied with a camera......Ok the video is having issues. I'll have to post it at a later date. Stay tuned =)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wreck

Saturday January, 29 2011

6:05 PM

I just witnessed a motorcycle wreck. Well, I heard it anyway. I was just coming out of my house to head to Teahouse when I heard a loud BANG and a scream. I had just watched a movie about the oppression in Burma, so my first thought was that it was a gunshot…but when I walked past my gate, I saw people running down the street toward a car. I walked past the wreck on my way to the teahouse. The car had apparently hit a motorcycle as it came around the corner. The bike was almost completely under the car, and there were two women a few yards in front of it. About 50 townspeople had already crowded around the wreckage—some were fanning the victims, others were just watching. I felt out of place as a farang, so I didn’t stop and watch with the rest of them. I caught a glimpse of the girl that was nearest to me as I walked by—her face was pretty scraped up and bloody. As far as I could tell, both of them were alive, but I couldn’t make out if they were conscious or not. There were pieces of broken fiberglass (or whatever motorcycles are made of) all around the scene.

This is the fourth wreck that I’ve known about in the last week (not including the car wreck my mom got in at home). Pom-Pom (the lady that did my laundry last week) apparently got in a mini-bus accident a few days ago. The car had flipped over, and she had to go into surgery for her eye. Two volunteers in the area that I know each got into a motorcycle wreck last week as well. I enjoyed my bike ride yesterday, but I think I’ll be more hesitant the next time I get on one—no one even wears helmets in this area. I ran into Gemma (the dog-sanctuary founder) on my way from the scene today and she says that wrecks aren’t usually this common, they just seem to all be happening at the same time. I hope they stop sooner than later.

Friday, January 28, 2011

You're Beautiful



It’s pretty easy to feel frumpy and less than attractive when you’re surrounded by tiny, gorgeous Asian women all day. I was contemplating this frumpy feeling the other day as I was walking home from Baan Unrak, and before I could start feeling depressed about it, one of my students, Chandra , came skipping down the street to greet me. She took both of my hands in hers and told me that I looked beautiful. It made me feel smiley inside. About two minutes later a Thai gentleman I’d only met once before also stopped me to tell me I was beautiful. I’ve never considered myself an exotic beauty before…but the feeling is kind of growing on me =)

I rode my first motorbike yesterday. I wish I could have taken a picture. It really wasn’t as scary as I expected it to be. I felt pretty balanced behind the “taxi-driver”, and the feeling of the wind against my face was wonderful. I got a ride into town for breakfast and then back up to the home again for a total of just 30 baht (about a dollar). Not a bad deal. Breakfast was nicely priced as well. Harj, Sima and I met up at a local street restaurant serving Mon food. I ate two Burmese donuts, five samosas (like a Burmese version of a spring roll), 1 Roti (a chickpea concoction wrapped in a homemade tortilla), and a hot glass of ovaltine mixed with sweetened-condensed milk—all for 41 Baht! That beats McDonalds any day. Yum.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The “Coming-out” Party

(No, I did not take this picture. I just wanted something to illustrate this post, so I pulled this off the internet. This is about what the Tokay looked like, though.)

Thursday, January 27 2011

I think Thailand is getting used to me. The mosquitoes have been biting me less, and suddenly I’m seeing creatures that, up until tonight, have hidden their faces from me: A REAL gecko (aka a Tukay), a giant moth, a mouse, and a drunk Thai man.

Talk started tonight at the teahouse about geckos. I thought everyone was just talking about the little things that we watch fight on the walls every night—but then I heard Scotland Paul do an impression of a gecko sound….and it wasn’t the small chirp that I usually hear at night. Apparently, geckos are named for the sound they make. A very loud “Geck-O” (with the “Geck” being higher in pitch than the “O”)—after hearing a couple of people imitate them, I realize that there must be one that lives just outside the window of the office. The first couple of times I heard it, I thought it was a kid making funny LOUD noises to try and startle me.

After chatting and snacking for a bit, some of us decided to head home—Sima and I followed Josie and Grace to their place (the teacher’s residence). After we got settled on the front porch, the subject of geckos somehow came up again, and I asked Harj if they were really as big as everyone else had made them out to be (I thought the size seemed a bit exaggerated). She assured me that yes they were big, and that they have huge suction cups on their toes that make a sound when they walk up walls. She said they had some gecko eggs in the back room of their house and offered to let me take a look. I followed Harj and Sima followed me (she’s never seen one either).

Once the light in the back room flickered on, Harj pointed out the rather large bunch of empty eggshells that were attached to the corner of the room. Suddenly her finger changed direction and pointed higher on the wall—I screamed (more like a small exclamation of surprise really) and the huge lizard that had been watching us quickly suctioned his way into a hole in the ceiling. It was big. It was BIG. I can’t believe a creature of that proportions could actually walk up walls. It was like a baby Komodo dragon. Big. I’m pretty sure I kept saying the word “Big” while we made our way back to the front of the house. Sima wasn’t happy that I had scared the lizard away with my “small exclamation of surprise.” It was gone before she came around the corner. She leaves on Wednesday, so chances are, she won’t see one before she goes. I wouldn’t mind never seeing one again….it kind of creeped me out. I think I’m paranoid now.

In the front of the teachers’ house, we discovered a large “leaf-moth”—probably about the size of my hand.

9:51 PM Yuck…speaking of bugs, my computer screen is starting to resemble a windshield. Bugs keep flocking to the light on my display…and I keep squashing them….and then trying to wipe them off the screen. Sorry. That’s probably more than any of you wanted to know.

When Sima and I returned to our house, there was a middle-aged Thai man pacing back and forth in front of our fence. He said a slurred “Sawa dee Krab,” and then did not move out of the way for us to enter the gate. I was kind of confused. I could tell that he wasn’t mentally challenged, and yet something was definitely off… Sima managed to get him to move a few steps by pointing up the street, and then we ducked around him and ran into our yard. On the way up the front porch steps, Sima said, “He was drunk. The men around here drink a lot. You kind of have to be careful.”

“Oh.” Said I.

I found the mouse in our bathroom. It was running through the boards in our ceiling. Sima hasn’t seen the mouse either….I guess I just had a lucky night tonight.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meat Eater’s Anonymous

I never wrote about market day last week. And I have pictures. So...I guess that means I'll write about it now.

Thursday is market day. The market is set up right across the street from the bakery in a large field. You can buy ANYTHING at the market.


From vegetables and bras…






to fried squid and roasted pig-head.









I bought a laundry basket, a packet of tissues, and a skewered piece of roasted chicken (at least I think it was chicken…you never really know.)




I joined my fellow volunteers at the Baan Unrak bakery for toast with papaya-lime jam.




I'm still eating my chicken. I didn’t really think about the fact that I was enjoying my meaty meal in a vegetarian facility--an atrocious faux pas. When I finally realized that I was surrounded by a bunch of herbivores, I tried to stash the evidence of my blunder in a nearby garbage can. Two minutes later, a stray dog attacked the garbage can and exposed me for the carnivorous predator that I am.




Yes, my name is Kimber, and I just ate chicken for dinner. Bite me. Oh wait....you don't do that...

No More English Robots!





Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I don’t understand why people think they have to make learning so BORING!!! I just sat in on Mailynn’s English class, and I felt bad for the poor caremother’s trying to learn English—if I had to sit through a class that was taught in a different language and the only activities we did were out of a textbook, I would have quit on the second day. I didn’t learn how to speak English out of a textbook, did you? I didn’t know what a preposition was until after I was using it in sentences. No one really learns a language out of a textbook. And if they do, they probably sound robotic and speak slowly. When I take over, we’re going to have fun with English (hm…I must be my mother’s daughter).


I have access to a small library upstairs and I already ransacked it for picture books and juvenile literature that will motivate beginning English speakers. I think the more they read, the faster they’ll learn the language. We’ll play tons of games, we’ll come up with stories and act them out for each other, we’ll write poetry, we’ll talk about our lives, and we’ll sing songs, but we will NOT simply use a white board and a text book. Blah.


I taught some of the kids how to play "London Bridges" on Monday. They thought it was great fun to just wait right under my arms for the line "My fair Lady!" Sometimes I would catch a group of three of them at once--It's funny how some things don't change even when you travel to the other side of the planet.


These are pictures of us playing "Duck Duck Goose."








It's amazing that kids continue to think it's funny when they're on their 27th time around the circle and they're still saying "duck." It's as if the fun ends as soon as the declare someone the "goose!" I've got to come up with some different games.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Food: The good, the bad, and the heavenly.



Tuesday, January 25 2011

10:28 AM

Sitting in the office…waiting for Didi and Ason to get a couple of record glitches fixed from last years financial sheets, so that I can finish preparing a grant form. My mom requested yesterday that I put up pictures of what I eat at the home. So Mom, this one’s for you. I would tell you the names of everything….but I don’t usually have a clue what I’m eating.


This first picture has something in it called “sponge protein…” some kind of soy product…..different from tofu. I really struggle with eating it. I know that these pictures probably look really appetizing to the rest of you, but I can’t seem to get a lot of this stuff down. It might have something to do with the fact that I got so sick the first day of eating here. I usually eat a bowl of rice for every meal with a small spoonful of whatever dish they’re serving along with it. Oh, and if they have it, I eat fruit. It's pretty rare though.


Most of the food served at the home isn’t Thai—it’s Burmese. And it’s ALWAYS vegan. No egg, no milk, and sponge protein galore.

The good news is, I don’t generally feel guilty about eating out every day here. The food is really cheap, and I feel like I’m helping out the area a lot by spending my money. I figure I might as well spend my money here where I’m making a significant impact on the economy rather than spend it at home where people really don’t need my money.

Last night, I had the food of my dreams. Fried dough with egg, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar. Rolled up into heavenly deliciousness. Only 10 Baht (about 35 cents). I'm going to try to post the video of the guy making it...but if it doesn't work, just know that this food was AMAZING.

Humanbeing

Monday, January 24 2011

I’m slowly making the transition from human-doing to human-being. It’s a necessity here in Sangkhlaburi where there really isn’t anything to do--just different places to be.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mon Bridge and a Cult





Sunday, January 23 2011

8:43 AM

I just returned from watching the sunrise on the wooden bridge. About five of us met at the bakery at 5:30 to walk together. They’re re-constructing the bridge, so there were points where we had to balance on a wooden plank to get over the sections that they are working on. It was very dark when we crossed to the middle of the bridge, so I didn’t know until we crossed back over to our side that the planks we were walking across were actually spanning gaps in the bridge….and it was a pretty long drop through wooden scaffolding to the lake below (shiver). The sunrise was serene and beautiful. I loved watching the boats skim across the water, creating ripples that spread out like….like ripples, I guess (no metaphors are coming to mind right now). Once we could officially see light in the sky, we passed all of the Japanese tourists lined up with their tripods along the bridge, and crossed over to “Mon Side.” Here, we ate a cheap cold breakfast of a variety of fried things that I don’t know the names of. You know, I had very high hopes of losing weight while in Thailand….but this last week those hopes have been pretty much shattered. The Thais fry EVERYTHING—as do the Mons, Karens, and Burmese. In a country like this it’s just as unhealthy to be a vegetarian as it is to eat meat, perhaps it’s even less healthy because you eat an overabundance of starchy foods.

It was a very yummy breakfast, despite the oil. During our breakfast conversation, I was informed that Baan Unrak is governed by the beliefs of a religion known as “Ananda Marga.” The volunteers tell me that Ananda Marga is a cult that was founded by terrorists, and they have some pretty strange teachings. Mailynn said that a few months ago, a couple of nurses came to the school to teach a sex education class. Before the class started, Didi asked if the nurses would tell the children that each time a man or woman experiences orgasm, they lose a piece of their soul. Luckily, the nurses refused to include that little tid-bit in their seminar.

Harj, one of the teachers at the school says, that if you teach here for very long, they will try to initiate you into their religion. They give you a Sanskrit name, teach you meditation, and then start teaching you the principles of Ananda Marga.

Don’t worry everyone. I still go by the name Kimber, and I read my scriptures every day =) I just thought it was interesting to discover that I’m apparently working for a terrorist cult—I won’t be advertising that in the letters I write for fundraising.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kimber has a choir!

Saturday, January 22, 2011 11:45 AM

Goodness gracious! There are simply too many things to write about! I can’t take enough pictures or type enough to keep up!

I just finished leading over 100 Baan Unrak kids in some vocal exercises and the round “Row, Row, Row your Boat.” It was, to say the least, exhilarating. About now some of you may be thinking, “woah…what?! When did Kimber get her own choir?” and if that is what you’re thinking…you’re thoughts about match mine.

I merely mentioned to Didi yesterday that I was interested in starting a children’s choir. She seemed interested and said she needed to talk to the kids, and move a few schedules around, but that we could probably work something out. I was happy that she seemed interested, but figured it would be a week or more before anything could be organized.

When I arrived at work this morning, I was informed that Didi had called a mandatory meeting at 10:00 for all Baan Unrak children in order to introduce me and invite them to be in a choir. I was surprised, but not as surprised as I was when I showed up to the upstairs “Ba-ba room” (a large open tiled space where they practice meditation and hip-hop/yoga routines) a few minutes after ten and realized I was the only adult in sight. There were kids EVERYWHERE-- yelling,lauging, running, pushing, painting fingernails, sliding across the floor on their backs, and bobbing their heads to some very loud hip-hope music playing from a large old speaker in the back of the room. I suddenly had kids holding my hands, my legs—any part of my body that was reachable to them. I observed them all quietly for about five minutes—smiling at some, reaching out to tickle others—but when Didi still did not come, I decided to take matters into my own, unprepared, hands. I tried to quiet them all at once—“All right, everyone! Come, sit! I want to talk to you!” But that was a pretty fruitless effort. I approached a group of older girls who were sitting in a corner painting each other’s fingernails a shiny green and asked them to help me get the kids to sit and be quiet. The leader of the group, Chandra, nodded, shouted something loudly, and then went back to painting fingernails. Yeah….that didn’t help either.

Finally, I started gently grabbing kids by the arms and pulling them to the front of the room, saying “Come, sit down! Come, sit down!” I smiled a lot, and coaxed a lot, and when I had about thirty kids seated, I started a clapping game. I would clap a rhythm, and then invite them to do the same. After awhile, the claps spread to even the corners of the room, and I FINALLY had a bit of attention. I didn’t waste a moment, “Hello! My name is Kimber. I’m a new volunteer here at Baan Unrak, and I would like to put together a choir. How many of you like to sing?!”

A few girls and small children raised their hands.

“Do YOU like to sing?” I pointed to a shy girl who was leaning on a pillar, and got a small nod in return.

“Do YOU like to sing?” I pointed to a boy in the back corner—I think his nostrils may have flared…

I asked a few more happy looking children and got a better response =)

About this time, Didi showed up. I didn’t know if she wanted to take over or not, but I was on a roll….so I just kept going. “Who knows what a snake is? Raise your hand if you know what a snake is! Good! Who can make a snake sound? SSSSSSSS…..” I wiggled my arm around as if it were a long reptilian creature attached to my shoulder and “bit” a little girl in front of me with my fingers. When I had them all hissing and smiling I asked them to practice breathing in for four counts and then hissing like a snake for eight. After doing this a few times, I had them pretend to be sirens—they thought this was great fun. Especially when I signaled for them to keep sirening higher and higher. There is something very liberating about making obnoxiously loud noises with a large group of people, I think.


I led them in a few five-note and then eight-note scales using English numbers after practicing counting up to five or eight and then back again to one. Even the little ones picked everything up incredibly fast—I was amazed. As my grand finale, I asked if they’d heard of the song “Row, Row, Row your boat.” They had. We sang it together with gusto once through before I divided the room in half and we sang it as a round. The children all have beautiful strong voices—and there pronunciation was only mumbled through the “life is but a dream” line; in fact, I don’t think any of them knows what to say there. It sounds something like “Why did butter scream?”

I cheered enthusiastically at the end of our performance, and dismissed them with a grand wave of my hand. Almost all had scampered out of the room by the time Didi told me she had wanted them to sing “The Baan Unrak song” for me. Woops. I had completely forgotten about Didi. She ran out to call them all back, and this time, I sat demurely on a floor matt as she took over.

Their song was beautifully sung in both English and Thai while my newest English student (La Choy) accompanied them on his guitar (he wrote the song himself, if I’m not mistaken). I clapped politely and said a few loud “Wahoo’s” which they thought was humorous and some of them started mimicking me. When I had finished applauding, I looked to Didi for further instruction. It didn’t appear she had any to give. I asked her permission to dismiss the kids (which she gave) and told the children that we would let them know when we would be meeting next.

I walked and talked with Didi before going back to the office. She and I agree that it would be good to have an older group and a younger group of students for me to teach, and she would like for me to teach a few times a week—which I happily agreed to. Leading a choir sounds much more appealing to me than writing grants for funds. I also told her that I would be happy to teach as many private violin and voice lessons as are in demand. She laughingly suggested that I teach her to sing, but before I could agree, she assured me that she was too busy.

I taught my first violin lesson to a girl named Chandra this morning, and I will teach another to Camala in about half an hour (I will be teaching her voice lessons as well). I feel so happy. I love teaching—and it’s exciting to have kids that are just as thrilled about learning as I am about teaching.

Suddenly, six months doesn’t seem like a long time at all.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happiness: Something to think about…or not.



Thursday, January 20, 2011
8:55 PM

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. There are so many conveniences that I don’t have here…and so I just don’t worry about them. In America, where “anything is possible,” we’re always worrying about how to achieve that “anything.” We can always get more money, more knowledge, more character, more friends, more fame, more stuff….more, more, more. It’s a land of opportunity….but of what opportunity? The opportunity to never be satisfied with what you have?

I tried to express this feeling to my friend, Steve, in an email the other day:
Hey, here's your update on the Thailand thing: I'm happier than I've been in a long time. It's a weird thing to realize that happiness doesn't depend on in door plumbing. My conditions were a shock that first day, but now , it's just how things are, and I can enjoy life without worrying too much about them. You know, in America, everything seems to be around the theme "Dream Big" But here....they don't seem to be too caught up in their dreams....they just live...and there is something about just living that I find very attractive. And for now, I'm just living too, and smiling a lot.
Thought you might want to know,
Kimber


And my dad expressed similar thoughts in an email to me:

I can't help but wonder that the "simple life" your coworkers have sought out, is a piece of heaven. I wonder if that is why SURVIVOR appeals to me so. The thought of being concerned only about the basics of life. No distractions. No self-imposed deadlines.


When I came home tonight, I noticed a book sitting on our living room table entitled, The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. I curiously picked it up to skim through the chapters and noticed one entitled Thailand. A large part of the chapter very accurately expresses exactly what it is about this country that has started me thinking along these lines. It’s a bit long, but I can’t help but include it here—and if I’m taking the time to type it, you can be sure it’s a good read. (I obviously haven’t read the whole book, and so can’t recommend it, but I find his writing very fun and would love to hear a review if anyone has read or decides to read the rest of this book.)

“I’ve always considered myself a thoughtful person. There’s virtually nothing I won’t think about, from the intensely profound to the astonishingly trivial. The only thing I haven’t given much thought to is…thinking.

Like most westerners, I’ve never felt the need to question the value of thinking. To me, that would make about as much sense as questioning the value of breathing. Just listen to our language. I think therefore I am. Think before you act. Think it over. Give it some thought. Let me think about it and get back to you. How thoughtful of you.

Some people think (there’s that word again) that our venal pop culture devalues thinking. That’s not true. Pop culture devalues a certain type of thinking—deep thinking—but it values another kind: the shallow variety. Shallow thinking is still thinking.

The examined life, we’re told is the good life. Psychotherapy is built on this assumption—cognitive therapy, in particular. If we can only fix our faulty thought patterns, our corrupted software, then happiness, or at least less misery, will ensue.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to think my way to happiness, and my failure to achieve that goal only proves, in my mind, that I am not a good enough thinker. It never occurred to me that the source of my unhappiness is not flawed thinking but thinking itself.

Until I traveled to Thailand. Thais are deeply suspicious of thinking. For the Thais, thinking is like running. Just because your legs are moving doesn’t mean you’re getting anywhere. You might be running into a headwind. You might be running on a treadmill. You might even be running backward.

Thais do not buy self-help books or go to therapists or talk endlessly about their problems. They do not watch Woody Allen movies. When I ask…Thais if they are happy, they smile, of course, and answer politely, but I get the distinct impression that they find my question odd. The Thais, I suspect, are too busy being happy to think about happiness.

Indeed, I find myself questioning where all these years of introspection have gotten me: a library of self-help books and an annoying tendency to say things like “I’m having issues” and “What do you think that means?”

A Thai person would never say things like that.

Thai culture, while rare in its distrust of thinking, is not unique. The Inuit frown upon thinking. It indicates someone is either crazy or fiercely stubborn, neither of which is desirable. The geographer Yi-Fu Tuan describes one Inuit woman who was overheard to say in a righteous tone, “I never think.” Another woman complained to a friend about a third woman because she was trying to make her think and shorten her life. “Happy people have no reason to think; they live rather than question living,” concludes Tuan.

On this score, the new science of happiness has been largely silent, and I suppose that’s not surprising. An academic, after all, would no more question the value of thinking than a chef would question the value of cooking. Yet a few courageous psychologists have studied the relationship between introspection and happiness.

In one study, psychologists Tim Wilson and Jonathan Schooler had participants listen to a piece of music, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Some were given no instructions before listening to the music. Others were told to monitor their happiness, and still others to “try to be happy” while listening. It was these latter two categories that derived the least amount of pleasure from the music. Those given no instructions at all found the music most enjoyable. The inevitable conclusion: Thinking about happiness makes us less happy.

The philosopher Alan Watts, were he alive today, would nod knowingly when told of that experiment. Watts once said, “Only bad music has any meaning.” Meaning necessarily entails words, symbols. They point to something other than themselves. Good music doesn’t point anywhere. It just is. Likewise, only unhappiness has meaning. That’s why we feel compelled to talk about it and have so many words to draw upon. Happiness doesn’t require words.

When you get down to it, there are basically three, and only three, ways to make yourself happier. You can increase the amount of positive affect (good feelings). You can decrease the amount of negative affect (bad feelings). Or you can change the subject. This third option is one we rarely consider or, if we do, dismiss it as a cop-out. Change the subject? That’s avoidance, we protest, that’s cowardly! No, we must wallow in our stuff, analyze it, taste it, swallow it, then spit it out, swallow it again, and talk about it, of course, always talk about it. I’ve always believed that the road to happiness is paved with words. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, if arranged in just the right constellation, would enable me to hopscotch to bliss. For Thais, this is an alien and quite silly approach to life. Thais don’t trust words. They view them as tools of deception, not truth.

The Thais have a different way, the way of mai pen lai [sic]. It means “never mind.” Not the “never mind” that we in the west often use angrily, as in “Oh , never mind, I’ll do it myself” but a realy, just-drop-it-and-get-on-with-life “never mind.” Foreigners living in Thailand either adopt the mai pen lai attitude or go insane.”


In conclusion, I’m posting a song that was written and recorded by my friend, Nik Day. I’ve always loved this song, but suddenly it means more now that I’m actually living in a third world country, without any money, in a house made of wood, and the blue sky is looking more interesting every day. Tell me, “How Could Life Get Any Better?”

You can find the link to the song in the upper right hand of this page. Enjoy!


P.S for those of you like Lols who love to read, I’m going to send an extra excerpt to my mom, so you can post your email address in the comments and request that I forward it on to you. I didn’t post it here simply because I want my blog to be appropriate for all ages, and this excerpt isn’t—but I found it hilarious.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nice to meet you....Individual!


Thursday, January 20 2011

I slept through the night last night!!!! I think I now know how the parents of an infant feel when the baby makes it through the night without waking up—only in this situation I’m both the proud parent and the accomplished child. I’m not feeling completely up to par yet, but I’m doing significantly better than I was yesterday. Twelve hours of sleep can make a pretty big difference. I had a slice of papaya and a small bowl of rice for breakfast and my stomach felt fine….but one bite of an egg role, and I could feel it getting testy. I think I’ll have to continue to be kind of careful for a few days.

The internet is down here at the office so I’ve been using the down time to look over some of the English text books available to me apparently one of the NGO’s (Non-Government Organization) in the area put these books together specifically to teach Burmese people English. So far I’ve read through the lessons teaching conversation language:

“Jane, this is Htun Htun, and this is Si Si.”

“Pleased to meet you”

“Hi Mi Chan! How are you?”

“I’m OK. Very busy!”

And yes/no questions:

“Do you like bananas?”

“No, I don’t”

“Ko Ko Aye doesn’t like bananas.”

“Does your mom like bananas?”

“Yes, she does.”

“Ko Ko Aye’s mom likes bananas.”

Haha….but in all seriousness, English is a really difficult language to learn—ESPECIALLY as a foreign adult with little or no education. I helped Mailynn teach the head care mother, Malek, English yesterday, and was very impressed with her knowledge. Malek is more advanced than the other care mothers, partly because she loves to study so much. Yesterday we went over “present continuous tense,” “past participle,” and irregular verbs. I’m so glad that I was born in an English speaking country. Otherwise, I think the language might be over my head.

12:34 PM

I’m sitting at the teahouse teasing an adorable black and white kitten with the pullstring of my jacket. I came down here to use the internet since it hasn’t been working at the home, and I was just about to get up from my computer and order, when this little purring fur-ball sidled up to me and plopped on my lap. I haven’t been able to bring myself to get up since =)


I don’t have anything at all against dogs, I’ve always had a love for dogs; but I don’t understand what some people have against cats. They’re some of the most entertaining creatures in the world I think.

1:13

The internet at the teahouse stopped working as well, so I’ve made my way to a small coffee shop named “Graph CafĂ©.” On the way here I saw a solitary plumeria flower lying on the road, and I picked it up to smell and carry with me. I didn’t know they had plumeria in Thailand! I hope I find more than the tree that this one came from.



Before I left the tea house, one of the managers asked me my name:

“What is your name krab?”

“Kimber, and yours?” (I felt like I was a character in one of the English textbooks I read earlier)

“My name is Lin krab.”

“Nice to meet you Lin. You’ll see more of me over the next six months.”

“Nice to meet you too krab.”

Apparently, Lin knows a bit of English, but still keeps the habit of saying the masculine “krab” when he’s done speaking. Females use the feminine, “Ka”. For example, I would say, “Sawa dee Ka,” to greet someone, or “Kop Kum Ka” to express thanks. It’s as if they’re afraid someone might mistake them for a different gender if they don’t express it….of course, that’s a valid fear nowadays. Maybe we should do that in America…

”How are you?—I’m a man”

”Fine, Thank-you—I’m a female.”

The question is, is there a different word that transvestites use—or lady-boys, as they call them here in Thailand?

I was just chatting to my mom on facebook and discovered that she was in a major car wreck earlier today. Luckily both drivers are OK, but it sounds like our car is totaled, and everyone is pretty shaken up about it. It’s amazing how fast bad things can happen. It doesn’t matter where you are in life (or where you are in the world, for that matter), or if you’re prepared for them or not. It’s so important that we live each day thankful for what we have—because you never know how long you’ll have it for. I’m so thankful that my mom is safe, and I hope she stays that way for a long time, so I can give her a big hug when I come home!

At the Bakery

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

4:48 PM

Sitting at the bakery eating a papaya salad and a fresh coconut shake in hopes that I can eat them without upsetting my stomach. They’re both quite good, but I think I’m eating too quickly, so I thought I’d take a break and write. Diana and Mark pulled up on a motorcycle as I was waiting for my food, and Diana immediately started asking about my well-being. She’s worried about me and offered to do some Foot Reflexology or Reiki to help me adjust to the climate here a little better. I’ll be SURE to write about that if I decide to let her help me.


All of the volunteers were incredibly kind to me today—in fact they’re the ones that suggested I leave the home early to get some rest. NZ Paul kept checking on me to make sure I was drinking plenty of water, and even gave me a pack of electrolyte powder to mix in with my water. He thinks that my body is adjusting to the climate change, and that I’m probably dehydrated. I think that’s probably part of it….that and lack of sleep, and food that I’m not used to.

I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything at the home today. Just the smell of the food made me sick to my stomach. They have pretty much the same meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day—rice with some kind of boiled vegetable or mixed vegetables, tofu, and something that they call “protein sponge.” It didn’t bother me the first day of eating it—remember my “This is what I do now” mantra—but because my stomach got so upset after eating last night, I wonder how long it will take to bring myself to eat it again. Hopefully not long because, despite cheap food prices, I can’t afford to spend three to five dollars a day just to eat.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sick

Post 9

Wedneday, January 19, 2011

4:21 AM

Can someone please tell me why my neighbor up the street has been turning up his Thai pop music for all of us to enjoy at odd hours of the night? This is probably the fourth time I’ve had the pleasure of waking up to a loud electric guitar, heavy drum beat, pingy xylophone, and a trilling Thai voice. The sound sounds like it’s coming from a stadium the way the voice echos…..but that would make even less sense. This is such a strange place. Oh, now they’re playing a Mozart minuet. That’s better…..but why blast Mozart at 4:26 AM?!

I was in bed before nine last night. I was exhausted and not feeling well. I’m pretty sure it was the food I ate yesterday—any time I think about it I experience an intense wave of nausea. I would tell you what I ate, except I have no clue what any of it was—lots of rice and…stuff. I went to sleep quickly, but it wasn’t a restful sleep. I was tossing and turning all night—which is quite the feat when you sleep on a thing mat covering a wooden board; I feel like I wrestled an elephant.

Oh I wish so badly that I were at home in my own bed, mom playing with my hair, and Dad giving me something to settle my stomach and help me sleep. But instead, I get to try to be tough.

The days here have been so happy and beautiful…but I dread going to bed at night because I know I’ll have to start being tough again. Then again, I’m not sure that complaining on my Blog counts as being tough. At least I’m being honest...this way I’m showing both the good and the bad, so those who worry about me will know that I’m happy despite the hard things, and those who are jealous of me for being here will know that it’s not all peaches and cream.

I’m playing a game called, “try not to think about the food you ate yesterday.” I know what that food looked like before I ate it, and I can definitely do without seeing what it looks like after it’s been partially digested.

OK…..quick, on to something else. Uh……I saw Jimmy on his hammock the other day. He looks kind of like a fat and sloppy version of Steve Allred—I’m really glad you’re not that version of yourself, Steve.

I hate being sick when there’s no one to take care of me but me.

Some more New Friends






3:30 PM Man these kids have a lot of love. I went outside to get a breath of fresh air, and ended up sitting next to a small boy named Kong to help him with a word search. I’d let him pick the word to find, and then I would use his finger to point out the word in the word search (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read since he can’t be older than six, but he seemed entertained enough ). After I helped him find a few, he stood up and took my hand to lead me back up the road we were on. When we got back to the home, about four other small ones joined us and we played a game of duck duck goose—which was a bit chaotic. I got picked as “Goose” once, but couldn’t chase the little girl that tagged me because I had a little two-year old boy on my lap, and a four year old girl trying to climb onto my shoulders. Haha….Kong led me inside to help him find something to write with (which took a bit of searching, but I succeeded), and then we sat in the hall to continue work on the word fine. Before too long, I had a little girl behind me playing with my hair, and another one sitting on my lap trying to best me in a face-pulling competition. Haha….I’m back inside the office now, but it’s not nearly as fun, I’m afraid.

I feel a bit overwhelmed today by all of the work there is to do. It seems as if they want me to take over more than usual for at least a month or so because most of the old volunteers are leaving, and we won’t have new ones till late February and mid-March. So far I’ll be working on grant research and follow up, marketing for the weaving center, teaching English to the care mothers, and writing the bi-annual newsletter for the home. That’s not to mention the children’s choir I was hoping to start up in a few weeks. Wow….

I’d really like to look into setting up an internship situation up here. We could really use some people with expertise in a lot of areas to work on different projects. The cool thing about doing an internship up here would be that there is a huge need for help, but there is a lot of flexibility and opportunity to use your own ideas to help the home. I wonder if that would be something others college students would be interested in.

4:30 PM The office has now turned fun….I have a new friend named Aho. He keeps bringing me book after book to read to him. My throat is starting to get sore!!!! Oh no….here he comes with another one….Juk’s Adventure in Chiang Mai. =)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Diana


I met Diana today. She’s a Dutch woman who’s been living and helping at Baan Unrak with her husband, Mark. They’ve been here for two years now, and I think they’ll stay awhile longer. She’s a most incredible woman—more full of love than you usually see in five average people put together. At about four o’ clock today I went outside to go play with the kids, and she invited me to go on a walk with her and a few of the children around the Baan Unrak property. It was a lovely walk, but the company was even better. She treats everyone with smiles and understanding, and genuine concern. As we walked, the kids fought over who got to hold her hands, you can tell that she is a favorite with them. She would laugh and say, in her thickly accented English, “No need to fight, Diana has big hands! I can hold two hands at once, you see?” as she took two small hands in one of her own.

She and Mark (her husband) live in a small, simple house on the hill behind the children’s home. Despite the lack of modern conveniences, their home is bright and cozy. The walls inside the house are all painted different colors—my favorite wall was painted a pretty violet-blue with bright orange trim around the windows. They sleep on a large mattress on the floor, and their laundry can be seen in a small side room hanging over clothes-lines. Merry and Happy are the names of the two dogs that sleep at their house, the dogs once lived at Baan Unrak, but took to Diana and now sleep on her porch. There is a beautiful view of the lake behind the house, and they live just a short walk from some exotically land-scaped, more expensive guesthouses up the hill where sometimes they sit on the porches and play cards. Diana says they live in their own little paradise. I would have to agree with her.

As I continued to walk and talk with Diana, I discovered that before her life at at Baan Unrak, she and Mark were quite the party animals; they had experimented with alcohol, a few drugs, and each have their fair share of tattoos covering their bodies. Their life at Baan Unrak came about because both had a desire for a long healthy life together, and they knew that required a change. They’ve now given up their previous lifestyle in order to practice meditation, eat vegetarian meals, and involve themselves in the more spiritual aspects of life, such as service.

The kids here, being raised with either just one parent, or no parents at all, look to Mark and Diana as role-models. They are always asking, “Diana, you love Mark?” “Yes, I love Mark,” she says.
“And Mark love you?”
“Yes, Mark loves me.”

How blessed I feel to have two parents who are both alive, and who love each other—It’s not a very common thing any more, which is devastating, because it makes such a big difference in the lives of their children. I love you, Mom and Dad.

Huh.

It’s a funny thing to realize that happiness doesn’t depend on flushing toilets.

The Volunteers (sorry, Kyle, No pictures)

Well, the internet is down here right now, and the care mothers aren’t meeting to learn English today after all, so I thought I’d write a bit of information about the other volunteers, so that they aren’t just names to you when you read them from now on.

Jason (33): The first volunteer I met. We started emailing about a week before we both met up in Thailand. He’s from England, has worked in a bakery for six years of his life, and plays the drums. As far as religion goes, I think he’s still in search of something to believe in. He went to Nepal about a year ago and spent a month in a Buddhist monastery learning about meditation and reincarnation, but I don’t think he’s a devout Buddhist by any means. He talks a lot about the energy of thoughts and their power to affect our lives. He’s a semi-vegetarian, which means he eats vegetarian food when it’s convenient, but won’t balk at meat if that’s all that’s available. He’ll be working in the bakery and all of the volunteers are hoping he’ll improve some of the food that has been served there of late (aka pizza made with ketchup instead of tomato sauce).

Paul (from New Zealand): Paul has been here for nine-months—long enough to master the art of driving a motorcycle around the town (though I’m not sure he didn’t already know how before he came here). He’s got a teasing sense of humor, and radiates confidence in everything he does. He helps around up at the house—I’m not sure which projects he’s involved himself the most in, but I know that he started a band with five of the girls living here. I haven’t heard them perform yet, but it sounds like they do ok for themselves. Paul’s taught them all how to play guitar, and one of the girl is picking up the drums (I think Jason will be training her a little more extensively while he’s here). Their repertoire includes songs such as “Let it Be,” Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” and “Last Christmas.” Paul says he finds that they work harder if he lets them learn songs that they know and are excited about. He’ll be leaving in about two weeks to go back to New Zealand.

Mailyn (about 24): Mailyn is from Reno, Nevada and has almost finished her six months of service here. She studied abroad in Italy for awhile, and came here for some more experience in a different culture. I’ll be taking over most of her projects when she leaves in a couple of weeks. She’s in charge of the fund raising for Baan Unrak as well as teaching the care-mothers English. I found out yesterday that she and Paul started dating after they met here and they’re living together at his place. She’ll be going to New Zealand with him when they leave.

Lars: Lars is from Sweden, and has only been here for two weeks. His English is really good, but he sometimes asks us how to say things in English. He spent his Sunday kayaking for a few hours, I guess it’s something he’s pretty experienced at. He has nice arms =) Other than that, I don’t know anything about Lars, but I’m happy I get to know him more over the next six months.

Sima (31): Sima is from Canada and a short term volunteer at the school. She’s been here for about two and a half weeks and she’ll be leaving on February 3rd. She is an occupational therapist, and I guess is working a little bit in that regard at the Baan Unrak School. Sima is Canadian-Indian—her parents met in India and then her Dad moved to Canada for work, and they never left. She visits India every couple of years, and says that it feels like home there to her. She speaks fluent Hindi as well as English. She claims to be half Hindu and half Jain when it comes to religion. I’d never heard of “Jains” before, and she explained that basically they believe it is wrong to kill any living thing. She says that it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the main philosophy. She was married a few months ago to another Candian-Indian, and she’ll join back up with him when she’s done volunteering here in a few weeks. She ends all of her phrases with feminine endings….which makes it sound like she doesn’t expect you to be smart enough to understand what she’s telling you. Haha…..I like her anyway, though.

Paul (From Scotland,27): If we’re allowed to pick favorites, I’d probably choose Paul. Maybe that’s just because I’ve talked to him the most. When I first heard him speak, I thought he was from England, like Jay. When I asked why he doesn’t have a Scottish brogue, he says it’s because he comes from kind of a “posh” family, and that all “posh” people speak with the same accent throughout the UK. He has the kind of accent that English movie stars have….very nice to listen to. Jay’s accent is more London-esque. Not cokney…just more lazy English I think. If Paul were to keep a religion as his own, I think he’d be Buddhist. He says he’s dabbled with Christianity a little bit, but he finds it too contradictory and confusing, and he thinks Buddhism is more appealing. He was very open minded though when I told him about Mormonism and the clarity presented in the gospel that I don’t think is present in a lot of other Christian sects. This kid knows everything about everything. He speaks fluent Thai, and quite a few other languages as well. Whenever I have a question about anything cultural, or governmental, he’s the go-to guy. He can also read Thai, which blows my mind, because Thai just looks like a bunch of similar squiggles to me. Paul is an only child and has been traveling the world for some time now. He’s spent a lot of time in South East Asia, and he’s planning on living here for five to ten years after he’s done volunteering. I think he plans to go try out the Buddhist monk life-style for a while before he settles down in Thailand though. At the home, he teaches classes to the home-schooled kids, and he does work on the Baan Unrak website. He leaves in just a couple of weeks as well, and will definitely be missed.

There are a couple of other volunteers as well, but they are both out of town, so I don’t know much about them.

Matchima (Who knows how you really spell her name) is a Thai girl from Bangkok. She’s been teaching Yoga classes here at the school, and it sounds like she plans on starting her own yoga retreat business here in Sangkhla when she gets back. I don’t think I’ll be seeing much of her while I’m here, because she’ll probably be moving out of the house as soon as she gets back.

Anne-Cecile is the one that coordinated with me and emailed me while I was at home. She’s a longer-term volunteer here, maybe a full year? I’m not sure. According to Paul she’s a butch French lady, who seems harsh, but works hard. He laughed when I told him my worries that I’d have to shave my head like hers when I came =) He says that her hair being shorn has to do with her own life-style and nothing to do with any kind of practice here. What a relief.

PS I made a mistake in my last post. The Didi I met was Didi Damevala? Again, not sure on the spelling. She's from Italy. The other Didi is Didi Anna.

Sigh…the internet still isn’t working and I’m feeling kind of useless. I’d like to get online and start brainstorming music for the choir I’m hoping to start with the kids…but alas, tis not to be. I guess I’ll just sit here scratching my mosquito bites for a bit while I try to get the internet on my computer working again.

Sawa dee ka!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I found Neverland Today






3:25 AM

It is a good thing that I don’t have a gun in my possession, because if I did, I’d probably shoot the dog out my window that started barking at 2:30 and is still going strong. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such ill will toward another living creature. SHUT UP DOG! The dog on my street is the noisiest one in the town—I’m pretty sure he’s the ring leader of all the other barking/howling dogs that keep me up at night. I have been wearing ear plugs faithfully every night, but they do me no good when it comes to these dogs. I might have compassion if I thought the dogs were communicating to rescue some Dalmatian puppies , but I’m pretty sure they do it just to make my life a living Hell.

What I can’t figure out is why I’m the only one that ever seems bothered by them? The other volunteers sleep right through, and when I asked if they heard the crazy dogs at night, they either heard them before they went to sleep, or they slept right through. It’s like I have my own personalized curse.

Grrrrr…..he stops just long enough for me to think that maybe he’s done, but as soon as I put my computer away and lay my head down, he starts back up again, with a vengeance.

………………………………………….

7:43 AM

I got back to sleep around 5 and slept pretty soundly until Cujo the Rooster started howling at about 6:30. I woke myself up the rest of the way with a quick shower, and now I’m about to see if I can find my way to the Baan Unrak home.

I must say, I’m building up some pretty incredible stamina with those cold showers. Despite the chilliness of the air this morning, I didn’t even flinch when I turned on the water….at least not too much. =)

10:01

I just finished teaching Paul’s social studies class about Christianity. What a thrill =) I think I’m going to love it here. I’m currently sitting in the Baan Unrak office taking advantage of their wi-fi. Apparantly this is where I’ll be spending a lot of my time if I decide to take over Mailyn’s fundraising projects which she’ll be showing me tomorrow.

It’s only 10 in the morning, and already it’s shaping up to be a fantastic day! After my shower, I scrunched my hair with a bit of gel and pulled it back with a headband before I set out for the home. Sima had explained the route to me last night, so I walked out the door confidently, hoping my amazing sense of direction wouldn’t lead me astray (that was an inside joke with people that know about my sense of direction). I made it to the home fine without even one wrong turn =) It was a beautiful walk, on a twisty inclining dirt road. The home is looks like a giant peach mansion set against the hill. I followed an old Burmese man about half-way up the hill. He was dressed in a traditional skirt-like trousers—I love the beautiful Thai patterns and colors that are always woven into their clothing. Scotland Paul has a pair of brightly colored, vertically-striped Thai trousers that he wears everywhere. I’ll have to buy myself a pair before I leave. A couple of minutes after I watched the Burmese man loudly hock a loogey and spit in the mud, I turned left toward the home and he continued onward and upward.

The first thing I noticed were the little kids running around. They were laughing and playing with some of the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen. There were also two Geese, surrounded by about 5 or so goslings pecking around the grass in front of the women’s weaving center. I made my way to a Burmese woman sweeping outside, and asked her if she knew where the office was. She put her hands together under her chin and inclined her head in the formal Thai greeting, a Wai, and gestured for me to go through the open glass door she was standing beside. I went through, and after wandering through a small hallway, I found the office with another local woman inside who told me that Didi was in another room across the way, and that I should go there. Didi is the Thai word for “sister” I believe, and is what we call the house mothers. There are two Didis at Baan Unrak—one at the home and one at the school. Didi Anna, the one I was about to meet, is the founder of the entire Baan Unrak organization ( I think if you go to the my blog page called “About the Project,” and watch the video, you will see a clip of Didi being interviewed).

As I crossed the hallway, Didi’s head poked out of one of the doorways. I introduced myself as her new volunteer and asked her what she wanted me to do, as I had no clue where to go. She beckoned me inside the room (which turned out to be a room full of products from the weaving center), and introduced me to the four other girls that were in the room. Apparantly, these girls were working at a smaller home, similar to this one, in a nearby village and had decided to take a school-bus (truck) to come see Baan Unrak. The girls were all very nice, and I was glad to join there company for a bit.

We looked at the weaving products for a bit, and then Didi took us to look at the medical center. We weren’t all able to fit inside the small medical room, but from my doorway view, it didn’t look like much. There were small shelves of ointments and other foul smelling things, and in the corner was a walled off area with a door labeled “Homeopathic Medicine.” The young, thick haired Burmese gentleman who runs the medical center seemed nice enough…but I don’t know yet if I’d trust him to treat me for a medical condition. Didi Anna says that the school-Didi used to be a doctor, and that she would sometimes help with medical things.

When we left the medical center, about three little boys and the same number of puppies came barreling down the hallway right into our arms. The kids laughed gleefully as they ran around hugging us, grabbing our hands, swinging our arms. It was a bit startling, but you can’t help but fall in love with cute kids that so readily and openly love you. Didi excused herself to go be with some kids elsewhere in the house and left us to play with our new friends for a bit. I got out my camera to take a picture, and immediately one of the kids wanted to use it. I took a picture of him, and let him look at it, and before I knew it, he had the camera in his hands taking pictures of me, his friends, and anything else he could point the camera at. Haha……I haven’t had a chance to look at the pictures yet, so I’m not sure how they turned out.

I finally wrestled my camera away from him, and tickled him a bit to cheer him up, and then I followed the other girls to the entrance of Baan Unrak to wish them well. One of the boys followed me out (I think he’s about four) with his arms wrapped around my legs and his head resting on my bum. A little girl about six spotted us when we came outside and took my hand. When I tried to follow the other girls to the road leaving the home, the two kids got a tighter hold on me and held me back. Haha…..about then, I spotted Sima heading up the road, so I bid farewell to the touring volunteers, pulled free from my two little barnacles, and joined Sima in her walk back to the home.

She showed me where breakfast was served, so I took the bowl and fork I had brought with me from the house, and dished myself up some hot rice. The volunteer food was covered by a basket on a small wooden table, it had gone a bit cold, but I put it on my rice anyway. To be truthful….I had no clue what it was. Some kind of thin thai noodle dish, and some chopped up yellow, sponge-like thing, soaking in a yellow liquid with some kind of green vegetable floating around in it. I got water out of a tap on a large metal tank, and then sat down to enjoy my meal. It wasn’t my breakfast of choice, but I’ve found that if I think the words “I’m living in Thailand, and this is what I do here,” I can eat just about anything, sleep on wood, and take cold showers without feeling badly about it.

Scotland Paul was teaching his class in a small covered, outdoor area right by the eating area, so after I washed my dishes with an old sponge in the sink, rinsed them off with cold water, and took them back to the office, I joined his class of about nine students.

After a brief introduction from Paul, I began to teach them a little bit about what I believe as a Christian. I think that a few of them are Christian, but I’m not sure….even if they are Christian, any knowledge they have about the religion is pretty basic.

I gave them a brief overview of Christianity: The history, the basic beliefs, the fact that there are different churches within Christianity, and a little bit about the teachings of Christ. I’ve decided that the Atonement is not the easiest thing to explain to a bunch of kids who only speak a little bit of English, and who don’t know a lot about Christianity. I did the best I could though, and then told them stories about Christ’s life. I’m really pleased that I finished the Kingdom and the Crown Series right before I came, because it helped the words flow a lot better. The kids that had been struggling to pay attention to the doctrine and history bit, seemed to be entranced by the stories. I started with Christ’s birth—I invited one of the girls who already knew about the story to tell about Mary and the Donkey, and “sleeping on horse crap” as she put it….and I added the parts that she missed. Then I took over and told about Christ’s teachings, and the Jewish leaders getting angry, and then the garden of Gethsemane and Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. I told them that we believed Christ would come again to the earth to rule over the people, and that there would be no more sin in the Earth while he was here. I told him that as a Mormon, I believed in a life after death where we could continue to progress and become more like God. I ended my teaching by telling them how my religion is a huge part of who I am, and that I believe it makes me a better person. Overall, I think I did a pretty good job for an impromptu performance, I was happy to have the opportunity to teach a little bit. After I finished teaching I asked if anyone had any questions. A girl said something in Burmese and some other kids nodded their heads. Paul laughed and said that her response to my request for questions was “She’s pretty!” That made me smile.

I’ve been spending the last few hours in the office, but I think that in about an hour or so, New Zealand Paul is going to take me to start teaching English to some of the care mothers. I’m pretty excited about it. I like to teach and I look forward to spending time with the women here. They’re all so friendly =)

I realize that all my posts are incredibly long, and I hope none of you feel overwhelmed by them. I’m mainly keeping this blog for myself instead of a journal, and I figure that people can skim over whatever they don’t find interesting.

I love it here. The only thing that would make me happier would be for the dogs to allow me to sleep at night. Other than that, everything is great =)

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