Sunday, July 30, 2006

title of a blog entry!!!

so, my general feeling here in thailand is that i am kind of dirty and gross. i don't wear make-up, don't fix my hair, and, while i shower several times daily, am usually in a full body sweat. that being said, my vacation on the island proved how much further down the scale it is possible to go. here i am on the speedboat to ko samet; still clean, still somewhat tidy, still riab roi, as the thai would say...

and here i am on the ferry back, my skin covered with a thin sheen of salt, my pants crusted with sand, my hair having taken complete leave of its senses...

that being duly noted, i greatly anticipate my pomades and exfoliaters and moisturizers and all the other do-daws that make a girl feel pretty.

in other news, ganniga and i have been taking turns with apilak today (please note: his name mysteriously acquired a 'k'). i'm new to babies, so am i right in assuming that new motherhood is invariably accompanied by sweat and dishevellment? apilak will be held, unless in the deepest of sleeps, and he prefers that you hold him while standing (HOW do they know that you've changed elevation?) and it would behoove you to walk around the room if you presume to pick him up, but look at what a tiny helpless orphan parcel he is...

and so it's really quite alright.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

i need a vacation!!!

it all started a few weeks ago, when i was trying to decide what to do with my break, and karen says to me...oh, there's this one place with treehouse bungalows! problem was, we didn't know what the name of the beach was, or of the resort (resort is a very loose term here in thailand), or whereabouts on the island it was...we knew which island it was on, and who might know the other info, but that was the full extent.

so wednesday morning, after many fruitless attempts to pin down this information, i set off with instructions to get myself to ko samet (the island), and high hopes of achieving my treehouse dream. i got to the 'bus station,' and a woman motioned for me to get on the bus currently in residence. 'going to rayong?' i asked? she nodded, yes, without appearing to listen, and i got on with no small bit of apprehension.

after a half hour or so, she called out 'rayong' and motioned me up to the front of the bus. 'that was quick,' i thought. turns out that we were nowhere near rayong. rather, we were on the highway, and the actual bus to rayong was three vehicles in front of us. our driver was attempting to hail their driver so that they would pull over and let me on. i've been victim of this passenger-swap before, albiet on a lower, more songthaeowian level, but in the middle of morning traffic, on the highway...?

at any rate, after several failed attempts, the other bus was signalled, and i changed hands like some sort of contreband. the money-collector on the second bus asked, in the usual, friendly thai manner, where i was going. he then (also in the usual, friendly thai manner) assumed the role of 'helpless-farang protector.' he not only carried my bag for me off the bus, but took it (and me) to the songthaeow that would then take me to the ferry, informing everyone along the way that i was going to ko samet (in case i should get lost after i left his care. this turned out to be fortunate). he put me on a blue songthaeow, which then swapped me for another blue songthaeow (mercifully before either of them had set out on the road). once the vehicle was filled to a profitable capacity, we left for the ferry. since my bus-friend had alerted all and sundry to my destination, at least three people turned to me and said 'ko samet!' when we arrived at the ferry, which was indistinguishable from the rest of rayong since the water was completely hidden from view.

using the information i had, i'd surmised which beach i figured the treehouses to be on. to get there from the mainland, i had the option of either a speedboat (which would take me directly to the beach of my choice for $60) or a ferry (which would take me one beach over from where i figured i'd start my search, for $6). since i'm fabulously wealthy, i chose the ferry, and sat down to wait. before long, i was placed on a little motercycle sidecart to be taken down to the docks, only to be swapped en route for another motercycle sidecart, this one already containing two people. i sat sidesaddle with my rear on the motercycle and my feet in the cart.

the other farang in the cart and i were commanded by the third occupant, a stern thai woman, to get on the big boat. we clambered aboard, he with a touch of protest since he had paid the 2000 baht for the speedboat. not to worry, she said. the ferry was merely a stepping stone to the speedboat, which soon pulled up along side it, and which, for some inexplicable reason, could not pull up to the dock and be boarded directly. being the only passenger on the ferry, i was soon upgraded and ordered into the speedboat along with my sidecart companion, as well as a german fellow, his thai wife, and their beautiful thai-german daughter.

rather than drop us off at the main beach (which my dignified farang friend had paid for), the boat driver dropped us off at some unidentified locale, claiming that he had someone to pick up from there. this beach being rather closer to my intended destination than the main beach, i could do no more than murmur insincere sympathies to my disgruntled friend before taking my leave. since there was no dock, we were all forced to take our chances with the surf. thus ended my guided transportation, and i set out on foot.

a man at a booth marked 'information' gave me directions (read: pointed in a direction) to ao thien, my beach of choice. i clambered over rocks for a space of probably twenty minutes, but did so around a bend in the island, and ended up at the self-same beach where i had started. not willing to ask the same man for different directions, i did an about-face and headed the opposite way. another twenty minutes of clambering brought me to a sign that said 'songtien beach --->' and since thai things written in english that sound the same usually are the same (frinstance, chonburi is correct, as is chon buri, chonbury, chon buli, and i've even seen tonburi), i figured this might be it. i straggled through a forest path and down a narrow flight of stairs before arriving on songtien beach.

the woman in the information booth of the first clump of bungalows knew enough english to ask me (repeatedly) if i wanted a room, and my attempts to act out 'treehouse' brought only stares, and a gesture for her friends to come check out the crazy farang. i carried on down the beach, asking after treehouses, until someone replied with an 'ah! apache!' and pointed still further down. still further i went, this time asking after the 'apache.' each clump of bungalows had its own distinct style, and they were, for the most part, slap bang up against each other. not so the apache. every bungalow was different, and placed erratically around the site. every table could seat more or fewer amounts of people, in greater or lesser degrees of ease. and there she stood: my little treehouse. i had planned to play it cool, but when one of the three perpetually-on-duty-never-actually-present staff opened the door to my balcony, i cried 'i'll take it!!'

it was the only one of its kind: the interior was nearly all bed, the mosquito netting was pink and filmy and made me feel as though i slept in a cotton candy tent, and from the balcony i could spit into the ocean. two shabby but servicable lounge chairs and one dirty plastic table furnished my little balcony, and there i would sit for hours, hidden from the world by the trees but visible to the ocean and the sun. the entire area below my house i claimed as MY beach, not that any of the resorts other five or so inhabitants ever challenged my claim. i could see the sunrise from my window, and awoke early, but rested, every moning. i walked out to the edge of the rocks and sat and stared in the water. i tried to catch crabs (the sideways-walking kind, not the other kind). i read four books, two of which were excellent, one was alright, and one was altogether crap, and then the propriotess gave me a battered copy of jane eyre to take home. the last quarter of the pages have come detatched, so i'm reading it to make sure it's all there before i pass it along to kyla, who is my bang saen library. in the evenings i would play cards with two girls from the uk. on friday i took a boat tour around the island, where i met four other farang. we stopped and snorkled twice, had a picnic on the boat, visited a fish farm, and generally lounged and sunburnt ourselves to a crispy glory. i met a dog who lacked the usual mange and dangly teets, and named her foxy. she followed me everywhere, and i suspect her of having slept on the landing to my house.

it was fabulously good to come home. i feel quite relaxed and bored with myself, ready to take on my handful of responsibilities again. i missed the boys terribly. it's good to be home.

i'm coming home canada-wise in twenty-six days.

vacation pictures

ok, here's my deserted beach (that's my house up in that tree)

here's my house (that's my balcony you can't quite see through the trees)

here's the view from my balcony (or maybe from my window...that may be a curtain on the left-hand's the same view, either way)

and here's foxy sleeping under my breakfast table (note her undisgustability)

Monday, July 24, 2006

predominately photos!!! plus an interesting fact about the queen of england!

this is the world's tiniest gecko, and i caught him...
and these are the sanchez girls in all their glory...

and this is the time we pirated a rogue wireless connection and played frogger in the living room for hours...

and this is the most exciting thing about bowling if you've never seen this kind of technology before...'ball come back!!! same same!!!

and, well, sometimes this happens (doesn't he look rugged?)...

and that's my photo blog for the time being, and did you know that the queen of england owns all the swans in england? and also, i'm going offline for a few days because i'm going on holiday...i might post while i'm there, but i mostly plan on sleeping and reading, so you might have to wait til saturday to hear all about it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

i just downloaded picassa...

and it has a 'blog this' option, so i'm testing it out. BLOG THIS!!!

tres cute, n'est pas?

friday night the boys go to someone else's house because it's p'ganniga's night off (and mine too, i guess), but it's been a busy week and i missed them, so i went with, and the family we were staying with has four young children of the rowdy (read: pinchy stompy bitey screamy runny-away) variety, and bless the boys, they're all like tiny dads, and you know when an old mama dog has pups bouncing all over her and nipping at her tail and whatall and she just carries on with what she's doing and occasionally picks one up and deposits it out of her way...that's what this reminded me of. add to that the fact that we had the baby, and we went bowling on friday and swimming on was a valiant but weary bunch that i brought home saturday night.

apila eats and sleeps all the time. we're feeding him twice as much as they said to (shhhhh), and he scarfs it down...we're hoping he'll put on some flesh. pray that both the babies (apila and supakit) work the HIV out of their system, and that either their moms claim them again, or relinquish their rights so that they can be adopted out (if the moms don't relinquish their rights, but don't want them themselves, then they just languish in government orphanages until their bitter and resigned coming-of-age, and this happens WAY more often than it should). and keep praying for our five boys to be healed. and that i finish strong...a month from now i'll be heading into bangkok, and flying out the next day...i don't want to spend my last month here with my soul in canada. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 20, 2006

it's real! dried ginger! what a packet at the supermarker assures me. contrary to all reports, dried ginger is, in fact, real. also real are our two babies! remember how i mentioned a few weeks ago that we might be getting babies, and then never touched the subject again because i feared that doing so would lessen the likelihood of the arrival of said babies? well, they came in last night...this happy fatso is four-month-old supakit (a.k.a. 'superkid)...

and this spindly character is apila, nearly a month old...

and this is the gecko that got into the pastries...

doesn't HE look territorial! anyway, we have babies now, and sheri and nat and i had a rousing sleep over with them last night...supakit only takes meds once a day, and they're fairly hopeful that he'll work the HIV out of his system (which, apparently, babies can do), but apila is a fitful, mewly thing, and he requires meds at six and noon and six and i'm tired and i'm going to sleep, if that's ok.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

literary theivery

i wish i could take credit for this paragraph but i can't. i stole it out of a book on thai culture...but it's just so APT. read, and know that it's all true.

'Powered by technology, the habits of slower times turned the past, the limits of human strength prevented a boat or rickshaw from speeding, and the watery highway meant collisions harmlessly clanced, with no lanes determining their course. Taxis behave as if nothing's changed. They tailgate and overtake at high speed with inches to spare; they blitely straddle white lines without indicating, or cut across three lanes and screech to a halt at the merest hint of a hand politely beckoning palm down. With driving lessons an affront to face and licenses easily bought, many Thais intuitively steer their cars as if on water.'

thanks, philip cornwel-smith.

drink your pasturized, fortified, nutrient-rich skim milk, kiddies!!

it was noted by my younger, taller, infinitely wiser than i was at twenty-one-year-old sister that ‘we’ have so much, and ‘they’ have so little, and how on earth (she queried) are we to go about solving this problem without thoroughly westernizing the world? i concur, having fallen completely and hopelessly in love with thai culture just the way it is (without losing my fondness for home and hearth, God and country, and the like. i mean, i love chocolate ice cream and i love rainbow sherbet, and i would never want my rainbow sherbet to become a little more chocolatey, just because i love chocolate more).

one of my endeavors (fully supported by my fellow health-conscious farang) has been to increase the numbers of fruits and veggies entering ALH from ‘zero’ to ‘some.’ is the never-ending quest to get a carrot into these boys just an example of western hubris? after all, the thai have been defying the Canada Food Guide for centuries (their food pyramid doesn’t even have a section for dairy), and they seem to be doing fine. sure, they’re a tiny people, but do we all need to be tall and fleshy? i really should research general thai health a bit more, because i’m sure that things like rickets abound, but based on casual observation, they really seem to be doing fine. my ancient friend who lives down the street is proof positive that some of them, at least, do grow old. is a good FoodSafe course what thailand really needs? i mean, i eat from street vendors, i eat food that i know has spent hours in the ‘danger zone,’ and my fragile farang system is fine. how much of what we think we need back home is just propaganda? sure, every one of the children at wat samet is in the lower growth percentile, but that’s because they’re poor, not because they’re thai. how do we help them in a way that’s thai? is it the best we can to do contribute money and Operation Christmas Child boxes? it just might be. i mean, we’re not all called to overseas compassion work, and helping the foreign poor doesn’t have the same soup-kitchen convenience as helping our local down-and-outers (i don’t say this to slam soup kitchens and the like at ALL, because i think these things are intensely necessary and that those who help out are examples of the good and shining in our country. i’m just pointing out that we can’t concretely, hands-on-ly help overseas in the same way of a saturday night).

sometimes i wonder what i’m doing here, because i’m just one person and not a very good one at that (and i’m not saying this so that the ‘every little bit helps’ and ‘i can’t do great things but i can do little things with great love’ comments will pour in, because i know all that…i really do feel useless much of the time). but then, a handful of the kids that i teach at wat samet have been coming to our wednesday kids club, and then to the youth group, and last sunday we had seven kids accept Christ, and whatever my cynical belief may be about the beliefs of children, these kids are all twelvish, and whatever my cynical beliefs may be about my presence here, they were all kids that i teach at the boys’ school. karen said to me ‘you’re only here [at wat samet] for two hours a week, and yet you’re such an incarnational presence…’ does that mean that i’m being Christ to these kids? that God is rewarding my faithfulness even if that faithfulness is liberally seasoned with envy and greed and sloth and…what were the other four? those too. does this mean that He really does use imperfect vessels to do His work, and that all my flaws actually can’t throw Him off? that His power really is made perfect in my weakness? is that why i feel so unworthy all the time, so completely and utterly failed as a Christian, just so that i will note the power of God held in this jar of clay? if i had been praying and reading my Bible faithfully and all the other good Christian disciplines since i’d decided i was coming to thailand, and then all these kids came to Christ, wouldn’t i pat myself on the back? wouldn’t i just think that i was the awesomest Christian alive, and thank goodness that God has a one such as me to bring light and salvation to the gentiles? but i didn’t, and i haven’t been, and i’m not likely to start now to any account. and yet…i have been used. i have been an instrument of God, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit. thank God.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

count the chins

having posted those pictures of my mum as a pirate, i feel obligated now to post this rather becoming picture of myself that bun took the other day...

and to inform you that if you DO make the venture into 'my thailand photos,' you can find many more such just by clicking on the scrolldown menu and selecting 'plett family,' because MAN are we photogenic. and hilarious.

oh yes, and please oh please someone tell me that this makes you laugh...or crack a smile, at least...

rachel's quadratic formula for classroom hilarity:

1 faulty whiteboard eraser + 1 hand used in lieu of whiteboard eraser + 1 classroom with zero ventilation = 1 sweaty blue palm + 1 itchy, sweaty face = a classroom full of students who aren't sure if they should laugh (this is my monday morning, well-behaved class, remember. tuesday would have been in stitches without permission).

'do i have blue on my face?' a few of them nodded.

i laughed.

tension broken, they all giggled like schoolchildren.


so, since the fallses missed bun's birthday celebration, and the boyses missed abraham's birthday celebration, we had a teeny little shindig for the two of them on friday...

but then bun whacked abraham on the chin with his head, or something, and that's why this is funny...

and then he manfully pretended to eat his cake (he doesn't like sweets) until i came and sat by him. i may or may not have eaten his piece on the sly...

and then max gave me sass about something and so i tickled him until he nearly peed (disclaimer: WAY too much guy-thigh below).

and now i have to tell you this story, which would be WAY funnier if you knew the kid, but max is the neatly-tucked, clean-fingernails, bed made so tight you could bounce a quarter off the sheets, tidy handwriting (in english AND thai), homework done by friday evening kid. and then sometimes he goes crazy. so wednesday night, p'ganniga is at her cell group and i have the boys, and it's going on nine and everyone is showered and in their jammies except max. 'max, buddy, you gotta go shower,' i say. casting an impish glance my way, max states, 'i no shower.' 'max, go shower.' giggling now, 'i no shower!' 'that's it'. i get up and snag him, sticking my fingers into his all-too-prominent ribs until he's laughing so hard he can barely breathe. 'there,' i say, 'now go shower.' he darts halfway up the stairs before squatting down and peering at me through the slats...'i no shower!!!' i hear more giggles and the door to the boys' room slam. i haul myself upstairs and crouch outside. hearing no noise, and being unable to endure the uncertainty, max cracks the door, at which point he is set upon by his hefty farang, who is intent on tickling him until she renders him to that state where you're laughing but no noise is coming out. 'ok, ok, i shower, i shower!!!' 'no way, man. you had your chance.' 'i shower! i shower!!!!' 'no dice. you tickle now.' finally, i let him go, and he trails giggles like drops of water all the way to the bathroom.

this is the closest thing i have to a discipline problem.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

the farang is useful after all

p'ganniga and the boys have been looking after me for just over a month now, and i must admit that i'm pretty much useless. i can't cook anything that they'd like to eat, i don't know how the washing machine works, i only do a semi-adequate job of washing dishes, and when i've got the boys to myself on saturday nights, i kind of don't get them to bed on time. today, though, i proved my worth. we've never really had a bug problem (there was a cockroach one time, and i made golf kill it for me, but he was even more afraid of it than i was, and so i think the thing's still alive somewhere), but today we had a mini-swarm (probably 30 or so) ants engulfing a mislaid drop of food. i scooped up the food with a tissue, and then ganniga and i sat on the floor and squished the ants with our fingers, chanting 'die, die' (words cannot express how funny this was. just know that the thai are a tidy, reserved, mostly buddhist-and-so-do-not-kill-living-things people, and they certainly never sit on the floor, delightedly killing ants). 'all die,' says ganniga. 'all dead,' say i. but no! not all dead, nor all die neither!! coming out of the wall and scampering across the floor to who knows where (probably the now-false rumor of food) was a mega-swarm (something in the hundreds) of ants!!! 'ah, so much!' says ganniga! 'ah, so many,' say i! i make a squirt-gunning motion and the accompanying sound effect towards the ants. 'kchss kchss, spray?' 'yes, kchss have' says ganniga. so we don't have any raid or whatall, but i've cleaned the windows many a time back home, and i know from experience that windex (being pure chemicals) kills bugs...DEAD! just as well as any spray designated for that purpose. besides, i've seen 'my big fat greek wedding.' 'do you have any spray *kchss kchss* to clean *makes wiping motions* windows *points to windows*?' 'ah, chai, chai (yes, yes).' pulls out generic thai window cleaner. a couple of sprays later, the ants were writhing in their own chemically froth, and little max charged through with a mop. 'all die!! clean clean!!!' he cried, and the farang felt that she had earned her keep for the day.

now, as a pleasant deviation from my tense-shifting stories, here are some pictures of my mum as a pirate...

isn't she hilarious? don't you wish she was YOUR mum?

and this is her faithful sidekick, cookie crumble, who i have to admit isn't quite as cool, having no pink ruffly coat and so forth.

i'm sorry i'm missing all this, mum. send me a picture of your parrot.

Friday, July 14, 2006

happy 'snack' whacking day, nate? (see comment on july 12 post for details)

ok, i know all of you have been dying for this picture ever since i boasted about my snake-exterminating, with no further ado, here's my prize (i'm not so proud as i look in this picture, i actually hated to kill him. karen enns, if you're out there, i hope you're happy).

there's another picture where i'm pretending to eat the snake, but the sun was in my eyes and so it doesn't actually look anything like i'm going to gobble him, and the picture makes me look fat besides, so i won't post it. it's my vanity, and my blog, and i'll do as i please.

so, it came to me all in a rush the other night, as very obvious things usually do, that i can't go back in time and change everything that has happened to these boys (i was thinking of bun in particular at the time). i can love them and care for them and take some of the load of responsibility off of their (once again, bun's) shoulders, but i can't go back and change the things that have made them (him) so responsible, that have forced them (him) to grow up so fast. i can't give them back their childhoods. at the most, all i can give them is my companionship for a summer, and my love forever after.

martin and hannah went to the hospital yesterday to hold a baby...i don't really know the whole deal but this baby's been sick, and there's no one to care for him, so they were there from 10:00 to 4:00 just holding him and loving him...they said they felt so powerless. he's been ill, so he doesn't respond like most babies to human affection. he never really sleeps, so he's never really awake (quote paraphrase, source: fight club). they said he was lethargic and cried weakly the whole time, and they didn't feel like anything they did was helping. that's how i feel with the boys. sometimes i think the thai feel as though farang were omnipotent, and other times i think farang feel that way. we want to be able to step in and fix everything, and then go home having left a tidy legacy. but these are not new bathrooms to be painted, nor playgrounds to be built, nor houses of the old and infirm to be set in order. these are people, and people are not a one-time project no matter what you do with them. games and face-painting and trips to the zoo will not cure what ails them. ultimately, only God's love can do that, and my only real option is to be an instrument of that love. how utterly deflating, and surpassingly empowering.

baby tigers!!!!!

here in thailand, they don't have cubs, or boyscouts, they have baby tigers. there goes one now!

mornings start early at the abundant life home, especially on baby tiger day...

p'ganniga has to tuck and fold and belt and wrap her entire squadron into crisp, sharply-creased respectability...

since we were at church camp for monday and tuesday, i switched my teaching days to thursday and friday. the english teacher's english ability is (as previously discussed) haphazard at best, and so i didn't know who i'd be teaching until i showed up thursday morning, but there they were, bright and shining in their baby tiger best, my patom 6:1 class (i teach them on monday mornings).

there's twins (see if you can spot them, it'll be like a where's waldo: crazy thailand escapades! also look for: three hall monitors; the one kid who actually remembered his baby tiger hat; and evidence that they don't wear shoes in the class so the room always smells like feet), and for the longest time i thought there was only one of them and i just saw her a lot.

that was yesterday.

today is friday, and technically it's my day off, and i didn't want to get out of bed and i didn't want to teach and i didn't want sticky rice and deep fried chicken drumsticks for breakfast, because (although it's better than nasty fishes) the boys always pick the bones clean and then crack them and suck out the marrow, and i feel badly that i just can't manage to eat my well-seasoned gristle, and i didn't want to teach patom 6:2 because they're rowdier (although admittedly more fun they are...)

and not as bright, and we can spend a whole class going over how to tell time and i pull every ounce of resource i have into an hour-long blast of educational entertainment, and they still don't get it, and then the whiteboard marker didn't work (and i have to tell you, i live and die by that marker) and my favorite billowy skirt turned out to be a bad schoolroom idea, because the breeze from the ceiling fans hits the floor and rebounds up my skirt, and i had a few marilyn monroe moments before i gathered the excess material into one fist, and used the other fist to try and hammer some use out of the whiteboard marker. so, poop.

on a lighter note, we have two new farang from england. martin and hannah are a newly-married couple looking forward to a possible future of long-term missions, and so they are spending their summer break (they're at Bible college in england) in thailand helping out various endeavors. they'll be with us a few weeks...and they're funny. OH man, they're funny. they being funny and all, and me enjoying a good funny person from time to time (particularly ones that speak english, even if it is they do say 'trousers' and 'crisps'), we were hanging out in the church chatting after our english class last night, and i knew it was getting on in hours, but all of a sudden my phone rings, and it's ganniga wondering where i am. talking to her over the phone is nearly useless, so i go home to find out that max and bun had come down (we go to bed at 9:00, and it was now 10:30) saying 'ma, rachel's not home yet. you gotta phone her and find out where she is.' my little people were worried about me. i got home and went straight into their room to let them know i was there, and bun immediately asks 'you hungry?' as if he was going to hop out of bed in his pajamas and fix me up something if i said yes. don't mean to ruin this touching little story with a bitter pill, but they all have these horrible juicy coughs, and i was up a good hour more listening to them...bun's is one of those full-body coughs, to the point where i got out of bed and came down to see how he was...thank God he was fast asleep despite his angry lungs. they haven't been to see a docter yet, but they probably will be if this keeps up.

and as a quick flash-back story, carmen and karen (our last two new farang) and i spent most of the worship time at the church camp playing 'name that tune,' since it appears that all of thai worship is really old english worship reheated and served with rice (hey, is that 'I Will Celebrate?' yeah, and i'm glad someone else here is old enough to know that...)

also, i've realized how much I love a blog with pictures, and how much i love MY blog when there are pictures in it, and so i've decided that it's well worth waiting while blogger uploads my photos. even if sometimes they never materialize.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

my shins are sweating

ok, the internet at both colette's cafe and the church is down, and since i'm currently paying a whopping 20 baht/hour (which is all of 60 cents) and sweating out my impurities in an un-air-conditioned attic in order to write this blog, i will keep it short. i can't post any pictures since i'm not on my computer, but i will try to lure you to my photo blog with the assurance that it contains TWO pictures of the stalky-eyed bug. anyway, i just wanted to say thanks to anyone and everyone who reads and comments, and makes me feel a teeny bit linked to home. robyn, dearest, i'll be home soon. forty-something days, not that i'm counting. joel, babe, if you read these things, you should post the odd comment now and then in order to get credit for your endeavors. mum, everyone thinks your piratey costume is ship shape (hee hee) and that you are a hilarious mum.
speaking of pirates, does anyone know where fort york is? because they have a pirate festival from august 19 to sept 4...and that just might be my dream come true.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

photo blog

for those of you too lazy to hit up the photo link to your right, here are some pics from this weekend. mum, you've been asking for a pic of p'ganniga, well here she is, the sweetest, sassiest thai lady around...
and here she is playing a rousing game of uno with a load of thai children....i desparately wish i had a good camera, my indoor pictures are horrible.

our room (bun's, golf's, jun's and mine) was party central all weekend because we have all the games. 7:15 a.m. tuesday morning, i had nine children in the room.

here's a stalky-eyed bug. i have nothing pleasant to say about this bug, except that he had the decency to be outside so that i could get a good shot of him.

here's addison (who's 14) and little game (who's 11)...

and here's me teaching the youngest s-p some new tricks

i'm glad you all could participate in this weekend with me.

church camp

well, faithful readers, i know no one else checks their friends' blogs daily like i do, but if any of you have been paying attention, i have been offline for a few days. i have been revelling in the glories camp!!

we in north america might consider loading our congretation into a bus (more likely several buses) and taking the lot of them to a church camp rather than having everyone find their own way in thailand, where few people own a method of transportation, they think nothing of tossing two congregations into one bus, of cramming three and four people into every set of two seats, and of having at least ten people sitting or walking in the aisles at any one time. have i mentioned that the ride was a good five hours long? i count myself among the lucky ones, i shared my seat with bun, sweet bun who insisted i have the window seat even as he fell asleep with nowhere to rest his head, and this guy...

who, as you can imagine, was no trouble at all. the air con barely worked, the music was blaring and in thai, and the crepe window shade did little to keep out the blazing sun. five hours later, sticky and cramped, we arrived at church camp. i have never, EVER been useless at a kid's camp, but i was useless here. while the adults (including p'ganniga's non-christian husband, and her non-christian son-in-law) sat in workshops and whatnot, louise, carmen and karen (not team 2000's carmen and karen, but two OTHER girls from abbotsford named carmen and karen), myself, and two thai women took the kids on a rousing adventure. well, louise and the two thai women did. carmen, karen and i mostly hung around, trying to pick up on visual clues (oh, it seems the children are getting into a circle...let's help them get into a circle) but pretty much twiddling our thumbs. karen and i talked about some of the kids that she had taught (she teaches high school) who i had worked with at red robin...small world and all...and we participated in the games if they didn't involve a lot of talking. louise had set up a little orienteering thingie where the kids were given a map of the camp and had to go look for little flags and string together the letters on the flags to make a word...i went along with the first team, but while i was busy killing a snake (i killed a snake. he was just a little guy about the size of my own nebuchadnezzar, rest his sneaky snakey soul, and i didn't think he was poisonous, but what do i know about snakes? he was on a bush right next to one of the bungalows that the families were staying in, and with bun there wringing his hands, pointing at the bungalow and saying 'my friend...sleep...' and then hissing viciously at the snake, i knew that i had to kill it, or he would try. so i hit it with a stick...karen has a picture of my prize, so i'll post it one of these days)...while i was busy killing a snake, the world's biggest twelve-year-old and his friend were off cheating like fiends. the orienteering was a flop.
it was very humbling to be in a place where i would normally be in my element, and not be able to do a single thing. i wonder if there isn't some sort of lesson in this.
sure am glad i'm not buddhist, though. i can kill snakes with impunity.

happy birthday, bun

i know you'll never read this post, my little bun, but happy birthday. i'm sorry your birthday started at 6:55 so you could take your meds, i'm sorry most of it was spent on a stinking bus, i'm sorry it ended in such chaos with p'ganniga rushing off to pattaya because we left your meds on aforementioned bus. i'm sorry that you didn't get to go swimming and that your real mom doesn't give a rip and that sheri and brian and abraham couldn't be there to celebrate with you because abraham has accute tonsilitis, and andy and carmen and connor and isaac couldn't be there because they're in kansas. i would have liked to have thrown you a party at the pool with plenty of chips because you don't like sweets, to have had all your friends there, and to have told you somehow that i value you immensely. thanks for always taking care of your four 'brothers' and your clueless farang, and for being the man of the house. you are finally thirteen, like you have been saying you are for the past month. now you can start telling people that you're fourteen.

Friday, July 07, 2006

tales from a temporary sleephole

i am on a mission to get a map of the world for the boys' school. brian knows where i can find one in english AND thai. a conversation with the school's official english teacher (and the reason for the map) follows (i will spare you the severe awkward english, and paraphrase):

english teacher: so...canada is close to america?
raych: well...they're right next door, actually.
et: oh, so canada is protected by america?
r: well, actually, (attempts to explain how canada is recognizes the queen of england, but is independant, yada yada)
et: oh, so canada is close to england.
r: (awkward pause), well, no, actually. it's across the ocean.
et: oh. i thought that canada must be protected by america, since you both speak english.
r: (awkward pause), well, actually, (attempts to explain how english comes from england, even though we seem to speak it more clearly because the north american accent has become more prominent)

more conversation ensues, in which the subject of the french girls comes up.

et: but they speak french?
r: yes (attempts to explain how canada has two official languages, has to draw rough and woefully incorrect map of canada to explain how one province speaks french, while the others speak english and bitterly resent learning french in high school)
et: oh, so canda is close to france?
r: well...actually...

------------ (story divider)

so kyla (one of the missionary kids) and i have been talking about going to this market in ang sila, because even though there are markets freaking everywhere, this market has the best this and that market has the cheapest that, and so on. our market in bang saen has the best rot dii (deep fried dough around a banana drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and sprinkled with sugar). ANYway, we had the afternoon free yesterday, so we took joy (kyla is her foster sister), and headed out. we songthaewed a ways and then got off and walked...we'd probably been walking for half an hour when kayla says 'you know, i think i always just got dropped off there, and then songthaewed home. so i don't actually know how long this road is.'

10 k. that's how long the road is. we found that out 8 k down the road, when p'ganniga passed by us on her new scooter, did a double take, and pulled around. she made us stop where we were and wait for a songthaew, which apparently come down that road every...indeterminate long period of time or so. none had passed us to that point, at we'd been walking for...oh, i don't know. how long does it take to walk 8 k in flip flops, pushing a stroller?

the market was awesome. we took a songthaew home.


it was my day off, and the boys had a half-day at school, so we sat around and played chinese checkers and chess all afternoon. i was (until today) undefeated at both. i played dao a game of chess, and won, and then bun played dao a game of chess and won, and then golf played dao a game of chess and won. i figure this was all part of his elaborate plan to set me up, because when he and i played again, he skillfully manoevered me into a trap. there's always that long moment where you sit and try to figure a way out...who can i kill this guy with...who can i throw in the path of destruction...who will take a bullet for their king? you know you're doomed, but you still search for a loophole, while your opponent softly chants 'bye bye, see you laytah, bye bye, see you laytah' and smirks at you.


kyla and i went in to sri richa today to see pirates of the caribbean. it was fabulous. anything else i could say would be a plot spoiler, except how much do i love johnny depp? so much.


dave (kyla's dad) is spending the night at alh with the boys, since it's my night off, which means i'm kicked out of the i'm sleeping at the church. i'm glad i don't live here all the time, because there are a good five other people living in this building right now, and NONE of them are in bed, and there's some AWful thai movie playing in the other room...but i got changed and let my clothes lie where they fell, and i have the air con dropped to 18 (my sweetie boys keep it at 27), and i'm blogging in my bed. this is alright by me.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

arabic dance

'do you enjoy arabic dance?' says my new thai friend, who's english is quite flawless. arabic dance. quick mental flashback to lindsay graham doing her 'brown dance' all around the drama 11 classroom (oh jacki, only you will think that is funny)...quick brain scan for all possible phrases she could actually mean...'ah yes, i enjoy aerobics.' i've been invited to go to a thai aerobics class tonight. i may end up seeing pirates of the carribean, but if i don't, i'll let you know how my 'arabic dance' went.

i have three new thai friends: amp, eng, and...i forget the third girl's name but amp and eng introduced me to her yesterday at their dorm, and she's the one i may go 'dancing' with. anyway, they are english majors at buraphra university, which is maybe six blocks from the church. their english is flawless. they want to hang out with me because they want to practice their listening skills, and brush up on their idioms and slang. amp hardly has a thai accent at all when she speaks english, but eng's is a little more pronounced. and their funny! oh man, are they funny. i always figured thai people would be hilarious if i could understand them, because the boys seriously have me rolling on the floor sometimes, and these girls prove it.

i kind of got distracted by msn, and can't keep a thought going long enough to finish this post. these three girls aren't Christian, but they love having farang friends...and i love having them!!!


funny story:
so, p'ganniga's daughter, ping, accidentally stole my running shoes...that's about the whole story. i got them back.

funnier story:
we were leaving this big 3rd of july bash at the fotjasek's on monday, and i saw a pair of brown, old navy flip flops, circa 2004. that's funny, i thought. who would have the same flip flops as the ones i happened to bring to thailand? thinking nothing of it, i slipped into my flip flops of the revolution, and headed home. there, i noted (to my undying amusement) that my brown, old navy flip flops (circa 2004) were missing. i also noted that both jun and p'ganniga went home barefoot, and that i could not get a straight tale out of either of them. all i can derive from this is that one of them wore my flip flops to the party, and was too ashamed to admit it and to wear them home. my flip flops (circa 2004) are still at the fotjaseks.

funniest story of all:
to start our adults' english class last night (tuesday), dave had us go around the circle and say our names and our favorite type of cookie. says the one fellow, i enjoy all kinds of penis cookies. i needn't tell you i'm the only one who laughed, and i did it quietly (up my sleeve, you might say). i feel vindicated by the fact that at least half of you will laugh at this blog, and the other half won't get the fact that he meant 'peanut.'

Monday, July 03, 2006

who's doing what now?

you may or may not have noticed by now, but here in thailand, things can change in the blink of an eye. the sun is shining brightly, but if you go outside, you could very well be soaked in thirty seconds. the fickle weather is an apt reflection of thai life. just before i came, the orphanage was supposed to get a baby girl...that didn't happen. a week or so ago, the plan was to get a different baby girl near the end of july (no one was getting their hopes up this time). now it seems as though we may actually GET our baby girl, PLUS a baby boy, unless they are both baby boys, but they might both be girls...anyway, we think we're getting two babies on the 21st of the month. we're not sure what gender they are (reports keep changing), but they are both HIV positive, one is four months old, and one is currently seventeen days (or twenty-one). the plan (as of now) is that the fallses will foster one of the babies, and the orphanage (me, ganniga, and the boys) will get the other one. WE'RE HAVING A BABY!!! pray for both of these babies, and for our reception...none of us have done this before, so no one can tell how things will look once we add an infant to our twelve-year-olds. if we do.
on a quick, much more tragic note, the brother of one of the team members has been missing for a few weeks, and they've found a body they think may be his. andy and carmen were headed home on furlough anyway, but they've had to pull things together very quickly and they fly out this afternoon. pray for them, and their two young children. unpredictable indeed.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

so...i was on a direct route to malaria-ville, no brakes. i own a big old can of deep woods off, extra deet, but owning a can and bathing in chemicals daily are two different things. i don't use the spray, and it gets me this...

this isn't the best picture, because you can't see the nine on the other side, but until they develop a 3D camera, this is what you get. the scab on top of my foot is evidence that i have no resistance against the itch. that's right, i scratched that hole in my foot. anyway, desperate times call for desperate measures, and thai mosquitoes call for thai repellant...

i haven't had a new bite in three days. i pretend that the lotion is moisturizer, and i use it after i shower. i'm malaria-proof now, but i'll probably end up infertile from all the chemicals (sorry joel, i guess we're adopting. can we have those twins i saw at the pool the other day?)

also, did i mention that we have two beautiful french girls (as in, french canadian) staying with us (at the church, not the orphanage) for an indeterminate amount of time? i was setting up their room, and was thinking how nice it would be to stay in the church (which was the original plan)...i'd have wireless internet, my own room, peace and quiet. but my main role here is to love these boys, and how much of that would i do if i lived at the church? i LOVE my privacy, and given the option between hanging out in my room (on the sweet sweet wireless internet) and walking over to the orphanage to loiter around and always be an awkward guest, i'd most certainly be in my room most of the time. i'd be a friend instead of family, and these boys have plenty of friends (although, for that matter, they've plenty of family now the game on saturday these five boys had more soccer moms than the kids with real parents). so it all worked out for the best...but i'm getting my own room when i move back home, right mom??? right???? *phew*

i'm a youth pastor now???

ok, i know that this is an exhorbitant number of posts while you all are asleep, and that i really have no call to be blabbing quite so much, but the past few hours have been an adventure.

i get a phone call from sheri early this afternoon (church starts at four). 'hey babe, has louise talked to you about doing the youth group?' yes, she had. what she had said was 'could you plan a few games and drag together some snacks, because our handful of teenagers are sick of 'helping out' with the sunday school, and we'd really love for them to have their own little group.' 'ok,' says sheri, 'so karen says to just do it at ALH (the orphanage), and i think you're on your own. it should only be the five boys and four farang.'


then dave phones. 'yeah, you'll have one of the thai interns to help you.'

double sweet.

so i drag some games together, rush off to get some snacks, sketch out a rough outline of what i'm going to talk to our four farang about, and book it to the church. 'i think ricky's involved in this too, somehow.' 'hey ricky, you a part of this whole crapshoot?' 'yeah, i think i'm doing the teaching.'

this is shaping up to be awesome.

twenty-nine kids, two rowdy games, three big bags of chips and a box of cookies later, we have ourselves a youth group. we played games in ALH's tiny downstairs (it has an even tinier upstairs, and no yard, so it was the best of options), ricky took the farang upstairs for a Bible study in english, and the thai intern (i still don't know his name...i'm sorry, thai intern) held the twenty-three 10-12 year old thai in rapt attention. i wish i knew what he was saying, because they all sat and listened, and laughed in the right parts and answered his questions in unison, for a good half hour...ON THE FLOOR!!!! north american kids don't sit that long in comfortable chairs!

i don't know how many of these thai kids are Christians, but you can bet that even the ones that are live in buddhist homes. they need something fun, something age appropriate, something that will speak to them. please, oh please, thai intern, i know that youth pastoring is absolutely beneath you, NO one in thailand wants to be a youth pastor, not even as a stepping stone towards pastorship, but these kids need someone to speak into their lives.

there are three mosquitos circling the office right now. they can smell farang blood a mile away, but they can't come near me because of my superfantastic thai mosquito repellant, the details of which are to be discussed in a later blog. stay tuned...

Saturday, July 01, 2006


let me add (in advance, since many of you will read this first) that the boys had a fabulous time playing soccer, win, lose, or draw, and they're already making plans for a game of thai vs. farang.

not quite the mighty ducks

happy canada day, eh? we're having a canada day/fourth of july party on monday, with tiffany's english class. should be a riot.

i think my computer is electrocuting me.

you know those movies where one scrawny and hopelessly underweighted soccer team (with the obligatory fat kid) will take on one soccer team full of man-children (that kid's got an earring! and a moustache!!!) and will manifest exemplary teamwork and march on to jubilant victory? that was our boys' soccer match yesterday (sans fat kid, teamwork, and jubilant victory). please note max, and the fact that his sleeves come nearly to his wrists...

please note that the rest of our team was similarly sized...

please note the david-and-goliath effect...

we were tromped, 4-0, despite the fact that we threw our tall, blond, farang soccer star into the game about a quarter of the way in, and then didn’t let him sub off. ever.

how do you tell a flock of thai twelve-year-olds that it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game? you don’t. you just take them home to watch cartoons and let them eat the rest of your pizza.