Before I write about our wonderful time in Chiang Rai, I thought I would share a bit of my mind/heart at this moment. (This is Sarah by the way.)
Yesterday I was suddenly struck by a realization of all the things I will be doing here and how unqualified I am for all of them! I'm teaching a university level Poetry and Drama class?! Why did I think this was a good idea? I've been in a few plays and written a few poems, but that's about all. Preaching? Uhh... enough said. Teaching English? I have a hard enough time speaking English. Teaching voice lessons to Thai students? How will we communicate
if they can barely speak English? Also, I have none of my music books with me so I am just hoping that I've retained all four years of voice lessons, voice labs, voice classes, etc. And... they are university students (two women, two men) who have studied voice for as long as I have! Most of them want to sing pop. It's a good thing I know so much about pop music... not! I have to admit this is a pretty humorous situation I'm in. I would have never thought that I would be doing all these things just a few months out of college. This is one of those times where I am sure that without Jesus, there is no way I could do all this. He has been pretty faithful though and I believe (though sometimes I doubt) that it will all work out. He has already answered so many little prayers. Really... so many! It's crazy how things that seemed impossible have worked out just fine.
So my plan is to take every thing one day at a time, work hard, rest when appropriate, not eat anything living or uncooked, and pray.
Chiang Rai, oh my!
The trip started at 4:15am out in front of the nursing building. Amy and I staggered out of our room at about 4:14am and were face to face with matching, smiling, energetic Thai students and professors. Of course I was wearing a slightly wrinkled, bright, tie-dye shirt because I hadn't done laundry yet, and Amy was wearing a bright blue shirt. Here we were, ready to rough it with our tennis shoes and our single pair of pants, while the Thai people had perfectly pressed blouses and cute flats. We were doomed to stick
out like strange americans for the rest of the trip.
We got into the "teacher" van and off we went with thai music blaring in our ears at 4:30 in the morning.
This trip was one of many throughout the year. The Payap nursing staff and students team up with an organization called Medical Missions and travel to rural villages in Northern Thailand. They provide health care which includes, check-ups, supplying medications, hair
cuts, and general health information. They also put on a vacation-bible-school for the children. (That's where Amy and I come in).
Our first stop was at a school somewhere near Chiang Rai. The area was beautiful! It's just as I envisioned Thailand looking like before coming.
Amy and I knew that we would be helping out with the children, but we were not quite sure what our jobs were. We followed our supervisor like lost and confused children until we found
the classroom. Then we met up with our team and discussed our plan of action. Amy and I would lead a few games and sing a few songs. It seemed easy enough... except we don't know thai and the children don't speak any english. So we attempted a few games but it didn't go so well. They were confused and we were confused. However, it got better as the trip progressed and we learned from our mistakes. We found a song (I've Got Peace Like a River) that had motions and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. After the games and such the nursing students did a hand washing and teeth brushing demonstration. They were really good with kids.
On our free time we made friends with a couple of junior high girls who spoke very good english and delighted in teaching us Thai. One of them even played guitar which I'm learning is not very common for thai women.
The next place we went to was a little white church. The kids were not shy here! After the games and singing, Amy and I walked around trying to figure out how we could be useful, until we noticed a posse of children following us. We turned around and asked them their names in Thai. After we'd exhausted our Thai vocabulary, we didn't know what to do. They just stood there looking at us expectantly. We walked, they followed. Well, if we can't speak, I might as well mime. So I started miming for them. I don't know if they laughed because they thought I was ridiculous or because they thought it was funny. I thought it was great fun!
Then we milked cows! There was a farm close by the church and a few Payap students asked if we could milk their cows. It was a strange experience. Afterward they offered us milk to drink. It was warm and sweet and I kept picturing the milking process...blllgh.
Every night and morning there was a worship service in the church, and one night our friend and supervisor Pee Meow was giving the message. She nervously scribbled on a note pad before the service and Amy and I played and sang songs to pass the time. She quickly looked up at us and asked if we would help her. Next thing we knew we were in front of the church singing "It Is Well With My Soul," before all the staff and students on the trip. This is usually the way things happen.
The worship services were interesting because very few of the students (and staff, we later found out) were Christians. But everyone clapped along, listened, and was respectful. I was curious to know what the sermons were about, but they were all in thai, so my curiosity converted into energy trying to hold my eyes open at 7am.
It's difficult picking out the highlights to discuss in this blog when there were so many little occurrences and subtleties that made this trip a unique experience. One important subtlety (not really so subtle though) were the showers. Amy and I were confused to say the least. We were told we could go take a shower and were pointed in the direction of the bath houses. We followed the directions only to find three stalls with a "squatty-potty," a bucket of water, a hose and nozzle, and many friendly (and sometimes frighteningly furry) arachnids. After a few awkward attempts to figure it out on our own, we resigned to asking Pee Meow. She smiled, taught us the ways of the Thais, and told us of her perplexing experiences with American showers and toilets. Hooray for friends!
Well, I'm sure I've left out some good stuff, so if you want to know more there is always email, facebook, or skype. Amy and I would love to hear from you!