Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fun filled day!

We are working with a village that is close to the playground that we have been working on all summer. I have mentioned it several times before, the village without water or bathrooms. One morning half of the team stayed home to prepare presentations for that village about clean water and proper child care. I went with a few of the other volunteers to help "move" some equipment. It ended up that we just watched the Thai people do their thing! It wasn't that we weren't willing to help, they were just so much better at doing it that we were in the way. :)
While they were busy moving stuff I was "SUPER" busy trying on some handmade Thai outfits :)

We had a great two hour Outreach with that village that afternoon. We taught them the importance of drinking clean water and how to make it clean! A woman that we work with ALOT on the obstacle course did a little demonstration with the village of a water purification method. Several years ago Bangkok had some serious flooding. Because of the floods they didn't have clean water at all. I'm not exactly sure on this detail, but some how they got a water purification program that helped them get their water clean so they could drink it! At first all the people in Bangkok were skeptical to drink it so in front a large group of people the Prince of Thailand took a big glass full of the water and drank it to prove to the people that they could drink it too!
This woman whose name in English means "Fat" put in a packet of the purifying stuff into some pretty nasty water. At first they brought her some water that looked fairly clean but she told them to go and find some water that was even dirtier so she could prove to them that this would work! It was amazing how clean it got the water!
Here she is starting the process!
It looks pretty nasty doesn't it!
The purifying stuff had to sit for 30 minuets so while that was purifying we taught them the importance of drinking clean water and some other topics. Here is part of our captivating crowd :)
Our two trusty Country Directors! Jordan (the one holding the pictures) was showing them pictures of parasites and stuff that is in the water if it isn't purified. His goal was to scare them into wanting to drink clean water! From the looks on their faces as he was talking I think he did the job :)
More of the crowd!
We gave them all bleach to clean their water along with some soap and brushes to clean out their oil containers that they use for their drinking water. I think I have mentioned it before, but right now they just use to buckets to store water for other needs besides drinking water. Once the smell goes away then they use the bucket for drinking water.
Kind of an awkward picture but it was the only one someone had of me "in action" at the outreach!
Look at how clear that water is!?
Safely drinking CLEAN water!
I am in love with this village! There is just something about them that I feel connected to! I am excited to start working with them a lot to help them improve their situation! We are going to help them build a pavilion so they have a place to go to school in that village, dig them a toilet, and help them get clean water!! Time is QUICKLY coming to a close here in Thailand so I am excited to be involved with them a lot before I leave!

Planting Rice!!

Last week we had quite the cultural experience here in Thailand! Since HELP has been here this summer they have been trying to get us set up with a village to plant rice. They were unsuccessful for a couple of months, but then the rain came!! We were asked last week to go to a village that is about 40 min from our house to spend the day planting rice! Since we had no idea what we were doing we thought we could just go there and get in the water and plant the rice! Thankfully the Thai people actually know what they are doing and gave us a few pointers to have a successful day planting rice with the local village people! We were told that we needed to buy some boots because a lot of fields here use chemicals in their fields to get rid of bugs and pests. One of the partners took us to a little stand that sold the orange beauties you will see in future pictures so we could plant rice properly! We had so much fun trying them on! Several of our other team members were in southern Thailand for several days so there were only 7 of us for most of last week, which made it easy to only try to find 7 pairs of boots instead of 12. While we were there another volunteer and I purchased authentic Thai hats so we could be fully protected from bugs and the sun while we were there! It was surprisingly a challenging experience and hard work! We had so much fun together that day! (at least I did :) I love the people I am volunteering here with and I love the people that we are working with here in Thailand! It was a memorable cultural experience day!  
The view we had all day! For years I had only seen these kind of views in pictures, but was finally able to experience beauty like this in person! It was amazing.
Not pictured is how fast the Thai people were planting! They finished SEVERAL little fields while we only planted 2 while we were there! They are pros at what they do here!

 At one point we looked over and they had a random monkey tied up to a tree! They got it from a guy in Burma and keep it as their pet. He was so cute!
Working hard planting rice!


As you can tell from how we were standing it got pretty tiring on the back and glute muscles :)

We look like pros don't we! :)


I'm not really sure what I am doing in this picture. I am either trying not to fall or I am trying to scare someone else :)

I am in love with the hat that I bought to plant rice in! It really did keep me so cooled off  and I didn't get a wicked sunburn that day! It was one of the best investments I have made here in Thailand!

Look at those boots! Stylish huh!?

Getting ready to do our kick line! 
Success!! This is one of my favorite pictures from that day! I just love these guys!

Other side!!


After we finished we rushed home, took MUCH needed showers grabbed a bite to eat then RUSHED back to teach and out reach to the people of that same village we planted rice with! This little guy was sooooo cute and kept us entertained while we were waiting for the villagers to come and here us teach about Malaria, Dengue Fever and empowerment topics!
It was such a great and tiring day! I slept in until 10:30 that next day! I NEVER sleep in, so I must have been REALLY tired!

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I have had so many experiences since I have been here that have made me realized just how blessed I am in. I have been left many times feeling so grateful for the life that I have been blessed with. I am so grateful for so many little things now after experiencing so many different things here and seeing so many people with so little. This post may be more for myself, but I wanted to make a list of some of the things that I have realized I am grateful for after being here. These are in no particular order, just what comes to my head at the moment! :)

1- I am grateful that I have the ability to travel. So many people that I have met here have never left their little village they live in and never will have the ability or opportunity.
2-I am grateful for flushing toilets in the states :) Most of the toilets here are squatters or toilets that you have to pour buckets of water down to flush. I will never take that simple thing for granted again!
3-I am grateful to be from America!! I have always loved the USA but after being here I LOVE the USA! I am so grateful for the rights and privileges and freedoms that I am blessed with from living there.
4-I am grateful for running water and clean water in the states. The water here in Thailand is not clean pretty much everywhere you go. Even in small villages they have water bottles that they use for drinking water. You may have read in previous posts about a village that doesn't even have clean running water. I am grateful that I can turn a faucet and I am able to get clean running water. There has only been one time in my life where I had to worry about the cleanliness of the water I was drinking. In one of my areas on my mission for a day or so we had to boil water before we used it because there was a fear that something may have contaminated the water, but that was only temporary. People have to think about that every day here.
5-I am grateful for air conditioning!! Most places are cooled down by fans :)
6-I am grateful for fans!! I am grateful that there is something that helps us stay cool here! (At least when we are in doors!)
7-I am grateful for a washer AND dryer! We are fortunate enough to have a little washer that we put our clothes in and it spins it around for 15 min, then we put our clothes in a spinner which spins out all the water then we hang them up to dry!
8-I am grateful for technology! I am grateful that even though I am so far from home I am still able to stay in touch with my family and friends! That has been such an amazing blessing!
9-I am grateful for my car! Our forms of transportation are quite different and unique here :) I am grateful that in the states I am able to just hop in my car and drive wherever I want to.
10-I am grateful that I was able to serve a mission that prepared me for being away from home for an extended period of time!
11-I am grateful for cameras! I am grateful for the ability to be able to capture moments that are special and amazing!
12-I am grateful for the ability to run! I have missed the ability to just get up early in the morning and going out for a run! One of our rules here while with HELP is to always have a buddy so we are safe! I am SO grateful for this rule because I do want to be safe! Luckily I have made some friends here that like to run as well with me!
13-I am grateful for good friends that I have made here! Before I left to Thailand my dad gave me a blessing that said I would meet people and make friends that I would have for a lifetime among the other volunteers that I am with and the people I am serving here in Thailand! I know that has already happened! I am so grateful for good friends that help me get through hard things about adjusting to a foreign country and all that that entails!
14-I am SOOOOO grateful for my amazing family!! I have had some sweet experiences with them since I have been here. The first night that I was here in Thailand was really hard for me. Luckily I was so blessed to have an app on my phone that was able to let me text my family even though we were on the other side of the world from each other At the time my mom and dad were in Martin's Cove so they were not able to text me back, but luckily my twin sister, my older brothers and my brother's girlfriend were all up and texting me to help me get through that night! I feel silly now for how much I struggled that night, but I am grateful for the thoughts and feelings that each of them shared with me that night. Since I have been here my little sister entered started her mission in the Washington DC South Mission. That has been an amazing blessing for me to talk to her before she left and to read her e-mails since she has been gone. She is one of the most amazing people in my life and I am so grateful for her! I could go on an on with all they have done for me since I have been here! I am a lucky lady to have them in my life!!
15-I am grateful that I like the food here! When I first got to Thailand there were so many weird smells and some weird food that we tried and I had the fear that I would have to eat food like that the whole two months I was here. I was so afraid that I would just be hungry all the time and I would hate everything here. Luckily either we have had better food then we did the first night or I have gotten use to the food here, but I actually am loving the food! At first I thought I would loose so much weight here because of the food and the humidity, but I think it has been exactly opposite. :) But at least I like the food now!
16-I am grateful for the education that I have been able to obtain all the way from elementary school to college graduation! Most people here in the surrounding villages don't go past the 6th grade if they are lucky. A huge percentage of people here are also illiterate. I am so blessed to be educated! I am blessed that if I decided to go for more education that I can do that as well!
17-I am grateful for good teachers during my school years. Things are just different here I have realized when it comes to teachers. Often times when we have gone in to classrooms to teach English there isn't a teacher in the room and the kids are just doing their own thing. Then often times when we leave the classroom the teacher is still not there and the kids are left to do their own thing. I think every kid would dream of that happening, but honestly I am grateful for the order and structure that comes from having a teacher in the room with students at all times.
18-I am grateful for TONS of fresh fruit here in Thailand! I am so grateful for that small little thing here :)
19-I am grateful that we have the internet here and that it works fairly well! I was afraid that being in a third world country the internet access would be very limited! That has not been the case luckily! Most little restaurants in our little town have free Wi-Fi, and we have Wi-Fi here at our guesthouse! It doesn't always work ideally, but it works! This morning I was able to stream the Pioneer Day Concert live! I am able to do so much with that!
20-I am grateful for bug spray!! Since we are in a wet climate there are bugs here, including mosquitos! THANK GOODNESS for bug spray!! Even though I still have gotten my fare share of bites I am sure it would be much worse if I didn't have bug spray!
21- I am grateful that we are here during the rainy season. That may sound kind of weird, but with all the rain comes more clouds, which includes a little cooler temperatures! It is still really hot, BUT I am sure it could be much worse if there wasn't so many clouds!

I am going to stop here with this post but keep updating the things I am grateful for as they come to me during my remaining time here!


Today was another adventure filled day in Thailand! I am pretty sure every single day is to be honest. Every day we are doing something that I have never done before or trying find solutions to problems that I have never thought of before. Today was another great example of that!

We started with a meeting with one of our main Partners discussing the needs of people or villages around us. Partners are the native people that we work with for our projects here in Thailand!

After that we were back to the Obstacle Course to work on some projects that need finished. I wasn't there very long at the beginning of the morning. I went to a village that is close to the Obstacle Course with two of the other volunteers I am here with. Several posts ago I posted about us helping carry water up this steep hill for this same village. Since then we have been discussing and have been trying to figure out how we can help them with their water situation. Currently they go up and down this hill 3 to 4 times a day. The last time we were there I couldn't believe that they actually made that journey! It was a steep hill! I couldn't believe that they had to walk up and down that hill with their water buckets that were old oil containers. We went back today with the hopes of solving all their problems and bringing them happiness! (or at least that was the goal!) I left feeling sad and I still feel sad about the whole situation.

We had a 15 min walk from the closest paved road to the village. When I thought of Thailand and third world villages this kind of village is what I pictured. It is by far the poorest village that I have been to since I have been here. It is hard for me to imagine that they live life that every single day. I was so excited about going there for some reason! I just felt like I could solve all their issues and problems! Earlier in the week we had been discussing putting up a pulley system for them to be able to pull their buckets of water up the steep hill that way instead of carrying it. The problem was that it would be a HUGE pulley and there are not any parts here in Thailand to make it. We are having a visitor come from HELP headquarters this weekend so we were thinking that she could bring the parts. When our country directors talked to her she brought up the good point that if they were to get parts from America and the pulley system broke down there would be no where for these people who are already poor to buy another part to fix it. So that idea isn't going to work. I had the idea to see if we could just fix the path that they walk up and down every day. I was thinking we could maybe add switchbacks into the hill so the climb wasn't so steep, or add some sort of step into the hill to make it easier to go up and down.

We went to the hut of the founder of the village and visited with him. He wasn't feeling the best so he was hesitant to have us come and talk to him, but there is a younger guy who has been the translator between us and him when we come, he was able to speak with us. The founder of the village speaks Laotian (I think that is how you spell it, I could be totally off) So one of our country directors will speak in Thai to the younger guy and then the younger guy will speak Laotian to the older guy. Make sense?  We went there wanting to know how we could help with their water problems. It was one of the saddest meetings truthfully. Nothing was really accomplished from the meeting, and we are still not sure what to do to help them. The only solution that they can see for us to help them with is to give them money so they can buy fuel to put in a water pump that they have. That does seem like an excellent solution that would help them out for sure, but for only a couple of months or so. The organization that I am here in Thailand with is focused on creating sustainable projects and trying to find sustainable solutions. So if we were to give them money that would only solve the problem of their water for a couple of months then they would be right back to where they are right now. They would still have to walk up and down a steep hill using oil containers that are dirty that they would still not have clean water at the source of their water. Another sad thing about the oil containers is that they get them empty but still with some remnants of oil in them. The young man said that they use them like for about a month for water needs besides drinking. Usually after a month the smell of the oil goes away and then that is when they start to use the water in them for drinking. Can you believe that? It broke my heart when he said that. It was heart breaking to me to see the face of the young man that we were talking. I felt like he seemed hopeless and so sad about the situation that they are in. I also think he was upset that we wouldn't just give them money. It was hard situation to be in.

The young guy took us to be paths that they walk up and down so we could look at them to see if there was anything we could do to help them. The path that we took down is owned by someone else besides the village so there really isn't much that we can do to fix that, luckily it wasn't very steep it just had a lot of ruts rom cars getting stuck and the rain carving out gaps. He took us to where they get their drinking water and where they bathe. They have two different areas set aside for bathing and drinking water, but the source for both of them are the same. Neither of the barrels of water looked like they were very clean, and the area surrounding them was not very clean either. It was hard to understand for our country directors where the water comes from. He was saying that the young guy kept saying a few different things and nothing was really consistent, so he is not exactly sure what is really going on, but from his understanding the buckets are being filled by rain water and there is another small source that feeds into somewhere else. Luckily they are living in Thailand and right now it is the rainy season. Sadly what happens if this country is in a drought? What about the other months where it doesn't rain as much? Then what do they do? They don't really have another option right now for that. The  young guy said there was another source that is about 3 kilometers away, but it owned by someone else who sometimes say that they can use the water, but sometimes they say that they can't either, so that isn't a guarantee.

After our meeting was over we walked back to the obstacle course that we had been working on earlier that day and to meet up with the other volunteers that were there. As we were walking one of the girls that I was with made a comment that has stuck with me since then. She said something along the lines that we live in a day n age where there are great medical strides being made, and disease being cured and technology being advanced and we can't figure out a way to get this village water. I know that there is a solution to this issue we just need to figure out what it is!

That night I was brushing my teeth and turned on my faucet and felt so grateful that I even though I am living in not the most ideal living situation, at least in United States Standards, I have running water, I have a bed, I have a shower and a toilet, I have water right at my dispense. I can run across the street and buy a water bottle from 7-11, or we have a water jug at our house I can get water as well. I felt grateful and guilty. I was grateful how I have never had to worry about where my water will come from. I have never had to walk a long distance to get water. I have never had to worry if my water was clean. Then I felt sad that these people worry about these things every single day. Every single day those concerns go through their heads. It is amazing that physically we are all very similar around the world, but we are yet still so different in so many ways.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bringing color to the Obstacle Course!!!

We had quite the day at the obstacle course in Pa Daeng Village working on the obstacle course!! A lot of the hard physical labor has been done there so today was a lot of painting! It was such a fun happy day! I am a fan of today!
Here are some pictures of the projects that we worked on!
Last week these boards were painted yellow and will be put up on the main structure that has been built!
So here is what they looked like when we got to the village this morning! Very nice huh!?

Then the fun began when we made them more "educational".  At the time this seemed like a good idea... we put masking tape over a majority of the board (as you can clearly see from the picture!)  Then I carved the alphabet on the tape with a knife.  Then they were painted pink! (You can also see that from the pictures :)
What is not pictured is the final product... That yellow paint is some intense stuff! They were painted last Thursday and when we were peeling off the tape on one of the boards we realized that the paint was not dry! Crazy huh!? Most of the boards look really nice, it is just one that needs some touching up now :)


These sweet lady is our "Partner" with this project and is there almost the whole time we are there working on the obstacle course! If you asked me what her name was I could tell you it, but there is no way that I could type it. Her Thai name means "Fat" though, crazy huh? I started painting the pink on the boards then she sat down next to me and I had the thought that I should let her paint and she loved it! She did a great job!
A few members of our team found all these tires for a FREE a couple of weeks ago! They have now become the steps for one side of the main stricture! That was QUITE the process getting those together! The bottom tire has cement filling it then they are filled with dirt so they don't move topped off with cement on the top! A couple of our team also bolted them together and that was ALSO quite the process! Those tires are not going anywhere! (I hope at least :)
This is the final product of the tires!! They look so good huh!? I painted the purple stack! It looks so bright and fun!!I think the kids will love it!
We are trying to think of a railing or something so that it is safer to get up.
Another project! The tire pyramid! A few of the girls working so hard on making it beautiful!!

The final product!! They look so beautiful don't they! Those girls did a great job!! We put cement on the base and the bottom of the bottom tires to make sure they stay secure. We are going to put cement inside all of them so they don't collect water and we have an issue of Dengue Fever! That would not be good!


I think these last two pictures could be my favorite project we worked on while we were there today! This tunnel was painted green this morning and then I put some life on the tunnel with one of our country directors and another girl that is a volunteer here! I think it turned out soo fun!! We often have visitors from the village coming over and looking at what we have completed that day. Today when they came over they kept commenting on how beautiful they thought this tunnel was! It was so much fun to paint! 

This past weekend several of the volunteers that have been here with us went home at the end of their program. I was so worried that it was going to be so weird without them here with us! I made some WONDERFUL friends with the people that were here last wave and I was so sad to have them leave! I was worried  would feel so alone and it would be so hard, but it has been complete opposite! I know those people were suppose to be in my life during the first wave to help me transition into the whole Thailand experience, and they did that for sure!! I couldn't have made it through the first month without them! I feel like this second month without them will be a growing experience in a good way! I have been going to bed the past few days feeling like this next month is going to be GREAT!  I know that I still have a purpose to be here and I know that there is still more for me to accomplish so I am so excited to keep working with the people here and to fulfill what I was sent here to do!
Here is to a month filled with adventure and learning experiences!!