Friday, June 28, 2013

Digging holes and building Character :)

Today was another long day in the country of Thailand. It was a long but great day! We spent our whole day at a village and started construction on an Obstacle course that we are building for this kids of this village! It was such a productive and happy day there! We started the day doing some business trainings with the women in the village!
The women is this village have been weaving coconut and sugar cane together in strips for awhile and only make about 5 baht (in Thai money) for their work. To give you an idea of how bad that is, 30 baht equals 1 American dollar. So they only get a few cents for their products which I know could sell for way more then that! We spent a while with them talking and trying to help them brainstorm ideas of different products that they could make and places that they could sell. I wouldn't say that it was the most successful meeting ever, but we now know exactly where they stand and where they want help and where we could help them. We are going to go back next week to talk to them about different ideas and hopefully we can help them!
After our little meeting they showed us the rick of the trade!


 
 
I love these girls that I am with in this picture! They have already become dear friends and I couldn't handle all these different experiences with out them! :)
 
 
The sweet village people cooked up lunch and then we all got to work at digging holes for an obstacle course for their kids! Now that was an experience!! We started around noon and were there until 7 that night! By the end of the day we were all hungry, tired, but happy with the work that we were able to accomplish today! Here are some fun pictures from our day!
 
 





 
 
 
You see those holes in the pictures? We all dug those by hand and did them with the most random tools ever! We didn't have proper shovels, so we pretty much just used these poky things and made holes that were 80 cm deep with poky things! It was quite the experience!! The people in the village were sooo happy though! It was so fun to see how excited they were that they were going to get  playground for their children! At times we had a huge audience watching us! Several people would come up to us and tell us that American women are so tough! They said the girls in Thailand don't like to get dirty and work hard, so it was fun to see American girls working so hard! I'm so grateful that we were able to make them smile that day!
We had this beautiful view on our drive home that night :)
 



Monday, June 24, 2013

You never know what to expect on Mondays....

Good evening from Thailand! Surprisingly today was a "cooler" day for Thailand. Or I am just getting use to the heat because I was able to wear pants! That is something that I have not done since getting here. Last week a guy told me that Thailand has two seasons "hot and VERY hot." That was comforting! So I guess today was the "hot" day. It was cloudy and cool, which actually boost my mood. In the states I felt like the sun and lack of clouds brightened my mood, but the sun and lack of clouds here means CRAZY heat with CRAZY humidity!

Today was a good day! Every Monday we teach English to several schools in the surrounding areas and village. This is something that I have learned to really enjoy! I am teaching with another volunteer here and I really enjoy teaching with him! We teach at two different schools close to our home! I can tell you that the first school is called "Lion" but if you were to ask me the second school I would not be able to answer you :) People have told me a trillion times I feel like, but there is just something about Thai that makes it hard for me to understand :) We teach 4th, 5th, and 6th grade here in these two different schools!

Every Monday morning we meet one of the teachers at the local 7-11 and she drives us to the first school where we spend the morning until lunch. Then we either eat lunch at that school or they take us to the next school and we eat there. I feel like it is so nice that they do this for us! Today we taught for three hours at the first school and then were driven to the next and eat lunch there! At first I wasn't a huge fan of the food, but now I can't seem to get enough :S Back to the school though... Today we did some fun activities with the students that I happened to get some videos of! Here are a few for you to enjoy!

video
 
video

There were some highs of the day that were fun to be a part of, but there were also some moments that were not my most favorite thing in the whole world :) Today we were teaching a class and they were just plain crazy! I felt like I was giving the stink eye to two particular students left and right and moving desks all over the place just trying to create some order to it all! But it just didn't seem to be helping! At one point chaos erupted! Two different kids on the other side of the room started to have issues with each other. One little kid grabbed a girls notebook and booked it out of the classroom! So I went after to see where he was going and to try to stop him, before I was too far out of the room he ran in the back door of the classroom and was waving the notebook in this girls face and she came and just shoved him right into the cement wall head first! It was crazy!! I quickly looked down at him and for some reason he had some red string in-between his fingers, so at that moment it looked like blood and I started to panic! The girl came up behind him looking like she still wanted to fight so I told her to sit back down and I tried to help this guy. Since he was a young guy he tried to be tough and stood up and it seemed like all he wanted to do was kill that little girl! I was sooo scared! I don't understand Thai at all, but I don't think anyone had to understand the language to guess what those two were saying to each other! And I'm sure it wasn't "I am so glad we are best friends! Let's meet up after school today for some ice cream!" I'm sure it was death threats and cursing! The guy kept slamming his fists into his hand looking like he wanted to kill the girl, and if looks could kill that little boy would have been dead from her looks! It was SCARY!! The scariest thing was that we had just finished teaching so we were suppose to be going onto our next classroom and the teacher wasn't anywhere around! I had no idea if it was a safe idea to be leaving those two in the same room together! But we had to go on to the next class, so we had to go! We quickly thought of doing a quick game of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to review body parts and hopefully make someone smile. Luckily when that was over and we had all looked like fools going as fast as we could through it those two didn't seem like they wanted to kill each other quite as much.
We went to our next classroom and quickly told the nearest adult we could find about what happened. she was the one who enforced the rules! It was so interesting the punishment they do here! They made the two of them go outside and clean together to talk about and resolve their issues! How cool is that!? I'm not sure whatever happened to those two, but I hope nothing did!
It was an interesting day to say the least!!

After we got home we all just worked on different projects that we have going on. I am helping one girl work on getting together an English Curriculum Booklet with tons of different things to leave with the teachers there once we leave. I am excited to be helping her with it! I love doing stuff like that!

Tomorrow we just have one big work day a head of us! We will just be here at our place working all day on different trainings that we will be doing and preparing. On Wednesday I am helping train women in a village on business topics, so that should be interesting! I am excited to be finally getting some things underway and see some progress made!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday in Thaton

Today didn't feel like Sunday to me at all! It has been the first time in FOREVER that I haven't had the chance to go to Church. We live in the hills of Thailand and the nearest church to us is 3 hours away. Sad day!! Next weekend we are going to Bangkok for a few days and I look forward to going to church there! I think I plan on just making the trek to church though the rest of the time I am here, I need those blessings! :)

A few of my friends here and I tried to make it more Sundayish which was a blessing! We also decided to take a stroll up this hill that is filled with Buddist Temples. There are about 11 up a road that is maybe a couple of miles long. It is a super steep hill so we were getting a pretty good workout! Here are some pictures of us on our trek up the hill!


Our first view at the first Temple. This is overlooking our city Thaton.
 



I'm not sure if the locals would have appreciated our picture here :)
 

 
 
Interesting Temples huh?
 
 
 
 
 
These guys were so cute!
 


Just because it was a cool picture!
 



We stumbled upon this little community, we weren't so sure we were suppose to be here, but it was really cool! 


This was our final destination! The top picture on my blog is this Temple during the day. It was beautiful!


The view from the top!
 



One thing that breaks my heart here is there are dogs EVERYWHERE! Growing up with several dogs I feel like I want to go up and pet them, but we have been told to not touch the dogs here because they carry lots of diseases. It breaks my heart to also see how they are treated here. One of my first experiences here I saw a woman kick a dog in the head. I was not a fan of that experience.
 



Saturday, June 22, 2013

Weekends in Thaton

I have been so grateful for a break and a little rest and recharge this weekend! Our program goes from Sunday night to Friday night so we have a couple of days free to ourselves. During this time we can travel around the country and pretty much do what we want to do as long as we have a buddy with us. Since this was such a crazy week we all decided just relax and chill for the weekend. It was so nice to just relax! I slept in till 9 and then just relaxed around our guest house. Close our guest house there is a Thai massage place that has become our team's favorite place! Since we all worked so hard this week we were all so tired and sore! Several of us took the opportunity to get an authentic Thai massage! I was nervous at first because the only massage that I have ever had was after a half marathon I ran in 2008. I had pulled my hamstring muscles and was trying to get them worked out. I was so ticklish and I was reacting and laughing so much that the women working on me told me I was done after about 5 min. So in my mind yesterday I was envisioning having a repeat of that experience. Luckily it was nothing like that! Instead it was a glorious and super relaxing experience! I felt like it was an opportunity to escape the stresses of this experience and just enjoy a peaceful moment! Thank goodness for that!

Before I left to Thailand my dad gave me a blessing that I have found a lot of comfort from since I have been here. One of the parts that has stood out to me while I have been here is a part about friends I would make here. He blessed me that I would find friends and make friendships that would last for a lifetime among the volunteers I am here with and with the people I am serving. I have found that to be a true statement. I am so grateful for the wonderful friends that I have made here so far. They have been my lifesaver and such a blessing! Thank goodness for friends! It has been fun to explore this place and make fun memories with them!

A few of us visited a local little restaurant last night for dinner called Jack's.

 
It was a fun little place! They had American music playing around in the background and good food to eat! It was a fun little place to spend our Saturday night!

Villages, Sunburns and dancing

Today was a LONG LONG LONG day! One of my friends here and I got up early this morning to go walking and walked through the early morning market right next to our street! It was amazing how lively the little town Thaton was at 6 in the morning! One thing that is really interesting about living in Thailand is the rich religious traditions that are found here! Thailand is around 95% Buddhist and there are signs of that every where! Pretty much every where you go you can see one of their temples. They can be quite an amazing sight! Just right by where we live I am sure there is close to 20 of them! Around every Temple there are monks that live there. I really don't know much about this religion but I have learned a few things about it since being here. For starters, this morning we were able to see young and old Monks. Every morning they go out to the streets and beg for their food for the day. Whatever they collect in their bowls that morning is what they have to eat all day. So it was interesting to see that in action this morning.

After out walk we started one of the longest days that we have had since I have been here! Our mission... visit village and do good!! I don't know any of the names of the village because they are all in Thai and that is a hard language for me to understand! But the first village that we went to today was a village that we are building an obstacle course at! I guess part of our team went over to figure out the needs of this village a few weeks ago. When they stopped by they saw all these pictures that the children of this village had drawn of an obstacle course that they dreamed of having one day! They currently do not have anything to play on or to really anything to get energy out. So that has become one of your projects!! We are trying to raise money to get supplies for it so If you feel like you would like to, or know any one who would like to donate to this cause then you can go here to do that!( http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/obstacle-course-for-northern-thailand-village)

We are also going to be doing some business training meetings with the women there in that village! They have been making some bamboo projects like bags and such to try to make money. Sadly they haven't been very successful so we are going back there on Wednesday to do some trainings with them and to learn how to make some of their products to help them. We are also going to help them market their products better so they can reach a wider audience. I have been asked to help with some business training, so I am going to be working with two other girls in that. I am really excited about that project! It is fun to be apart of something that will empower them and help them to gain more skills and increase their profit!

This is a picture of a sample of what they are making!



One of our main contacts for that project is a local women from that village. She is one of the most amazing women I have ever met! She has a heart of gold and does so many humanitarian projects just because she feels like it is the right thing to do! She lives in the village that we are doing the obstacle course in and where we are going to do the business meetings. After we were done with all of our projects in her village for the day she wanted to take us to a village that is near by that has a lot of needs.

I guess years ago this village was up in the mountains, but they started growing lots of drugs up there and the government found out and moved the entire village down the mountain. Kind of crazy huh? Where they are now they have no bathrooms, no running water, no school for the children, and most of the people are illiterate. They also have to walk down this steep hill three times a day to get water. It was a humbling thing to walk into that village yesterday.



 


We met with the founder of that village with the women from the other village. That woman from the other village has made it her personal mission to help this tribe. Her dream is the start a school for the children so they can learn and progress someday in life! She would also like to have a bathroom built there so the people can learn how to use it. Right now they just go anywhere and that has lead to a lot of sickness. So we talked to the founder and discussed some options and ways that we can help out.
After a successful meeting with them one of our country directors asked if we could help them gather their water before we left. They gladly agreed :) So we went around to all of the huts and gathered their water jugs that were just old oil can containers and started our trek down this steep hill! At first I thought this would be a piece of cake, but it was anything but that! It was one of the steepest hill I have climbed down! It was also really slippery! I couldn't believe that they had to make that trek three times a day just to get water! It was so humbling! One of the guys from the village is about my age and he was showing us where to go to get the water. It was amazing to see him just fly down that hill. He obviously has had a lot of practice! My heart was pumping so fast going up and down that hill! I think the combination of the humidity here being hard to breath in and how steep the hill was it was quite the workout! You could tell from the looks of the people who were there how grateful they were for our help. It was such a good feeling to be able to help them out in some small way before we left!


 
 



We had to walk quite a distance to get to this village so after filling up their water jugs we had to walk back to our truck, which was about 15 min from where we were. That continued to add to the cardiovascular workout that we were getting! :) The whole time we were walking I was feeling so grateful for the life that I have been blessed with. I am so grateful that I was born where I was born and have been blessed with the things that I have been blessed with. I will hopefully no longer take bathrooms for granted! And will be so grateful that I have easy access to water!

By this point we were already worn out but still had a ton of stuff left to do!

There is a store about 30 min from our house that is called Lotus and Tesco, it is just like Wal-Mart in the States. That is always a fun little stop because it feels like we are closer to home :) We stopped there for a little lunch break there at the local KFC :) It was amazing how good it tasted! I never drink pop, but at that time pop was all that I wanted because it felt American :)

After a recharge there we headed off to our last and most important stop of the day! Remember that I mentioned we helped build a school the other day?

 
 
 
When we were there last we made that assembly line to help take buckets pull of cement down to all of those footings (I think that is what they are called). It was HARD work! We were all feeling crazy sore the next day after this! But it was so fun to see how grateful the people were in that village and for the help that we gave them. I can't even imagine how long it would have taken them to do all that we did! We were there about 6 hours working and there was still more to do!

So yesterday the fun continued! This time we only worked for about 3 hours and we got a lot more done! This is the kind of work that I pictured myself doing while in Thailand, so it was fun to get to work and get dirty! We all got super dirty too!

After we finished laying some more cement we all got changed and then the kids did a traditional little dance for us, and me and one of my good friends here taught some classes! She taught the importance of washing our hands and I taught them about Oral Hygiene. Both of our country directors served their missions here so they speak fluent Thai and were our translators! It was so fun even though they couldn't understand me! It was so cute!

(This was a few of us before we went to change after we worked on cement for hours)


(One of the cute kids at the village!)



 

The group of kids we taught the classes to!!


This little girl loves her toothbrush!!


It was a long and exhausting day, but it was a good day too! I loved that we spent the whole day in the service of other people!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

They do things a little different here...

Today wasn't quite as intense as things were yesterday, thank goodness! My body sure has been tired today though from our hard work yesterday! I feel like most of us were feeling the effects of the sun and the hard work that we were in for hours yesterday. Being sore is one of my favorite things in the world, so It has been a good sore day :) I think I love it because it means that I know I worked hard!
The only thing I am not a fan of are the mysterious bug bites I now have from yesterday! Thank goodness I have all my shots! :)
Every Thursday part of our team goes and works on some other projects while other people go to schools and teach English again. Every Monday we are going to be teaching English as well! I had the opportunity to go to a school today that was quite different from any school I have ever been. We drove our trusty stead as a team to a certain place today and then were picked up by a teacher from one of the schools who really likes to drive fast :) Gratefully we made it safely to our final destination!
One thing that I noticed that is different in Thailand are the schools and the school systems. Some schools here are given money from the government, and others are not. The school that I will be teaching at every Monday is funded by the government, so it is a nicer school for this area. You could tell that there was order to the school and the way that things were run. Today the school that we went to was a different story. Right from when we walked on to the school ground you could see that things were different. There just didn't seem to be much order to what was going on and what the students were doing. The school grounds themselves were not the cleanest thing I have ever seen, as well as the classrooms. It made me so grateful for the schools that I was able to go to while I was growing up and where I have been able to teach for the last two years. I am grateful for the clean environment that we keep in our schools in America.
We were able to teach in a few different classrooms while we were there. I was with two other volunteers that I am here with and so we team taught. The school that we were at today really doesn't know any English, but one of the volunteers that I was with speaks Thai because he served his mission here! So that was helpful! It is cute here, whenever we come into a classroom to start teaching the students always stand up and say "Good Morning Teacher". For some kids this is the only English that they know, but they most likely don't know what it means :) It is so cute! I can hear it in my mind right now!
So we were greeted this way this morning in all of your classes and had an interesting time trying to help them learn a little English! It is also so interesting that in Thailand education is not really that important, at least in the area that we are at right now. We were teaching in 1st grade and there was a kid who was probably a 14 year old in the classroom. You will notice as you move up in the classrooms that the classes start to get smaller and smaller. By the 6th grade the classes are pretty small. It is really unlikely to meet someone who has an education above the 6th grade. I hear that it is this way because most kids in this area just go and work in the fields when they grow up so there isn't a drive to go on any farther, because higher education isn't used in this area.
We had just been starting our third class for the day when all of the sudden we hear a guy in the ally way outside of the window that we were in spray something, which turned out to be bug spray. We didn't think much of it because we were inside. But a few minutes later a women came to our door and told us that we needed to get out because the bug guy was coming into the school and was going to spray now! So we all rushed out the room and into the play ground area where the rest of the school was going to be for the next 2 hours. I couldn't believe it! During a school day!? When the kids were there!? Couldn't they do it when we were all gone!? One of the school officials that took us to another school to meet up with some other volunteers at another school told us that they had no idea that the guy was coming. The people who spray bugs are just on their own schedule and come when they want. I just think that is crazy!! They closed the windows and doors for an hour so they could really kill all the bugs in there, and then after that they were going to wait another hour to get the rooms aired out before the kids could go back into the rooms. So that cut our teaching short for the day!


We didn't stay around for too long sine there wasn't really anything else for us to do. The Principal took us to meet up with some other volunteers at another school close by that was way nice! This school is government funded so you could tell that they had some nicer things to it. They fed us lunch, which we were so grateful for! At the other school they were going to feed us some chicken parts that seemed very questionable! So we sat with the other volunteers that we were with and had a nice little lunch whole the Thai kids surrounded us! They LOVE Americans! At first a few little kids came up to us and wanted our autograph. After it caught on what we were doing we got a whole swarm of kids! It was so cute! We were famous to them!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Laying foundations

Today was a long, long, hot but wonderful day. A few of the other volunteers that I am with and I have been getting up early to exercise before we hit the road for the day. Yesterday we went running, and I have to tell you that running in this humidity was HARD!! I thought it would be so different since the elevation wasn't very high, but I was sadly mistaken. It was hard! But at least we were moving right!?
Well this morning we decided to go on a little hike close to our house and check out this road that has a ton of Temples on it! It was a steep climb, but worth it. It is so interesting to see the people here in Thailand. They live such a slower life then we do in the states. And it is such a different culture then ours in so many ways, but it is very interesting! Since we were going by so many Temples we saw a lot of monks around the Temples, which was so interesting! I guess every morning they go out with offering bowls and beg for their food. Whatever they get in their bowls for that day is what they eat that day. Here are some pictures from our morning adventure!
 
 
 




There are Temples like this ALL over the place here! Seriously you can't go more then 2 minuets with out seeing at least one. It is quite interesting!

After our morning adventure we were able to participate in an amazing adventure! We all loaded back into our trusty steed and headed to a village that is about and hour from where we live. A couple of weeks ago the people who have been here for a month spent a whole day digging holes for the beginning process of a school that was to be built there. We came today for another stage in the building process. We helped lay the foundation for the school! As a team we created this long assembly line and spent hours passing buckets up and down, full and empty to poor concrete into these footings (I just learned that word from my brother who saw this picture on Facebook). This is the kind of stuff that I envisioned myself doing while in Thailand so it was so fun to be a part of this! We were working in a village that was so poor, but they were so happy. No matter what social class children live in they still play the same way that children play in the states. It was so cool to be there and to see the way that they live. The people in the village surrounded us and we worked. I'm sure they thought it was so interesting to see so many foreign people in their village working! They kept providing us with water breaks and would give us water, coke or sprit, which was so glorious! They were so kind!
Can I just tell you that I really envision myself being crazy sore tomorrow from that adventure, which I am excited about actually! But the end my arms and back were killing me! They were so tired from passing really buckets of concrete down to people and picking up empty buckets to hand up to people to fill up again. Along with the soreness I was able to get quite the sunburn today. :)






We were all so grouse and so dirty after this experience. I don't think I have been that sweaty before. I think it has to be the intense heat and humidity here that make it that way. But since we were all feeling that way we headed to a small little pond and some people took a dip in the water to kind of wash off before we headed to one of the scariest things I have done in a long time!

There is a temple that is built into a cave here. It is pretty beautiful on the outside.




It was a pretty neat Temple from the outside. But I tell you what going through that cave in the inside was one of the sacriest things that I think many of us have done in a long time! Imagine a cave full of bats and bat pool and climbing over rocks and jagged things and hearing those bats flying all around you and then hearing someone say that they say a snake and dead bat in a small little crevice. Sounding pretty horrible huh? Several of us turned around when they announced that they saw a snake. It was pretty intense! Let's just say that I was really grateful when we were all back in our truck driving home to eat dinner :) I don't have any plans to go caving anytime soon now!

Don't try this at home!

Today was a prep day for our team. There are a ton of different projects that we are working on and we took the morning to get things done. Me and another girl worked on making posters for a class that we were going to be teaching to staff members at a local nursing home. I was asked to give a short presentation on oral health care, which I thought was exciting since my dad is a dentist! Sadly that project didn't go through and that had to be postponed for another time. I guess that is a common occurrence here in Thailand, which has made projects and plans interesting to work on.
After a morning of preparation we took a break for lunch. There is a cute little Thai restaurant right next to were we live that most of the team went to eat. It was so quaint and the food was so good! (I am starting to really enjoy several different Thai dishes here!) If you would have asked me the first couple of days that I was here I would have told you that I hate Thai food! But it is starting to grow on me! One of my favorite dishes I have found here it Pad Thai! Seriously it is so good! Most of us got that for lunch today!
After lunch as a team (There are 18 of us here right now) we all piled into our team truck that probably only safely fits a few people and headed out on an adventure! Our destination was a waterfall that is about 30 min from where we live. We drove through small little villages and up a beautiful mountain scenery to the jungle! It was so beautiful! Thailand is seriously the greenest place I have ever seen!
After our adventurous drive we finally made it to this beautiful waterfall! We had to do some walking to it, but it was worth it and beautiful! As a team we played in the water and did some get to know you games. I have to admit that I was slightly afraid of being in the water here because it is not the clearest water I have ever seen. Several of us kept jumping thinking that something had grabbed our legs while we were in the water! I was grateful to get out of there when we did :)
Another girl that I am with this summer and I keep talking that we keep overcoming so many fears during our trip! At one point we all climbed onto this log to take a picture and that was overcoming a fear of heights for me! I better have a lot of character built by the time I get home :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Answered pray!!

I briefly mentioned a little prayer I said a couple of nights ago when I was struggling but didn't go into much detail about it. When I first got to Thailand I was extremely overwhelmed! Culture shock plus jet lag hit me hard and I had a really hard time. Looking back on this now it kind of makes me laugh, but the first night I was here I was laying in bed and it hit me exactly how far away I was from home. It was an overwhelming feeling. The smells were different, the food was different, the people were different, the toilets were different, the time difference was different, the heat and humidity were different and I was overwhelmed! It was a scary feeling. Thankfully technology and family helped me and I will forever be grateful for them!
I knew that I was suppose to be here and I knew that I couldn't accomplish the things that I am suppose to be there if I was feeling that way. Right before I left for Thailand my mom and I were visiting with one of my cousins and he mentioned that his mom always says "When you pray for specifics you receive specific answers." One night when it was hard I had that thought come into my mind, and it hit me is that I need to be specific with my prayers for help. So that night I prayed to have the feelings I was experiencing taken away so I could feel peace and I could accomplish what I was sent here to accomplish. The next morning I woke up and the first thing I noticed was the extreme peace I was feeling. That day I was able to work in two of the local schools here with one of the other volunteers teaching English. It was a beautiful day and it was wonderful. I feel like after that day all of the sudden I didn't notice the smells as much anymore, the food started to taste good and I actually was able to sleep! Prayer answered!!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Life in Thailand!

I told many of you that I had a blog I was writing while I was in Thailand and obviously haven't done anything with it! But I finally have some time to sit down and tell you all about this adventure around the world.
I officially got to Thailand Saturday morning around 9:30 after HOURS and HOURS of flying! I left Salt Lake City Thursday morning at 11:15 with two other girls that are here as well. I was so grateful that I had traveling companions! When I first signed up to go to Thailand I thought I was seriously considering flying over here by myself, I am SO grateful I didn't make that decision! There is no way I could have traveled this far by myself!
From Salt Lake we flew to Seattle and had a short little layover in preparation for our exit out of the country and onto inexperienced land and experiences! One great thing about flying overseas is that you take a huge plane and they treat you to lots of fun entertainment and food! I had visions of sleeping for most of the plane ride but found that impossible once I discovered a HUGE selection of movies and music and TV shows offered for free! (with complementary headphones) I felt like it was also hard to sleep because it never got dark outside. We were going back in time essentially experienced one whole day of light. Since we were in the air for so long we were fed several times! I swear every hour they were coming by with another little treat or meal! And since we were headed to Tokyo we started to experience some of the Asian culture in our meals and snacks! I was stuffed by the time I got off the plane and didn't really have an appetite until today!

!!!N I N E!!!!
 
hours later we landed in Tokyo Japan!! It was so fun to realize I was officially out of the country and getting closer to our destination! (There may be people reading this blog that have experienced much longer flights, but for me it was a big deal :) We had a short layover in Tokyo and then headed out to Bangkok, Thailand! I was thinking that was going to be a short flight, maybe 4 hours or so, so I was really depressed when I realized that it was over 6 hours long. I was doing well with the whole experience until this point. On the back of each seat they had a picture of our flight progress and how many miles we had traveled. I started to feel anxious when I saw the miles hit over 3,000 miles. On our previous flight from Seattle to Tokyo we flew close to 6,000 miles. So the realty of the whole situation hit me. I really was thousands of miles away and still had several hundred more miles until I was finally where I would be living for two months. It didn't help that we had a 9 hours layover in Bangkok so I had tons of time to sit and think about everything and make myself really crazy inside. We spent the night in the airport not able to find a place to connect to the internet or sleep. By this point I think I had only slept for 4 hours and had been in flight for SEVERAL!!
From Bangkok we flew to Chiang Rai, Thailand and met up with our country directors who came to pick us up. We took a Thai bus and 5 girls with TONS of luggage to our little guest house we would call home for a couple of nights. I have to be completely honest here that at first I was freaking out! I went to bed the first night I was here crying and scared and overwhelmed with what was going on. Thanks to my wonderful family and technology I was able to connect to find some words of comfort from them thousands of miles away :)
We spent a couple of days in Chiang Rai exploring the area, and trying food, then headed out on a PACKED bus with 10 people (three more were added to our group over those two days) for a three hours bus ride up mountain to our little village Thaton. (Side note: before we left Chiang Rai we were able to attend church with the local branch and that was AMAZING!) I think it was so amazing for me because it brought so much comfort to me that no matter where I go in the world I have that constant in my life. I felt so grateful for those few hours and found so much peace from them! One of our country directors translated the services into English over our smart phones on an app called google hangout. I am developing a DEEP love for technology since I have been gone!
It was amazing to see the landscape of Thailand as we drove a few hours to our village Thaton. It was breathtaking and quite different from anywhere I have ever been! The life style is VERY laid back here and that shows in so many aspects of their little villages. It is not a stressful life that people lead here. It is very slow paced. We got several looks from people as we passed with our luggage strapped to the top of this bus and 10 people inside!
Since we have been here we have explored the city and spent all day today teaching English to a couple of different schools here in the area. That was a great experience for me today!
I had a tender little mercy experience this morning when I woke up. Last night I was feeling stressed and anxious still inside about a lot of things this this new situation. I prayed that the feelings that I was having would be taken away so that I could be happy and accomplish the things I am here to do. I could tell my prayer was answered when I woke up this morning with so much peace! I was so grateful!! Prayers are heard and answered :)
 
 


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Miracles along the way!

 
The journey to where I am today is nothing but a miracle! So I wanted to post some of the people/places/events that made this all happen! I feel as if I am blogger challenged though because I can't seem to get all of the pictures onto the same post. So please excuse the millions of posts today :)
 
 
 
While I was in Pocatello I had a part time job working at this cute self serve frozen yogurt shop called Kiwi Loco. It was a miracle that I even got the job! My boss agreed to have a fundraiser one day for my trip and it was an adventure! It was so much fun to see so many of my friends from Pocatello, and Idaho Falls come and support me that evening! I felt soooo grateful for all of them!