Despite the time posted on my blog, I am actually writing this at 10:44 on June 7. This computer seems to be set on American central standard time despite the fact that it and I are definitely in Asia.
So a recap of yesterday's events:
*Drove up through winding country rodes through numerous little communities, rice fields, and lush greenery to a Karen village about half an hour away. There we fed and rode elephants thru the village (what a trip!), did some shopping, paid 5 baht (15 American cents) to use the squatty potty, and paid $3 to have our photo taken holding a huge Burmese python. That was also quite the experience! My biologist dad can be thanked for my ability to actually enjoy that experience.
*Lunch was at a downtown casual restaurant. The main dish we ate wast the best thing I've eaten so far. It was a beef or pork (can't remember which) and veggie dish. It had lemon grass in it and other amazing spices. I had the spicy version but it wasn't hot spicy. There were lots of green plant leaves and herbs to either scoop the food up with or tear up and put in the food. One tasted just like cilantro though it didn't look anything like the cilantro we get in the states as the leaves were big. Other items served were fried rice balls (also very good), sticky rice, strips of grilled pork, and chicken wings (they cook their's stretched out, not folded up). Also, various sauces.
*Walked around the neighborhood a bit all on my own that afternoon stopping a shop that carries lots of Hello Kitty and other cute character items. Cartoons characters, especially Disney and Sanrio, are very popular here. In fact, as much with teenagers and adults and children, it seems.
*The university classes have started up again after a long break. HORDES of motorbikes carrying uniform clad students race up and down the road in front of us all day long but especially in the early morning and afternoon as the students commute. It is very interesting to me and Betsie that college students must wear uniforms. One university seems to have black and white ones while the other has light purple and black ones.
*Sat in on Betsie's English class and even assisted a little bit. She is very good at what she does. She is able to follow the curriculum but also easily improvises as needed. The class attendance was small yesterday but her 4 adolescent students were very sweet and smart. It was easy to see that they love her.
*After class, Betsie and I went with the Espys and the other 2 Mississippi visitors to a place where you can pay money to get in huge tubs that fill with scalding hot spring water. If you know any of the people we went with, you can imagine the crazyness that went on!
*Supper was carryout from the night market. It was so good. Jon and Matt bought enough food for 6 adults and 1 child to eat plus a bit of leftovers for only $6.50 --- that's AMERICAN DOLLARS! Can you imagine? We several different things. Jon picked out a spicy veggie soup type dish for me. It was so clean and healthy tasting. Just perfect for a late night supper. Other items included fried rice balls, another kind of meat dish that was mild for the others, sausages similar to boudin, a sausage wrapped in a crust and deep fried, various raw green veggies including, slightly boiled edamame, fried pork rinds (looked like fried catfish strips), fried chicken strips, Thai style donuts (round, powdered with sugar, and filled with a jelly), and condiments. Also, there were 2 tiny peppers. Like and idiot, I popped a whole one in my mouth. It was the HOTTEST THING I have EVER eaten! My heart actually started beating harder. And the heat grew and grew! WOW! I think my metabolism must have gone nuclear for a few minutes! It was crazy but I have to admit, it was also funny and part of the whole Thai experience. Despite the overwhelming heat and temporary near-panic-attack sensation it caused, it was fun. A video of that would have been priceless!
*Made sure I got to sleep before or just at midnight and was able to sleep til 8:15. I'm not experiencing any sort of jet lag, praise God!
*This morning I've breakfasted on some nuts, soy beans, and raisins from home along with a small banana picked out of the church's yard. A banana straight from the plant is so incredibly different from one buoght at an American grocery store. The flavor is more intense and the texture is even a bit different.
*After Chrissy and Debbie get back from someplace they had to go, we women folk will be driving out to a Long Neck village. I'm not exactly sure what we'll be doing there but I'm sure it will be an amazing adventure.
*Tonight after English classes, we are going to the famous Night Market. We'll eat fabulous street food for supper, do a lot of shopping, and I'll take a kajillion photos.
I am having such a fabulous time. The missionaries are fantastic hosts. They are juggling their responsibilities of sermon prep, English classes, church responsibilities, etc. while at the same time, making sure that we are experiencing a lot of the Thai culture and learning about the ministry going on here.
Please keep us all in your prayers. So far, Debbie, Matt, and I are feeling great physically. Prayers for safety would still be appreciated. It is very safe here as far as lack of crime but the lack of seat belts, disregard for traffic lanes and lines, etc. is an area that this safety-freak mama has just had to chill about. In fact, Betsie and I often ride in the back of the truck and I even told Betsie yesterday to just stand on the bumper and hang on when we were just driving thru te village.
Please pray for Chrissy. She is not feeling good this week and is facing a health issue that really needs to be healed.
Also, please pray for Jon, Chrissy, and their daughter Cy as they continue to learn the Thai language, adjust to living in an extremely different culture, and just live their lives very far away from family and friends back home. Pray that God will impart in them a supernatural love for Him and the Thai people that will carry them through the tough times.
And then, of course, pray for me to be open to the Spirit and for opportunities to bless and take the love and light of Jesus. It is hard when almost no one speaks English to share about God and when I'm here for such a limited time, but I look for the chances I can to make a difference such as praying as we walk and building on the relationships that Betsie and the others have started. The Karen village that we went to yesterday is almost all Christian and I loved seeing a picture of Jesus hanging over the heads of the elephant drivers as they sat in a hut.
Our prayer and the reason that the missionaries are here is that everyone would see that Jesus truly does reign and then to experience the abundant life, peace, and freedom that can ultimately only come through a personal relationship with Him.