Thailand 2013 VIM

Trip Start Jun 15, 2008
Trip End Jun 19, 2008

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Team Leader, Karen's journal: Thailand VIM trip July 2013

Day 1: worship (Sunday)
We worshipped with the Prasiri UMC, they were very kind in having some English songs ready for us during worship. Wassana preached from Matthew 5:3-12 (the Beatitudes) and delivered an awesome sermon. After worship, each person shared his/her testimony with us, which was interesting to hear. I don’t think that an American church could do that. Prasiri UMC cooked lunch for us and then we went to the floating market and had a boat ride. We were still in church clothes and very hot, potentially melting. Gary said it was around 100 degrees F. We were not cute by the end of the day! After the floating market, we returned to Prasiri UMC, did the template for the bench, and had dinner. Our transportation for the time in Bangkok was a songthaew, a pickup truck with covered seating in the back. Pretty nice to ride around in actually.

Day 2: Construction (Monday)
7:30 breakfast, shuttle @ 9:00
Cut the wood for the benches. Todd was immensely helpful with his production/engineering background. With his direction we had an assembly line going quickly. Notching was a disaster. We gave up after the first pew. These white people can’t chisel.
Prasiri UMC made lunch for everyone, and we ate together. There was pastors Sila and Vanessa, Jo, Pen, Ellis, and two add'l men working with us and cooking.
Gary was very excited that Sila and others were working along side us, making it a joint venture. This is a huge deal in bringing the 50/50 partnership to life with the church in Thailand. They’ve done it already, so it shouldn’t be a hard sell, once I learn Thai.
Todd did am devo and talked about prayer...didn't realize he would have am and pm. So I said I would have prayer stuff in the morning and then someone would do devotional at night.

Day 3: pews (Tuesday)
With Sila, Jo, Nueng, and Lek helping us, we were able to finish the pews ahead of schedule. Assembling and sanding went very quickly with their assistance. We celebrated with dinner to MK restaurant with the people from Prasiri. Cindy ordered a seafood platter for our table...and I'm thinking about going vegetarian after that. There were strange seafood items like jellyfish, fish cake, and mini octopi. Gross. Todd was all over the octopus, Ronny was into the seafood too, and I stuck with the pork and veggies, and tofu. Linda liked the veggies. Morning prayer exercise was praying the armor of God from Ephesians 6.

Day 4: blessing! (Wednesday)
We went to Prasiri UMC to bless the pews, and then we went to the new site to pray over the land and the family. It was very moving and what an honor to be able to pray for them! Our prayer exercise was the blessing of people/things through scripture, so everyone picked a section of the bible to pray over the church.
We celebrated with a lunch of pad Thai and noodle soup with the church, and then went to the Grand Palace. Gary and Cindy were very surprised that we wanted more than an hour to go through it…they’re used to Koreans who aren’t impressed with much, apparently. Then we tried to go to a banana boat ride, but the driver of our van didn't know how to drive or where he was going, so Jo and he had words, and Jo won. Jo drove the van the rest of the day and was a much better driver. Unfortunately, we missed the boat ride and sat in Bangkok traffic for three hours. But sitting in traffic was certainly interesting. Then we got to a mall, had dinner and made it to the bus station with 30 minutes to spare.

Day 5: Chiang Mai IThursday)
We arrived in Chiang Mai after the overnight bus ride. I slept great, with the help of a xanax (so did Ronny with an Ambien). Penny and Linda did not. Being in the same clothes since the day before was icky…when you can smell how bad you smell, you know you need a shower! We were able to get into the hotel around 7 am and Gary brought us sticky rice and meat on a stick for breakfast at 9. I like sticky rice…and need to learn how to make it. Linda and Todd went with Gary and Cindy to the lumber yard to get materials for the bookshelf and table. Linda's UMW group gave her $250, so she bought a table instead. It was very nice. While the one group was shopping for lumber, the rest of us wandered around Chiang Mai and got our laundry done. Christy, Penny, and I went to a coffee shop and got coffees and some tasty cookies. Boom was the name of the place. We met up at noon, and headed over to the orphanage. We had a late lunch of noodles after working on the bookshelf for a while. We were going to eat with the girls, but the house mother had started their dinner. So we went to the northern Thai cultural experience with dancing and food. We had a Chinese Don Johnson look alike to the left of us. Ronny got a few pictures of him and is threatening to Photoshop me in with him. Todd thinks he was sweet on Ronny, not me.
Linda and Christy went for Thai massages and I got a foot massage. Christy liked it so much she stayed for an oil massage.

Day 6: elephants and tigers! (Friday)
We were all ready for touristy stuff, so we went to the elephant park for the show, which included the elephants getting a bath in the stream, and then they did a show with painting, basketball, soccer, hula hoops, harmonica, tag, massage on the guy on the ground, and building a wall of three logs. Then we had photo time with the elephants. So cute! We then went to the tiger park for lunch and then returned to the elephant park for a ride. Good times for sure…I almost slipped out of the seat twice, which would have sucked since that’s a long way to fall for a short girl. We returned to the orphanage to finish the bookcase, and play with the girls. We ate pizza with them (they put ketchup on it...weird) and then they gave us cards, one card from each girl. One called us grandma and grandpas, which is the first time Chad and I have been called that for sure!
After dinner we returned to the hotel and then went to the night bazaar. Little did we know that Ronny's such a shopper! Chad went out with his friend, Pen, and a muslim girl (we all agree that this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke). Christy and Penny went for Thai and oil massages after we got back. I went to bed because I was exhausted.

Day 7: travel to Chiang Rai (Saturday)
We met at 8:30 to drive up to Chiang Rai. Prayer exercise was centering prayer in the van…we all needed some quiet time. Excluding Linda, who wanted to rock out to her mp3 player, we all were pretty quiet in the van. We stopped at a tourist trap for bathroom break and we all went shopping. I found these coconut milk candies that everyone loved, so the day was a success from a project management standpoint. Then we went to a mall for lunch. After arriving in Chiang Rai, we dropped Cindy off with pastor Shin and Gary to get the lumber and we all went to the Golden Triangle. All but Chad took a boat ride and we got to step foot on Laos soil and see Burma from the boat. We returned to Chiang Rai, had dinner at a dive bar/bbq shack and went to the hotel. We were all tired and exhausted, needing rejuvenation. I had devotional, so I brought up the situation to put it out there, and the prayer that people were praying for our refreshment. We then had a great night of fellowship in Todd’s room, which had become the meeting place for our devotional time. Ronny is funny.
Gary and Cindy made friends with the owners of a Korean fusion restaurant at the entrance to our hotel road.  They arranged for us to have breakfast and dinner there, even though they don't usually serve breakfast. Crazy Koreans! The hotel is the least luxurious, and we felt better by fumigating the room with mosquito killer. There are lots of mosquitos up here, compared to Bangkok or even Chiang Mai.

Day 8: worship and hill tribe cultural center (Sunday)
Wonderful worship with the Akha tribes people. Their testimonies centered around fear, and being released from darkness. Our group noticed that there was a difference between the testimonies of Prasiri and Prametta/Akha. The Prasiri group as more focused on God providing basic needs almost as a test of whether or not God exists...the Prametta were convinced because they are afraid of spirits and darkness and Jesus is the more powerful God.
We went to the cultural center to see the five tribes: Akha, Lahu-muser, Palong (big earring), Lu Mien-Yo, and Long-neck Karen (giraffe-like women due to brass-ring necklaces). We spent a lot of money with the Akha tribes women, and then bought some things from the other tribes. Ronny and Christy can do some serious damage. It was so hot we were soaken wet after 5 minutes walking at the center. Gross. Once we got back to the hotel, we chilled out until dinner at 6:30, and then had devotional time. The kimchi at dinner was super spicy. Gary loved it. The hard-boiled egg soaked in soy sauce was weird…but the fried cuttlefish was kind of good. I’m pretty sure Koreans eat weird food, and they can keep it for themselves. I will stick with pad thai.
(I think this was this day…) Ronny brought his underwear to show us. He said when he put it on it was perfectly fine. When he woke up, there were all kinds of holes in it. Of course I giggled like a school-girl, because that must be disconcerting to say the least. Apparently nothing else was nibbled on… This underwear situation prompted Ronny’s award to be both a t-shirt and a pair of silk boxers, royal blue with elephants. We are expecting a picture of Ronny in his new boxers as well.

Day 9: more pews, different wood and design (Monday)
We arrived at the church and the wood was already delivered (hooray for being early!). Pastor Shin wanted us to build a prototype, so he did that and then we got rolling after lunch with the building/assembly line production. The Akha were ready to work and took off work for the day, so they won't be around the next couple days. But they're here today to work, and so they started in on replacing the fence at their property while they were waiting for the prototype to be built. We had some serious quality control issues, but the villagers seemed to be pleased with helping so that's all that matters, even though I want to jump out of my skin because nothing is the same. Todd helped with his astute observation that Pastor Shin was probably used to doing one piece, not 16 and therefore was not realizing the task that was production. The one blessing…Pastor Shin required that we notch the top board…we proved in Bangkok that we were pathetic chiselers so this should have ended in ugly pews and disaster. However, God anticipated my perfectionistic freak-out and provided men and women from the Akha tribe who can do fine wood-working with a machete. It was unbelievable what they could do with that thing. So the notches looked good, despite the white people’s best efforts.

Day 10: finish the pews (Tuesday)
We worked with the Prametta UMC people...there were more people than we expected today. More men were there, and the women worked with us in the morning and then went to make us lunch and dinner. The Akha men were funny, when one of them bent a nail or did something wrong, they jumped all over each other. Apparently harassment is a universal trait among men. We were able to finish the pews by 2:30 pm, blessing them after pictures, celebrating with an entire pig with the villagers. Prayer exercise was lectio divina on joy, different scriptures for each person. Devotion time was blessed by the presence of Gary and Cindy, sharing their stories of conversion and missionary vision.

Day 11: White and Black Temples, Chiang Mai temple and Gideon UMC (Thursday)

Went to the Black temple (creepy, very Wicca-like), then Pastor Taradon’s church, Gideon UMC. He is passionate about helping children from poor families get an education and have life skills/options. We were there for a short time, but got to see the living quarters above the church meeting room. They have a very nice sized kitchen considering it’s Thailand. It rained while we were at the white temple, and although that was supposed to be more hopeful, it was still creepy. The artist likes western culture, so the temple had an angry bird, batman, spiderman, and other people from the west on the walls, making it an unconventional Buddhist temple for sure. We also went to the Chiang Mai temple, which is older than the city itself. They had passionfruit juice, which was delicious. By this time most people were feeling crappy, with stuffy noses and sore throats.

We went to the night bazaar for dinner and a quick shopping trip. We then took a quick walk around our hotel, looking for a bar in which to celebrate our trip. They all had bunny girls in front of them so we headed back to the karaoke nightmare that was the Lanna Palace bar. I got talked into singing karaoke, and chose the only song I knew from popular music, which was Yesterday by the Beatles. The English song selection was at least 30 years old, and I couldn’t believe the number of show tunes in the book. Who on earth would sing the theme song from the sound of music or sunrise, sunset from fiddler on the roof? Really? It was strange when the dj started playing along and singing harmony. So awkward. Apparently I was a smash hit, and asked to do a second song…of course the next logical choice was La Bamba, and dancing was a must. Wondering when the video of me dancing will appear on facebook.

Day 12: Last day, I feel like junk! (Friday) Today was our last day, and a few of us looked like dog’s breakfast. We got some unlabeled cold meds from the night bazaar and were saving them for the plane ride. We went to the hot springs in the morning and that was great for the sinuses. We then went to the umbrella factory, which was interesting considering there were no machines at all, only human labor.  We then had lunch at a Korean restaurant in Chiang Mai, and gave out the awards for "Most Likely." (these are at the end)

Our plane was delayed in Chiang Mai, so Bangkok Airways gave us all vouchers for dinner.  I went straight for the Dairy Queen and got a large green tea and almond blizzard (this ended up being a poor choice…digestive tract did not appreciate the onslaught of dairy). Todd got the same thing (the only green tea thing he liked), Christy got the vanilla oreo (regrettably, she said she should have gone with the coffee oreo), and others got stuff too.  I will miss green tea flavored ice cream. Weird but good.

The most exciting part of our trip back (apart from my interesting drug cocktail) was Linda trying to get left behind in Bangkok. I was very glad she realized the time and ran back to the gate. We were the last ones on the plane.

Chinese beer is served warm and is gross, but after the cold meds, 5 pepto-bismol, 1 cipro, 1 xanax and still no sleep, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do…Thanks Christy for suggesting the taste testing!

We arrived in New York about 30 minutes early…glad to be able to give Christy, Todd, and Ronny additional time to get through security again for their flight to Charlotte. So glad everyone got home safe.

Most likely awards
PENNY: most likely to ask for clarification
Question what we're doing and when we're doing it
Be the energizer bunny
To own stock in bottled water
To work nonstop
Make funny faces

LINDA: most likely to bend over, being most flexible
To leave something behind in Thailand
To go with the flow and keep smiling
To try and do anything  once
To have her butt photographed more than her face
Make the locals laugh

CHRISTY: most likely to be found shopping
To be a photographer
To be willing to try anything new
To be the first to interact with the local people
To smuggle a masseuse back to the US in her suitcase
To be found at the massage parlor
To shop
To return to Thailand

TODD: most likely to be organized
Have you over to his house
Take charge of construction
Keep smiling no matter what
To have a thought out plan for anything and everything
be calm and collected in any circumstance
Clean his room
To take one of his children on a mission trip

RONNY: most likely to tell a very long tale, and be inadvertently creepy with a camera
Tell a good joke
Take pics of everything and anything
Take pics of the pretty girls
Do stand up
To seem like a creeper, even when he's not
To tell stories
Go on another mission trip within a year

CHAD: most likely to be independent
Be the Lone ranger
To have an adventure alone
To be on his own
To have the most friends around the world
To fall off a truck
To get married

KAREN: Most likely to freak out and not tell anyone, or win Thai Idol.
Continue her education (super geek, super geek, she’s super geeky)
To crack a whip over us
To freak out yet keep it to herself
To pack everything but the kitchen sink when traveling
To give first aid
To run a marathon

To learn Thai

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