Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas At Our House.

This year we had a very quiet Christmas at home. For the last three years, we've gone to my parents' house for dinner or hosted the dinner, so it was strange to be at home. We did have a very sweet day, just the three of us. Reading the Christmas story, making cinnamon rolls, and eating an American-style meal (ham AND turkey!) with some good friends rounded out our day. 

Instead of individual Christmas gifts, we opted for one family gift this year and we are immensely enjoying this brand new water cooler!

We also had a visit to the doctor Christmas night, for a very good reason:

Peanut #2 is joining our little family in May! We were just glad to finally be seen by a doctor Christmas night. The timing didn't work out in the States with my doctor since we traveled to Texas and then of course we had the big move to Thailand and getting settled into a new house, city and country. Then we were on the hunt to find a doctor, got a recommendation, and tried to connect with her. Between our schedule and hers, that took some manuerving but all is well!! Peanut #2 is an active baby already and I think will give Paul a run for his money in terms of energy and activity.  Here we go!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A List.

In no particular order...

- A tumble down the last few stairs Wednesday morning left this Mama and son feeling sore. The bad news is Paul wouldn't put too much pressure on his left ankle until the middle of the day. I never got so many snuggles from my little boy before! The good news is he slept from 9 PM until 9 AM - which never happens in this household! We'll see how he does today, but I think a trip to the hospital can be avoided this time.

- Because of said tumble and concern over Paul's ankle, I decided to stay home from school Wednesday. Thankfully we have one more class on Friday and then a 10-day break, so I hope to catch up over the break on what I missed!

- My husband flys home today from a nearby country! We've really missed him around here, but I'm glad he got to take this trip. We are ready for the better half to be back. :-)

- After being with us for the last 7 weeks, my niece starts her long journey to the States on Friday night. The song "I'll Be Home For Christmas" has been heard around our house recently and in her case it's very true! We've had a wonderful time with her and it goes without saying she has been an immense help here. Our recommendation to any missionaries planning on settling in on the field in the future is to take a helper, especially if you have small kids!

- The lack of cooking taking place in this house sometimes amazes me. But then I think about it from the perspective it's actually cheaper to go eat at the neighborhood restaurant ($1.00 or less) than it is to go buy the ingredients. That's cooking Thai food. When we talk about American food, the expense really shoots up! With all the time and energy devoted to language study, I am so drained mentally after class that we often eat out on those nights. It helps having our neighborhood restaurant and a market just across the busy highway. There is always variety to be had! This trend is here until school ends. We won't be in school for ever.... it just feels like it sometimes. :-)

- Last week, at the request of the local pastor who has connections at a school, we taught English to two classes of 4th graders. At first it was pretty intimidating, but then I realized we are native speakers, so anything we would say would be an immediate help because these students and their schools don't have enough funding to compete for the elusive "trained" English teacher from America. We really had a good time and it made me appreciate my language teachers more, because I could hear the students saying the words incorrectly and know my teachers can hear me say the Thai words incorrectly. :-) It was fun to be able to do some teaching!

- Our plans for Christmas are to have a quiet day at home and maybe enjoy an American meal at a restaurant. There's a special program Sunday at the church we attend, but that's about it. Christmas isn't hugely celebrated here (although the commercialism is!) and New Year's Day is actually the big event. So I'm sure things will ramp up after Christmas!

- I've been reading through the book of Proverbs for my devotions, in keeping with the Sunday School lessons back at my home church, and have founds tons of gems in this wise book. I've also found tons of things to work on in my life, as those one-line proverbs really have a way of going directly to the heart of the issue. It's been a sweet study.

- I'm amazed at how much attention our little boy gets from Thai people. Whenever we are doing a more touristy-than-not activity, a bunch of people will come up and touch Paul, try to get him to smile, and even hold him so they can take a picture. Last Saturday we took our niece to another province to a white temple and no less that five different people wanted to take their picture with Paul! Such good opportunities to speak for Christ.

- I'm thankful for Skype, Magic Jack, blogging, e-mail, facebook, and snail mail. We've used all of them to keep up the communication back home, which makes home feel a little less far away. This is just a plug in that I am working on too: communicating with someone on the foreign field might not seem like a big deal to you, but it is HUGE to those on the field. Every email, Facebook message, phone call and note in the mail screams, "I do care and haven't forgotten about you. I'm extremely busy, but I wanted to let you know you matter." I've been trying to make my communication more meaningful, being prodded on by the verse to show myself friendly. I can sit around and wait for someone to call, or I can pick up the phone a and call someone. Simple! Like I said, I'm still working on this too because communication is definitely a two-way street. I recently read something that I thought was a little sad: a missionary on the field hardly ever heard from their sending church. What? I'm thankful for those in our church who have taken the time to drop us a note, because it means a lot. One man in particular even went so far as to call my husband a couple of times which was a big deal to Nat. He got off the phone and was excited for the spiritual "iron sharpening iron." I know men have a harder time communicating but it made my husband's day that this brother called. By the way, if you write, I will respond! My goal is to answer one email message a day, and that "usually happens! It just might take me time to respond to everyone. :-)

Time to get moving!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Counting My Blessings.

It's easy to count my trials and discouragements, especially when I'm in the thick of them. Towards the end of last week and the weekend, God has been impressing on my heart that there are many things that I can call blessings. The song "Count Your Blessings" is really a great reminder to do that very thing.

So in no particular order, here are some blessings from the recent past.

- Language study: As much as some days this can be a trial :-), I've noticed that in the 2.5 weeks of school, I'm speaking/understanding way more Thai than I did in the previous 1.5 years I lived here. That is encouraging! On the days I don't feel like going to school, I'm reminded that learning the language is part of our ministry because our end goal is communicating the Gospel. We're getting there!

- Driving: I'm a big fan of driving. When I was single (and gas was cheaper!), I would take weekend adventures and have no destination in mind... just drive, drive, drive! One of my goals was to learn to drive stick shift and here in Thailand we have the extra twist of driving on the opposite side of the road. Something came up to really motivate me to learn stick shift and I'm happy to report I've now driven to the store and back and to church and back to center-city Chiang Mai. I plan on driving to school today and trying to get in as much driving as possible this week, so by the end of the week I'll be confident enough to drive by myself on the road with other drivers and the crazy road gnats (motorcycles) all while shifting with my left hand. I've only stalled a couple of times and that's a big accomplishment!

- Living in a new culture: A friend and I wrote back and forth on email a little bit (I still have to answer the last one!) and she made the comment not only did we move to a new country, we moved to a new continent, culture, and and language. Once I read that, it really put it into a new perspective for me. Nat and I mentioned to each other how smooth our transition was to Thailand and how we felt "normal" right away, but we did in fact make quite the jump! It's easy to forget since we've spent so much time in Thailand, but this was kind of a huge deal. :-)

- My niece: Tiana joined us for a 7.5 week trip as we got settled in and I really don't know how we would've done it without her help! From watching Paul numerous times while we sorted things out to helping deep-clean our house, this gal is worth her weight in gold. Our time with her is coming to an end soon, but I would keep her if I could. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday she watches Paul while we study in the morning and then when we go to school in the afternoon. That right there has been a huge help!

- Our Sunday routine: The church we attend here doesn't have a service until the afternoon so every Sunday morning we do a Bible study on the same thing our church is studying back at home. Right now we've been going through Proverbs and the study has been so good. After the study, we'll listen to one of the messages our pastor preached the previous Sunday. Our church streams the services live, but we're (usually!) in bed by the time the morning service is streamed (10:30 PM our time) and we're still sleeping when the evening service is streamed (6:30 am our time). I did have a extra burst of energy a week ago Sunday night and watched the service, but that doesn't usually happen. :-) When the time change takes place in the spring, it will be easier to catch the service since it will only be 9:30 PM our time. It sure helps us feel a little more connected with what's going on back home, and one of the girls from my Sunday School table sends me the prayer requests each week, which is a real blessing. I miss my table and the fellowship, but at least we're still there in spirit! This is a side note, but I really miss our nursery!! Ladies who work in nursery, your labors are not in vain! Most services here, I end up taking Paul to the other room, although last night he sat through the entire service. Crackers work wonders. :-)

- Sleep: We dealt with a very jet-lagged little boy when we first got here, and I don't want to do that again anytime soon! Paul's had a couple of rough nights since then, but is basically back to his normal pattern. We don't take sleep for granted and even though we're not able to have *our* morning routine settled yet, we're getting there. Paul is in our room and Tiana is in the second bedroom, so when she leaves we're moving him out! This kid could be in a dead sleep and then the second we turn the water on for a shower (the bathroom is off of our room), he wakes up. Or one of us rolls over in bed and he sits up. :-) Sensitive little ears! So we're looking forward to having him in his own room soon, but we're very grateful for the sleep we have gotten!

There's a lot more I could list and I think I will in another post. But for now it's time to get ready for our language study before we go to class in a few hours. :-)

Monday, December 2, 2013


This morning was actually cool and I thought it was beginning to feel like Christmas... and then the sun rose higher in the sky. :-) I try not to have too high of an expectation when it comes to the weather in Thailand, unless of course that expectation is hot! Thankfully we are in cool season, because I know what's coming in April!

Humorous side note: an Australian man just walked by our truck, saw the (small) barking dog and said, "hello, Giraffe!" What a name for a dog. :-)

Our days are filled with a couple of key events: language school, studying for language school, and going to the grocery store every couple of days. Exciting, right? Gotta start somewhere. :-)

Language study IS coming along - and at a fast pace. I'm very thankful we're going three days instead of five days a week. Monday's class was learning about colors, reviewing what we studied on Friday, and our first quiz. Yeah, now I really feel like I'm in school! The Thai language is slowly starting to break down for us and we're recognizing letters everywhere even though we can't read the signs yet. Little by little, bit by bit!

Today's new adventure includes replacing the kitchen faucet and finding charcoal to grill out for dinner. Never a dull moment!