Being Transformed

Started with Thailand, now on to life!

Imagine… 10 July, 2010

Filed under: In Country — meggshe @ 5:45 pm

A posh(-ish) restaraunt, where they serve popcorn with your drinks. It’s about 9:30pm. It’s dark outside, but not very cloudy. The restaraunt is at the top of the Baiyoke tower – the tallest building in Bangkok. You have a perfect view out the massive window, across the whole of Bangkok. In the distant clouds, you can see lightning. Actual single bolts of lightning.

That was my evening. We went up the baiyoke tower to the revolving roof top and looked out for an hour or so. Then we went down a couple of levels to the restaraunt and claimed our free drink. It was amazing to see the whole of Bangkok, and the amount we could see was also pretty awesome! But my favourite part was seeing the lightning bolts. I’ve only ever seen the light caused by lightning, not the actual, clear bolts. It was amazing.

I shall update tomorrow, and hopefully have some photos on Tuesday. I hve no photos from today because I forgot my camera, but I have some from last weekend.

Thanks for all your support 🙂

It’s monday now. I couldn’t be bothered updating last night, because we decided to get up at midnight to go to the Dutch embassy and watch the final. Adrianne is Dutch so we went along to support her and her team. I ended up coming home at half-time, because I was exhausted and was feeling a bit queasy. It was an experience, not one I plan to repeat. I don’t particularly care about football, and it was just loud and crowded – not really my scene. But everyone else really enjoyed it, so that’s very good.

It’s been about a week since I last updated, and there is sooo much to tell you about. I’ve now experienced everything I can here in Bangkok, and we’ve also done a lot of sightseeing. Torung is the best tour guide we could have wished for, because he has connections and he knows when is best to do things. For example, on Saturday he got his friend and her dad to drive us around all the sights – the floating markets, the wax museum, a temple, and then back to the baiyoke. We got a cheap deal, because the dad is a taxi driver, so we paid him 1,500 for the whole day (approx 30 pounds), from 2pm to 9pm, and he literally drove us over an hour outside Bangkok and back again.

So, I’ve been on some home visits, I’ve been to prison, seen Siam Care teach health and sex education, taught some English, worked on the Siam Care website and done some other office work. It’s been a crazy and exciting week.

I’ll give you a brief outline of my week:

Monday – Susie and I were working in the office. I was typing up a mans testimony. He has been in prison for 16 years, and became a Christian in prison. His testimony was very preach-y and he constantly referred back to the Bible. That, of course, is no bad thing, but it’s not the most interesting thing either. I was prepared for a day of reading about someone’s experiences! It was still very interesting, and I enjoyed the work.

Tuesday – I was back in school with Mary. Mary is a teacher anyway, so I let her take charge. We decided to gowith proper lessons, rather than games, so we concentrated on hobbies. We got the kids to play a couple of games about hobbies, shout out what the hobby was as we held up a flash card etc. Then they were to write out what they liked to do. We gave them a template and they just filled out the specific hobbies. Some of the kids were really good, and some were not…

Wednesday – I was on home visits. Tasha and I went out with P Ard and P Lek to visit 2 families. It was a really interesting experience, and we got to see two different sides of poverty. The first family was a grandmother, her son and her grandchildren. We talked to the grandmother, and she was just so happy. She kept laughing and joking, and there was always a smile on her face. She lived beside a canal, actually pretty much on top of it, and the house was very very basic. Siam Care built it for her, so it was a sturdy house, but still not very pleasant. There were flies and mosquitoes everywhere, and the floor was fairly dusty. The bedroom was just a bunch of matresses on the floor, again the matresses were crawling with bugs. The second family was a mother father and two children. The third child was at school, and we actually never saw the father. The two kids at home were 2 and 3, and the 2-year-old girl was HIV positive. The mother was also HIV-positive, and they didn’t know about the father, because he hasn’t ever got tested. The 3-year-old boy was incredibly cute, and very cheeky. He constantly had a grin on his face, and his favourite words were ‘don’t want to’ (in Thai, obviously!). The mother, however, was on the verge of tears the whole time we were there. It was such a contrast to the first woman we met. The house (it was a house, this time, not a shack) reminded me of council housing – basic, but livable. It was clean, and secure. We only saw two rooms, but they were pretty much normal Thai rooms. P Ard said that it was their first day in the new house, and they pay 2,000 ฿ a month (40quid).

Thursday – Naomi and I went to prison. It was such an amazing experience. We went to a women’s prison, where all the women are in because of drugs. Siam Care were teaching them about various things – mostly about how life will be on the outside. On the way, P Ard asked Naomi and I if we could do a couple of games with the women, so we quickly decided on Pictionary. We didn’t want to do anything that involved running around, because we had no idea how healthy the women would be. Just before we entered the prison, Naomi was saying how scared she was – we were standing outside a huge steel door…and had no idea what was on the other side! As it turned out, the prison was lovely. The women have freedom, within the prison walls. The place looked huge, with various buildings around the place, and gardens, flowers, fountains (!) and streams running about the place. We went immediately over to the clinic, where there were 29 women waiting for us. They were all very healthy-looking, and all very glad to see us. We found out later from P Paew that they get no other visitors, and Siam Care only visit once a year. Naomi and I got stuck in, playing a round of pictionary with them, and then P Ard and P Paew took over. They did some educational stuff with them, and then played some more games. Naomi and I got the chance to join in, which was absolutely hilarious! For one of the games, the winners have to do a dance, and Naomi was one of the winners. It was brilliant! Then we all did some dancing, Naomi and I lead ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ and they showed us some Thai songs. After we had finished, Naomi and I had a chance to talk to some of the women. One had very good English, and we sat and talked to her and another women for a while. She was very interesting, and I really enjoyed and appreciated the chance to get to know her better.

Friday – I was back in the office. I was working on the website this time, and working from home. It was a bit stressful, but mostly enjoyable. I felt like I got a decent amount of work done, and Adrienne was very appreciative, which is always lovely.

Saturday – We had work in the morning – 12 of the local sponsor kids came to the centre and we shopped and cooked European food together. It was a really good experience, and the kids were lovely. They were really well behaved, and seemed to enjoy themselves. After lunch, they all went home and Torung tooks us sight-seeing, which I’ve mentioned above…

I’ve almost gone full circle, so now I shall continue with yesterday. I really should update this more often, and then each post wouldn’t be so long, and I’d be able to put more personal stuff in, rather than just ‘we did this, we did that…’

So yesterday, we went to Adrienne’s church, which is an English-speaking church. The minister is from Essex, so the girls enjoyed hearing a familiar voice. The head of sunday club is from Ireland, and it was so lovely to hear that accent. After the service, I was talking to him and his wife (from Scotland!!) and he was saying that he picked us out as soon as he started speaking – apparently we all exchanged looks, and he could tell we were from the UK! I also met a lovely couple from Hamilton, and to be honest I just loved hearing Scottish accents again.

Adrienne then took us out to Pottery Island – which is a sort of man-made island…It was just a u-bend in the river, and they cut the river across to outside of the bend to make this island. It was basically a big market, but there were no cars allowed on the island, which was quite nice. I spent a few hundred Baht on stuff that I don’t really need but that I liked! I might give some of it to people when I get home…Or I might not! I had a really nice time, although it was really hot. We headed back to the house fairly early, so we could survive the world cup final in the middle of the night.

Then today I was on home visits again, and this time they were properly in the slums. Susie and I were together again, and we went to see two people. It was harder today, because we didn’t have a confident English speaker with us, so I felt more like a spectator. P Ying tried her hardest to translate for us, but she’s not very confident and sometimes we couldn’t understand each other. Also, it’s more important for the person we’re visiting to be comforted than for us to understand what’s happening.

That’s you up to speed. I am absolutely shattered, and I cannot wait for bed tonight! Thankfully tomorrow I’m in the office, working on the website again, so I can relax and just sit in an air-conned room all day 🙂 Then on wednesday we go to Phang-Nga (I’ll be teaching you all how to say it when I get home, it’s a bit weird!) where there are beautiful beaches and lots to see. It’s so weird to think that we are nearly half-way through this trip!

Thanks again for your support, messages and prayers.

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Day 4 (of the transform house…) 4 July, 2010

Filed under: Culture,In Country — meggshe @ 9:48 am

Well it’s day 4 and it’s been quite eventful. I’ve been noticing a lot of differences between here and home – like they have no concept of pavements. The road ends and there’s either a building or a street seller. It makes being a pedestrian rather dangerous! There are also a lot of dogs wandering around, and it’s hard to tell if they are strays or if they belong to someone.

So far we’ve had one day of work. I was working in the school, trying to help the kids with their English. When I say kids, I mean teenagers – the youngest is 16 and the oldest is 18. And it’s not some small poor village school, it’s a massive school in the middle of Bangkok, and all the parents are like government workers and lecturers etc. So the kids are very similar to kids at home, and the classes seem very unstructured. It was just myself and Naomi at the school – the team splits up each day. So at first we were just chucked into a classroom with a bunch of Thai kids and told to talk to them. I found it completely overwhelming and I became very shy. I found it really hard to talk to the kids because of how I was feeling, and it kind of put a damper on the whole day. Then we had two groups, one morning and one afternoon. These groups were more structured so we played some games with them and talked about ourselves. I still took a back seat, and Naomi did most of the work. I guess I was still feeling very shy and like we’d just been chucked in at the deep end and left to find our way. It was probably also a bit of culture shock, which I think I’m still experiencing.

I still find the heat very hard to handle, often mostly because it’s very humid and we’re all sweating a lot. It makes me feel better when I see Thai people sweating though!!

Yesterday we went out to see Bangkok for the day, and we were out for more than 12hours I think. We went to the grand palace, which was very grand indeed. I was slightly shocked by just how much extravagance there was. There was a temple place with an emerald Buddha, and it was surrounded by gold things. It was very impressive, but also slightly tacky. It feels like they are showing off, and concentrating too much on wealth. Thailand is prominently buddist, so there are a lot of statues of Buddha all over the country.

We were being shown around by a student here in Bangkok. His name is Torung, and he’s living in the house with us. He has the downstairs room, similar to a lodger. He has extremely good English, and has grown up with Tearfund teams coming and going. He grew up in Mukdahan, which is normally where the teams go. We are going to be going down to Phang-Nga on the 14th, which is down south, near Phuket.

We also went to a mime last night, which was brilliant. One of the Siam Care staff members (P Paew) son was in the mime. He did a balloon sketch – he blew up a balloon and went floating over the city, but then a bird popped it and he landed in water, I’m not sure if it was the sea or an aquarium. We also went to church with P Paew (the P is the polite way to say someones name, like mr or mrs) this morning. We went to quite a traditional, Thai speaking church. It was very interesting, because they got an interpretor for us, so you could hear both Thai and English. It was a fairly long service, and the guy was preaching on Genesis 16:1-16. It was quite interesting, what he was saying, but hard to follow because the English was fairly broken, and didn’t flow smoothly. They sang all the sings in Thai, but the screen also had the English so we could sing too. There were a couple of songs which had obviously been translated from the English to Thai, because the English words fit the music perfectly, and I recognised a couple of them. You could also tell when the songs were original Thai, or possibly some other language, because the English didnt fit as well.

We also saw P Paews son again, Tam (the ‘T’ is quite a harsh noise, not like our normal ‘t’s. It’s more like a ‘dt’ sound). He’s a really nice guy, and is quite hilarious. You can tell he’s into acting because he has very good facial expressions and often will just mime something instead of trying to get the English.

Now we’ve come back to the house, and the rest of the team have gone to the Market. I decide to stay in because it’s just too hot for me, and I’m a little tired. I’m feeling a bit homesick at the moment, and finding being here very hard. I know I will adjust, but it will take time and I just need to be patient. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m not sure what I will be doing – either home visits (which I really want to do, but apparently to get into the slums you have to walk over a really dodgy bridge of planks, and the planks can sometimes snap so I’m terrified of that!), or working in the office. Adrienne (the team leader at Siam Care) wants me to update the website, so once I’ve done some work on it I’ll point you to it so you can see my hard work ;).

I think I’ve probably written more than enough! I’m going to settle down for a couple of hours and read my book. I’m hoping to finish it before the girls get home.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. Please feel free to email/facebook/comment, and I’ll try to reply.

ขอบคุณ!

 

and so we arrive 1 July, 2010

Filed under: Culture,God,In Country — meggshe @ 8:52 am

After a 5 hour train journey, an 11+ hour plane journey and a quick car journey, we arrived in our final destination in Thailand. I stayed in London the night before we flew, because I had to be at the airport really early. The hotel room was pretty depressing, so not the best start to the trip!

But, once I made it to the airport and we’d checked in I was much happier. We eventually got on the plane, and then must have missed our take-off slot because we ended up sitting on the runway for over an hour. When we were landing in Bangkok you could see parts of Thailand, and I was amazed at how much it looked like home from that angle. As soon as we got outside, however, I realised just how different it is!

We got picked up at the airport, and driven to our home in Bangkok. We will be staying here for 2 weeks, and then moving on to Phang Nga. So far since landing at 6am this morning (Thai time) the rest of the girls have slept, whilst I read my book. We’ve just had lunch at the Siam Care offices, and our orientation starts in just over an hour. The office here in Bangkok has internet, so that’s where I’m updating this from. Hopefully it means I will get the chance to update this fairly regularly over the next two weeks.

We’ve been told that our main activities are going to be home visits, teaching English and working in the office. We will also be doing some prision visits. I’m not sure how different our activities will be in Phang Nga.

I am currently very sweaty, and struggling with the heat. It’s very very humid here, and when we arrived this morning it was raining. It’s now completely dried, and is just hot and damp. Really not my favourite weather, but I trust God will help me to adjust.

Right now, I’m really looking forward to going to sleep tonight. I barely slept on the plane, and didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before – so tonight I’m going to have the best sleep ever, even more so because the air conditioning will be on!

I’m signing off now, and going back to chat to the team.

Thanks for all your support 🙂

 

protests 3 May, 2010

Filed under: God,In Country — meggshe @ 8:15 pm

Most of you will be aware of the political protests going on in Thailand at the moment. The implications of these protests may be that we don’t get to Thailand in the summer. Right now, the foreign and commonwealth office is advising that no-one travels to anywhere in Thailand, unless it is essential.

I’m worried. I’m worried about the people in Thailand, who are being hurt and concerned by these protests, but, perhaps more selfishly, I’m worried that we won’t get to go. I would be devastated if our trip got cancelled.

If you are the praying type, please, please pray for Thailand. They need all the help they can get, to make the country safe again, both for those who live there and for those who are visiting. People are being hurt almost every day, because of these protests. Pray for peace, for some agreement to be found between the red-shirts and the government. Pray that God will be in the country, showing those who love Him that He has not deserted them. Pray for Siam Care (the organisation we are supposed to be working with in Thailand) that they can do all in their power to comfort those in need, whether because of the fighting, or for other reasons. Pray for their safety as well.

If you are not the praying type, then do whatever you do when in trouble.

thank you