Tag Archives: marvel

Craziness and Life in General

If I were to write a book about last week, I think I would title it, Crazy.

Crazy in a good way. Mostly. Now that I’m looking back at it.

In order to tell you about my week, I should introduce you to the 3 girls I live with. I live with Brittany (or Brit) and Barbara (or Barbs) and  Judi, (who just came several weeks ago.) We fit into our little house quite nicely and snugly.

Monday is a normal day, as far as Mondays go. Go to work at 7:30, chase, teach, hug and spank   wish you could spank kids. After work, run over to the church to teach English for another hour and 15 minutes, like usual on Mondays and Fridays.

Tuesday. I feel the end of the month requirements piling up on me. Write monthly student progress reports for the parents who can understand English well enough, and hand the others over for my Thai teacher to process. Write my monthly newsletter. Finish my monthly report for our team meeting. Plan ahead. So Judi and I go to a coffee shop to catch up on some work. I don’t know what is wrong with the coffee, or if my metabolism is just going berserk (are metabolisms affected by coffee?) but an hour after I finish my cup, my head is swimming and I am not sure if I can drive home. (And yes, it was only coffee! A hot latte!)

Just as we walk out to go home, I get a panicked call from Brit. Barbara, in an attempt to do some exercises to liven up her time while waiting in the kitchen for her laundry to finish, was jumping up and down, and managed to catch her hand in the metal ceiling fan that was going on high.

“Should we take her to the clinic or to McCormick Hospital?” Brit asks frantically.

We race home, but not before they leave for the hospital with some neighbors. The kitchen looks like a  murder scene with a trail of blood dripping over to the sink, a bowl of murky, bloody water stands in the middle of the floor, and music still plays eerily in the darkened house. Forcing my dizziness to the background, I manage to clean up the blood without throwing up. Afterwards we run to the hospital to see what’s going. Barbara needs stitches, and comes home after midnight.


Wednesday. I get a message from my Thai boss, asking us to come in early since both of the Thai staff have sick children and can’t come. Barbara goes to work, but is hampered considerably. Then suddenly in the evening, we find another child with hand, foot and mouth disease, and therefore….. to reduce the risk of more infections….. we suddenly close the school for two days!! An unexpected holiday! Teachers are supposed to be able to handle sudden days off maturely and without inner “hallelujahs” and “Praise the Lords!” I know that, but I have yet to reach that mature stage.

Thursday. We go to school to clean and disinfect everything in sight. Toys, crayons, beads, legos, mats, tables, chairs, books. Everything. In the afternoon, I run to do get some supplies for school, and although I feel tired, get lured into exploring a hitherto unknown part of the city for an hour or so. In the evening we relax at home.

Friday. I ride my motorbike the almost 30 minutes to Doi Kham Horseback Riding for one of the best rides of my life. Four of us—my friend who owns the horses, one of his workers, an expat from Germany, and I, ride into the woods for 3 hours, galloping pell mell down little footpaths, riding higher up the mountain than I have ever ridden before, crossing streams, letting our horses graze, leading our horses down paths too steep and full of loose rocks to ride (and slipping and sliding down ourselves) and riding behind Night Safari, the exotic animal reserve, and hearing the growling of the tigers as they are fed. Kru Kom, the Thai employee that works for my friend, provides the entertainment for the day as he rides like a mad cowboy, letting his reins fall over his saddle horn while racing down the path, all the while waving a stick in the air and whooping and hollering. Or, better yet, turning around in his saddle taking pictures and videos of the riders while his horse picks its way up a mountain path and suddenly veers off into the bushes, taking him by surprise. I laugh.

Horseback riding in the mountains. Photo credit: Nikom (Kru Kom)

In the evening, we teach English at the church and then run to look at a secondhand fridge for sale, about 20 minutes away. We decide to buy it, and plan to come the next morning to help the guy load it up and show him the way to our house.

Saturday. In the morning we go get the fridge. We get it situated in our house and then run to help a missionary couple clean the new house they plan to move into. After cleaning for several hours, we pack up our stuff with plans to head up the mountain. An extra two days off of work is not complete without a trip up the mountain. Journals, drawing supplies, books, Bibles, water and snacks. We’re ready. We drive for about half an hour, Brit and Barbara riding double since Barbara can’t drive yet with her injured hand. Just about 15 minutes from our destination, I notice Brit’s tire looking suspiciously sad. We pull over at a tourist spot and after asking half a dozen people, find a place to air up her tire, only to be told that it has an irreparable hole. So the poor bike and its passengers get loaded up on a truck and sent aaaalllll the way back to the city. Joy surprises us at a stoplight with a brilliant double rainbow spanning the sky.  We find another place to hang out and do our work in the city and in the evening, we come back home and spend several hours cleaning out the old fridge, getting the new one situated and rearranging furniture in the kitchen.

Rainbow over Chiang Mai, photo credit LH


Sunday. Thai church services in the morning. After singing “These Are the Days of Elijah” in Thai and listening to a sermon about Naaman and Elisha, we try the mountain again. Brit needs to get gas before going up the mountain so we decide to meet at the zoo, which is close to the foot of the mountain. Judi doesn’t hear the plan about the zoo.  We reach the zoo and there is no Judi in sight. Her phone doesn’t work, she’s lived in the city for a total of 2 and a half weeks and she is not the kind of person to simply stay in one place if she gets lost. Barbara stays at the zoo to see if she’ll show up, and Brit and I start the hopeless task of trying to find one person in the midst of a million or so others. Twenty minutes later I get a call. Barbara saw Judi driving past the zoo, headed up the mountain, assuming we went without her. She doesn’t know the way, but is going anyway. We hop on our bikes and drive after her, stopping at the tourist spot we stopped at yesterday, hoping to find her. No luck. Finally, close to our destination, we spot her bike at a rest area and spread out in hopes of finding her. Brit finds her, and Judi, unperturbedly says with simple innocence not unlike Winnie the Pooh, “Oh, you found me!”

Finally, all together now, we keep on going. The road becomes smaller and narrower and bumpier. We turn off on another one. This one is hardly wide enough for two and has signs telling us to honk while going around curves. We gladly comply.

We turn off on another road. This one is moss covered and green, a bit slippery. Finally Brit stops and says, “This is it!” She’s been here before and knows the way to the lookout we want to be at. We unload our stuff— all our stuff—-   and follow her down the mountain trail. In flipflops. Flimsy ones. That should be recorded under the column “Stupid Things Tourists Do.” We follow her. Down and down and down and down. And all the while I am thinking, “One day in the near future, I will have to climb this trail up and up and up and up. In flipflops.”

Photo credit: BL

Brit is no longer so sure she knows the way. The trail is more overgrown than it was when she was here. And she doesn’t remember going this far. But still we walk. And walk. And walk.

Moss on a log. Photo credit: BL

Finally I hear her calling up ahead, “I found it!” We arrive, ooh and aah at the beautiful view, and lay out our blankets, pull out our Bibles and journals and books and snacks and drawing supplies and prepare to have a jolly time.

The view from Doi Pui, Photo credit, LH

We have a jolly time for less than 45 minutes. Then the rain comes. We see it sneaking up the backside of the mountain, hoping it can surprise us, but we are ready for it. We pull on our raincoats, and decide to give up and go back.

Have you ever hiked up a steep mountain path carrying a heavy backpack, while wearing flipflops in the rain? It is not for the faint of heart. My flipflops are very slippery when they are wet, and I keep on slipping and sliding all over the path. Finally I take them off and go barefoot which is rather painful, but takes much less energy. My lungs are unused to mountain air and the first 15 minutes are torture. After that I pretend that I am a Free Burma Ranger carrying supplies to IDP’s (internally displaced people) in the jungles of Burma while keeping an eye out for the enemy and land mines. Then suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad at all.

After about 45 minutes of hiking we reach the road again. We are a bedraggled, sorry looking lot, but really quite happy. We drive down the mountain, shivering and blue from the rain.

On the way home, I am surprised by light shafting through storm clouds and by the second rainbow I have seen in two days. From a lookout on the mountain I see it, suspended over the city, so bright and bold and close you can almost reach out and touch it. Even though I am disturbed that my camera battery is dead, there is profound meaning and hope in this rainbow. The Thai song running through my head takes on new meaning and turns into a prayer, “Bless the land of Thailand, that they may find hope. Open their eyes and hearts to see the light…” (English translation of โปรดทรงอวยประเทศไทย ).

God, let your spirit fill this land!

Light shafting through storm clouds onto the city below. Photo Credit: LH


I’m Alive

Today is rich.

Green is the color of life and today is full of it.

Photo- July 2015, Chiang Dao, Thailand. Photo credit, Lori Hershberger


This Saturday morning I ride my motorbike up Doi Kham mountain, through some of the greenest foliage I have ever seen in my life to one of my favorite spots in Chiang Mai, Doi Kham Horseback Riding.

We ride through the thick green landscape, rich, rich, rich in all its greenness where two months ago it was a dry dusty brown. The green feeds my soul, my dry dusty soul.

Afterwards we sip coffee in a little cafe surrounded by rice fields in a small valley. Mountains rise on the side and light glints off the top of a temple spire built on the tip of the mountain. My coffee is perfect, not too strong with lots of milk. The sky has cleared from its early morning storminess, and color like I have not seen in a long time splashes the world with its life-giving vibrance. I savor the gift of friendship, the gift of coffee, the gift of being able to speak a language that 2 years ago was foreign, the gift of resting my mind from the daily challenges of work.

The day passes and the gifts keep coming. Sunflowers- yellow, brown and green- from a friend, cookies, summer sounds,  tall, tall thunderheads towering in a brilliantly blue sky. Green grass in the shadow of palm trees with light shafting and glinting and dancing. I long for a camera since words cannot do justice. It seems like every waking moment is full of color. Why? Was it not there before? Or has God simply allowed my soul to see again? All through these sights and all through the day, two words keep on running through my mind.

Photo– July 2015, Chiang Dao, Thailand. Photo credit– Lori Hershberger

I’m alive.

Later rain torrents down from the thunderheads that now pour out their fury on the world. I am on my bike heading to the airport to meet a friend when it comes, and it is the worst rain I have ever driven in on a motorbike. But it brings a glory of its own— the challenge of driving in the rain with wind lashing and water coming up to mid tire at times. I feel at one with the rain at times like this. It seems to embody the human spirit— a lashing out at the sadness and evil of the world.

But the one most precious gift of the day keeps on coming back to me as I drive home late at night from a friend’s house. It is words that I keep on puzzling on, over and over again. This morning as we sat on the balcony of the cafe after our ride, drinking coffee, my Thai Buddhist  friend says of his 14 year old son, “Chawin ok gab Pra Jao laao.” Literally translated  he says, “Chawin is ok with God.”

I keep on mulling over these words, wishing I knew exactly what he meant. Chawin goes to a Christian school, and as I look back at memories of conversations about religion when he was present, I remember the look of understanding and empathy in his bright eyes as we talked about Jesus and Christianity. But does he mean that he believes in God? Does he mean that he has found peace with God?

I wish I knew. I wish I had asked.

But for now I am grateful at least this. Chawin is ok with God, whatever it  means. And perhaps one day his father will be too.

Thank you, Jesus.



Searching for Beauty


I miss…

The beauty of early morning cirrus wisps

Splashed with color over ever-lightening sky

Stirred with rays of the morning sun, rising, rising, rising

Gleaming over golden of short shorn wheat

And vibrant green of wayside grass

Lush and lavish in sun-dappled morning glory.

I miss the dew.


I miss…

The cool caress of wind on my face

On the late evening rides with young bright sorrel

That pulls on the reins to fly, fly, fly;

And the beauty of thick brown tail, and well- muscled legs

That stretch in quiet thunder down shadowy lane

In rhythm with the ever- rising, ever- setting sun.

I miss the catlight.


I miss…

I miss the silence of a sun-stilled afternoon

The dreams of the summer wind as it lies still and

Asleep in wide seas of wheat where waves lap, lap, lap

Against the never giving shores of green

Until the machines come with their powerful teeth

And eat away at the waves and the silence.

I miss the dust.


I miss…

The sharp knife of wind in snow swept prairie

Stinging on numbed cheek, embracing the wild, the fierce

And bowed head against the cold, fighting, fighting, fighting

And after that the silence, and the swirl of snow

Floating with featherlike dance to the ground.

I miss the pain of cold.


I miss….

The horizon that stretches far and away, and I can breathe

In the glory of a star spangled night in fields of sky

That stretch out their canopy wide, wide, wide

And wider still, never hampered, never cramped

By skyscrapers and man-made malls glimmering their incandescence

But go on and on and on.

I miss the sky.


So God, show me how to find beauty in crowded cities

Where noise runs random and unchecked and the air is thick- smogged

With smoke and sorrow and the beat of grief that chants and chants and chants.

Show me where to find it in this sewer world of sin

Where jewels lie buried deep in the debris of human forgettings

And neglect.

Undug, unsought, unknown


Life has a way of surprising you in delightful ways every now and then, and then sometimes not so delightfully.

I am of the firm belief that too many of us rush through our life with our eyes focused only on where we are going and forget to delight in the beauty and awe of the path we are traveling, however rugged and rough it might be.

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I still revel in the awe that I am on the other side of the world. I have lived on this side of the world for a total of about a year and a half, and I still delight every now and then in the fact that the world is round and it is possible to be on this side of it and live life and not fall off the edge! I knew that all before I came here (dear me, of course I did!), but I still lie in bed sometimes and just marvel at the fact that the world is so big and I am so little.

And sometimes on my bike on the way to the market, or to meet with some friends, I look around at all the different faces traveling down the crowded little street and wonder who all those people are, and what their lives are like and where they are going and what kind of personalities they have. And usually I say a prayer for them, silently, so that I don’t need to open my mouth and breathe in more smog belched out by those noisy little tuk-tuks than I need to.

I think God delights when we delight in what he has created, and in what life holds for us. I love showing something to a friend that I know they will enjoy, simply for the joy it brings to me.

For me, delight is a part of survival. I need to delight in life, or its imagined drudgery would claim me as its victim.

Part of it is being willing to laugh at myself when things don’t quite go as they should. Like the other day at work, when I walked into the bathroom and came upon the striking sight of flower petals in the toilet.

At least I am quite sure they were flower petals, but I had not seen any flowers anywhere close in the general vicinity. I flushed them into the great unknown of the belly of the toilet, and then I went out in and in my best Thai I exclaimed to my co-worker that there were flowers in the toilet.

She looked at me sideways as if to say, “Do you know what you’re talking about?”

I said it again and she only said, “Really!” I could see she was trying to remember the phone number of the nearest mental hospital.

I just laughed, and to assuage her fears, I said, “I’m not sure.”

Which was a lie. There were flowers in the toilet!

Sometimes God calls us to delight at strange times of the night. This morning I woke up at 2:30 and couldn’t sleep. After a while, I went out onto the porch and delighted in the silence of the night. I was still there when the neighbor man came home, and from the looks of him, he had been out delighting in the late Saturday night life. But I imagine that it wasn’t to the glory of God. Especially when a few minutes later I heard the unappetizing noise of what sounded like someone expelling the intake of a Saturday night revelry. I betook myself inside to delight in the stillness inside, only to have the noise come through my window.

I am still trying to find the balance of how much to delight in what is going on around me and how much to just focus on where I am going and how I am going to get there, whether it is in balancing my finances or trying to figure out if I really should buy cereal and milk, when rice and noodles would be cheaper.

Or sometimes the need to finding to find this balance of delighting comes home in very practical ways.

Like on the way to church this morning. As I went, I glanced down the street and saw a man coming toward me. I remember thinking about the neighbor man’s Sunday morning habits and wondering if this man seemed like an honest character or not and wondering where he was going, when I suddenly realized the need to watch where I was going. But it was a little too late.  I swerved in time to keep from hitting squarely a large crate beside the little house that guards the entrance to the neighborhood, or koolpunt, as it is called. As it was, we made a grinding noise together for what seemed a long time.

Quite embarrassed, but relieved it wasn’t worse, I came off and talked with the guard about paying for damages, since I broke off a slat or too. He called his superior over and he glanced at it and they laughed discreetly, or not so discreetly, and waved me on.

Later on my way back, I nodded at a guard and a delighted grin came over his face. It was not just a “hi, how- are- you, welcome- to- the- koolpunt” kind of smile.

It was a “oh, there- goes- that- lady- again- who- doesn’t-  look- where- she- is –going- and- crashes- into –crates” kind of smile.

I am quite sure it was one of the guards that helped me.  And I am quite sure I made his day.

I am so glad he could delight in that.