I realize that I haven’t been writing a lot lately.
My dad had open heart surgery on June 16 and it was excruciating to be so far away from home. During that time, I wrestled with 2 different urges. One was the urge to dump it all out, the other the urge to clam up and feel sorry for myself. And being pressed for time, I didn’t do the dumping out part.
But that time passed, and my dad is now safely recovering at home, although my sister reports that life at home is sort of like living in a nursing home, since my mom has also been to see the doctor several times recently, and my aunt has to go on a weekly basis for chemo.
But believe it or not, life goes on here in Thailand. And I realize that I take a lot of good pictures, or I like to think of them as good, but I don’t share them much.
And as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” so I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
These are students from our Gifted English program that just started this year. The room is on the same floor as the teacher’s office, so some of the students like to come over in the afternoon and practice their English and play Uno. I do believe the air conditioned room is a drawing factor as well. I recently bought a tiny model house to teach vocabulary to a class, but I didn’t have time to assemble it so these students helped me. We have listened to a lot of stories during this time, such as stories about evil spirits haunting houses and the whiskey used in spirit ceremonies. (While most Karen people are Buddhist or Christian, in the past, before Christianity was introduced or before the Karen integrated more fully into Thai culture, they were mostly animistic, with practices steeped in spirit worship. This is still a huge factor today, and many nominal Karen Christians wear amulets for luck or safety.)
Some of my former Saohin students came over to make cookies after going to church with me. I found it amusing and heartwarming how they sat in front of the oven to watch their cookies bake as if they were watching a movie.
There are times I wonder about my cat…..
Our pastor finished his doctor in theology and we had a celebration at the church. Taking pictures with each other at celebrations is an important thing in Thai culture.
Yes, that spider is for real, and yes we found it in our kitchen. I think that might be an egg sac it was carrying underneath?
Rainy days are plentiful in July. Most days I make my afternoon coffee at school, but some days I splurge, especially if it is a particularly rainy day that calls for a hot latte.
No matter how the world might be behaving around me, I still find rest and relaxation in making a batch of good homemade chocolate chip cookies.
And enjoying cookie making is not exclusive to women either. One evening, before my birthday, several of my former Saohin students (this time the boys, not the two girls pictured earlier) called me. Can we come make cookies at your house?
The above picture is not mine, but one I found online. At the time that I found myself driving through these waters, I was too busy trying to stay upright and moving to take any photos. The picture was taken beside the Mae Chaem River between Hot and Mae Sariang on a day when various parts of Northern Thailand flooded.
Another picture that makes me shudder when I see the brown angry river to the left.
On the evening of Amy’s birthday we went to the church to practice the song we were singing with the youth group. The sky gave us an extra special display that evening.
These people make me happy. Most of the people in this picture are students who are staying at the church while they go to high school. On Thursday evenings, I have the privilege of teaching them English at the church. They are the most dedicated group of learners and laughers I have ever taught, I think I can say.
Every morning the national anthem is played at assembly and every morning the dogs at the school howl along with it.
This was not a fire, as it might look, but a random round of mosquito spraying in hopes of cutting down on dengue fever cases. I had just gotten to my class and started teaching when we were all told to evacuate and stay out of the building for about 25 minutes while they sprayed. Mae Hong Son is highest in the nation for dengue fever.
This shirt is special to me. One of my students who is an avid football player, asked me if I wanted a football shirt for my birthday. He then let me choose a color and gave me one of his own shirts. This young man is actually half Burmese, but lives in Thailand.
It’s not often I get to eat Mexican food, but on my last visit to Chiang Mai, some of my friends took Amy and I out for our birthdays and this is what we got. It was soooo good.
Mae Toe is a local tourist attraction about 60 kilometers from here. I have now visited there 4 times, twice just recently. In the middle of June, I went up with some students and then yesterday with some teachers. Someday, I think I should like to take a book along and simply curl up and read on top of the world.
So…. yesterday, I had thought the original plan was to park our bikes on the bottom and walk the rest of the way up, but it didn’t quite work out that way since the others in our group zoomed up before me. To make a long story short, I was trying to get up this hill like the people before me, but kept on stalling my bike. I got off and then managed to dump it on its side, and it being a heavy bike, couldn’t get it up again. With the help of Amy and this kind man, we got it to a place where we could park beside the road and then walked up. Driving on these concrete tracks is complicated because if you happen to stop, you are in trouble because there is simply no place to plant your feet to keep you from falling over. It doesn’t help if you are helplessly laughing either. I still have to giggle just to look at this picture…. and the expressions on our faces. Bless that man’s heart for stopping and helping (the others in our group were out of side beyond the next hill and curve)
The view was worth the hike, though.
We parked our bikes halfway up and walked the rest of the way….but these village boys who couldn’t be more than 12 had no such intentions.
Walking down from the 360 degree lookout.
Kaning and Mint, the two student interns, and Kru Jack, one of the Chinese teachers. Kru Jack’s method of hair control always makes me grin.
Amy on the top of the lookout, dreaming of Mr. Willoughby.
And me, probably dreaming about cookies.