Day 27: October 18, 2013

Last. Day. We went out on a walk with Janthra. I love how the Karen find food everywhere. When leaving the house Janthra took a moment to gather some things from the garden. She searched for some greens, passion fruit, pumpkin from the trees (so crazy!) etc. 

We then went off to the church to see the workshops the kids were doing. They looked like little sweat shops it was really funny. But this program is pretty great. It’s three days of adults teaching kids how to do the crafts from their culture and probably other things as well. 

We then hung out for a bit at the house and then headed to a wedding feast. For a Karen wedding they pretty much have a rehearsal dinner/ reception type deal and then the wedding early in the morning. Everyone dressed casual and the food was set out ready to eat. People apparently drop by, offer their congratulations, some good luck money, and then go home. The bride to be wears her Karen style white dress (symbolizing her purity). The next day she will wear the traditional black shirt to the wedding. Janthra said the bride might wear a western wedding dress then giggled to herself and said, “no that would be way too odd.” Such a cutie. 

There was pineapple. Heaven!

Tomorrow we go back to Chiang Mai… So weird.



Day 25: October 16, 2013

… We had a rest and Janthra showed me how to sew seeds onto my Karen style shirt. We then moseyed our way to Janthra’s sister-in-law’s house sewed/chatted together for a bit. 

Walking home we were stopped by a truck willed with students. At first I thought it was just some really friendly kids but it turned out to be the students from Villapran’s village! It was so good to see Tika and Villapon one last time! We hopped into the truck and went with them to the Wednesday Night Market. That whole group is jus so lovely. I feel like I’m in Neverland with the Lost Boys (and girls) when we hang out with them. It works out great too because Samarat/ his wife are like Peter and Wendy. Such a great crew.

It was tough saying goodbye to them. Tika told us how much she missed us. Sarah and I found that we actually really had missed the girls too! Which was weird because we really only spent one day with them and barely spoke coherent sentences being that Tika knows VERY little english. Its so funny she would try to tell me something in Thai, which I obviously could not understand, so she would try to help me by repeating the same phrase over and over in Thai. Watching her do this made me realize I’ve done this before too. 

When we got dropped off from the market I hugged Tika, Villapon, and Samarat (which he didn’t seem accustomed to but I did it anyway because he’s just too amazing) we went to Wednesday Night Worship.We had to share our testimonies to which we were given only 5 minutes to prepare. Apparently Janthra was planning for us to do this for a couple days but kept forgetting to tell us. Ah Janthra! 

So that was nerve wracking but everyone was gracious and nodded their heads as Janthra interpreted our words. I took out my sewing afterwards and it got way too much attention for my comfort. So embarrassing! Especially when one woman just cuddled up right nest to me for awhile and watched/asked me some questions. In the end she graciously told me it was good. She is a kind soul. 

I learned how to make banana chips. So damn good.



Day 23: October 14, 2013

The day began with singing and dancing, from 3rd graders only because there was no way my body was going to allow me that much energy (I was recovering from some weird stomach thing that happened after eating straight pig fat which was wonderfully delicious but a little too hairy). I would chime in every now and again as Sarah taught the Hokey Pokey but then I would feel like I just ran up a mountain and sit back down and diligently hold onto my white board. 

We had some lunch (I’m beginning to miss salads and sandwiches) then headed to school for some internet. I was apprehensive about going thinking a nap would be better but the trip was just what I needed. I got to talk to my friend Bryce. That guy. He definitely doesn’t realize how much he blesses people with his words. After talking to him about cats that look like death (specifically his named Faith which sadly died… RIP faith! You’re bloody ears and scary meow will be missed!) and how we would both be fat one day I felt loved and encouraged to keep living this adventure and not to worry because those who care for me back home are still waiting. 

Around 3 we headed to a prayer meeting for the woman with cancer whom we had prayed about the other night. So many people filled this house! I felt like I had gone into the past and was sitting in on some Biblical scene of sorts. I didn’t understand anything so it made it even more so. We had food afterwards in the same style as at the funeral with rice in the banana leaves and assorted karen dishes to dig on into between us. There was Coke. I don’t drink a lot of soda at home and coke can honestly be found practically anywhere in the world, but it was nice having a little reminder of home here.

Afterwards, Sarah and I found our way home, quite the accomplishment according to Janthra because apparently most people get lost. 

I got to snack on some cucumber with Janthra and we talked about the Holy Spirit. We discussed how it effects different communities in different ways and people’s reactions to it. Later that evening she and her husband shared some videos of the school’s night of worship two years ago when the Holy Spirit did some mad work on all of them. It was crazy. It looked like a scene from the 2nd Great Awakening but Karen style. 

Kids were speaking in tongues, praising God, screaming from terror of evil spirits, crying, trembling, shouting, sitting in silence, reading the Bible, dancing, etc. It was incredible. I wanted to cry. Not from happiness. Not from sadness. I still don’t know why. I watched and just felt tears coming into my eyes. Janthra’s husband then shared some verses with us (1 Corinthians 3). 

Janthra told us how days after occurrence had happened the students couldn’t concentrate on their work so twelve boys decided to go pray above the library. One of the boys heard the Lord whisper to him that some of his friends were going to join them and to let them and just continue to pray for them. Not two seconds passed by and more students started showing up. The students then all worshiped together again and their youth pastor came and helped lead. It’s just so encouraging knowing that people my age/younger than me really can be on fire for God. I just wish we could have this at home. It’s in God’s hands.


Day 17: October 9, 2013

Pardon this post. It’s a little all over the place. The beginning was written during Wednesday night worship when I foolishly thought I could write about my day during this time. Silly Josie. God had other plans.

I’m going to miss the gecko calls at night. I realized this while sitting at the … Psalm 37:3-5, 23-24… I think everyone has to give offering… every time… that’s why Janthra always gives us money. I feel terrible! I keep forgetting. Yuri and Tina would understand.

Women with cancer, baby and mom have colds, baby in hospital from Dad kiling mother and hurting baby, mother/father-in-law seriously… We just prayed for these people and more out loud together but separately. I’ve done this before but it was done half heartedly during one of Sarita’s classes. It kind of weirded everyone out that time but being here in this Karen home where this is a normal thing to do it was such a powerful experience!

When you are born into the spirit it hurts at first and you are confused. Why do I hurt? Why is life difficult? It is like a woman going through labor. There is pain, there is hurt, but then there is peace and incredible happiness for God is within you with His light beams from within your soul.

“They’re back! They’re home! My son! My son is home!” -Janthra when running to her son right after he got back from the school competitions in Chiang Mai.

We left Aj. Villapon’s house this morning (after staying in their village for a couple days) and it felt so good to be back. Janthra opened the door and it was so amazing seeing her! We had lunch at the super far away restaurant but it was worth it because I had cha yen (thai iced tea). Mmm! Me and Janthra took up the afternoon looking at fabrics. I can’t wait to make my skirt (turned into a skirt, a shirt, and a small purse because there was so much fabric). We then went to Wednesday Night Market/ got dinner. This cutie old Thai man bought us our rotee because we were from America. Such a sweetie. Then we went to Wednesday Night Worship as noted above. I feel welcome here. 

Janthra ate a monster of a bug. The Karen really do eat everything.

Avocado + sugar = bomby new dessert


Day 12: October 4, 2013

You know those days when you feel fulfilled when the day is through? Mmm yeah buddy. Today was one of those days. We rested, went to school, caught up with people back home (a bittersweet occurrence every time), helped the girls involved with the spelling bee, helped Janthra prepare dinner, and ate with the family! Oh my goodness I am totally going to be on their son’s good side by the end of this adventure. I helped him bring in the dishes and secretly cleaned them after he said he would do them the next day. Pure stealth. First things first I will figure out his name though. Side note: I often hear a baby at night and I think it could be Janthra’s nephew, and they live pretty far away but he’s just a  big enough baby (living up to his name which interpreted from Karen means mountain) to probably be heard at this distance. 

I love being here. I’m starting to feel closer to Janthra. I can spell her name right finally, we joke together, she let me clean dishes, and help cook! I feel comfortable around her. She’s so helpful and such an amazing mother figure. She seriously is the mom of all her students and cares for them so much! The poor thing is sick but still running all over the place making sure everything is set and in order for her graduating seniors applying to various universities.

I also enjoy how she feels comfortable telling me about people she doesn’t like. She’s so funny. We got to meet the said “owner” of the school yesterday. His name is Bob. When I told her we met him she scrunched up her face and just went on this rant about how he’s brought lawyers to school and made life difficult. Made me not so keen on the guy and love Janthra even more. 


Day 8: September 30, 2013

Talk about an unexpected adventure! Yesterday we were going to help Janthra with the student’s final exams by monitoring them. We waited for her in the office but she never showed up… turns out we were supposed to meet her at the classroom but she never told us (lack of communication was bound to occur sometime). We waited all morning. During that time I got tired of sitting in the blue “teacher’s lounge” so I went outside, greeted some people, played with an adorable kindergartner and was inspired by the school’s chaplain. We learned in one of our past classes about how Christianity spread like wildfire, and this was made/ has been made evident through this conversation and, everyday life here in Ban Chan and our experience at church.

After some momma noodle soup (like Top Ramen with baby shrimp and cabbage) with Aj. Tan (another one of the English teachers) we were intrived to go to Pai with Noah (the computer teacher) and this other stylish teacher (we never really caught his name). This excursion was just what I needed! After a wonderfully gorgeous hour long car ride we arrived in Pai. We just moseyed around, not having a clue what to do but in the process found some Nutella and various electronics! Total steal. Portable speakers, Aux cord, and new MP3 player for $16. Hopefully their reliable…

We had some fried rice at the orange restaurant in town. This was a proud moment for us because we were able to do the full order in Thai. We’re practically locals basically. 

This was followed by a beautiful walk home watching the sun set behind the mountains. The silhouettes of the pine trees made my heart happy and warm. When we got home it was cold bath, ant attack in Janthra’s pillows, then sleep.


Day 3: September 25, 2013

Apparently I’m still stressed as heck, which I can only tell because it’s only 8:00 PM and I’m exhausted! We had a whopping 4 classes today because Junthra needed us to cover an extra class being that she had more work for herself than she thought. (We later found out this is quit typical for her. She’s a busy little bee flying all over the place somehow getting everything done. She’s crazy. I love her.)

These classes went by well, but the word has definitely been passed around that we are the singing foreign teachers. I can’t tell if they like it or are making fun of us but we keep doing it. Why? 

1. It takes up class time.

2. Some students seem to honestly enjoy it.

3. At lease we’ll be remembered for something!

We went to the market today (an event kind of like Farmer’s Market but with basic necessities/fried foods instead of home crafts and organic goods) and saw farang (the Thai name for foreigners) there! They’re from Tennessee and actually knew Cambria! It was a reassuring feeling knowing people all the way in Thailand know of my sleepy little town.

I also discovered today that we have a washing machine for our clothes! Glory be to laundry machines! We were warned about possibly having to wash our clothes by hand but on top of new surroundings, new food, new language and restructuring the way we perform basic forms of hygiene (like bathing/flushing from scooping water out of a trash bin) it was nice knowing that there was this one more thing that was slightly similar to home.