The lady with Meyers D in this photo is Malee. She was our main interpreter. She is Chinese and grew up in Thailand. After being involved in many different ministries, she finds herself running an orphanage in Chiang Mai, called Ban San Faan. (we didn't get to go there but I plan to the next time I go).
The first time we met as a team in the lobby of our Hotel, the Wangcome, we met Bill and his wife Janis (our tour guide and leader) and Malee. She basically walked straight up to Myah, put her arms around her and didn't let go! It was amazing, an instant unbreakable relationship. Very remarkable. I felt it too. In fact, within hours, Malee and I were walking arm in arm down the street! I feel like she is my sister.
The tricky part will be to keep communication going until we can see her again. As the director of an orphanage she is an incredibly busy lady. Not only that, she is extremely capable so is called on for other jobs for the foundation.
I wish you could have seen her running around the Makro ( a lot like a Costco or Sam's Club). It was always at the end of a long day of ministry and sight seeing and she'd just grap a giant shopping cart and start darting dead on through the aisles with tremendous focus; always knowing how much to grab of the most important items for each ministry we were shopping for. She didn't even get frustrated when I would push her even harder saying, "I have money I have to spend. More, more. Come on, more, more. I have to spend more money!" :)
At one point, when I was harping at her to find more things to buy, she looked at me and said, "It is my pleasure to serve you." Maybe that was the Thai non-confrontational way to tell me to shut-up. But I really think she meant it. I was taken aback for a minute. Serve me? I was here to serve others? But she was serving me....and I said thanks!
One thing I noticed in serving others is that more than anything, they were serving me. And I was so blessed!
Bangkok has such a beautiful airport. I'm not sure how old it is, but it is very high tech architecture: a lot of steel beams and glass so you can see out. Right off I noticed all of the shrines, mostly gold overlay, dotting here and there. Later I would see them on sharp curves on the road, so perhaps it has something to do with keeping you safe or warding off evil spirits. I'm not sure.
It was sure helpful having Terri organize our trip. I remember so many times she and Roger (my pastor who is about to retire) standing at the ticket counter organizing whichever flight was going to come next or working out any problems. It made for an incredibly stress free trip for me!
In Bangkok I started noticing what would become a signature hallmark for Thailand: customer service. These people know how to be helpful. In this country, not enough people are hired to help. In Thailand it's the opposite - way too many. People will just be standing around, waiting to come up and help you. It is quite amazing. And, all of the helpful people have enough English skills that they can help you!!
When we left Bangkok we had little over a one hour flight to Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai is in the far northern part of the country, very near Burma (Myanmar) and Laos. This area where the three countries meet is called the Golden Triangle. It is a little higher in elevation here so it is close to 10 degrees ferenheit cooler than Bangkok. For instance, it was the cold season but 80 degrees, but in Bangkok it was around 90 and fairly humid. The Thai's are so acclamated to their weather though that most people were in long pants and a lightweight jacket.
I guess normal is what you are used to....
Well I'm back! And if you've done the Math, I've been back for a week and a half. But, I've been editing the thousand or so pics I took and am pretty much done getting them up on flickr. So I suppose it's time to start blogging about our experience. I think it will also help me process this amazingly mind blowing experience.
Also, I got an e-mail tonight from a high school friend who informed me that one of our former classmates has a blogspot about her life in Bangkok as a teacher. This is really exciting to me as we lost our hearts to this land and culture. So I can't wait to go back in her archives and read all about her experience. And, it's sort of inspired me to get off my butt and write about my thoughts myself.
I kind of like to do things in order so I've started at the beginning here. First off, the hubs and I were very thrilled about the group of people that were going. It's the largest group that's ever gone on a missions trip from our church: 21. A wide assortment of talents and personalities and I must say, everyone was a pleasure. It's made me feel much more a part of our church getting to know these people and letting them get to know me.
And, as so much of my life in the recent years has been defined by pain, it was great to be defined more by my gifts and personality than my hang-ups!!!! :)
*I'm sure you are all dying to know about my health, and I appreciate that. I had the normal amount of headaches as my botox was wearing off and I started my period on the day we left Chiang Rai. But, I was able to treat them quickly with my meds and staved off any pain. I didn't miss out on anything.
Back to the story.
The flights were BRUTAL. I had been to New Zealand so that was slight preparation. But this was much more greusome. 10 hours to Tokyo, 8+ to Bangkok and 1 1/2 to Chiang Rai. About 2 hours into it I really started to feel the pressure in my head. I didn't want to take a migraine reversal drug because I had 16 more hours to fly! So I took 2 Dramamine to help me sleep. Within about an hour my head felt so much better. I continued the Dramamine every 4-6 hours and found that's the trick for me in flying. Now, that would knock most people out. And it did make me drowsy, but I have a hard-core system people. No doubt for being such a shorty!
Anyway, we get to Tokyo and we are all so exhausted. We got on our flight to Bangkok and they come on that the mechanics had found a problem. So we wait 30 min. (Service in Thailand is impecable. So they turn on the air conditioner, serve drinks and snacks...that's only the beginning people) Finally they offload us.
We wait quite a while and they decide to reassign us to a flight the next day. Everyone was pretty relieved because we would still be able to make our Chiang Rai flight. They paid for a bus to take us to a hotel, for the hotel and two meals, a bus back to the airport, $200 per person towards future flights and $10 per person for meals in the airport. Sweet!!!
So, now I can say I've been to Tokyo (narita)!!
I think I'm pooped now from writing. I think I will write more about getting to Bangkok tomorrow.