- Susan Brown
Life at Thai Speed.
“Life goes by fast…If you don’t take time to stop and look, you may miss it.” (saying on my new notebook.)
We have felt as if life is careening along at top speed — like a car on a Thai highway. It’s hard to believe we have been here for nearly three months already!
Christmas slipped past with a very different feel. It was cold enough this year, but it isn’t really celebrated here in this Buddhist country. The children didn’t even get the day off from school. The only acknowledgement of the holiday was in the stores where Christmas carols played and trees and packages decorated the aisles. On Christmas day Paul took just about the first day off since we arrived. We took a little jaunt to the border to sight-see and had a great time. We had dinner at KFC in the supermarket in Fang. And enjoyed it!
We did go to one “holiday” event a week or so earlier. It was a surprise party. Well, it was a surprise to us. As usual, because of language difficulties, we didn’t know exactly where we were going and what we would be doing. We were under the impression that the children had been invited to a program at a local Thai church (not one of the churches in our group, but a Baptist group.) So we dressed for church, with me in my skirt and sandals. We arrived to find that the program was held outside and that it was a house-warming celebration. But house-warming wasn’t exactly the right term. We were cold!
An abundant meal of Thai food was laid out on a buffet table — but we didn’t know food was included in the invitation, so we ate before we came. At least a half-dozen people brought us plates and urged us to eat. In my stumbling Thai I explained that we had already eaten. (Rao kin leaw.) We would sit on the cold bench until someone else with plates of food in hand would kindly approach us. When they offered ice cream, we gave up and took it, although we felt like popsicles ourselves by that time. The children did full justice to the dinner, though, as did the Lahu choir who had also been invited.
Someone started a fire and we gratefully huddled around it. The temperature had dropped into the thirties and I hadn’t even brought my light jacket. And my sandal-clad feet were blue. In the U.S., a campfire would have meant marshmallows and S’mores. Here they handed us a length of bamboo stuffed with sticky rice and red beans. We cooked these over the fire. Delicious!
At last the program started. We heard many lovely songs before and after the preaching and testimonies. I would have really enjoyed the service, except that it was held on the outside porch of the new house. The view was amazing, but an icy wind was part of the package. Since it was almost part of the house, we had to take off our shoes. I thought my feet could not get colder, but I was mistaken!
Are you surprised that we get weather like this in the tropics? We were, too! We counted up eight former visits to Thailand before moving here in October. We have NEVER been cold. We have never been here late in December, though. Also, this is an unusually fierce cold snap. The night of our barefoot, coatless, outside party, they had record-breaking temps. Jeng, my Thai instructor, told me today that the cold weather is rarely this bad and never lasts this long.
Of course, most of you would consider this an unusually warm spell for mid-winter. It would not be bad at all with a space heater and flannel pajamas and a heavier jacket to get through the morning and evening hours. The daytime temps are in the 70s. No doubt it will be over soon and we will be wishing for cool again.
Next week starts another round of celebrations — New Year’s. It’s another big deal in the villages (second only to Thanksgivings) and we have been invited to several. Paul will be preaching about three times in one day in different villages. He will need three different messages because whole villages also travel from one place to another for the celebrations.
Meanwhile the children will be out of school next week. I’m taking a break from my Thai classes so that I can travel with Paul and can go with the kids on the field trips and outings that are planned.
On Jan. 2 we are planning a trip to Burma and to our new property. Pictures to come shortly! For now I’m off to do some more sewing. All but two of the little girls have pillowcase dresses now. I’m venturing on to skirts for the two bigger girls after the last of the dresses are finished.
Blessings from Thailand,