Home on the mission compound! What a fun, funny, exciting, but totally exhausting day it was to get here.
The day began early — 2 a.m. — like it usually does for us. (Before you are too impressed, let me hasten to say that we go to bed at 7 p.m., so that is not as awe-inspiring as it might otherwise be.) After blogging, I packed. We don’t have much stuff — just what would fit in four suitcases. However, the mission work supplied the condo with linens, pots and pans, and various other things needed to set up housekeeping. These things are old friends, since we see them each year when we come to work.
After breakfast Brother Anond and So Pic arrived. We needed So Pic’s truck because Anond’s is still in the shop. We loaded it up and the long and crazy day began. The morning we spent at Makro, which is roughly the equivalent of a Costco or Sam’s Club. That was the fun part. We were agreeably surprised at the prices and bought almost everything we needed there.
My main prize is my refrigerator. I am the proud owner of a bright pink fridge! I could have had a vivid green one, but opted for pink. I didn’t know they came in such exotic colors, but things tend to be bright here.
Our second purchase that made me especially happy was a Renai-type water heater/shower. No need for spartan cold water baths after all. It was inexpensive, too, at around $100 in U.S. money.
I went a little crazy after that and bought a bright pink electric skillet for $12 or so and a pink $12 blender. Some storage containers, a broom (with a long handle) and a mop completed our purchases.
We just lacked two things — a bed and something on which to hang our clothes. That’s when the troublesome part of the day began. Mattresses are crazy expensive! The mats they use here are too thin for our Western bones, especially on a hard tile floor. We asked about blow-up air beds like we keep for extra company at home. “No,” the girl said seriously. “We don’t have those in Chiang Mai.”
By then we were beat and it was time for lunch, so we ate at a KFC at the mall. It wasn’t the same, but tasted similar to the one at home, which is always a comfort when we are tired.
A store in the mall had a mattress display out front, so we went in to check out options. And found air beds! Then we discovered to our dismay, that we had spent too much of our cash at Makro and didn’t have enough left for two beds. We have money we brought from home, but Paul only changes it to baht as we need it in case the exchange rate varies.
We bought one single mattress and headed out at last to the mission. We arrived to find a smiling, chattering, group of ladies. They thought we were going to have ladies’ Bible study today and seven ladies showed up — only to find I wasn’t there. They stayed around, though, and with the best of humor, helped us unload and bring everything into our new home.
I probably could have managed some things better myself, doing it my own way, but how can you resist the loving hands eagerly helping with such joy?
But then we made the second unhappy discovery of the day. The room has only one electrical outlet. My lovely pink refrigerator had no place to plug in. With my new electric cooking gadgets and our computers, printer, etc., it was hopeless. Ma Ta’s husband Ja Ha got the job of adding another outlet. I was not too sure he had much electrical experience and a time or two started mentally rehearsing how to do CPR just in case I had to deal with an electrocution. At length he got the job done, though. About the time he finished, a nice young man came to install the hot water/shower thing. (Only three hours late.) This involved much carrying-in and out of a very long ladder and a lot of drilling into the concrete walls.
Meanwhile, Paul and Bro. Anond had gone back into Chiang Mai to run errands and to change money and get another air bed and to buy something to hang our clothes on, which we had forgotten. I kept unpacking and figuring where to put things. The flocks of people and the ladder coming in and out — not to mention the drills and tools placed here and there on chairs and boxes I was trying to arrange — made this an unusual challenge! And I kept wondering why Simon and Se Bat were putting up a tent in the orchard by the school building.
Paul came back with a clothes rack and Ma Ta and the other ladies put it together. It, too, had difficulties. It is a bit on the flimsy side and when loaded with our clothes, it started bending in the middle. Brother Anond’s sister, Ma Ta took charge. She cut a piece of bamboo, cut a notch in the top with a machete, and used it to prop up the sagging middle. I’m probably the only one of my friends who has, not only a pink refrigerator, but a bamboo (partially) clothes rack!
The mystery of the tent — which kept on falling down as they tried to set it up — was solved. Simon wanted to stay nearby to protect us! He wanted to make sure that we were safe on our first night at the mission. Our protests that we were not nervous at all fell on deaf ears. However, Simon never could get the tent to stay up, so he abandoned his kind plan. Instead, A Ti spent the night on the floor of the classroom to make sure we had a safe night.
At long last, the shower guy finished and left — taking a sizable chunk of change with him in pay! Paul and Anond came back from another set of errands just as he was leaving, bringing a shower rod and curtain. We were so exhausted that we assured Anond we could do without a shower. It was eight o’clock by that time and we had been up since 2 — and had nothing to eat since KFC at noon. Ja Ha and Ma Ta were tired, too, and he said he would do it tomorrow. Anond is a determined fellow, though, and Ja Ha started putting up the shower rod.
The La Hu people are musical and artistic, as well as gifted with a sense of humor and a sense of fun. It is apparent, though, why Anond is one of the very few La Hu with an engineering degree. They tend to eyeball things rather than measure, and as a result, our circular shower rod lacked a good eight inches fitting the brackets. Not a problem. Anond took the circular piece and bent it. Then it matched up with the brackets, but the side piece was too long. Anond measured it and cut it off. To my surprise, it worked!
And so, finally, we went to bed on our comfortable air beds here at the mission where we longed to be. I still have things to arrange and rearrange, and we still need curtains (Anond rigged some tablecloths for privacy last night.) But I am happy. What a blessing to have cheerful, welcoming friends doing their best to make us comfortable! I have everything I need — and a bright pink refrigerator. God is good.
Please pray that we will be a blessing to these precious people, and that God will be honored in our stay here.
For our Internet troubles. Paul and Brother Anond are trying to find a solution right now while I am back at the condo just long enough to post this blog.
Blessings from Thailand,
The ladies group who came for a Bible study and stayed to help me.
Blowing up the air bed.
Putting together the clothes rack. That’s Ma Ta in the pink shirt.
Simon couldn’t get the tent to stay up, so had to give up on protecting us.
The ladies helped carry in all these piles of belongings.