New Friends

I love to travel.  One of my favorite parts of travel is meeting new people.  I’ve often said, “if I went to the moon and there were people there, I would make friends and want to stay.”  This trip was no different.  Well, it was actually.  There is a husband back home that prevents the “wanting to stay” part.  But other than that, it is no different.  At first everything is so strange that there are moments when I think, “oh, I just want to be home.”  I can’t understand anything and for a verbal person that is TOUGH.  There is so much busy busy activity, people everywhere, I don’t know what to do, I can’t talk to anyone, I can’t understand anyone.  But then I learn a few words, the greeting words, and it’s a bit better.   Then you start to make a few friends and it’s a whole different world.

My friend, Ya

Here in Thailand, the people are so friendly.  They are all smiles.  They seem like the happiest people in the world.  They all have to come up to you at church and greet you with their hands in “praying position” they do a little bow and say “so-wat-dee-kah”.  They are all “pleased as punch” that Vonda’s parents and sister came to visit.  They love these “farongs” (foreigners) and they will bend over backwards to show it.  By the end of a week in Surin, after the second Sunday I had friends.  Friends I didn’t want to say good-by to.  Isn’t it lovely that we know we will see each other in heaven one day.  The liklihood of me coming back here is small.  There is facebook… I have some new friends for my facebook… and there is email.  But it’s stll tough to say goodby.

One of my favorite day trips was to the Hindu Ruins from the 10th and 11th centuries.  It was awesome to see.  The ruins are on a hilltop and the stone work is impressive.  But that wasn’t why I enjoyed it so much.  The main reason was that Ya, a young woman who works with the missionaries went with us.  I made a friend.

So, when I go home on Friday I’ll take a lot of mental pictures with me.  I’ll also take some new friends in my heart.  God is so good to us, isn’t He?

Riding Elephants

There are moments in life where you realize, very clearly and undeniably that this will be something that you will remember forever.  Something so out of the ordinary… something that creates such a special moment for those involved… something so totally incredible.  I had a moment like this two days ago.  Several in fact.

I am in Thailand.   I traveled here with my parents to see my sister, Vonda.  “Ah-ha” you say.  “That is why she hasn’t posted for so long.”  Well, it is one reason.  The busyness leading up to the trip, the trip itself (over 24 hours), then the jet lag..  Suffice it to say, I just haven’t had the motivation and energy to post.  But this one… it’s too good to pass up.

Saturday, our first full day in Surin, the town where my sister is a missionary, we went to the Elephant Village.  This is a village where the entire purpose and industry revolves around the elephants.  The elephants are family.  They are loved and honored.  When an elephant is born it is “given” to someone in the village who is responsible for it’s care and training for it’s entire life.  They have an elephant show wherein the elephants paint pictures (extremely impressive), play soccer, basketball, do tricks, and even step over volunteers lying on mats on the ground.  I volunteered.  It was either a temporary moment of insanity, or extreme bravery but Vonda and I both did it.  Much more pleasant than holding a tarantula to impress my eight year old niece and nephew a few years ago.

Anyway, my Dad was intrigued by the thought of riding an elephant.  He paid a minimal fee to have an elephant pick him up on his trunk and lift him up in the air.  THAT will possibly be the highlight of my trip.  Then all four of us paid to ride the elephants.  We climbed into a basket and rode around the village.  There were several things about that ride that impressed me.  Just the very special moments shared with my Dad (we shared a basket) as we both enjoyed this “we aren’t in Kansas anymore” experience would have made it worth it.  In addition, the slow pace, ambling around the dusty streets of this very simple village, peaceful in the afternoon as most of the people were involved with the show and the tourists left me feeling as if I was entering another time. Then I realized… this is their normal.  This is their home.   This is what they know and love.  We saw many many elephants, almost one for every yard.  The good thing… they don’t bark when you go by.

My dad’s observation of the ride was that it provided a loosening exercise for his lower back. 🙂  He was intrigued by it all, but a little disappointed.  He didn’t want to ride in the basket.  He wanted to ride bareback like the trainers did.  Now that… THAT would be a real elephant ride.   I guess he just wanted to see if it was anything like riding a horse bareback. 🙂

At several points in the three hours we spent in the village it struck me… I am blessed to have this opportunity.  To be here in this place today with my parents and sister.  To see another perspective of this world.  To see another group of people needing the Lord.

I’ve had the thought, several times here that it would be fun to write a “Double Cousins Mystery” here in Thailand.  I don’t think it’s at all practical…. the children in my book don’t come with enough money to travel en masse someplace across the world.  Then… how would they ever solve a mystery in a land where they can’t understand a thing that is said.  I guess I’ll stick to the good ol’ USA for a few more books.  I did a bit of revising of the second book on the plane ride over here and plan to do a lot more on the way home.  I need to gear up to start marketing that book.

So, I’ll try to blog again soon from Thailand.  There’s so much to share from this beautiful country.  Keep checking.  I’ll try to post again in a couple of days. 🙂  The basket-weaving village is today…. don’t think it will require the bravery/insanity of the elephant village.  I hope not, I think I’ve used up my bravery and hope the insanity stays buried. 🙂