First Days

9/12/16

Summer Training finished August 14, and my visa still hadn’t been processed. I had planned to leave for Thailand on August 25, but that day came and went with no sign of my visa. I tried waiting patiently, but God heard many cries of frustration from my mouth as I sat at home, watching my friends go to school, and watching fellow SMs head out to their mission posts. I packed, repacked, prayed, prepared, and said hundreds of goodbyes for what felt like months until finally a little package came in the mail that made it possible for me to finally head out to the mission field. On Monday, September 5, I said my final goodbyes to my family and headed out, along with my fellow SM, Danielle, to our new South East Asian home.

It was a long trip. Over 30 hours of travel, and virtually no sleep. We arrived Wednesday, September 7 at about 10am, and at first discovering all the new and exciting sights and sounds masked my desire for sleep. But soon the initial excitement wore off and a wave of exhaustion overcame me. We had a million things to do in order to settle in: get unpacked, clean the house, take inventory of what was there, do laundry, make beds, shop for food… It was overwhelming. Only by the grace of God did we actually stay awake until 7pm, when I finally allowed sleep to overtake me.

Thursday was an adventuresome day filled with excitement and frustration. While we had already gone shopping the day before, we were like zombies, not actually comprehending what was going on, and making decisions without thinking. On Thursday we were much more alert, and shopping that day went much better. The morning flew by quickly, and before I knew it I was headed off to the music school to teach my first lessons. I taught for 3 hours, and in that time I quickly realized how little motivation some students had for actually becoming good musicians. I wanted to scream at some of them for spending the entire lesson goofing off and banging on the keys, but at the same time, I knew that their parents didn’t really care if they improved or not, just as long as they were having fun. That’s a new concept to me. I’m slowly adjusting to the idea that it’s ok for them not to be perfect. (I’m very much a perfectionist so this idea may take some time to fully set in.) The evening came to a close and sleep became all I could think of. I was concerned at how tired I seemed to be all the time, but I realized that jet-lag is a real thing, so I embraced it as part of the experience.

The weekend was filled with meeting new people. Sabbath was especially great because at the Khon Kaen church, there’s a group of English-speaking Filipinos who welcomed us into their circle and gave our ears a break from the constant Thai chatter. Don’t get me wrong, Thai is a beautiful language, but it gets draining after a while, trying to pick out what few words I understand, then waiting for someone to notice my distress and translate for me. The whole church service was in Thai, but the sermon was translated from the front, and the rest of the service was translated from the seats. My favorite part of the day was definitely pot luck. With all the contributions of Filipino and Thai food, my tummy was beyond satisfied. The rest of Sabbath was spent doing outreach to the community, which meant playing music in the market while handing out free water and literature. Some people tried to give us money for the music and water, but of course we declined every time, and gave them books instead. That was pretty startling to them. While I usually hate going up to strangers and handing out Adventist literature, the reactions of these people were so great, I really didn’t mind! Besides, the majority of the time I played the ukulele and valiantly attempted to sing songs in Thai.

Sunday is actually the busiest day at the music school. Because kids aren’t in school, there’s more time available to come to music lessons, so the entire day is filled for all the teachers. I taught from 9am until 7pm with a few breaks scattered throughout. I thought I would never finish. When I did get done, I got a ride home from someone, only to find out that I was locked out. Danielle had gone to the market, and she was the only one with keys to the house. Fortunately, our back door doesn’t really close well, so I was able to break in that way. It was all I could do to change clothes and crawl into bed. However, 20 minutes later, Danielle got home with a gift, she said, that I had to try right away. She handed me a bag with food she had purchased from the market and told me to try this yellow, slimy thing. Even though I had never had it before, I knew it was durian. I’d heard terrible things about that fruit, and I wasn’t too excited about being forced to try it myself. Just by smelling it I knew it wasn’t going to go down well. Sure enough, as soon as my tongue touched the tip of that slimy sucker I thought I was going to throw up. She encouraged me to take a bite, and I tried, but as soon as my teeth sunk into its stinky flesh, my gag reflexes caused me to spit it right back out. One of the Career Missionary families, the Sorensens, were there to witness the whole thing, and they almost died with laughter. I’m told that with durian you either love it or you hate it, so I must be one of the people who hate it. That was an experience I won’t soon forget.

Now here I am on Monday night, trying desperately to keep my eyes open long enough to finish this blog post, knowing that tomorrow I might not finish it because every day fills up with activities so fast, it’s over before I really knew it began. It’s a whole new world out here, and I’d love to go into detail about all the different sounds, sights, and smells, but that would take me too long to write, and I’m sure no one has time to read anything that detailed anyway. All I can say is, it might take a while for me to fully adjust to this new environment, but Thailand has already won me over, and I can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead.

Comments

This is a lovely “First Days” overview. Thank you for keeping us up to date! Love you!

By Anna's Mama on September 12 2016, 9:29 pm

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