Thursday, July 22, 2010

A present in my pocket

Monday, July 12th
Phetchabun, Thailand
Phrae, Thailand

Today we woke up early and had breakfast with the kids. It was our last time, because we would be traveling to Phrae after the kids go off to school. I sat with Woot and his gang.

Every few minutes he was pointing the the pocket on my capris and saying something in Thai. I didn't understand the words he was saying, but I kept telling him that my pocket was empty. He was very insistent. (Just like when he told me there was a snake under my chair yesterday...and there really was!) Finally I decided to show him that my pocket was empty. I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out a little picture of Woot in his school uniform. He hid it in my pocket when I wasn't looking! On the back he wrote his name and "I love Tiff". I am really going to miss this kid!

I went back to the little boys house with them and sat in the school room as they recited all the posters on the wall. Days of the week, months of the year, English & Thai alphabet, numbers 1 - 100, and multiplication tables, all in English and Thai.

They prayed with Aon, their house mother, and then they got their backpacks and snack and headed out the door. We held hands and walked to the the school. (When I say "we" I mean me and all 12 little boys who lived in that house! I seriously needed more hands!)

Kids were coming up and giving me all kinds of little presents. Cards they made, school papers they got good grades on, little oragami papers and fans. They are all so sweet. Jeerawat and Dtoi gave me cards also. I could barely hold back the tears.

Woot, Santee, Jeerawat and Dtoi gave me one more hug and then headed up the path to school. At the last moment Woot turned around to wave before he turned the corner. I waved back and wished we didn't have to leave today.

After all the kids made their way to school we said goodbye to all the Thai and Australian volunteers and loaded up in the mini-busses for our trip to Phrae.

Phrae is a couple hours away from Phetchabun. We stopped half-way to have some lunch at a mall. Pad Thai - my absolute favorite! Maia and I surprised Jain by eating it "Thai Style" with fish sauce, chili's, peanuts, sugar and chopsticks.

We continued our drive to Phrae. I couldn't believe it when we got there. It looked so different! When I was here five years ago they were pouring cement and cutting down trees. It was still a dream that was just getting started. Now they had houses, a kitchen and dining room area, a laundry area, volunteer houses, two playground areas and a little swimming pool. Right now Ban Meata Phrae is only housing babies and toddlers. The oldest one they have right now is four years old. They are hoping to get a few more babies soon.

John and Sharon(Rob Dunk's daughter) gave us the history of Ban Meata Phrae and some dreams of what they want it to become. We split into two teams to accomplish more while we are here. The first team went to the local hospital to deliver care packages to the new mothers for their babies. Ban Meata likes to keep a good relationship with the hospitals so that if any mother decides she doesn't want or can't keep her baby the hospital staff can contact Sharon. The team was able to talk to the new mothers, deliver the care packages, and even see the new babies that were just born.

The second team began painting the first coat of bright orange paint on the fence around the swimming pool.

Jeremy went with John to town to get plants and fruit trees for the guys to plant tomorrow. They got so many! Again, a goal of Ban Meata is to be self-sufficient, so they have ponds full of fish and want to be able to have as many fruit trees as they can. They will eat the fruit and sell some at the markets.

For dinner we had Masaman Curry. It was so good!

A group of us went for a walk after dinner to Jain's house. It got dark very quickly. As we were walking I put my hand in my pocket, felt the little picture of Woot and smiled. A few hours away is a little boy that I love very much.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Last Day in Phetchabun

Sunday, July 11th
Phetchabun, Thailand

Today we got up early to eat breakfast with the kids, who were all still in their pajamas. After breakfast a bunch of the older kids began setting up chairs for church, since they use the same building.

I went with Woot and Ahm to the little boys house. While they took turns getting ready for church, I read books to them. They liked hearing what we were saying in English and then they would look at the pictures and translate it into Thai. Some of their books were written in English and Thai, so we would take turns reading in both languages.

When all the boys were ready, Aon, their housemother, made coffee for me and then put on a movie for all the boys to watch.

Church was awesome. Nelly played drums with the Thai band. A group of us (Nelly, Glenn, Amanda, Raven, Clarissa and I) sang for everyone and Jeremy was today's speaker with Jain interpreting. Jeremy talked about David and the fact that no one believed in him but he didn't give up, he followed his dreams.

It was really neat for me to see Santee play the drums and Dtoi sing during the service. I was so proud of those two boys!

The coolest part was when the band played "Mighty To Save". I could hear people singing it in Thai and English at the same time.

Carrie wanted everyone to see one of our songs, so we totally broke out "Supertones Strike Back". Then she told everyone in Thai that they had to stand up and do it with us...and they actually did! It was so fun to see everyone, not just the kids, dancing to the Supertones with us!

After church I gave Woot a bracelet I made for him. He absolutely loved it.

After lunch a bunch of us packed in to the back of Carries pickup and Diana and her husband took us to see the farm. One of the goals of Mercy International is to be self-sufficient, so they have started quite a large farm to provide food and income for the orphanages. They have a farm where they grow a lot of fruit trees and vegetables, they have a fish farm and a cattle farm with cows, goats and chickens. All three are doing quite well. They also have some rice fields, but it will be a few years before they are ready to plant rice.

When we got back Nonette and I spent some time playing some of the older girls. They wanted us to teach them how to play Skip-bo. They had the game, but no instructions in Thai. So we did our best to teach them how to play using our limited knowledge of Thai. They caught on really quick.

After dinner we had an ice cream party with the kids. We bought ice cream in Lomsak and brought a bunch of toppings with us that they absolutely loved. We played and danced with the kids until it was time for them to go to bed. I was so sad, because tomorrow we have to say goodbye to these kids. And I will really miss them.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saturday in Phetchabun

Saturday, July 10th
Phetchabun, Thailand

Today we started our day eating breakfast with the pancakes, toast or even Thailand breakfast is served like any other meal. Rice with veggies, meat, even curry.

After breakfast the kids had a short prayer time together before they started chores.

Since the kids were doing chores we thought we would help out too. So we had little groups that picked weeds, painted, and did laundry. I was on Jeremy's group, picking weeds. It went really well until Santee and Godt started helping us...then somehow we all ended up at the lake having a rock skipping contest. :)

After chores we spent time playing with the kids before lunch. They like to play soccer, basketball and jacks. We also played American football, which they weren't really used to. Keith and I started playing football with some of the boys and it turned into playing monkey in the middle, which was really fun.

On Saturdays and Sundays after lunch until 3pm everyone has a quiet time. Some people read, sleep or watch movies. Our team met with Rob Dunk (founder of Mercy International) and he told us stories of some of the children. What their lives were like and how they ended up at Ban Meata. It was awesome to hear the stories and see how far these kids have come.

One kid, Dtoi, has come a long way, even since I met him 5 years ago. He was living in Khon Kaen with HIV. He made a game of catching bugs and slipping them into my pocket. Praying Mantis' were his favorite. He loved to sneak the praying mantis on my shoulder and then tap right next to it so I would turn my head and look right at it!

One day he was getting his blood taken at the hospital and they couldn't find any trace of the virus! He is now living in Phetchabun and is doing very well. Here is a picture of Dtoi and I today:

Today we had a program planned for the elementary school age kids. Nelly and I had planned the program earlier before we came to Thailand. During lunch Jeremy informed me that I was leading the program. I got so nervous! I have taught in front of lots of kids...but I have never had to use an interpreter before. Jain did a great job translating and the program went really well. The kids loved our games, songs and craft. We brought paint and they made 2 big murals to hang up. And they especially liked the goldfish crackers we brought for a snack.

After dinner we had a program for all the kids. We did songs, skits, a lot of games, and it was really fun. When we weren't on the stage we were sitting with the kids. I couldn't go anywhere without Woot, Jeerawat, Godt or Ahm. They are so sweet.

Jeerawat and I:



Friday, July 9th
Phetchabun, Thailand

We left Khon Kaen early Friday morning and piled into three mini-busses. The ride was around four hours long and through beautiful countryside. We drove through mountains, in the jungle and through a national park.

Random food that I tried on the way to Phetchabun: spicy dried fish (the fish version of beef jerky) and dried oysters, compliments of Glen and Jain who actually enjoy those salty snacks.

Once we got to Ban Meata Phetchabun we ate lunch and met the Australian volunteers who run the children's home. The children's home in Phetchabun is a little different from the children's home in Khon Kaen. Khon Kaen is for children who are HIV positive and is in a large city so they can be close the hospital. The children go to a public school on the property next to the orphanage. Phetchabun is set up like a children's village with little houses and buildings in strategic places. The children live in the houses with kids their age and a house parent. They are all together for playtime and meals though.

The children at Phetchabun attend a Christian school that is run by Mercy International on the same Ban Meata property. It is called Meata Chanupatham Christian School.

The children who attend this school get a very good quality education and are taught English. It is open to anyone who wants to attend. Currently they have over 1,200 students, some of which are Buddhist.

We wanted to see the school, so at 3:30 we went to the school and then actually got on the song-theaw school busses with them to see where the kids who aren't a part of the orphanage live. Our team split up and about 4 of us got on each bus. Nelly, Omar and Mo and I were on the same bus. The kids had no idea what to do with 4 foreigners on their bus. For a while they just stared at us, so we decided to entertain them to break the ice. Nelly started doing little games and tricks with them. It was beyond awesome to see an entire bus of little Thai kids doing "the siren" with her! If you've been on Mexico outreach with Nelly before you know what I'm talking about! :) Some of the kids were showing Mo their homework, and I counted to 50 in Thai with a group of kids, which they thought was hilarious. But the highlight of the ride was folding paper with the kids. They taught us how to fold a piece of paper to make a really loud popper and Nelly made paper birds and space ships for them. I know it made their day.

These kids literally live out in the middle of no-where. Their houses were very simple, made of wood, and most of them built on stilts above the ground. Their houses are very small and their families don't have much at all, but that doesn't seem to matter at all here. They are still so happy.

After we returned from taking the kids home I went to find Wootipong. He is a little 9 year old boy who lives in Phetchabun that I knew when I was there five years ago. He was four years old then and was in Khon Kaen a lot to go to the hospital. Woot (that's his nickname) was born with a hole in his heart and had to go to the doctor a lot. Thankfully as he is growing up the hole is closing on it's own. I brought some pictures for him from five years ago. He got so excited to see them and remembered them being taken. He is a really sweet boy.

We ate dinner with the kids and then did a program for the teenagers. We did some skits and games and then made bracelets with them. The bracelets they were supposed to give away as a gift to a friend. The teenagers had a lot of fun with the program and being creative with the bracelets.