Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Impressions

Where to start?

I’m not sure why I am finding it so hard to put into words the ins and outs of our new life here in Bangkok.

We are trying, rather unsuccessfully, to resist constant comparison of Thailand to Tonga.

                  …. But if I were to compare…I would say my first impression is that there are some extreme differences-Thailand is big where Tonga is small, fast-paced where Tonga was slow, slow, slow, and well-stocked with anything and everything under the sun (food, clothes, entertainment, etc) where Tonga offered canned meat and the occasional bunch of lettuce, and the night stars were the only reason to be up past 7pm.

However, as I spend more time talking with people who have lived here before….as I walk the streets and observe-I find there are so many similarities. A sweet evening hour when the streets are full with people talking, gossiping, eating, dancing….so reminiscent of our evenings spent in “loto kolo” on good ‘ol Nuapapu. To live, once more, in a monarchy, where the people love and respect their king in a way so different than us Americans with our president. To feel, so intensely, the importance of language learning. To enjoy the constant hellos and smiles-the acknowledgement of one’s presence that just doesn’t happen that often in the States.


There have been times of wonder- wonder of whys and whats and whos- why Bangkok, what, exactly, is going to fill my time, and who will be our community.

But there have been far more moments of revelation, purpose, connecting, and comfort.

I am happy we are here, and though my doubts may bubble up from time to time, they are quickly eased. I feel now it would take 100 years to know the ins and outs of this city, this country. I’m so excited to discover more.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Apartment Pictures

New home in Bangkok!

Table and Kitchen



Living Room
We live in a studio. Our wardrobe separates the "living room" from our "bedroom"

Richards family tradition. These bells are gonna see the world!

Apartment 401=lots of stairs for me!

View from 4th floor. The parking lot is in front of our apartment building. The little house is the guard building-they open the gate to let cars in/out.

ICS (the school) is on the left.

Our bed and wardrobe

The back of the wardrobe and far too many pictures (mostly of my nephew!)

Our entertainment center covered in all of Mark's school stuff and minus a TV

Nurse Ali

Mark was sick this last week-just a two day, miserable bout of fever, dehydration, and stomach issues. As I nursed him (to the best of my ability) hour after hour and all through the night, I couldn’t help but think of the last time I had taken his temperature every few hours, walked with him to the restroom every half hour, and cooled his feverish skin with cold washcloths. My, how things have changed. Thank God, thank you God, for your protection on that little island in the big Pacific. From multiple foot infections, eye ulcers, heat exhaustion, and dehydration battles….I am, again, so aware that we were not on our own. I am so thankful that we can walk and see and that beyond a few very uncomfortable days, we were (and remain) incredibly healthy. (Also thankful that our bathroom is attached and inside of our apartment, for amazing air conditioning, and the gift of cold, refrigerated water to drink!)

Not only did God protect us, he used us (yes me!) to nurse others. When I think about the amount of times I looked out our (perpetually) open doors and saw a huddled mass bringing a bleeding student, neighbor, kava bro, or church elder to my house….crazy. My heart would immediately sink to my stomach, as I grabbed every medicine, ointment, and bandage we owned. From busted heads to machete hacked feet, back pain, tooth aches, and infections….I have never practiced as much “nursing” as I did in Tonga. Again, thank God, that my poorly wrapped bandages and suggested doses brought healing and comfort.

As I think and hope and plan about my time in Thailand, I am reminded of my unexpected (and yes, often unwanted) role as a nurse in Tonga. I often felt inadequate and scared, even by the simple task of cleaning a wound. But I was the only one with first aid materials-and the nearest doctor a good 2 hour boat ride away. So with prayers on my lips, and tentative hands-I did what I could, what was needed.

Praying now to be willing in whatever way I am needed in/at here in Thailand. I pray for courage to do the things that intimidate me. For a happy heart to do the things I’d much rather not spend my time doing.  For a (perpetually) open door that tells my new friends, co-workers, neighbors, and whoever else that comes into our lives- that they are welcome. That we will drop everything, always.


                            Still learning from our little island on the edge of the world,



Saturday, July 12, 2014


We have made it to Thailand!

Our first impressions have been truly wonderful. I think this second first week starting a new life in a new country has been much easier than our first, first week. =)

We have been greeted very warmly, have been taken care of incredibly, and of course, Mark is plowing away with his Thai studying.

We have learned that women cannot sit next to monks on planes, or elsewhere. (whoops!)

That it is not okay to stop a rolling coin with one’s foot (as the king’s face is on the coin).

That there are a lot (a lot a lot) of people here. A lot.

That malls can sometimes have at least 7 floors-with a water park on top.

We have been busy getting to know the teachers that are around (we are the first of the new teachers to arrive, and many of the “old” teachers are not back from their various vacations. ).

We have done a lot of shopping (which could not be a more opposite experience from Tonga).

We have tried some yummy Thai food, and eyed much more things we would like to try.


And all in all, we are getting settled in this new place. More to come, I’m sure!



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We made it to Korea and it just hit me that this is my first time in Asia. I have now, in a combination of ever so short bops and some longer stays, been to 6 of the 7 continents. Crazy.

We have one more flight ahead of us and then we are home. I feel very ready for whatever bed will be waiting for me.

Thanks for your prayers, well wishes, and sweet goodbyes. It is always hard for us to leave behind our families and friends.

In my travel weary, sleep deprived state, I often tend to have a few moments during our long plane rides away from home where I wonder just how crazy we must be. But then we get little goody bags from the stewardess, and I find that what I thought was surely little eye masks are instead cute slipper, we spot monks and cute kids, smell new smells, hear new sounds, make silly mistakes for lack of understanding....and I remember why it is we love all this. (But still I think I will be a bit more happy once I sleep...)