Thursday, October 25, 2018

Visit to TaPhraya

Life is good.

Is this true? Is life good for everyone?
This is what has been running through my mind ever since we traveled to TaPhraya a few weeks ago.

TaPhraya is very poor town in Thailand near the border with Cambodia. This is where our newest Blessing Home is located as well as TMM missionaries Joshua and Jessica and their 3 daughters.

The church in TaPhraya is a daughter church from the Pattaya Church, Life Center. This means that the Pattaya Christians helped to plant, fund, and support this church. The pastor from Pattaya used to drive out to TaPhraya every week to preach, which is 5 hours each way.

A couple weeks ago, a group of women from Pattaya invited us to go with them to pray with some of the Christian seniors in TaPhraya. These are the seniors that are fed through the Blessing Home program in TaPhraya. They asked me to come and bring my medical supplies, as these people very limited access to healthcare. These women do this about every month, which 10 hours of driving in a day is a big commitment, but these women did not complain at all. So, we met them at the church at 5:00 AM, packed up a van with snacks and drove to TaPhraya.

Because I worked in Hospice, I am used to seeing people in pain, people’s bodies failing them, and the toll this takes on family members. But working in America, I was able to ensure that the patients were clean, pain free, overall comfortable, and well cared for, even if they were dying. Here, I saw people in pain, without medical supplies, and of course no one had the luxury of air conditioning, or much protection from the weather at all.

One couple we visited I cannot stop thinking about. We visited a man who takes care of his wife full time. She was hit by a truck and suffered a traumatic brain injury and is paralyzed, incontinent, and nonverbal. Although she has a hospital style bed, she had no mattress and was lying on a blanket on a piece of plywood. They lacked the most basic of medical supplies: clean disposable diapers and underpads. These are extremely absorbent and not meant for repetitive use. The husband had been trying to wash used underpads to reuse for his wife because he lacked the money to get new, clean ones. The husband appeared tired and worn down and my heart broke for him and his wife. Although I have seen all kinds of poverty and physical conditions in America, this one touched my heart like never before. I was amazed to see how she had no bed sores or infection! Her husband did a great job of shifting her weight and keeping her dry, which is a repetitive and tiresome job. I could tell that he was trying his best with the limited supplies he had, and with my friend translating for me, I was able to tell him that I could tell he really loved her because he was taking such good care of her. Along with snacks, we were able to leave some new adult diapers and underpads with them.

We also visited several people who were blind, some had skin conditions that were afflicting them, and all of them had dental problems. Although I was able to give things like hydrocortisone cream to those with itching skin, I knew there wasn’t much I could do as a nurse, and it made me feel powerless. I realized that the quality of life these people were experiencing was lower than the quality of life many Americans, including myself, would be willing to live.

Although these people were happy to receive snacks and vitamins, they clearly were happiest for the prayer and chance to speak with the Christians from Pattaya. While I was processing this experience, I turned to the Bible to give me peace and understanding, and found this:

2 Corinthians 5: 1-10 
For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God himself and not by human hands. How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes. For we shall not be merely spirits without bodies. These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh, but we wouldn’t like to think of dying and having no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life. This is what God has prepared for us, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.  
Now we look forward with confidence to our heavenly bodies, realizing that every moment we spend in these earthly bodies is time spent away from our eternal home in heaven with Jesus. We know these things are true by believing, not by seeing. And we are not afraid but are quite content to die, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So our aim is to please him always in everything we do, whether we are here in this body or away from this body and with him in heaven. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare—before him. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body.

It is very difficult to witness these people and their way of life and not be able to just fix it. But it helps to remind me of what a blessing we can be with to others with our presence and prayers. Because all Christians need encouragement to remember how things in this life will fall away, how health will inevitably fail, but our God is great and has prepared an eternal home for us in heaven with Jesus.

I have never learned how to keep my eyes on heaven instead of the things around me. But I believe that these Christians were doing just that. I believe these Christians are waiting in joyful anticipation of joining Jesus in Heaven where there will be no tears, sorrow, or pain.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

We are in Thailand!

We are in Thailand!

My mom took this picture of us when she dropped us off at the airport, and here we are with all our belongings! 2 suitcases, a carry-on, and personal item each. Thankfully, everything went well with our move!
Leaving Atlanta Airport
Boy, who is our Thai tutor, and Vicki from Special Blessings/Blessing Home Isan, picked us up from the airport and walked us through our transition for our first week in Thailand. We would have been completely lost without their help! Going days without having a phone/internet/being able to communicate with people in a new country is extremely stressful, but having them with us made everything ok!

All the TMM missionaries get together every 6 weeks. The meeting fell after 1 week of our arrival. Having everyone in one room eating together really felt like a family holiday for us. It was also a surprise baby shower for Boy and May, and a surprise house warming for us.
Me and May

All of the TMM missionaries

We started language school! We have about 10 students in our class. We have class 4 mornings a week and 2 teachers each day so that we can learn from a variety of teachers and become acclimated to the different accents and dialects. The class is small and intimate and we enjoy our classes and teachers. We had been studying Thai language for the last 6 months before we moved. Within a week our class had caught up to us! They really threw us in, which we are thankful for and hope we learn quickly!
Walen language school classroom
We don’t have a car yet, so we have been using public transportation. Usually we walk everywhere or take the songthaew. A songthaew is a normal truck that has seats and a cover over the bed of the truck. They have different colored trucks and routes. A lot of Thai people use this everyday to get to school or work. The most common form of transportation is still the motorbike. It is extremely common to see whole families on one motorbike.
Songthaew we take to class

Traffic near our house

Family on a motorbike

Many of you know that leaving our dog in Georgia was very hard for us. Our dog, Cinnamon Bun, is 15 years old and we didn’t believe that this move would be good for him and he has now become my parents' dog. Shortly after arriving in Thailand, our friends Boy and May who are about to have a baby had decided to rehome their dog, Nano. They gave us Nano and she has been so good for us! We know that this was a blessing from God, and that He knew when we were crying leaving Cinna in the states that Nano was already waiting for us in Thailand.
The moment we got Nano

Friday, August 17, 2018

Sold the house!

So much has happened since the last time we blogged!

First of all, we sold the house! It didn’t sell how we expected it would to our friends, but we are still so thankful to God that our house sold 1 week before we move, and it sold for the exact price we bought it for. This all means we are officially debt free! This is the first time in our adult lives to not have any debt! Yay!
David paying off his last school loan

Also, we got our education visas! We had to go to the Thai consulate in Atlanta in the Suntrust plaza building. This entire building was gorgeous, and a little intimidating with how fancy it was! Fortunately, the process of getting the visas was pretty straight forward and it went smoothly.

Fancy Suntrust building

Some of you may already know my mother-in-law, Cathy Houle. She is an amazing woman who has inspired David and I to grow in our faith and continue to become more selfless, generous, and compassionate. Cathy is a social worker who works with teenage girls in the foster care system and works at the Methodist Children’s Home. She is pretty much the best person I know. She decided very recently to take in an exchange student from Thailand this year! Just this week Noon flew into Georgia just in time for our family reunion! She is such a lovely girl and we are so excited she is here for the school year. Our Thai is certainly not good enough for us to have a conversation with her in Thai yet, but her English is great and we are loving getting to know her!

Cathy and Noon

These past few weeks have flown by for us. With showing the house, selling our cars, and visiting family, we have been very busy. We are flying out this Tuesday, August 21! We are taking a 14 hour flight from ATL to Seoul, South Korea, and then another 6 hour flight to Thailand. It feels like we have been preparing for this move forever and we are just so excited that it is now just a few days away!