Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I love "Sawadee" ... By Juli

Hi all!! Believe it or not our adventure in Thailand is nearing the end! In a lot of ways time has really flown by while every once in a while it feels like we are frozen in time. To be honest Kit and I have been kinda sick lately and it's really hard to pin point if it's the lack of fruits and veggies that's letting our immune system plummet or the over abundance of potential mysterious germs in food. I like to blame it on the former but often question the latter. At those times when you are stuck in a room for days the minutes seem to drag but when we are well and out in the ministry (five days a week) time zooms by like a motorbike on Sukhumvit (main freeway like road that can take you all the way to Bangkok...that we drive, um kinda fast) Currently we are plugging along in our quest to learn more Thai but let me tell you folks, it's not easy. For example the word maa could mean either dog, horse or come...you have to say it with either a rising falling or middle tone to determine the meaning. So if you say the dog and horse are coming it is "maa maa maa" for reals. It really does induce a lot of smiles and chuckles from the Thai people and sometimes that's worth it in itself. One word that I can say with the utmost of confidence is "Sawadee-Ka" ...please repeat... (Ladies) "Sawadee-Ka" (gentlemen) "Sawadee-Krap" Congratulations! You just learned to say "Hello" and "Goodbye" in Thai! What I love most about this is that it is usually paired with a wai. What's a wai?! Well it is a polite gesture to show respect. Please follow:

Place palms together
Lift up to face with thumbs near your nose
Bow ever so slightly
And say "Sawadee"

I think it is beautiful and so exotic from our usual "hey" with a touch of a ghetto head nod. Wai-ing makes me feel a little more Asian and Japanese-y (it's a word I'm sure) The best part is when little kids do it, absolutely adorable. Often the little kids blow you kisses too, love it! 

Also to show even more respect you really draw out the female/male endings (Ka/Krap) and do it in a slightly annoying complaining valley girl accent "Sawadee-Kaaaaaaaaa" There now ou have it! 

These are just a few things we have learned while hitting the streets of Pattaya. Here are some recent pictures of  what kind of mischief we have been up to:
This is Malcom, an English brother with his awesome Kawasaki...yes, this is his service vehicle! (Boys look at what you can take out I the ministry!! Sorry all you moms)
This is where we took break today, notice the shoes? At home it's usually "no shirt, no shoes, no service" but here "no shoes...come on in"
This is inside the little shop/break place. I had left the tract with the woman probably a half hour before and I was so happy to see it still there in the kitchen. Funny thing is when you go to a shop (mechanic/corner mart/restaurant/beauty shop) the people actually live where their shop is. If you peek around you can sometimes see a bed or their tv, a sleeping baby or all of the above. They literally live at work.
You can never be too surprised as to what will be hanging next to the laundry....
We witness to everyone we pass I. The territory. This is a local Thai brother witnessing to a motorbike taxi driver. 
Directly across the way this cute little lady was fully concentrated on reading he Truth Tract. A good percentage of the people we place tracts with will literally sit there and read the whole thing or even read it out loud to a friend.
Now that's a proper baby cradle :)
That's all folks! See you next time! (Side note...the brother on the far right...side side note he drives the coolest bike...is named Bond and his dad used to be a witch doctor before he came into the truth!)


Saturday, January 4, 2014

This and that...by Juli

Sorry all! It seems like it has been a really long time since I blogged! Here is a little this and that to hopefully make you smile :) my Mom told me that a family in their hall include our blog in part of their family worship to help show their kids that reaching out and serving another country can be very fun. This really touched my heart and I feel so flattered that our little adventure could hopefully inspire a little brother or sister to do that when they grow up. So thank you!!!

Today we had the awesome privilege of having our annual pioneer meeting with the local elders. In the picture you see a collection of those who serve in the foreign language group while there was another group of the local Thai pioneers meeting in the library. About half of the people pictured are actually Russian and had the meeting interpreted in Russian. We are a big international group from all the far corners of the earth but with all the same goals and lifestyle. I won't be a spoiler for those who haven't had theirs yet, but as usual it was encouraging us pioneers to keep up with our daily spiritual food, keep following the direction of the faithful slave and take advantage of all the tools given to us, like the website. At one point we talked about how we can't be attached to material possessions and to keep our preaching work at the forefront. At home I would think a need greater in our position has already accomplished not being attached to material things. From looking at our current home you would agree, a single room with the basics, and even a luxury or two. Transportation? A used and abused motorbike that got 3 flat tires this week, yeah not too fancy. But since we still have all of our "stuff" at home this point struck me like never before. I have come to a realization that it is harder than I thought to really give up EVERYTHING. I couldn't even comment when we were asked how we have applied this in our lives because I kept thinking, "I'm guilty..." I really love my little house back home with my unique do-dads that I have collected over the years...my mid century furniture, the class room size chalkboard, the headboard kit and I made, my beautiful yard I practically broke my back fixing up, and thats with out mentioning my most loved possession, Lola, our English Bulldog/child. None of these things in particular have huge monetary value but they are more emotional attachments. So the real question is, can I really forever and ever give up these things? I am going to be brutally honest ladies and gentlemen, this is a tough one and I hope that one day I can cut the emotional cords and be able to give myself fully without hesitation to wherever Jehovah wants me. It's just good to know that even when you think you are doing as much as your current position allows you can always push yourselves a little harder and further and do more and that it is something we all have to work on. 

Here are some more highlights of our daily lives here in Pattaya

Kit and I stumbled across a Buddhist temple {in Bang Saray} where monks lived on the grounds. I was really hesitant feeling like this was overstepping our boundaries, I mean they're monks they don't want to hear about the Bible. But I was with go-get-em Kit and he placed Truth Tracts with some of the Monks! So brave! Then as we were sharing this experience with the brother and sister we were out with they told us that a Thai Elder in the congregation actually learned the truth when he was a monk and also a sister came into the truth when she was a monk because she said that all he monks she was with seemed very unhappy. So this served as a good lesson to us that you really can't hold back the truth from anybody!

My brother in law commented previously that it seemed like we were in paradise here in Thailand based on some pictures I posted on Instagram. This picture shows that in fact most of Pattaya looks like this, but imagine a hot sewage smell, 10 street dogs barking at you along with lots of dog poop and trash you have to hopscotch over....so Joel, not quite paradise. Despite the ambiance when you turn around and everyone you just spoke to is still standing dead in their tracks reading what you gave them you get a happiness that could last a lifetime.

Service break {Bang Saray with Suzanne from Sweden}
 Return visits in the afternoon with Rafa & Lizette...while she was sitting there I was....
Petting this little lady.... A really sweet pit bull wearing a shirt {a lot of dogs where clothes...it may protect them from skin diseases or they are just really classy}
Nothing goes to waste here, old motorbike turned planter....side note...notice the lock on the door? It's really easy to tell which houses are "not at home" because they pad lock their front door or gate. So if it is locked from the outside you know nobody is home and don't need to yell "Sawadeeka" 

Well that is for now, I hope everyone at home is doing well and we miss you!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My two cents by rafa - link

Hey guys Rafa finally did his first blog post ! Check it out by following the link :


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kittens, electric fences and a whole lot of...WHHAAAT!!?! -Sam

Hello blogspot! Yes I know I'm horrible at blogging and I'm sorry! Neither of us have ever had a blog before and writing a diary type thing to the world is honestly a little uncomfortable, for me a least. Mostly because I feel like I have nothing to say that would be worth your precious time....until now! DUN DUN DUN!!!

So as we've already posted about, service here is amazing. I mean, 99% of it is done in Thai and... we don't speak Thai. But despite my stumbling over a 3 sentence presentation ( most of it probably pronounced wrong) I feel like the little tract or magazine that I place is so appreciated by almost every householder. Maybe its just me being in la la land but I love it. We will walk down a busy street placing literature with almost everyone we run into and by the end of the street you can look back and find everyone reading what you just gave them! Yes, they read it! They don't just take it and shove it in their pocket or throw it on the table and carry on their business, they actually take that moment and read it!! Its a beautiful sight :)

The other day we were working a territory in a very ramshackled little neighborhood and one brother we were with had an awesome experience, Brother, you know who you are, if your reading this, I'm sorry I didn't ask your permission to post this... Anyways the brother was placing the Truth tract and at his door (shack) one woman took the tract, read it WHILE the brother stood there not knowing whether to dismiss himself or stay. I really am not sure if she read the whole thing or what but she got to the back of the tract which offered a bible teach book with that section where the householder fills out their info. So right there and then she filled out that coupon with her information and handed it back to the brother. I mean COME ON!!!

Coming from the US, it's so strange when you say you're one of Jehovah's Witnesses and the majority of people you meet have no idea what your talking about, granted that could also be my white accent coming thru.. in any event, it shows theres still a HUGE need for help here, in Thailand and basically Asia in general. I recently met a very nice Thai women who had never heard about witnesses. And her story is the reason for this blog post, so here goes:

It was a normal Friday morning here in Pattaya, the birds were chirping, the street food people were cooking, the dogs were barking, all was well. Until just then while working in the ministry we encountered something so unexpected and adorable, yes right there in front of us behind the gates of our next door was a whole litter of kittens! White ones, orange ones, mixed colored ones. All so happy and healthy wrestling each other and sticking their little heads out of the gate that separated us trying to say hello. Yes, Our hearts melted and we totally forgot we were in service, right in front of someones door (with the door open mind you!), as we knelt down and spent the next five minutes (at least) ooing and aweing at the little fur balls. Suddenly I came back to reality and realized that there was an older Thai women standing right there in front of us, hollering in Thai toward the house. (And it was my door.... Yikes!!)

I stumbled to my feet.... and then thru my Thai presentation, the women seemed kind but continued to yell toward the house. ("oh no!" I thought! "She hates us for doing a photo shoot with her kittens with out permission!!") Finally someone came from inside the house and asked (In a completely "white" accent) "Can I help you?" Then forgetting I can speak English fluently I translated my simple Thai presentation into English, which was basically: "Hello, I would like to give you this tract, It's about the bible." ("HELLO!!! She speaks English!!! I can actually use my big girl words!!!" I finally realized!!) So I went a little more in depth and explained what we were doing and shared the Truth tract with her ( the only English one I had) After reading the questions I asked if she had every wondered any of these before? I kid you not, her eyes lit up as she turned to me and told me that she has thought about all of those questions very frequently. Since I had never heard anything close to that EVER in my life, I had no idea what to do. So I said then this tract is for you... and scurried away. JUST KIDDING!
My brain kicked in and we went over the first answer inside. I explained that we offer free bible studies and offered one to her. She explained how her mom was Muslim and he boyfriend is Buddhist but she doesn't have religion and how she has been wanting something to share with her children. She accepted the study and we made an appointment for the following day. (END OF SCENE)

We arrived at her home with two "Bible Teach" books, one for me and one for Michelle. (*Some names may or may not have been changed*) As we approached her gate, we noticed a hand written note posted. "Shoot!" I thought. "She left me a note saying she couldn't make it" And the worst part was that it was written in Thai So I couldn't even understand it! Just then a man came running out of the house motioning with his hands and trying to talk to us in Thai. We stood there with blank stares. He as he approached us he pointed up above, entangled in the gate were live wires... Yes apparently the gate was electrically charged and we almost went in for the shock of our lives. (hence the warning note in Thai) The man (who shall remain nameless, since I forgot to ask for his name) safely opened the gate with the assistance of a cloth rag and motioned us to come in. After guiding us to some benches in the courtyard, he advised us in broken English that Michelle will be back in 5 min. He brought us some cold water and left us to wait for her. (thankfully the kittens were still there so I resumed my photo shoot from the day before :)
(5 minutes later)

Michelle came thru the gates accompanied by an unknown female. We said our hellos and she informed us the unknown female was her friend Sugar (*^^^^^*) Sugar is a young women from Shanghai who also speak English perfectly. "Sugar wants to study the bible too." Informs Michelle. (WHAT!!!! Your killing me people! "Are you serious?!" you may ask, and the answer is "yes, I'm so serious.") So again, after I recovered from my shock and temporary heart stopping, I explained how a bible study works and offered her the "bible teach" book that was intended for me. Unfortunately Sugar was leaving for a visit back to Shanghai that afternoon and couldn't sit in on the study, but assured me that she will bring her bible when she comes back and would like to study.
After Sugar ran off to catch her flight, Michelle and I began our study. And the rest was history :) (Well, in a nut shell, she lit up after reading thru the "promises" pages in the front, and seemed to absorb and happily accept everything we read. She learned how to look up scriptures in the bible and figured out what the numbers meant after the bible book. (Example: the 3:16 part after John) Yes it was an amazing experience and I feel so privileged yet extremely under qualified at the same time. It just goes to show you, there are people out there, hundreds, maybe even millions of them who are still so hungry for the truth and want to learn about Jehovah and are just waiting for answers to so many of their questions. The Fields are white for harvesting, if we make ourselves available, no matter where we are, Jehovah will use us, and the feeling is amazing.
(Side note- Michelle is leaving on vacation until Jan.6 but told us very confidently that she knows where the kingdom hall is and is coming to the meeting Jan. 9th.....WHHHHHAAAAT!?!)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pancake...by Juli

Tonight we will take a moment to remember the very short life of our dear friend Nit Noy. Nit Noy was a little black kitty that Kit and I lured out of the ramshackle little tin house of Soi Khao Talo a mere week ago. Nit Noy quickly realized how awesome we were and after a few brief moments of shyness that may or may not have included dagger like kitten claws, he bunkered down into our arms and purred "take me homeeeooow" In a moment of weakness I considered the comfort a furry little friend would bring to our dander free abode. My senses came back to me and I convinced myself that Nit Noy's mom would be back shortly and be quite out of sorts if her baby had gone astray. The hard part was as we were walking to our bikes our previously shy little friend kept following us. I literally had to hide him in his little shack so he wouldn't follow. My heart sank to leave our helpless little fur ball, but every time we passed his castle I looked around with my giant helmet head hoping for a brief glance of his little tale scurrying to safety. Well tonight we visited his home which is also where we indulge in fried banana pancakes after meetings. With our broken Thai we asked pancake man where the kitty was and all he did was gesture out to the road and say "vroom" as he ran one hand quickly over the other. It didn't take long to realize that little Nit Noy turned into a pancake in front of pancake man. Good bye Nit Noy, we will think of you everytime we visit Pancake man. And let that serve as a reminder to all the little kitties in the world...don't talk to strangers or let strangers pick you up because you may become attached and find yourself running to them only to soon become a pancake. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hana apartment adventures

Some pics of our apt and fun stuff...




Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Say what?!....by Juli

Our little baby "California" group is progressively adding itty bitty thai words here and there to their kindergarten level vocabulary. Some of us can count to 10, some of us know how to say not too spicy, and some of us can squeak out a hello. But with the combined forces of this raggetty little group we make one mean thai speaking machine. Well that is as long as the restaurant we go to has one of the 5 things we know how to order. If not, we may end up with some mystery dish that will inevitably be fishy and spicy. Yeah they are really good at spicy, and if it's spicy going in you can count on it being spicy coming out. Please remember our little house {it's a room really} is not private and the scary bathroom is completely tiled so any squeak or roar coming from there can either wake your neighbor or get the street dogs barking. Seriously though the food is delicious and so cheap, I mean it's a wife's dream to hear her husband say, "it's more expensive to cook at home than to eat out" "You are right honey, you are so smart. How did you get so smart?" The other main reason we kinda  sorta despise cooking is that we have no kitchen sink setup. We can handle the hot pot and chopping up salsa on the coffee table but when it comes to washing dishes we pretty much have a spigot on our upstairs balcony that has a drain in the corner and you have to coral the chunks of food to. Really really gets the gag reflexes going. I have to say that has been the only part of our housing that I would tweak if we were here long enough. Well and the bathroom, but I think I already made myself clear on that one. 

Conveniently we end the territory with a break :) and yes, Thailand has good coffee!  
Last Thursday we worked a territory {another big town called Sattahip...I think} about a 1/2 hour away that hadn't been worked in about year. The local sisters packed us all lunch, so sweet!

We recently had a couple move into the group and like ourselves they know very little Thai. On the first day they were out in the ministry they were asking Kit and I how to say what and amazed at our presentation....HUH!?!? It made me laugh, within two weeks we went from the role of the student to the teacher. All of the sudden we were telling them to say this and that and "oh don't say that" "and be sure to say kaaaaaa" it made me pause and reflect on this hilarious situation. We aren't even sure we are saying anything correctly and we are already giving lessons. There was a lot of "really you shouldn't say it like me because I think I am saying it wrong" But with this group everyone has such a giving spirit that they will just try their best and get the tract into the householders hand and let it speak for itself. One phrase we learned very quickly in "Nit Noy" which means very little. I often say that when it comes to food and spicyness and then also when a householder says something other than "Hello" or "thank you"..."Nit Noy" smile, say thank you and either awkwardly look at your Thai speaking partner or back away like a scared little kitty {which reminds me....we kinda sorta found a kitty at the banana pancake guys cart and we named him Nit Noy....he almost came home with us}

Today I worked up the nerve to make a return visit on one woman we found within the first few days being here in Pattaya. Her name is Lak and she speaks English really well for being a native Thai. With a little help from Glen and Janelle we found her house and was able to share a little thought from the Truth tract. She told me she really does believe in God {although she thinks God and Buddha are the same...to be tackled on another day} but she felt that God does take care of her and that she likes what the Bible said better that Buddhism. I invited her to the Thai meeting on Friday night and she said she would come! So between now and then I need to learn Thai so I can start a study with her and know what they are saying at the meeting, gulp! 

On our Monday fun day we went to a nearby island named Koh Larn. The ferry took about a 1/2 hour and cost 30 baht ($1). We found a beach that was a little less crowded with near naked Russians and that housed a feisty gaggle of monkeys. The boys were over the moon because there was a volleyball net and us girls were happy just letting our motorbike bruised bums take a break in the warm sand. I am really getting used to 1. Not working 2. Not cooking 3. Preaching to kind Thai everyday 4. Monday Fun Day. Does it ever have to end? Now to convince all my friend and family to come join me {yes, that means Lola too} that would be too perfect! 

This little guy sat next to me and put his hand on my leg and was like, "hey"

I have more to tell, like a recent awkward massage and near death bike rides {I'm slightly exaggerating Mom & Sandy} but that will have to wait for another day.

Miss you all! Stay warm!!

Love, Juli