Saturday, November 30, 2013

Immodium - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - By MIke

- You take the blue pill, the problems end, you wake up in the morning with normal movements.

- You take TWO of the blue pills (and maybe throw in a charcoal pill out of desperation), your issues change, and you get to see how many days you can keep the rabbit hole closed.
Now you may be the type that has a stomach of steel, maybe you've even had the privilege of being knick-named the garbage disposal for this skill.  Or perhaps you are more like our one unaffected spanish couple, raised on Jalepenos and spices, having nothing but Habaneros ground up into your "milk" bottles...completely immune to food. If this is you just stop reading, this post will not make any sense to you, as a matter of fact you most likely had to look up what in the world immodium is, perhaps even calling up your nerdy white friend for a definition.

But for the rest of you, raised on wonder bread and cornflakes (and apparently white rice), welcome.
You see i was under the impression, before i found myself accidentally crushing this little blue pill in a desperate attempt to release it from its packaging, that i had stomach of steel, that i could in fact eat anything from off the ground to off the street.  But as it turns out, this was nothing but a thinly veiled sheet of tinfoil surrounding uncalloused baby hands of a stomach.  With the simple drop of something foreign i simply bend at the knees...

The real humor come from the inexplicable twist of Kenzie and I.  Most are aware of her obvious sensitive intestines that struggled in the states...yet in some sort of freaky friday she finds herself eating whatever she desires, as i clench my gut.  It seems that she was meant for asia, an Irish descent american lost in a little thai girls body (which i believe finally explains her stature) finally found her way home.  And she is loving the reversal.

But this post is in no way a complaint about the food here, as a matter of fact quite the opposite!  The food is amazing! Both satisfying my inner cheapskate, as well as my taste buds. Most likely to blame would be our lack of local knowledge, stuck in a vicious tourist triangle of ordering the two or three different items we know...pad thai, pad kapow, green chicken curry...if only we could get ourselves out of this white man's vortex and order a REAL thai dish we would not so often visit the porcelain cyclone.

The dilemma is not the problem itself, yet the problem it creates, for in a land where public restrooms and toilet paper are flowing like milk and honey this would only be but a small annoyance.  For when i use the restroom, i am a king! i need a throne...kings do NOT squat.

Yet again though i do not want to come off as complaining, because actually, we LOVE it here! we love the food, the culture and the we are not complaining, this post is simply a warning, while immodium can be good and solve a temporary problem it also can be bad.  For just as pulling a pendulum hard to one side will cause a similar swing to the other, with any action....there is a reaction.

Do not take too much can be ugly.

Thank heaven for Mackenzie

Mike & Mackenzie's take on Pattaya

Starbucks, peets, flying goat?? Not a chance here. But believe me, after an hour of service in this dreadful heat as you feel the sweat dripping down your back, you will be begging someone to suggest going to a 7-11 for a refreshment. And here it's like going to Starbucks-there is literally one on every corner! And most of the time you won't even get to the end of a corner before seeing another one. And another rumor we have heard about 7-11(which I haven't dared to try yet) is that there frozen dinners are delicious!! Hmm....I may have to be here a little longer to try that:) but when we aren't too busy going to 7-11 for break they will let us have some coffee. And when I'm sipping on a latte here it's just as good as sipping on one in europe...or for those less traveled, it's just plain good!! We have been told by people here that Thais are known for their good coffee.. And they were right! The days of chais are gone( yes, I was so sad to learn they don't do chai here) but lattes, cappuccinos, it's all good! So it probably sounds like all we do here is eat & drink- but it is a big part of most our day.
 But besides that service has been good and a bit humbling. I think we misunderstood that we are not a English congregation- just a group- which means a lot of our service is in Thai!! What??! How did we miss that vital piece of information. So our very first day of service here we went to service meeting and realized we had to go in service in Thai that very day! And did people coddle us and tell us it's ok and we will help you and take all the doors until you learn a presentation?? No!! Right after service meeting an English sister was kind enough to take pity on us and we all wrote down small simple presentations and headed for the territory. No coddling done here- you are just thrown into the water and you better know how to swim or learn! So it has been very humbling for us all because this language is done in tones. So if you don't want to sound like a true Thai person, it means we are going to  sound really funny. But if you get people who look at you and laugh after you have given your presentation then you know your tones are wrong. And yes we had people laugh at us, lots! And it's so different than at home. You know how at home you don't want to make a spectacle or have too many people in one territory? Well throw that out the window! How about 20 people all go to the same territory and work house over house?? And here you don't just go up and ring doorbells, you yell from outside the gate to see if anybody comes out. So everybody is yelling 'me cry you mike uh' which means ' is anybody home?' The same time as all the other 15 people on the same little street as you. And since addresses are kind of crazy around here, when you find interest, just take a picture of the house- maybe even if the person you talked to is still standing right outside! Thais do not care about if things seem weird or not-anything goes here! I mean, put your newborn baby or your entire family on a scooter and brave the is an everyday sight!
    But really besides all these crazy things that we are just not used to, we all love it here & are having a blast! The people here are very sweet and easy to talk to. Oh..and did we mention yet that the food is really good?:) well so I don't bore you any longer we will say this is it for now. I have to go get a Thai massage for the next 2 hours and it will only cost me $10:) ok not now but maybe tomorrow...:) 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Motor biking in Kit

After about 1 week of riding motor bikes in Pattaya I already have a hand full of hilarious stories.
        Story 1: We are about 7 minutes in after we have just rented our bikes and we all have these trashy little helmets they gave us at the rental shop, so we go to run our first errand and it is the very first major street that we pull out on, (literally the first time we give it the full throttle) we are going up about 300 ft. and then we are going to do a U turn. I gun it, get up to about 25mph cut across 4 lanes and let off to slow for the upcoming U turn. Mike pulls up next to me, NO HELMET. Apparently his was to small and it flew off as soon as he hit the throttle. Go back and get it? Not an option on that busy street. I was laughing so hard I didn't know if I would make it to our first stop.
        Story 2: Rafa blew a tire on the way home from dinner and Juli and I stopped to help out, we found a tire repair shop real close by and the lady gestured for us to pull it on in. Rafa attempted to give it a little gas to have the engine help him roll it, well he gave it a little to much and his bike was a run away train and rammed into a shelf with a bunch of glass bottles on it. Fortunately no damage was done and all had a good laugh. I felt a little useless watching a 50 something little Thai lady change a tire for us but she was more than up for the task. When she finished she insisted on rolling it out to the street for us. Well I can't say I blame her!
         Story 3: In an attempt to turn my bike around I miss judged the corner and next thing i know I am in a weed filled field 4 wheeling. Just a few stickers in my service pants to show for that mis hap though.
         Someone mentioned that in Thailand the road is like a stream, the cars are like rocks and the scooters are like water. They are so right, it is just scooters filling every opening. Riding scooters here has been very fun. At first while watching traffic in Bangkok we didn't know if we were up for the task. One night during a big festival we were walking on the side of a 6 lane road with absolute mayhem going on in the street, you see it is a 2 way road but everyone just goes where there is an opening regardless of the direction they are going. As a gang of about 80 scooters buz by 1 guy coming from the opposite direction does a U turn in between all the scooters which are all going about 25 mph, crazy right, well now factor in that he was texting with 1 hand and not even looking up at what he was doing at all, just looking down at his phone!
          It can also be scary. Yesterday on the way to meeting we saw the aftermath of man verses scooter, not pretty. It looked like the guy that got hit would be ok but he was not happy.
          We have been having great success in the ministry which we will share on upcoming posts.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where nightmares Juli

Hello everybody, or shall I say "sa-wa-dee-ka!" Everything is amazing here in Pattaya Thailand {despite this post title} All of the need greaters here in the foreign language group have coddled our little fledgling group and are making sure we are all taken care of. We do seriously feel like fresh babies out of the womb helpless and hungry. When we first arrived in Pattaya our housing was sort of up in the air and we needed to find housing for all eight of us ASAP. We tried our best to play "International Househunters" but with the help of the group overseer {who has been our true life saver} we found a complex with four available apartments all on the same floor, but no two rooms being directly next to each other, perfect. We have made our home to feel, as homey and comfortable as possible, but there is one thing that I am being a real big baby about. Yes, the place where nightmares collide...the bathroom. Imagine for a minute that you have devoured a giant bowl of spicy Thai soup, that on top of the two other spicy meals you had eaten earlier in the day. You have quite a rumble in the Bronx so you head to your sketch bathroom. Oh yeah it's the one that is a million degrees because it has open air windows to the outside. It's also the place where mosquitos have a little pow wow on how the devour the foreigners tonight for dessert. It's also home to smells from who knows where and never mind the grime from all the other tenants from nightmares past. Just for kicks let's make the whole bathroom a shower so the floor is basically completely wet when you take a shower. Yummy. So your sitting on the thrown minding your business, sweating up a storm while being attacked by those same roque mosquitos...with wet feet. have decided to spend as little time as possible in that room. It freaks me out, for reals. It could be worse I know and I have seen worse, and overall I really do like our little studio. Ok, the nightmare story is over...for now.

Here are some other pictures of room, the not so scary area:
It's been fun trying to make our room cute and homey without spending too much money and bringing home only what you can carry on our bike. Do you think it could be an episode on Nate Berkus?! 

Wanna know where dreams collide? Pattaya Thailand. Kit and I are having so much fun and just tonight Kit said he was having the time of his life, awe. We have already made such wonderful friends that I know will be lifetime friends. In our congregation there are brothers and sisters from the States, Canada, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Germany, England, Russia, Korea, Japan, and more I am sure. The clash of cultures is really a beautiful thing and being surrounded by people who have made huge sacrifices to search out for spiritually hungry people inThailand is so refreshing. You know how back home you have talks on how to reach out to where there is a greater need and you really want to? It seems so surreal to me that we have actually done it and are living it. Some said before we left that this trip would be a life changer and I think they were right. It's hard to even imagine going home and forgetting about the huge need here in Thailand. Now if we could actually say something that a Thai person could understand that would be amazing....we'll work on that.

There are so many things to tell that it seems overwhelming to sit and write it all down.

Here are some ministry snippets:

We stop at any available market in the village we are working in for break. I discovered Lays nori potato chips there, it's as my mom says "perfection". 

One market we went into today we had to take our shoes off before entering.

Few have cars so we drive our individual motorbikes to the territory then walk it, yes you heard me...walk. 

Helmet hair...yep, when you do your hair you have to consider the fact that you will be putting on a helmet.

You walk up to gates to houses and yell out "Hello, is anyone at home? Hello?" {in Thai of course} then when someone comes out you give your presentation.

Dogs are really really scarey street dogs. No petting. 

Thailand is tropical therefore it rains...and we ride our bikes in the rain. With ponchos. Let's just say back home when we feel a drop we call it a day. Not here!

We do a lot of informal witnessing on the beach and in he shopping centers where foreigners will be. We all are sharpening up on our informal witnessing skills.

Food at the right time.... MIKEY and SAM

After a semi stressful first week we are finally settled in... or so we hope. Good thing because living out of a suitcase will make me homesick a lot faster then almost anything
else! So being able to empty our luggage and find a home for all of our belongings gave me a feeling of relief. So far, we have been able to enjoy multiple service days with the congregation and it turns out...its mostly in the Thai field<<<<eek!!>>> We are all doing our best to be flexible and roll with the punches :)

The brother who conducted our first Pattaya service meeting graciously handed all in the audience a sheet of paper containing many "simple" Thai phrases that would be useful for the ministry. That entire meeting for field service was spent going over these phrases (not like that helped at all but it was nice of him..) Once the shock of being "thrown" into the Thai field wore off, we all started
working on our Thai presentations, being kindly coached along by various service buddies. You can hear all the Californians quietly mumbling their presentations over and over again to themselves as we pass by each other. Thai householders, for the most part, don't seem to make it any easier. After I muster up all the courage I have and spit out a 10/15 second presentation..(that feels like forever) I look up at the householder to find either a blank stare or them laughing...awkward. Despite the confusion and uncomfortableness being experienced by both parties, they still take the tract, I force a smile, and we walk on. The nice part is that you can look back at those who you just left the tract with and almost always you will find them reading it. Warms my heart!

We literally will spend the whole service day trying to force our little brains to remember 2 or three little sentences. By the end of the day I feel a little more confident, repeating the presentations and greetings in my head and out loud for the rest of the night.. on motor bikes, in grocery stores, at dinner, before I go to bed.. I'm not exaggerating, I feel bad for Mikey. By the next morning I show up to the meeting for field service (still silently going over my presentation) and feel confident, dare I say even a little cocky about my new found Thai "skills." However that cockiness is immediately smashed to pieces when my new service partner informs me that I'm doing it all wrong and gives me a completely different presentation.  NOOOOOO!!! This is definitely a humbling experience :)

The good news is that we arrived just in time to enjoy the week of the English C.O visit! Last night we ALL got to attend the entire Pioneer meeting and it was amazing. Even though going into the meeting I wasn't feeling discouraged or down in the dumps, it was definitely the "shot in the arm" that I'm pretty sure we all needed. Jehovah always knows what we need even before we do :) Because the majority of pioneers here are more or less in the same boat that we are (serving in foreign lands) the meeting was tailored to us completely, allowing us to hear just what we need...Food at the right time :)

Thai Presentation:
Sa-wa-dee-kah (hello)
Pom/Chan (male/female) chuh Sam/Mikey Ka/Kob (male/female)- (My name is Sam/Mikey)
Rao ben pie-on pra Yahoah ka/kob- (We are Jehovah's Witnesses)
Pom/Chan yaak hi penpap ni ka/kob -(I want to give you this brochure)
Andu na ka/kob-(for you to read)...I think
Kob kun ka/kob-(thank you)

So I've tried uploading photos but its not working :( Sorry!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bethel tour

Link to the bethel tour and pics :)



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

First Juli

Hi all! I know you have been on he edge of your seats waiting to hear about our trip so far. So here goes! We have finally arrived to Pattaya, our new home for the next 3 months. We are all very excited to be here, especially because now we have wifi. Literally it's what we most look forward too...."is there free wifi here?" "Can I have your password please!?" I know it's really sad. But as much  as you might {or maybe not} miss us! We miss you too! Especially our canine friends, you know who you are. 

Well here is a good breakdown of our lives so far:

Day 1 - We arrived in Bangkok on a rainy and humid afternoon {please don't try to imagine wasn't pretty...really sweaty dirty Americans sticking out like a sore thumb} We were swept away by our driver from the hotel we were staying at {Bangkok Loft Inn - best decision we ever made}. We mustered up enough energy to freshen up and hop on the sky train {5 minute walk from hotel...more sweat} which took us to the nearest pier on the Chao Phraya River. We took a free river ferry to Asiatique, a very modern shopping center that has a giant ferris wheel and more shopping than any husband would ever dare to imagine. My first impression of Bangkok was that it was really really hot and the smells coming out of the sewer can hit you like a ton of bricks like nobodies business, but the oh so glorious food and shopping are well worth it!

Day 2 - we toured the grand palace where "The King and I" in real life happened for realsies. Although the king doesn't reside there you can feel the royalty of this palace with every building dripping in gold and the strict rules on modesty and decorum {the boys were improper with their shorts!} The reclining Buddha at Wat Po {just down the street from the palace} was really impressive {150 feet long, 49 feet high}. Wat Po was a little less strict and crowded and we really had fun goofing off in there! We ate at the local market and then went to Khao San Road that is a night market that caters to backpackers and tourists. It rained that night and that is when this creepy rash started in my legs that still haven't gone away. I like to call it "heat rash" but in my hypochondriac mind I am pretty sure it's a flesh eating disease. 

Day 3 - Dusit Zoo - I had never been to a zoo in a third world country and I am not so sure how I felt about it. It was awesome that the standards of safety are so low that you can literally see how an animal can escape and attack you, but at the same time the animals had really small and dirty enclosures and they looked under fed. Very eye opening. At the zoo my already rashy legs were attacked by rogue Mosquitos that were thirsty for some halvie blood. I had flashes of people asking me about malaria and I had a little mini freak out moment, it may or may not have included the following: tears, prayers, frantic arm whaling, shortness of breath and heavy sweating. The best part of the day was when a zoo keeper took a young chimp on a walk around the zoo and let us watch him good off, literally right next to us. So cute. After leaving zoo, little did we know that a blockade had been setup with cement barriers! guards dressed to nines and barbed wire. Oops the demonstrations are today and we need to walk through the blockade? Awkward. We hit an amazing mall called Siam Paragon were they have 4d movies, every store you can imagine and you could even buy any of the displayed cars {Rolls Royce, get the picture} we couldn't even afford to window shop! 

That was just a snippet of our first few days and I will share more soon, i promise :) At the end of the day we are all pretty pooped just from sensory overload/having the time of our lives. All of us are having a blast and most of the time we just laugh a lot! The friends here in Pattaya have taken us under their wings and been so so so so helpful to this motley crew. We got out motorbikes last night so I am sure we will have a lot more stories to tell! 

Here's some food pics for all you foodies :) 

Love you all!