It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind in our lives, but it’s good. God has been good.
First off, we survived our first team! We spent a surprising seventeen days with them and sent them on a bus to Chiang Mai yesterday morning. We had a really wonderful time in Noh Poe refugee camp spending time with the students of the two dorms that Partners support there. We were also able to participate in the camp-wide celebration of World Refugee Day. Oh, and we encountered the largest spider I have ever seen. It was the size where if you smashed it with your hand, you probably wouldn’t win. The body was comparable to a flashdrive, with each leg spanning at least three inches. And we got to watch it devour a three inch cockroach.
Stephen & I had a chance to continue building relationships with our contacts there, and learned some gardening techniques from our host. Thara Lah Say (Thara is teacher in Karen) is the headmaster of one of the dorms and is the former Karen Camp Commander of Noh Poe. He has a huge organic garden growing inside the camp that allows him to help feed the dorms. He was pleased to hear about our burgeoning community garden, offered some advice, and gave us 15 (yes, 15!) banana tree stalks to plant in our yard! We couldn’t fit them all, so we shared some with the Partners office and staff, but we do have 7 banana trees of three different types of bananas now planted. Fortunately, they say bananas are the easiest thing to grow, and we should be reaping the benefits in just eight months.
In all, we really loved the team and appreciated their flexibility & willingness to serve in any way they could. We still have much to learn, but this was a good initiation project.
We returned home to a) one day in the office to catch up on, well, everything from the last seventeen days and b) a package! Can I just tell you that the Bakers are some of the best package-senders I’ve met, so we were pretty excited when we saw a big box from them. We weren’t disappointed, either, and found, among other things, Cinnamon Toast Crunch & Golden Grahams! They also used US newspapers to fill the box, so we promptly uncrumpled that to enjoy some American comics and news.
After our day at the office, we were headed home to clean up the mess from traveling, catch up on laundry, and hopefully be ready to rest for our two days off on Thursday & Friday. Instead, we found our neighbor kids ready to play and our super-ambitious neighborman ready to plant.
And thus began an evening of gardening. We now have all seven banana stalks planted, and we’ve transferred the pumpkin, okra, and some tomatoes into the ground. And there’s a chance we may be working on it more tonight. Hard to say.
Good news is, we’re finding ways to communicate. We’re finding out which parents & kids are Karen, attempting to communicate, and otherwise working with actions. The kids have been destroying our driveway & yard, breaking things and leaving trash. They also decided to color the side of our house by smearing flowers into designs. Yesterday I went out to clean up while they were there, got them to help wash down the walls & pick up trash. We’re doing our best to set up boundaries: no touching the motorbike, no entering the house. Those are the two big ones right now. That said, we’re making progress. They’re learning. When I heard them open the door and look inside, they meet my eye and said, “No,” pulling it back closed.
We did have one incident yesterday where the kids were splashing in our…tub? in the yard. It’s a water pump & cement bucket; they tend to have water tubs all over, allowing you to have stored rain water or city water for dry seasons or when city water is cut off. Either way, the kids were playing in it and splashing each other in the yard. Not a problem until the one-and-a-half year old toddler tipped in to the two feet deep water. His parents were helping us garden and didn’t seem too worried, but I was thankful Stephen was close enough to pull him out.
So now we’re here and enjoying two days off. We had Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast and looking forward to time to step outside the whirlwind.