I simply love evenings where I can sit on my balcony and listen to life move around me as I am still. The chickens, rooster next door, cars and mopeds whizzing by below, the adorable, little Korean girl throwing a tantrum across the street (not so dreamy), wafting incense from the little store two doors up, Thai music coming from the back. Warm days with my clothes drying in the afternoon sun. Loud, roaring airplanes overhead (I live near the airport), everything around me full of life and energy. Here I am…in a sweet spot.
And no, I often don’t embrace every moment like this one. It’s something I’m working on. There are a number of moments throughout the day where I think, “if only I were home….” But soon after I utter those words, I’m hit with another round of, “you’re in the right place.”
Recently, while I was teaching (I’m pretty sure it was something about finding equivalent fractions…) there was a moment when I looked out and it was like the world froze and I noticed all 18 pairs of eyes gleaming at me, totally intrigued (which is rare when we’re talking about a bunch of hyperactive kids and fractions). It is strange thinking that each day I’m on a stage…in front of all these 9 and 10 year olds who trust that I am teaching truth and instilling knowledge into their young minds. It’s a huge responsibility I don’t take lightly, but I’ve learned what an honor it is to teach these kids and it can often be so humbling. Just the other day I watched as one of my students wrapped his arm around one of his classmates who was upset about something that had happened on the playground. My student wanted to make things better and advocate for him. Often in teaching, I am proud of my students when they achieve academically, but almost more so when they show compassion and love towards one-another. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again...I learn so much from them.
I’m back into my routine after the holidays. Teacher by day, 'artist' by night (working on some new pottery projects), itching for some music to get thrown back into the mix (that’s been lacking). I’ve started running again and ministry club is in full swing. The weekends have been restful and rejuvenating with an adventure or two that keeps the travel bug at bay.
January began with a stay in Bangkok, which was enlightening, but not enjoyable. There is a tremendous amount of trafficking and begging which was so difficult to witness and be present in a place of such intense exploitation. I have never felt so much darkness in one place. I kept asking,” What can I do? What can be done? Is there hope in this seemingly hopeless situation?” Then a friend reminded me that teaching my students at GIS is making a difference…it’s allowing the families who work with organizations and groups, who are literally in the trenches, freeing girls and bringing justice, to stay here to do just that. Without a teacher for their children, many of these people would not be here rescuing those in the terrible system.
A week after Bangkok, my friend who came to visit me and I went to a city north of Chiang Mai (Chiang Rai) and visited White Temple. This temple was demonic looking and depressing even though it was not originally meant to be Buddhist and actually made to be a present day art temple reflecting themes such as ‘Alien vs. Predator’ underworld stuff…not my thing. My friend, Abby and I stayed with the “Ahka” a hilltribe village an hour outside of Chiang Rai past a Hmong village and near a Lahu village. It was quite the experience: heavy rain the entire time we were there, super cold nights with bed bugs and an unplanned trek through the jungle to find a hot spring (that ended up being in the next village on the other side of the mountain and too hot to swim in!). The village life was a very simple, bare minimum which gave us a good perspective of what typical hilltribe life is like. The people were so kind and welcoming, teaching us their games and customs.
The latest adventure…staying a weekend in a treehouse for a friend’s birthday. Now, that's the ideal house I should live in! Complete with a tree-swing and a basket-rope pulley system!
Life in my "neck of the woods.."
Ministry club still remains to be one of the highlights of my time here. Just this week watching our students teach a lesson on body parts to the little kids at one of the children’s homes and wrapping each other with toilet paper provided many laughs. I love seeing the interactions. Today, one of the homes we partner with, the children taught us in Thai. Such a good experience and opportunity for language exchange for all our students! This is another one of my "sweet spots".
In a few weeks, one of our children’s homes is planning a ministry trip to a village where 15 of their kids are from. I am excited to share more in my next blog in March!
Keeping warm this winter :) The cooler weather was gone by the first of February and now we are heading towards the hot, dry season. There are only 3 seasons here---hot monsoon, cool-dry, and hot-dry (which is dreaded by all). These are the months of extreme heat and burning of the rice-fields. The smoke and smog is beginning to envelop the city…the nearby mountain is barely visible. Praying for a respite with an occasional breeze or rain.
· For rest and routine-contentment with where I am right now
· Truths I am learning
· Cultural experiences
· Decisions about taking an intensive Thai language class in July
· That I would continue to seek and know what the Lord is teaching me
· Health and protection as the air gets bad
· Developing intentional, fruitful relationships with the Thai and those around me
I appreciate all the prayers and words of encouragement! It means so much to me!
Sara Gurule c/o