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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wawee

We went up to Wawee yesterday to see some of the work going on there.  It is about an hour's drive from Chiang Rai and up a mountain called Doi Chaang (Elephant Mountain) where the area is extremely famous for their coffee.  First we went to see the chief of the village there, and ended up talking with him for quite a while about animal health problems in their area.  Last year they had Foot and Mouth Disease in their cattle and a serious pneumonia in their pigs.  They treated the sick pigs with antibiotic, but several still died.  It is relatively uncommon for cattle to die of FMD here, since it is endemic and most of the animals have some immunity, but Wawee has not had much of the disease in the past, so they did experience some losses since their cattle were naive.  This year they are battling cattle with swollen throats, which could be a myriad of things (liver fluke, hemorrhagic septicemia, etc.) but it is difficult to get the people to think systematically.  They only see a swollen throat, and stop looking for other signs.  They don't know if there are any other symptoms.  We were always taught in school that you'll miss a clinical sign only because you didn't look for it.
Here I am with the chief of the village in his home and our visitor from Toronto.

We stopped in town to have lunch at a little open-air restaurant where the proprietor of the establishment had decorated one side of the dining area with dead examples of the local fauna.  Don't worry... they weren't all on the menu.

The corn cobs on in the top left give you an idea of the size of some of these crunchy critters.  The bug on the top right is a beautiful rhinoceros beetle!


The bottom right corner shows some light switches and outlets for perspective.

On the way back down the mountain we took (in 4-wheel drive) the road that leads to the village Doi Chaang.  We stopped at a little area and had a cup of their famous coffee and had a look around.  Coffee beans are grown in the red fruit pods on bushy plants.  The seeds are extracted, dried and then roasted.

Coffee beans drying in the sun.  
Overall, another successful day in Thailand!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sawadee-kah

It is time to get blogging again!  In my defense I was (and still am) bridging the gap from living in Kansas, America to living in Chiang Rai, Thailand.  This is my first post from the Eastern Hemisphere!

I've been in Thailand for 5 days after an uneventful 46 hours of travel by car, plane, taxi, truck, and feet (traveling on foot with 135 lbs of luggage is a difficult feat, even if you never leave LAX... no pun intended).  Here's the rundown so far:

Friday:  I arrived in Chiang Rai with all of my luggage amongst hundreds of soldiers dressed in khaki uniforms milling around the airport and lounging at the arrival gates.  After collecting my things from the baggage claim, Mary and Wynn greeted me and we headed for town in their truck.  As we left the airport, several military men in green camo were stationed at regular intervals in the ditches along the road.  Apparently, a member of the royal family was due to arrive the same evening.  Later, a dear friend Nit and a new friend Jan took me to dinner at a Chinese restaurant which rarely has an open table.  The food is cooked in a make-shift kitchen at the opening of the storefront where passers-by can take a look and come inside to dine around plastic stools, walls that were white long ago, and a cement floor. We had fried whole fish, rice, a type of Chinese sausage wrapped in pastry and then fried, and stir fried greens.

Saturday:  I awoke Saturday morning to a cacophony of barking dogs and loud music piped out from the Buddhist temple nearby.  The Coats family with whom I am staying this week had arrived home from Chiang Mai during the night.  Mary picked me up and we went into town where I learned a few of the landmarks and walked through the main market.  Lunch with the Coats family was at another restaurant, also cooking their chicken coconut soup near the sidewalk so hungry walkers could order as they passed into the store to sit on plastic stools.  In the evening we drove out to Chadri's sister's house for MMF fellowship which happens once a month.

Sunday:  I went with Taen to a Thai church where the sermon was on the good gifts God gives us.  I understood a couple of words thanks to the Christmas carols I had learned in Thai last year.  Mary and Wynn had picked up visitors from the airport the night before, so after church we met them at a very fancy tourist resort to have lunch at the buffet.  All you can eat for 150 baht, which is around $5.  In the evening many of the missionaries gather for a time of English fellowship at the same church I had been to in the morning. We had a meal together afterwards and I met several of the people with whom I will be in community.

Monday:  After morning devotions in the office with my new team there, I traveled with Peter and his visitors as well as Boon up to Mae Sai to see the agricultural work going on there.  I met a Filipino missionary named Jethro who speaks at least 6 languages.  We also visited another missionary family who just received a load of goats into their brand new barn the day before.  The animals had spent 18 hours on a hot truck, but overall they looked pretty good. A couple of the kids - only 3 or 4 days old - had come down with Sore Mouth and were having trouble nursing.  It was a sweet time to be there for the inception of a work God has called this family to for so long.  They have no experience in goat raising, but they have a vision for helping national pastors to make a living using goats so they can continue to preach in the villages.  The national pastors have a very hard life - moving from one village to another to preach, always sacrificing their own livelihood in order to do it.  We met up with Mary and Wynn at the night market to have a dinner of kabobs, smoothies, onion rings, and some other things I couldn't name, but were quite tasty.

Tuesday:  Nit, Don and I traveled to a conference hosted by MMF for national pastors all over northern Thailand.  They had gathered to have an annual review of the projects they were running with the help of MMF in their communities and to share ideas with one another.  Most of the pastors were Hmong, but there were also a couple of Karen and Akha pastors as well.  Each of these men have a burden to reach other people in their tribes with the Good News, and do so without any pay, often sacrificing what little they have on earth to do so.  Their rewards will be great in heaven.

Wednesday:  Today I will meet with Peter and go to the language school to see about getting a tutor.  There is one very good tutor named Ploy or Floy - I can't really tell what her name is - it's more like a soft P like Pfloy - that I would like to inquire about.  It is easy to get caught up in the work that is being done and the work left to do yet.  Please pray that I have a great aptitude for learning language so I can learn quickly and get to work here.  I'm excited for the days ahead.

Here's a picture of me at a waterfall I visited with Nit during the pastor's conference on Tuesday.  What a beautiful place God created here.