Monday, September 29, 2008

...Lacking a Theme...

Well, I haven't written in awhile, so I thought I would give a quick update. There's no real theme to this entry, so stay with me if you can handle ramblings... :)

1-- We have internet at HOME now! This is super exciting! We've set up Skype now so that we can have video chats, chats, or even phone calls with you guys. If you are on Skype already, please add us: matthew.flagler and tricia.flagler. If you're not on it yet, you should definitely check it out--it's a free way to communicate worldwide. The only problem with this is that we are 11 hours ahead of East Coast time, which makes it hard to find good times to talk.

2-- We had a Professional Development weekend, which means that we didn't teach on Friday and had training seminars all day Friday and Saturday. This was actually super helpful for me. Friday morning there was a Spiritual Development time, and our pastor here, Dave Young, talk on Emotionally Health Spirituality--very good stuff. Definitely had a lot of "ah-ha" moments.

3-- Matt and I have both rearranged our classrooms a couple of times... it helps them to feel more like OURS. We are both still liking teaching.

4--Matt has had a pretty bad sore throat the last couple of days, and I don't think it's getting better yet. Please pray for him to feel better and to have the energy to teach in the meantime.

5--Random God story... There is a family that I knew from the Crusade world, who were also in FBC-Mt. Pleasant for a couple of years. They recently rushed to Bangkok from another country because of pregnancy complications. We were able to see them this weekend and hope to see them more and help them out here while they stay in Bangkok awaiting the arrival of their third child. (Kelli is 31 weeks along and went into labor last Tuesday. They arrived in Bangkok last Wednesday, and the doctors were able to stop the contractions by Thursday. She is now out of the hospital, but they will be here until 6 weeks after the baby is born. Please pray that she is able to carry the baby for at least another few weeks. Also, pray for her husband, John, and their other kids Kate and John David, as they are adjusting to living here for a couple of months.) It's just so cool that Matt and I are in a position to help them and to love on them during this difficult time.

6--Updates from home. Please don't think that just because we are getting to live a great adventure in Thailand doesn't mean that we don't want/NEED to know what is going on at home. If you are reading this, please take the time to send us an update on you and your family as well. We'd really love to here from people and know how everyone is doing and what is going on.

Okay, as I said, no real 'theme'. But, just wanted to share some thoughts and updates about what's going on here with us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Meals in Thailand

Just wanted to give a quick snapshot of what the food here is like:

First of all: The picture here is of our kitchen--which hasn't gotten a lot of use yet. At home, we pretty much just make sandwiches or cereal or something easy.

It's much cheaper to eat out (which fits our lifestyle just fine these days).

There are two places that we frequent. And we go to at least one of them a day. One place is referred to as "Rose's" and the other as "Sombat's". These are names of people who either own the place or work there. They are both street vendor type places (for my Uz friends, a lot like an Osh-Hona).

We really like the food for the most part. Matt had something today that was too spicy for him, but that was a first. I haven't branched out to trying te spicy stuff yet. My favorite dish is garlic chicken or chicken fried rice or pad thai. One time, I tried a soup cuz I wanted something bland (for a queasy stomach), and it ended up making me royally sick! No more soup for me.

Another favorite food option is to walk to the nearby 7-11. They have breads and fun drinks and candy which is all pretty familiar to us (though you have to be sure and not get the corn and pea yogurt if you want yogurt).

On Sundays, we go to the American part of town and eat at very American restaurants. I've gotten breakfast at both places, and it's wonderful! A very nice Sunday treat for sure.

This other picture is of a cart-street vendor. They set up shop by the street on a little cart. Haven't been adventurous enough to try any of this yet, but I'm sure we will soon.

Other food highlights:
-fruit cost next to nothing, and my favorite fruit vendor sells it in a little baggy, already cut up, with a toothpick for about 25 cents!
-in Bangkok this past weekend, we ate Israeli food, something called a 'schwarma'--yum!!!
-there is an Uzbek restaurant in downtown Bangkok that I hope to go to soon.
-fruit smoothies in a bag are still a nice treat, as well as iced coffees or iced mochas.
That's all--just thought I'd give you more of an idea of what part of life is like here for us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our Classes

Here's a picture of my (Tricia's) class, minus one student who hasn't shown up for the last 3 weeks. Here are their names:
Beb, Fay, Dream, Pond, Seven, MeeMee, Meen, MoMae, Nat, Yok, Max, Plagrim, Karoon, Pukboong, Junior, Mine, Manna, Gade, Golf, Praew, Mew1, Mew2, Jame.

Here are the names of Grade 2. Matt is still not sure which ones he will have out of this group:
Ploy1, Ploy2, Aom, Gigi, Sarang, Primer, Daonua, Kun (pronounced "Gun", boy), Kun (girl), Fay Fay, Daniel, Amy, Am, Angie, North, Web, Prim, Dena, Dome, Jingerbelle (pronounced Jinglebell), Mew, Pleng.

Other names in the school include: Nine, PeePee, Ten, Buddy, Arm, Dino, Head, Pinky. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Missionary Snobbery... Vulnerability

While at home in Charleston, I had coffee with my friend Emily. I was sharing with her why I was excited about Thailand and the reasons I wasn't so excited. I said something to the effect that I didn't see teaching full-time really as missionary work and that since we were coming to a more progressive country (compared to Uzbekistan), that I definitely felt that I wouldn't be "suffering for Jesus"--so that I didn't feel very missionary-y... she said I was a missionary snob!!!

I'm definitely working through all of those emotions still. I've found myself getting really excited about teaching--but then wondering how I can truly impact the people around me for Christ. I know that God will give me grace and show me how to do both, but I wish I already knew NOW! :)

I also find myself a little bit resentful that I can just go down the street to the 'mall' to go to Starbucks or McDonalds, KFC or Burger King. Then, I find myself pretty thankful for the convenience of being able to buy the same toiletries and groceries here, more or less. One of the reasons that I wanted to come here was to live life more 'simply'. I found myself so much closer to the Lord in Uzbekistan, when I wasn't surrounded by all the 'stuff' that America has to offer. I really hope to find that here, even though it is not as simplistic here as Uz. Probably, this is more of a heart issue than anything else anyway.

We also went to a church here last night, and I found myself very critical of how they did things in a 'third-culture' environment. I kept thinking, "This is not how we did things in Crusade... Is this really being sensitive to the Thai culture?... This seems like an American church transplanted to Bangkok..." Whoa, Tricia... "Judge not, lest you be judged."

Also, yesterday, after Matt had spent a long time moving the desks for his students to a new classroom, setting up a bulletin board and moving all their books to the new room, he got word that the Thai administration had decided NOT to split Grade 2 on Monday--and maybe not at all. So, he really doesn't know IF he will, in fact, be teaching Grade 2 or WHEN he will be teaching Grade 2. Frustrating to say the least.

Later, at the mall in downtown Bangkok (about 30 minutes away), I found myself looking around at the masses of people, hoping and praying for some sort of passion to well up inside me. It didn't come. Then, I started to feel guilty, thinking that I have no reason to be here if I don't love these people. I remembered my passion for Uzbeks and the immediate love I felt for the people and the culture there. I long to have that here, but a part of me is afraid to. Probably, a handful of my friends will understand this. :)

A culmination of these thoughts and many more led to a slight breakdown last night--after trudging back to our house through a downpour and feeling terrified of the cobra who apparently lives near our house. ... PRAISE GOD for my wonderful husband who just held me and let me cry and let me pour out all these thoughts and emotions. I've learned through friendships and counseling that I truly do need to 'process' these types of things before letting them eat me up and throw me into a downward spiral...

That's ONE of the reasons for this blog, and also to get your feedback and thoughts on the matter. So, please, with all of these confessions and vulnerability, I hope I've written something that might strike a thought or comment from you. If you are reading this, then you are a special part of our lives, and Matt and I desire to stay connected with you during our time here.

:::Soli Deo Gloria:::

Saturday, September 6, 2008

First Impressions of Thailand...

I would LOVE to write a ton about everything we're experiencing so far, but this is going to be all for now. We still do not have internet at home, and I don't like to spend too much time on the school computers.

So, anyway, here are a few of our first impressions:
  • Tricia strangely finds comfort in the very cracked sidewalks. (A lot like Uzbekistan).
  • Matt thinks the city is dirty, but Tricia thinks it's fairly clean.
  • There are TONS of dogs everywhere, dirty ones. (No, they don't eat them because it might be their great-grandfather.) The school dogs who hang out near our house are Nipples and Dale.
  • The food is really great, and we haven't had anything unbearably spicy so far. We do always feel hungry though.
  • The school is pretty unorganized, and we wondered if they had forgotten we were coming... but, after asking some other teachers, we found out that it's normal.
  • Apparently there is a giant King Cobra who lives near our house. This has me pretty scared.
  • Fresh fruit is amazing!
  • There is a 7-11 not far from the school that we will frequent.
  • Tricia's favorite "treat" so far: "Caffe Yen"+ Iced Coffee, Thai style. Definitely doesn't come close to starbucks, but it's a fair substitute, especially for 50 cents.
  • We've been to an outdoor market and were very impressed with the selections.
  • We've been to a Wal-Mart type store and were very impressed with the selections.
  • The nearby shopping center has a lot of American things: McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Swensen's (Ice cream), Starbucks, etc. This is very strange to Tricia, but we are both glad to have an option to go to if we really want something more "familiar".
  • Thai people are very sweet and welcoming. "The Land of Smiles" is a true description.
  • Matt is starting his classroom from scratch, except for the fact that the back of his room is a storage area for the future Thai library... He starts teaching on Monday and will have to spend a lot of time getting his room to look nice.
  • My classroom looks pretty close to an "American" classroom.

Okay, that's all for now... we will try to post pictures soon!