Friday, June 1, 2012

Our Village

Tonight as we were waiting to air up our tires (for the last time), we began chatting with the girl who was in line ahead of us.  Typically all we can do is smile and say “Sawadeeka” “Kapkuhnka” and produce the respectful wai posture.  But tonight Bret was a bit bolder.  He noticed this lady was wearing an Ohio shirt, so he asked if she had been to Ohio - a natural question.  She hadn’t but her aunt had lived there - I think - for 20 years - maybe.  We explained that we lived right next to Ohio in Indiana, and pointed on her shirt to where Indiana would be.  
Her comment -  “Oh yes, yes your village there.”  
Yes, yes our village is there.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Everyone here is so nice!

One of the pictures I hope to remember forever was Bret and I driving home up the Hang Dong Road - thankful, so thankful that we weren't being pelted by the huge termites that seem to come out every so often as we had been just an hour earlier. In the bed of an old pick-up truck driving next to us was a lady holding a sleeping little girl - probably her grandaughter. It was just a 2-second interaction before we passed the truck but what a sweet interaction it was. As I smiled to her, she opened her mouth in a beautiful, wide smile that was so genuine.  Her smile had clearly enjoyed years of chewing betel nut for her teeth were stained a dark red - such a unique picture of the hill tribe people here.   She was so sweet to smile right back at me - she didn't even know me.  And this is how it always is when I smile - a hundred huge smiles coming right back at me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

US meets Thailand

My mom came to visit a couple of weeks ago - and as she was leaving I made a quick request of her to type up some of her thoughts about her time here.  I love the thought that Bret and I have KIND OF gotten used to some of the wacky things that go on here, but visitors get to experience this wackiness for the first time.  So here are her thoughts (p.s.  I was glad she wasn't here last night when the power went off, as Bret was in the shower and I was brushing my teeth while standing on the toilet seat because I had just seen the biggest cockroach I've ever seen in my life right next to my foot and had to leap for my life to higher ground.  What followed was pretty unbelievable.  At least she didn't have to experience that!) 

Anyway....take it away mom....

Thailand is what I would name “The Land of Sensory Overload”!
Let me describe the visual overload of what, to me, was Road Chaos (meaning: a state of utter confusion)- which drivers, using all types  of travel, weren’t bothered by at all – including my driver- but which caused Me to ride mostly with my eyes tightly closed while  praying.
Picture mo-peds, motorbikes, automobiles of all sorts, tuk-tuks ( 3 wheeled motorcycle with a small “cabin” for driver and 2 or 3 passengers), songtaews (red, covered pick-up trucks  with 2 rows of bench seating in the bed and the back open) used as busses, these are Everywhere, pick-up trucks with beds full of goods – food, baskets, mattresses, anything you can imagine – usually stacked 3 times the height of the truck itself, or full of people.
& no rules – there may be some in a book somewhere but not noticeable on the road. A two lane one-way road usually has at least 3 vehicles abreast with numerous motorbikes manueveering around them-quickly.  When everyone finally stops at an intersection with a traffic light (no hurry – a red light doesn’t necessarily  mean “right away”) 40 mo-peds or motorbikes will continue to filter through the autos & trucks so that at the green light they can shoot out first. Every intersection is full of them. They never stop interweaving- at 45 mph. By the way, pedestrian right-of-way does not exist- to cross the street you must look for a gap and run!
Color and crowds are next- Soo many people – throngs at every market – especially the Night Market when vendors fill the streets with stalls on wheels and where you can find all kinds of amazing things! & your concept of “a good deal” is forever skewed by the thought “In Thailand this would be $3”.
 recliners along the sidewalk for street massages; fabric “stores” so full that one wrong move can bring down an instant avalanche of color;
food markets where every part of the pig is displayed and available – snout, ears & all; & vegetables you’ve never seen nor tasted & delicious fruits – especially mango! But many I’d never seen.
We were fortunate to be there to celebrate Thai New Year – where else  in the world is the New Year celebrated for 4 days – with a national water fight?  Streets (& roads – we were sprayed all the way up the muntain in tiny villages!) are lined with people of all ages armed with buckets, hoses, water bazookas,  aimed at any one who happened by uncovered. We were blasted thru the open back of  the songtaew we unwittingly rode downtown- but mostly we rode in a locked car (unlocked cars were in danger of having the door opened by a smiling water thrower).
Other random reflections:

- The heat – that melts make-up immediately and drenches clothing within minutes (This Was the hot season after all);
- Tiny napkins – about a 4th of what we are used to;
- The streets being swept with wide straw brooms;
- Rice, rice, rice – along with interesting delicious spices;
- Ice cream wrapped in a slice of white bread  - from a street vendor– so refreshing;
- Smiles, smiles, smiles; everyone in Thailand is friendly!
- The Pottery Barn that is really a barn;
- Truck loads of baby pineapples;
- Mountain roads which seemed to always lead to a huge image of Buddha;
- A wide variety of rest room facilities – the new-to-us custom of always having toilet paper in a pocket;
- The beautiful mountain tribal people we worshipped with on the mountain – their smiles, beautiful children with black, black hair and brown brown eyes; the enthusiastic singing of praise songs in 3 languages simultaneously, the mountain goats with their herder wandering into our Bible story;
- The gecko on my bed in the mountain lodge;
- Monks’ bright orange togas piled on the ground beside the waterfall.
A highlight – visiting the school where Lindsay and Bret have taught this year, meeting the people who are serving God by teaching His workers’ children; hearing over and over how the Hardins had blessed lives every day.
&I still have a bit of Thailand with me – I’m gathering all these thoughts at 3:00 in the a.m. because, though this is my 4th day back, my body is telling me that it is 2 o’clock in the afternoon! Hopefully I’ll lose that connection with Thailand soon!
What a joy and blessing was my Time in Thailand!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy New Year!

Today...or tomorrow...or yesterday...or sometime of recent is the Buddhist New Year called Songkran.  Not sure how many people know it's to celebrate New Year.  The only thing we've noticed is that everyone in the entire city has engaged in an all-out water fight.  New Year = Water Fight apparently.

Bret and I were out and about yesterday...on our motorbike (which isn't the best idea during Songkran).  We thought we were going to beat it though because we had heard that things started today, on Friday.  We got splashed a little bit - nothing major.  Eventually we made our way downtown...which happens to be surrounded by a moat.  Nasty and dirty, but still water that can be used for a city-wide water fight.  Bret did a great job maneuvering the bike away from the crazies with water guns and buckets, and we were able to escape into a Starbucks unscathed.  It was so fun watching all the people (from our cozy, indoor, Starbucks chair) who were once dry and who now were drenching.  It was a total party.

But pretty soon we realized that we were stuck.  Surely we wouldn't be escaping Strabucks and driving home without becoming one of these drenching people.  We decided on a game plan:  Bret would run out and squeeze the bike free from all the other bikes that were parked alongside it and drive the wrong way down a street - hopefully circumventing the most congested portion of the world at that moment.  I was going to follow him on on foot - because it's easier to wiggle through traffic with one rather than two on the bike.  Of course this meant that I had to make it past two little kids who were having the time of their life nailing everyone who walked by.  But if you can believe it...we made it out.

As we were driving away celebrating and cheering for our victory, little did we know what was lurking down the street: not one, but two separate ladies each with buckets of water with our names on them!  Oh yeah, we were nailed once...then 30 seconds later...twice.  Hilarious!!

Today we were smart enough to stay inside a car as we made a trip around the moat.  The party clearly officially began today.  People were everywhere!!  But Bret and I had a taste of the pre-party.

This is the little guy that I had to sneak past in order to make it out of Starbucks safely!

Us today, after being safe in a car.  We aren't wearing "Hawaiian Shirts" but "Songkran Shirts." 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

lghardin07's photostream


Check out our most recent photos - what an awesome life God is allowing us to lead this year. He is working all over the world, and it's been so fun to see it and be a part of it all the way in Thailand!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Handicap Lessons

What a day - it's been too long since I've recorded our doings on The Blog.  I'm sorry to those who keep up, but I'm also sorry for us -- I've been printing these postings off to use as our journal of the year, and I'm a bit behind :) There has been a lot that has filled the past weeks, but today's sweet experiences are some of the best.

At Grace this week, the school where Bret and I are working, there was a special emphasis placed on spiritual growth.  There is always a desire to instill in the students a deeper understanding of and love for the Lord, but this past week was special.  There were chapel services held each day with guest speakers and powerful worship music focused on understanding the grace we have been given by God through Jesus Christ and the importance of passing that grace on to others.  The week culminated today - a "Ministry Day" to put into practice our love for the Lord and others.  Sometimes it's hard, even though we're surrounded by Christian missionaries, to feel like we're doing the work of a missionary.  We are simply here working in a school for kids just like the kids that fill the schools in the States.  The parents of these kids are doing incredible work, and it was fun today to more active in outside ministry.

Bret and I, along with 3 other adults and 19 freshman, spent the day at a school designed for students with various handicaps - mental and/or physical.  The school was beautiful:  well-run, clean, bright and cheerful, and the students were clearly loved.  From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we were surrounded by smiling, joyful, sweet-as-anything kids.  So many times I've told people that my sister Brooke, who is also mentally and physically handicapped, is the most joyful person I know.  She is always smiling, always ready to talk, extremely worshipful and constantly forgiving.  These kids were the same way - some of the most joyful kids I've seen.  I have so much to learn!  What a blessing it was to be with these kids.

(Thanks Kristen Miyakawa for posting these pictures on Facebook, so I could steal them for my library!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

March Madness... February!  What a funny evening it's been.  Our electricity has been off for the past couple of hours (this doesn't happen too often), and I've been enjoying reading by the natural light of our one window, but it was just beginning to be a bit too dark.  I headed out to the door to patron the coffee shop down the street, but when I got about 50 yards from the house, all the street lights popped on!  So back I went - to a house full of lights.  I put the laundry on again, got my computer up and going...and here I am.

Bret is coaching his boys to victory at a basketball tournament at our rival school - Chiang Mai International School.  Sadly I couldn't go with him (one of the first games I've missed) because the team left  mid-day.  They play all day tomorrow - Friday - and Saturday as well.  I'll be able to cheer them on Saturday! I also had my little English student today after school, that I couldn't exactly miss.  (Have I mentioned that I'm tutoring a little Korean kindergarten girl in English three times a week right after school?  She is aaaadorable!  Our meetings go by quickly - lots of talking and lots of game playing.   It's been a great way to meet a new family...and it's nice to have some fluff to buy a cute new top every once in awhile :) )

So...Bret's been in full swing of basketball, and the boys love him.  He can push them through a grueling practice of running and running and more running, and they'll still leave saying, "Thanks for practice, Coach!"  It's unbelievable! Certainly it's easy to love Bret, but man, these are a great bunch of kids, too!

Last weekend we hosted a Friday night game against CMIS (our rival that I mentioned) and what a fun night that was.  This is no Indiana high school basketball:  the boys varsity team typically plays Tuesday afternoons at 4:00...yeah...4:00 mid-week.  So to have a Friday night game was really a special thing.  Our boys won, which made it even better!  The boys even soaked Bret with a cooler of water and ice - just like the state finals :) ...and we're not even at the end of the season! Basketball, basketball, and more basketball - it's great!

While we're enjoying bball over here, we're also rooting on our Hoosiers!