Thailand. The travel experience we anticipated for months. The place of many people, busy streets, food vendors, colorful and over-flowing markets, motorbikes, humidity, elephants, green glass, exotic plants, palm trees, magpies, and hot weather.
Where you’ll find inviting coffee shops around every corner with yummy iced java’s and sorbet or ice cream. The place of strange-to-us languages, where greetings are sweet-sounding and elaborate with the accompanying Y-ing, two hands in supplication.
And where we found this dear-to-us family working on closing out eight years of work and life in Chiang Mai. We helped with what we understood. And tried not to be in the way for the rest. Our ignorance was possibly more bliss to us than to them, but they seemed grateful for our help. How could we know in May when the tickets were booked that we would be helping them with this big move? Only because God can orchestrate perfectly did it “happen” this way.
We landed in Chiang Mai early Sunday morning after twenty-four plus hours of traveling around the globe in airplanes, exhausted and triumphant at the same time. So we went to the morning worship at CMCC with them, as well. It was good to hear Pastor Kiat preach, Dru translating for us.
|These two were friends immediately. Lisl and Dru had kept us so near in their hearts thus in the minds of the children, there was no strangeness whatsoever to overcome. Our away from home children are good at this. Thank you, all of you.|
Grandpa helped with the trimming and tucking in of the small yard in front. Jube was slightly scandalized when the little vegetable garden had to be dismantled, but he soon recovered. They emptied the pots and stacked them in a pyramid beside the fence for the next tenant to enjoy.
Elv and I fell in love with their beautiful little house. Cool marble floors in white, tile porches front and back, and pretty windows and roof lines, and a tiled carport. So cute and cool and cozy. With AC!
The pile of shoes at every entrance was mute instruction to follow suit. It felt odd to go barefoot to church. I hadn’t since I was five years old, I think. But the wisdom of it was obvious. It was much cleaner and cooler that way.
The porches were dryers as well as the shoe place. Every day another two loads of laundry could be easily dried in the hot sun on the convenient racks. I enjoyed hanging the laundry out, listening to the ridiculous magpies.
When the afternoon was just too warm for working or playing outside, there was plenty to do indoors.
The ever present legos. What is it about those bizillion of small parts and pieces? All children have them. All mothers despair of tidy living rooms because of them. Have you ever stepped on one of those guys? Yet, we all keep doing them. The children gravitate to them first, all ages and both genders. Dad’s, too. Lisl has at least learned to defend herself this much; to make them play on a blanket. Go figure.
Lisl is a creative, artistic home maker. So not only was the house lovely in the first place; she knew how to add her own touch to make it home.
On another day we made pumpkin cheesecake which we enjoyed with our iced coffee and coloring. So we didn’t work the whole time we were there. We were treated like royalty and had time to visit for hours and enjoy the children and get plenty of naps to move beyond jet lag. And eat cheesecake and always another round of freshly pressed iced coffee as if nobody was moving to the other side of the globe in ten days at all.
We actually left the wall hanging pretties in place until almost the last day. It was easier that way, anyway.
One day the children took me down to the park. In their walled mooban it was safe to let them go alone, but I wanted to see the places they knew.
|The Lattin residence in Thailand. I have a picture of the whole house, a better perspective, but I think it’s on my phone camera.|
Most days the ice cream truck came by singing the news that ice cream was available. I was a tiny bit disappointed that we didn’t get any while we were there. I got this picture of it by carefully pointing my camera through the shade so as to not give the signal that we were asking him to stop.
We were happy to meet the IGO folks that have been part of Dru’s church family and social community besides their work with the Thai folks. They came one evening to give Dru’s a farewell and the following Sunday we went to church at IGO, as well. It is so encouraging to find the familiarity of home in a strange land.
And the last evening for whatever reason I ended up waiting for the rest of the family babysitting Rian and Rennie in the empty, clean, and quiet lounge beside the IGO dining room. Someone had put fresh flowers on the tables and the floor was shining clean and cool underfoot. There was peace and comfort waiting there, as if I had known this place and these folks all of my life. Thank you, IGO people for sharing with us and for blessing Dru’s with your love and care.
Possibly the best part of our trip was getting a proper introduction to Asia through Dru and Lisl. We said we didn’t need touristy stuff but we ended up at Market anyway, where Lisl knew her way around in that amazing, convoluted, maze of uneven sidewalks, haphazard roof lines, stacks of wares, narrow crooked aisles and streets and so many people everywhere. She knew exactly where to find a tiny restaurant in the midst of the the hubbub at the top of an old wooden stairway. I felt like we’d discovered this secret room suspended among the rafters with only tapestries for walls. Yet they brought real food and iced coffee to us from the makeshift looking galley kitchen on the edge of our little oasis.
The last day in Thailand, while Dru finished up last minute errands, Lisl took the rest of us up to the elephant camp. I suppose this will be one of the highlights of our trip. We almost didn’t go, since Dru couldn’t, but they had promised Havilah a ride with Grandpa on the elephant before leaving the country and so we did.
On our way to “America” at the Bangkok airport was Jube’s first introduction to a vending machine. At 2:30 in the morning with nothing to do but wait, Dru handed Jube a few coins and told him to go figure out how it works. I enjoyed Jube’s delight at this privilege. He took his time, read the directions, studied it out, and then relished the soda, albeit shared.
Would we go to Thailand again? We would love to see Dru’s next place of mission work in southern Thailand, although the memory of fourteen hours in the same airplane provides plenty of pause. It’s long flight at the end of which you have lost track of what time it is as well as what day it is. And it takes several days to figure it out, again.
For now, the memories are sufficient and so is our little, stone house in America.