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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SEASONS


One of the things that I’ve found fascinating since living in Thailand is just how different the seasons are here.
When we arrived in January, it was winter, which meant blue skies and 30 degrees for the entire month!  I can’t believe I’ll actually be loving “winter” weather now!
Moving through February and March, the weather not only started to get hotter but the burning off season began and the air quality was woeful.  The children were coughing, we were coughing and opportunities to play outside were minimal.
Just as we thought the burning off season would never end, it did and then the temperatures soared.  We had 2-3 months of 38-42 degrees every day, without rain and with no relief.  If we thought it was tough getting to play outside earlier we were in for a rude shock with this weather.  You simply did not want to go outside because it was SO hot.  
Well, you may remember me writing about Songkran and how much fun that was (Thai New Year water festival).  It was around this time that I heard a strange sound and the air began feeling a little bit different... could it be?  Yes! The first droplets of rain!  There was so much to celebrate.  I remember those first few showers of rain and how they felt hot but I didn’t care.  It didn’t bring much of a cooling effect but we knew it was the sign of more to come.
After being in the Australian winter (... nothing like Thai winter I can assure you) in June this year, we welcomed the return to some warmth and since we’ve been back I am really enjoying being right in the middle of the Thai wet season.  Besides the mosquitoes, there’s not much else I don’t like about this season.  It’s humid yes, but there’s variety.  One minute it is really hot and then suddenly it rains like it’s never going to stop.  We have had some massive thunderstorms too.  Incredible! But after the rain, out comes the sun again and there’s that feeling of ‘steam’ that lingers for a while- ahhh I love it!
But just as people speak about the seasons in the weather, there are also seasons in life- everyone’s lives- which we all find ourselves going through.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time
to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

I remember when Tobi was a new-born and people told me to cherish every minute because he would grow up so quickly.  Well, in that season of my life, as much as I tried, I found that it really was hard to do that.  I longed for him to crawl, walk, talk... I found it hard to cherish and wait.  
It was much easier to do though when Eli and Spencer were born because I had some perspective.  But with a first born it can be so hard not knowing what to expect.
When we first arrived in Thailand all of us found many aspects of moving extremely difficult.  There were so many logistically things to work out and we had no idea how our children would cope day to day, minute to minute.
When we returned to Thailand in July though, I felt like we were finally in a new season.  We had some perspective and we knew what to expect.
The first month back was a time of relocation: house, school, ZOE as well as learning new things all the time.  We experienced short term teams with very few missionaries here, but we did it!
Just this week I feel like that season of relocation that began when we arrived back is also finished.  This house very much feels like our home now.  Our boxes are unpacked, the children have settled in to their routines at kinder and school and I think the tensions I have felt are slowly lifting too.  
There have been times when I have pined for my beautiful family, my close girlfriends and the life we gave up to move here but as I sit here now I feel really blessed.  I am beginning to make some new friends, ZOE is starting it’s own little mother’s group and, of course, my sister is only days away from coming to stay with us.
Thank you for following us on our journey- through all the seasons.

Andie :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Snowing? In Thailand?


This photo was taken just seconds before we were about to head in to the Chiangmai Snow Dome. I can tell you we were sweating like crazy with these big jackets on in the heat but within a minute, we literally found ourselves standing in minus 7 degrees... Brrrr!
As a combined celebration of Jess and my birthdays this week (yes, still celebrating!!), we decided to go to the Snow Dome at the Chiangmai Zoo on Saturday. They open up for 20 minute sessions and provide gumboots and jackets. Tobiah and Eliana were intrigued by the ready-made snowman and igloo but poor Spencer looked like he went in to an instant state of shock. We couldn’t really explain to him what was happening and besides being wrapped in a jacket 20 sizes too big, his little gumboots kept falling off and the big hood on his head made it difficult for him to see!
Tobi LOVED the tube ride down the icy slope, ditching parental supervision and going on by himself! Unfortunately, for him, twenty minutes just wasn’t long enough but it did give him a taste for more icy-fun in the future (next time we’ll have to take them to the ‘real’ Australian snow I think).

We didn’t manage to see everything at the zoo on Saturday so we’ll have to make a time to go back again. I especially wanted to see the Australian Animals Restroom!! Huh? Maybe next time.
I asked Dave to take this photo. Eliana was swamped by students wanting to have their photo taken with her. This was after about ten minutes of her posing with various groups- you can tell her smile is getting a little less ‘natural’ by this stage!!


As we were leaving the zoo, a big parade of people started passing us. Check out this group who were all carrying an animal with them. How’s the guy with a creature on his head? WHAT is that?





Anyway, on the home front, we seem to be finding some rhythm again now with the school year in full swing, Dave’s new schedule in place and I am TRYING to keep everyone’s activities flowing smoothly and the house in some kind of order.  

The children have all had their turn at getting a 48 hour, high temperature sickness that was going around, but they all appear to be coming better now.  There are many mosquitoes around at the moment due to the wet season but I just received notice in the mail this morning that they will be spraying our entire moo bahn (estate) tomorrow to get rid of the mosquitoes... I’ll be interested to see if we notice any difference.

I went in to ZOE last Wednesday to attend the three hour staff meeting followed by the childcare training (that Dave ran).  He amazes me as to how he has adapted to his role at ZOE. I was so proud to be sitting in the classroom as he conducted the child care meeting with confidence and sensitivity.  The house parents are a truly amazing bunch of people who I have utmost respect for.  They do an outstanding job and have very big hearts for children.  I am looking forward to being able to get in to ZOE a bit more now and developing relationships with the Thai staff and house parents further.

Well, I am off to sew twenty beanbags now for Tobi’s class teacher.

So this is ...
THE END!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Thirty-three


Thank you so much for all the email and Facebook birthday wishes.  I had a lovely 33rd birthday here in Thailand.
In true “Cross Family” style we enjoyed pancakes for birthday breakfast along with cupcakes! Yum!
I was then treated to an early lunch out with Jessica, which was both delicious and entertaining. She tells great stories and always makes me laugh really hard.
We headed out to the Night Bizarre (a well-known Chiang Mai night market) for a wander around after we’d had a parent-teacher meeting at Grace International.  
I always find that a little stroll through a market is both interesting and therapeutic but, despite putting on a happy face (because it was my birthday) Dave said he felt like too much of a tourist and looked relieved when I was ready to head home! Ha ha.
You know I feel an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for the richly blessed and wonderful life that I have had. It has definitely been 33 years of adventure.  
In sharing with some secondary students in June, I explained that even though I may have been white water rafting, hot air ballooning, ridden an elephant, flown in helicopters, walked the Great Wall of China, stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower, rock climbed, snorkeled, abseiled and so on… (all things that could be viewed as being “adventurous”) I believe that the best adventure in my life began when I discovered that God had a plan and a purpose for my life.   
You see, I think, the secret to an adventurous life is through God who created us, not through visiting lots of countries or having photos taken in front of famous, historical landmarks.
Now I am not trying to say that I haven’t enjoyed all the experiences that I’ve had traveling, I wouldn’t want to trade these memories for a minute but, I really think that when you are right where you are meant to be, using the gifts and abilities that God has equipped you with, then each day can become a journey full of excitement and fulfillment- feelings not just reserved for holidays, overseas trips or extreme sports.  
And just as I said to the students that I was sharing with, I will also say to you; I believe God has a wonderful plan for YOU too and he will equip you and show you what it is if you just seek to FIND HIM! 
Jeremiah 29:13 
And so, I look forward to another 33 years (and hopefully another after that) in which I get to travel this road set before me.  
It may not always be smooth.  It may not always be comfortable.  It may not always be the easiest BUT I know it will be full of adventure and worth every minute.

Andie :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Follow These Rules... or you could land yourself in some VERY HOT WATER


After reading Dave’s last blog about how some things in Thailand are just different, I found myself thinking about how crazy it is here on the roads.  Let me explain what I mean...
For example, if someone “flashes” their lights at you in Thailand, it’s not a friendly gesture alerting you to a speed camera up ahead but simply a signal to make sure you’ve seen their car coming and they’re warning you to get out of the way. 

The toot of a car horn is not given aggressively but as an alert that there’s a car passing you or turning that you may not have seen.  
Pedestrians in Thailand never have right of way- not even on what looks to be a pedestrian crossing!  
Drivers in Thailand must always be prepared for motorbike riders to be riding on the wrong side of the road, ignoring stop signs, riding with many passengers, cutting across in front of your car without looking and not indicating when turning.   All passengers also have to check for motorbikes when opening car doors on the side of the road as they frequently travel up the inside space between the road and the footpath.
And as a side note, it is not mandatory for children to wear seat belts!  Just the front seat passengers are required to buckle up! Scary hey?



Now, speaking of hot water… the answer is “no” there is no hot water in the kitchen of our home!  Actually it’s not too bad, I’m kind of getting used to it now.   Also, the mosquito situation seems to have settled down a little a bit now, which is good.  And, we are really enjoying living here. 

Tobi officially started ‘elementary’ school yesterday (primary school) at Grace International.  We can see his classroom from our house and Dave and I have taken it in turns to walk him across the road for his 7.55 am start to the day!  This is working well as Dave then jumps on the ZOE shuttle at 8am.  
As Tobi’s school program is just a half-day, he and some of his classmates, then ride the school bus to Hana Christian Kindergarten, where Eli attends (and Spencer goes for 2 days now too) to do an afternoon program there (including Thai lessons).  It’s very exciting to go on the bus and Tobi particularly likes it because there’s a TV/DVD player on board!!
His classroom is on the middle level, in the centre.




It’s nice to be living so close to Grace International School.  On Saturday, at the New Parent’s Lunch, I literally ran home and grabbed our bathers so the kids and Dave could have a swim.  How convenient is that?  I love the atmosphere here too in the mornings and afternoons as hundreds of kids walk and ride to and from school.  There’s a real “bustling” and community feel around the streets.

Last week we celebrated Thai Mother’s Day. On Wednesday Dave and the kid’s prepared pancakes for breakfast and I attended a special Mother’s Day service in the afternoon at Hana Kindergarten.  It was a proud moment when Tobi held the microphone and introduced his class song.  


Thursday and Friday were public holidays in honor of the Queen’s birthday and Mother’s Day, so we had a nice long weekend.  On Friday night we went to ZOE church, which also held a special Mother’s Day service.  It was very touching to listen as the ZOE children described how much their mums meant to them, even though they weren’t their biological mums.  This bond between child and mother is just so special.  These ZOE mums really care for the children as if they were their own. It’s just so amazing to see. 
Well I’d better wrap it up there.  I am so excited to have my sister coming to stay with us in September.  It will be such a treat.
Thanks for all your emails wishing us a smooth move and transition… I am trying to complete my replies as time permits.  We appreciate every email you send.  They’re often read several times as we enjoy them so much.
Blessings,
Andrea

Monday, August 9, 2010

Some Things are just Different in Thailand

Yay! We have completed most of the moving process!
A BIG thank you to Wep and Mimi (ZOE staff) for helping us move last week.  We have not cleaned our old house yet, but hopefully we will get that done in the next couple of days...
I love how Thailand is a real ‘can do’ nation.   If we ever ask whether we can or cannot do something, the answer is always ‘dai’ (can). 
We purchased a swing set out of the Chaingmai Classifieds  (like the Trading Post) that comes around each  week and I was a bit concerned about how we were going to move it, but not Wep or Mimi!  
We struggled on all sides as we tilted and turned the playground (that is all welded together and cannot be disassembled) as we attempted to get it into the back of the enclosed truck. But when it did not fit in the back, rather than saying we cannot do it, they boys just said ‘dai.‘  So we hoisted it up vertically and just hung it on the back... 
A couple of ropes to hold it in position and off we went, pruning every low lying branch on every tree we passed that did not have a 3 metre clearance!
Yes, I love Thailand.  I think the recent move of all the bedding and furniture to the new ZOE Children’s Home has given me a new perceptive on how to load a truck -Thai style!
We will report back on our new place in the future.... but so far it has been WONDERFUL!  We have an area outside where the kids can play as well as a deck and we have really been enjoying it.
It does seem like the greatest beneficiary of the move though is the local bugs and mosquitos!  It’s like they have been served up a fresh new menu of Tobi for entree, Eli for main and Spencer for desert!  
Yes, it appears that the local bugs have taken a particular liking to our sweet tasting little ones.  On Saturday, Spencer broke out in a horrible rash after he was bitten by something, but he appears to be fine now.  I have also suspended a net over Tobi and Eli’s beds, however, we can’t decide whether it was to keep the mosquitoes out or Tobi and Eli in ... maybe both!!



Our first meal on the back deck.  
Notice our drinks from a local shop- served in a plastic bag!

On a side note!
I just thought I would post a video of the baby lions we saw at the Night Safari.  We went there a few weeks ago.  Let’s just say that while I enjoyed getting so up close and personal with the animals, I did get extremely nervous having our little kid’s fingers so close to the wire.
Thankfully they had thought about the safety risk and posted a sign ‘Please do not put your finger in!’
Now there’s some good advice!
That’s Thailand for you!  Some things are just different!  
Cheers, 
Dave.