Monday, November 15, 2010

Snap Shots

Not all photos are pretty... and many moments in life aren't either! 

Here are some snapshots from our week that won’t make the album!

The market
I take a deep breath. I can do this. I leave the over-crowded car park hoping desperately that no one will park behind my car while I’m gone- blocking me in again.
Exiting the run-down elevator, which leaves me wishing I’d just taken the stairs, I step out in to ‘it’! ‘It’ being the market!
Rushes of smells swarm my nose from scented flowers to uncooked meat, waffles, fruit, roasted nuts and raw fish.
People bustle around me, some hoping to sell, others trying to buy… overwhelmed? yes… but determined not to leave empty handed.
I can do this… deep breath … speak up … I ask the price of some fabric in Thai but it’s the reply I cannot understand, a number I’ve not yet learnt (or remembered), I try again until … the reluctant shop keeper reaches for her calculator. I feel disappointed at myself- a common feeling at my lack of the local language.
If I ever thought I was starting to belong… here at the market… I know I do not. My very presence is marked by the constant stares … tourist… foreigner… alien.
Stumbling on someone that speaks some broken English, I excitedly get to explain that I live here in Chiangmai … it ends with me wishing I knew more than just how to say “Sorry. I only speak a little bit of Thai”… sigh!
The road
Stopped at the traffic lights… mind wandering off to what I should make for dinner… emails left unanswered… my ‘to do’ list unfinished… 
A woman, rugged up in wintery clothes approaches my window gesturing; do I want a string of good luck flowers?  I shake my head and look away… thoughts drifting back to what needs to get done… the next traffic lights will be the same.  The only difference will be that a young child… probably primary school age will be the one selling the flowers.
Heading off in to the frenzy of the traffic, keeping with the ‘flow’ is the only way to survive… motorbikes too many and too close … oversized loads rubbing shoulders … red and yellow songthaews stopping to pick up and drop off passengers.  Changing lanes… constantly.
A screech, a slam of brakes and the traffic stops suddenly … another motorbike accident.  How many have I seen? I shiver.  The rider… no helmet … his thongs swept uselessly to the side… I can’t see him move … a crowd gathers and the rest of us drive slowly by praying he’ll be okay… hoping the ambulance will be quick … thankful we weren’t involved.
The bathroom
The defiance is escalating … complaints about doing teeth… hair … not wanting to go to school today … the friends that were mean yesterday … the work that was too hard … the food that was not a favorite.  Disagreeable … argumentative … how do I keep my patience? Stay calm? Talk in a volume lower than theirs? Be firm yet supportive and understanding … get there on time?
I feel the hot tears springing to my eyes but that’s not like me to lose it in front of the kids, so why today?  Sleepless night … sick toddler … exhausted by the crying, the clinging, the things I don’t understand and can’t seem to ask.
The thought of doing another day trip to see a doctor at the city hospital is swirling in my mind … probably a simple half hour doctors visit back home, but here … it’s not that easy.  Plans are out the window … errands put on hold for another day … words uttered in frustration … patience wearing thin … emotions raw … questioning everything…

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Hebrews 6:10 

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