Well, I'm back in Thailand but I have moved positions. Previously, I was working and living at a children's home called Bamboo School. Now I am living about fifteen minutes down the road with some local Karen. Even though I have moved places some of my work is still similar. I am still teaching English classes, but to a new set of students. I teach five evenings a week. The first day of class was quite a surprise. Word had evidently spread that there was a new, white English teacher in the area and I think everyone who could, came. It was a full house of new students bent over their notebooks, excitingly but shyly copying the ABC's down and learning new words. Boy, they were everywhere I tell ya. Spread out over the concrete floor, sitting on the few plastic chairs, and standing around. Mothers came, grandfathers came, children came... It was such fun and learning all of their names in one night, impossible! I am very excited to see so many eager students, but it makes me more aware of my lack of training and ability to teach well. But, every time I look at their eager faces I just have to give it my best shot for them.
Another experience I have had recently was attending the local Baptist Church here. They asked me to teach an English verse to one of the Sunday School classes. I went and taught my verse, which was the only thing said in English, and three hours later class was finally finished. Man, I had no idea a Sunday School class could be so long and boring. : ) I really did try, but couldn't follow along very well. Then, it was time for the actual service to begin which I sat through and understood maybe a total of 3 words. : ) The woman who arranged/invited me to come to stay in this village brought me in front of the congregation, and said a whole lot of something that I couldn't understand as it was in Karen, and then asked me to say something. I had no idea what to say. So I just told them, "Thank you for welcoming me to your home. I am very young and sometimes do not know what I am doing. But I came because I believe God told me to come here anyways. I will do my best to teach English and help you, but sometimes you might have to help me too." They seemed to like that... or something I said at least, because they all laughed, so I considered my little speech successful. Sweet oblivion?
There is a little shop just beside my new home. Its matron is a funny, fat
Karen woman who loves cats. You can find her poking out her window making cat noises, and leaving little plates of scrap food around to feed her precious animals. Sometimes, she walks around with a little kitten perched on her shoulders. Another thing you will find her doing is making sure everyone is well fed. She is very proud of her fat stomach and seems to think everyone would like to have one just as nice as hers, as she rubs her tummy and smiles, proudly showing me her well earned bulge as she offers me even more food.
I was told when I arrived that a girl named Susanna will come to live with me. This girl turned out to be 42 year old, Karen woman from near Rangoon. Don't you just love cross-cultural/language communication? My new friend is always chewing beetle nut and drinking hot "Myanmar Tea". She is a teacher and a paster at the church here. She has gone to Bible school in Burma, and is very thoughtful. She loves to make condescending faces as she speaks to emphasis her points. I am very thankful for my new companion whom I can have thoughtful, intellectual conversations with, although we don't always understand each other. When she wants me to go with her she asks, "Will you follow me?" Instead of, "Do you want to go with me?" Or she says, "Can you carry for me? What will you carry?" which means, "Can you help me?" So, its taking some time. Or, "How many spelling?" equals "How do you spell that word?"
Fun times! Really, the only truly frustrating thing so far has been not being able to leave the house where I am staying. The individuals who invited me to come teach here are very worried and concerned about my safety. Since I have previously lived in the area, I have met many people and I know lay of the land well. I am not concerned and want to go visit my old friends. They think I will practically get kidnapped if I step out the door. They are very distrustful of the local Thais and police. Rightly so for minority Karen at times, but not for a white foreigner. I am trying to be very respectful and considerate of their concerns, but I have a strong, fearless independent streak in me that rebels against such oppression. : )
I think that's all I got for now. I will try to get some new pictures up for you all. I don't have regular internet access right now so that puts real damper on things. Take care!