Saturday, March 26, 2011

Home

I am safely back at Northland. I arrived last night. :) My bags caught up to me and were delivered this afternoon. I'm going to bed now, but I will try to update more later. :)

Goodnight all.

G&P

Friday, March 25, 2011

Long Trek Home


So, the never-ending night at Bangkok's charming airport is over, as well as the 5-6 hour flight from Bangkok to Tokyo. I'm sitting in the Tokyo Narita International Airport, where they have finally given in and given free wi-fi at certain spots (thankfully it's right across from my gate). My flight for Chicago is supposed to leave at 5:40pm local time here, and supposed to arrive about 3:15pm Central time in Chicago. I'll have a couple hours in Chicago to clear immigration and customs and security again, get my bags headed the right direction, and then I'm leaving for Green Bay at 5p, should arrive there at 5:50pm. That's the end of the immediate flight plan, I would like to stay at northland for a while and catch my breath before graduation. :) Thanks everyone who's been praying for this trip, things have gone ok so far, other than a hangup in Bangkok again. :P Since I flew in Domestic Thai Air and had to switch to International and get my boarding passes, I couldn't check in until 4am, but I arrived at the airport at 5pm so I had a good 11-12 hour wait outside the security check in which is not as comfortable or familiar or having free wi-fi and was pretty crowded for most of the night. So it involved a lot of walking around trying to stay awake and guard my stuff and not get mugged, while holding on to my sanity at the same time. But God was good, He protected me all night and things went smoothly after check in. I am still not a big fan of Bangkok, but I am grateful to have made it through with fewer issues than last year. :) I'll try to update when I land at my final destination, but until then, please keep praying and thank you again, it makes a huge difference.

G&P to the Family.

ktg

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Last Night

Well, the end has finally come. I'm finishing packing up tonight (Wednesday night here). Tomorrow morning we are going to ride elephants and go on a boat ride down the river, then at 3:45pm local time (3:45am - Thursday Central Time) I will be flying from Chiang Rai to Bangkok. I'll stay there at the airport from 5pm to 7:15am the next morning when I'll fly to Tokyo, from there to Chicago, and then finally to Green Bay, where I arrive at 5:50pm local time Friday night. From there it's a quick 1.5 hr car ride to Northland, where I'll be taking block classes for the rest of the semester and graduating in May.

As far as summarizing thoughts for closing this part of the trip, I can't think of anything philosophic or brilliant to say about it. I can't even probably come up with something that hasn't been used before about other trips. It was difficult and frustrating at points, but so terribly beautiful in others. It was rough going for parts, and not rough at all in others. I think it goes without saying that I learned a lot on this trip, being on this team, working with these language projects, etc. However, is that really the purpose of this? Is the point of these trips really to improve my knowledge and understanding of culture? Am I really here to "learn a lot and have fun"? Is that it? Cause I'm sure there are easier ways to accomplish that. Cheaper ways too. So why am I really here? Why did I really come to the other side of the world and spend months working with different languages and training sessions? Why did I spend all this money?

I can tell you why. I'm not here for the thrills, the fun, the cultural education, or the fun people. I am here because of the grace that has been given to me. I am here because of all things in the world, to me the most powerful and most precious is the Absolute Word of God. I have seen the power of the Word in my own life, and the lives of others around me. There are people around the world who still haven't seen and still haven't heard, and many of them speak languages that don't yet have the Word in their mother tongue. That is why I'm here, and that is why I came. It was fun, and it was exciting, and it was growing and stretching for me, but beyond all of that, I know my Savior better than I did before, and more people will have access to the Word because of this trip. So how was this trip? Did you really expect me to come up with one word that summarizes everything? Sorry, it's not possible.

G&P as always to the Family at home and overseas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Literacy Slideshow



These pictures are older but I am finally getting a chance to post them. :) Enjoy. There are also more pictures on the link at the top called 2011 Trip Pics.

G&P

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Training in Thailand


Well, we've been doing training for a few days now here in Chiang Rai, Thailand. We're in the process of training a group of people to be a Read and Review Committee and Back Translators for the project that will most likely be forming here for the hill tribal group we're researching. The picture at the top is from church on Sunday. We sat in the front row, right in front of the tribal grandma section. :) They were really cute and smiled a lot at us. :)

So far in Chiang Rai we've been adapting to the culture in our own unique ways. For the twins this means trying to catch fish in the little pond outside the front steps of the hotel. For Connie it means eating peanut butter fudge and finding a new restaurant to eat at everyday within walking distance. For Uncle Ross it means preaching in his own style at the church, and for me it includes renting a motorbike and speeding all over town in a green helmet, trying to play a Thai wooden flute with the flute seller in the night bazaar, and learning some basic words in Thai like "Sawasdee ka" (Greeting/Farewell) and "Kap kun ka" (thank you).

There are some marked differences between Thai and Burmese culture that I've noticed in our short time here. It's only been a few days, but the atmosphere is completely different in Thailand. Even in the relatively rural area of Chiang Rai (about 60,000 total population) there are really nice pickup trucks. There are lots of motorcycles and scooters in traffic (like Kalay). Beyond that level though, the people themselves are very different. It's hard to put your finger on it exactly, but superficially at least, they seem to be less eager to practice their English. Compared with the English speakers in Mnmr (where even the beggar kids and peddlers know how to say "special discount" and "hello my friend!" "how much you pay?" and "very beautiful") the common level of English is a lot worse. We were told that even the English teachers here don't know how to speak it, it's all about writing and reading, so when we try to speak English people answer in Thai and try to avoid us. :) Thankfully our friends here speak good English and are not afraid to speak to us. I've made a friend here in our training sessions. One of the men here being trained brought his adopted daughter who's a 3rd year University student in Bangkok, and we've been having fun talking and sharing with someone in the same spot in life. :)

Some interesting language tidbits that we found so far...

"Man cannot live by candy alone..." (In their culture, rice is the staple food, not bread, so bread is like candy and in A__ language, the word for bread is the same word for candy).

"Are your garments spotless? Are they white as cotton?" (That's how they translated the song, since they don't have snow
here)

They have one word that is both evil spirits and ghosts.

Anyway, other than riding a scooter around town, going to the night bazaar, buying a "Thai" passport, and going to sessions, there's not much to report on at the moment. I'll be flying out of Chiang Rai on Thursday afternoon here. Landing in Bangkok about 5pm on Thursday here, then overnighting it in the Bangkok airport, flying out of Bangkok 7am local time, arriving in Green Bay hopefully around 7pm Friday night there. It equals out to about 36 hours of flying I think, but because of the time change, it mostly ends up in one day. :)

Well that's all for now.
G&P to the Family!

Chiang Rai Pics



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chiang Rai Arrival

Hello everyone! Sorry once again it's been a while since I updated, but it's nice to be in a country where I can actually access my blog page and don't have to post by email. We made it to Bangkok yesterday, spent the afternoon showing the girls a few places there, walked down the exact spot on the street where my passport was stolen last year, so I faced up to the nagging fear and distrust I had for that part of the city. We also went to the massive MBK and walked around and had dinner there. Last night we stayed in the Bangkok Christian Guesthouse, and half our group went back to the US this morning, while the rest of us flew to Chiang Rai for our training and research here. We have one day off tomorrow to get our feet under us, but we start meeting with our friends here on Friday around noon I think. I still don't really know what I'll be doing, but that hasn't stopped us so far. ;) Please keep praying, it's weird to be able to say that now, but I'm adjusting. :) Thanks for your prayers, it makes a huge difference.

Love and G&P to all the Family.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Primer Writing and My Favorite Oranges

Sorry guys, it's been a while since I had enough time and a decent internet connection to update the blog. :) The pic of the orange is actually back from our trip into the hills earlier, but I don't have any current postable pictures that are internet-safe. Sorry :(.

So, it's been a busy week, Kristy and I have been working with a language group here writing a primer to teach their people to read, so they will be able to read the most important Book. I have never been involved with writing a primer before, before this trip I'd barely even seen a primer taught, much less written one. This trip I've been able to help teach several different primers and a storybook, as well as getting to help with translation workshops and helping with one writer's handbook training. There has been something every week we've
been here, and there's never a dull moment.

Thanks again to those who are faithfully pr-ying for us. Monday I was not feeling well and was frustrated about a few things, but the day had a full schedule and we weren't free to stop moving until about 7:30 or 8pm that night. It was a rougher day, but it was made even worse by my attitude and the fact that I wasn't interested in serving others; I was interested in going back to bed. The next day I got up determined not to have a repeat of Monday. So, I started my day in John 6 and was grateful to have enough time to read the entire chapter and soak it in for a little while. All throughout the day I was rethinking the events in the chapter, how I would have felt to be there with the disciples watching J-sus feed 5,000+ people with basically nothing, watching Him walk to the boat on the water and hear His voice, "I am, don't be afraid." Seeing Him correct and condemn the Pharisees for their self-righteousness and their pride in being Jewish. I can't even imagine how indescribable it would be to be physically present at the conversation when He boldly claims, "I *am* the Bread of Life." They wanted to be fed, and He *was* the answer. They wanted to be satisfied, and He *was* their satisfaction. They wanted their needs met, and He *was* the answer. I face all of these same situations and needs and He *is* the answer to them all and so much more. I go to Him hoping desperately to get a few crumbs of comfort, and He laughs and reveals a full table spread with grace and strength and endurance and compassion and steadfast covenant love. Who could ask for more than that? I found myself like Peter towards the end of the chapter when Chr-st';s disciples en masse start walking away because His words are just too hard to listen to, and Chr-st turns to the 12 and says, "Will you leave also?" Peter, overwhelmed with desperation and full clarity in his mind of who he is and Who Chr-st is replies perfectly, "Where would we go? You (alone) have the words of life..." It echoes in my head still... will I leave this work, would I forsake what is truth...? Where would I go? Who else always knows and always understands and always cares and can always help? No one. Absolutely no one. The way is hard and sometimes pretty rough, but it is never impassable. It gets lonely, but it's never completely alone. We are called to be obedient, not necessarily successful, but sometimes G-d allows us to be both. Where could I go? He is my All.

These thoughts and others like them were ringing in my head yesterday (and even some today as I write this). Most of the situations swirling around have not changed, but G-d has been working through your pr-yers and my perspective on all of it, has changed drastically for the better. :) I am so grateful for John 6, and the rest of it too of course. To Him be all praise and worship and glory and honour forever and ever into the ages. Amen.

G&P&L to you all in the name of our Chr-st,
-ktg-
II Corinthians 4:7