A day at the Zoo

The elephant up close impressive creature --- Elefanten på nära hål är en imponerande skapelse
The elephant up close impressive creature

As part of our language course, we were all invited to the Chiang Mai Zoo. So, last Friday Veronica and I and Lucas joined the 15 or so other students for a random zoo experience. I say random because, for us, it felt random to be rushed from one exhibit to the next, sometimes at an almost panicky pace. The Thais, in this case, seem to enjoy staying in one large group and moving quite swiftly from one place to the next. If I let it get under my skin, I could have had a quite unenjoyable experience.

So Veronica and I decided to chalk this one up as a “Thai culture’ field trip rather than “zoo” field trip. And behold! the sting went away. It became a fun few hours of learning how Thais think and behave. I can’t say it felt very natural to find their rhythm. But, hey! We can’t expect to enjoy everything in life, right? I suppose that’s what will help us not just survive our new culture, but also learn to love it and enjoy everyday life in this good land.

Enjoy my photos from the zoo.

We all were carted around like cattle --- Vi slussades runt som boskap
We all were carted around like cattle
Some of our thai language teachers --- Några av våra språk lärare
Some of our thai language teachers
These lions were very alert --- Väldigt vakna lejon
These lions were very alert
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter --- Lucas låter sig roas
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes! - Äntligen! En paus
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes!

Thai Noodles – February 2013

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a new season, a new taste, a new land

These are the first Thai noodles I bought since arriving in Chiang Mai. They were delicious!Guess what we ate for lunch today. Thai noodles! It happened this way. I rode my bike down a few streets and around a few corners and ended up at a neighborhood restaurant. I used my best Toddler Thai to order some food. The owner was gracious and waited as I stumbled over words that, for any Thai adult would be easy to say; words like “food” and “have” and “how long?”. What a gracious man he was! – I hear-by repent of any attitude I’ve ever held towards people who have tried to learn my ‘engrish’ language. – I’m encouraged by how many Thai strangers have willingly set down their coffee cups – and their agendas – to help me learn their language. And they tell me that I’m “Dee maa!” (very good) at speaking Thai. I hope they’re not just being nice.

What’s not so encouraging are the massive changes, and steep learning curve, our family is on as we try to settle into a completely new culture. Since we arrived a month ago, we’ve tried not to depend too heavily on the ever-helpful, and much appreciated, ex-pat community. Not that we want to avoid the ex-pats, because we’re ‘one’ of them! And several of them have been instrumental in helping us get settled. But we know all too well how easy it is to enter the ‘bubble’ and never step out again, where the locals are.

The woman on my right is the cafe owner. She and her employee (Ning) greet me with a friendly smile every time I stop by to So, to strike a balance, we’re doing little things like, hanging out at coffee stands and biking to the market, where Veronica and I practice our latest Thai words and phrases. And every time we go out, we’re humbled by the generous time and patience people show us to help us ‘get it right’. When it comes to language learning, I’ve never encountered a culture that has been as gracious and helpful to its foreign guests as the Thai culture.

It’s not as easy, however, for the boys to connect with the Thai culture. Most of Rasmus’ day, for example, is spent in class at a wonderful International school. But by the time he comes home from school, does his homework and eats dinner, it’s getting dark. He’s exhausted from all the new adjustments in his life. And the boys in Lucas’ pre-school co-op are all westerners, so he doesn’t get much of a  chance to meet other thai children his age there. But, he does get to learn some Thai through the language teacher who teaches them once a week.

Veronica and I are finding our way around the area so we can practice our Thai at the local market.In spite of these challenges, this first month has been tremendously easy compared to the challenging stories we’ve heard from others over the years. We’ve been able to move right into a well-furnished sub-let for six months, buy a car, open a bank account and set up mobile phone numbers, all with little or no hassle. So, the challenges we have faced, pale in comparison to the blessings we have received. We pray it continues this way. It’s like this Bible verse a friend sent to me recently when she heard I had been struggling for a couple of days: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him…” Jeremiah 17:7-8 Thank you God for blessing our family as we follow you into new places!

Pray with us

1. Language and culture learning – This is our main focus for the coming months. Veronica’s class is very intense and packed with new information, making it hard for her to take it all in. My class meets at a different time and has a much slower pace. So I need to push myself to self-study. Pray for us both that we find the right balance to get the most out of these coming months. The great thing about learning in Thailand is the many people we come into contact with and the openness they have towards us. What an opportunity to show Christ’s love back to them. As they say, “Language learning is ministry.”

bedtime Nabi2. Our boys – Our new changes are affecting the boys more than us. Please pray that Rasmus and Lucas begin to enjoy their new home and culture more. In reality, they have to adjust to two new cultures; the Thai culture and the Ex-pat culture, both of which are quite different from what they’re used to in Sweden.

3. Safety – The biggest difference we see between Thailand and the West is the lack of safety all around us. Chiang Mai has the nation’s highest traffic accident rate. The many motorcycles and cars that share the roads, and the lack of concern for traffic laws, make for a potentially dangerous driving experience. Cars are expensive, but if I had my way, I’d buy two cars to avoid the statistics of driving a motorcycle. Please pray for safety as we travel daily in this new environment. I’ll probably be buying a small motorcycle to get to and from work, which I’m not looking forward to very much!

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Half done, twice spent!

This was a full week. We didn’t really do as much as we would do back in Sweden, or the States, but we felt twice as tired. They say it’s normal to only accomplish about 40% of what you would normally do when you enter a new culture. They were right. But we still had fun!
Enjoy the photos 🙂
PS Don’t forget to check out our storm videos below.

Video 1 – wires, trees and lamp posts swaying in the wind

Video 2 – high winds and heavy rain
Kraftiga vindar och spöregn.

Video 3 – Our family and Gabriella sit out on the front porch and enjoy the cooler weather.
Familjen Darby och underbara Gabriella njuter av det behagliga vädret.

Hard work and friendship

Our week was packed full of activities and work, in no specific order.

Join our journey to Thailand!

Darby FamilyHey friends! We moved to Thailand! We’re living in Chiang Mai since the 5th of January. We left our warm family – and cold Swedish climate – back in Europe. Our plan is to be here for five, mabe ten, years. But we’ll start with two and see how everybody’s doing.

So far, we’ve had a great adventure, with lots of small miracles and blessings from local Thai folk, ex-pats and of course God! BTW The Thai people are so flippin’ nice to us. When I go out to practice my Thai, I end up doing it over an ice coffee with two, or sometimes three, Thais who volunteer to sit and listen to me babble like a baby. This happened to me just yesterday.

“Ga-fay yen nam-tan nit-noy na khrap” means: “Ice coffee, a little sugar please”

This girl sells strawberries, when they're in season, at a local market in Chiang Mai.
This girl sells strawberries, when they’re in season, at a local market in Chiang Mai.

The short story is, Veronica and I have always had a desire to move out to the 10/40 window – don’t know what that is? You can ask us. – and work with something we love to do. For me, that something is photography/visual communicaiton. Veronica’s something is to just stand there and hold my reflector and camera bag. Riiight! No, her ‘something’ is to use her gifts and talents to help abolish injustice. A big task, no doubt! But a nobel one. And I tell you that she has it in her to make a difference!

The boys are, well, liking it here, so far. They’re not loving it. But I guess most children wouldn’t appreciate being uprooted from all their comforts, friends and favorite foods. But they’re slowly starting to settle in here and enjoy their new home.

Enjoy the photos from our first two weeks in our new culture. There’s more to come, so please subscribe to our posts to the right!

Thai Noodles – November 2012

How do you prepare a move to Asia?

Hi friends! We’re now in the pre-launch phase of our move to Thailand. In just a little less than three weeks we will be pulling a trailer out the gates of beautiful Restenäs where Veronica and I have served the Lord for 13 good years of our lives. We’ll spend the Christmas holiday with Veronica’s parents in the north and then fly out to Thailand in the beginning of January. There are a lot of emotions swimming in our hearts these days. After 13 years, a place can do that to you! We’ll miss Restenäs, its people, and the memories that we’ve created together.

moving boxes
Moving boxes wait in our guest room, ready to be shipped to the north

Heading into the great unknown

This is the first time our family has ‘really’ moved. And so far it’s been a bit like herding cats, with many things to consider. Here are just a few: applying for school for the boys, getting vaccinations, finding a house to rent, choosing a language school, raising more support, deciding what is and isn’t available in another land, like cheese slicers? But, so far, it’s gone pretty well. My last day of work in the media office went so smoothly, I had to pinch myself to see if I was only dreaming. And I wonder how many lessons we’ll take with us into this new culture. I moved to Sweden 13 years ago, and I feel I’m only still a baby when it comes to understanding the culture that has become my home! And what about the spiritual stuff? What sorts of challenges will we confront in the coming years? At least after reading this entry, you’ll have a small idea of how to pray for us!

Three weeks & 3,000 miles

Private ranch road on J59 road to Merced
J59 is one of my all-time favorite roads in California. And this is one of my favorite views facing the Sierra Neveda foothills.
View pictures from my trip!

I just returned from the USA after three weeks of non-stop meetings in preparation for our move to Thailand. As usual, my parents graciously loaned me one of their cars so I could travel up and down the Golden State and touch bases with family, friends and supporters. The car was not the only one in overdrive! I set up appointments, meals and coffee meetings with as many people as possible. One of the reasons was to raise money for our upcoming move. And of course the other reason was simply to spend some time, if only a few hours, with friends. Looking back, I can say that I had an excellent time! I only wish I had more of it. So a big ‘Thank you!’ to everybody for freeing up your busy schedules to meet with me. Mostly, thank you Mom and Dad for allowing me to use most of my visit to do what a volunteer worker needs to do to keep doing what he does. Your sacrifice of not having your son around as much as you would have liked did not go unseen. I love and appreciate you both!
More pictures from my trip!

A really awesome Christmas gift!

Waiting for Spring book coverHave you checked out my photo book called Waiting for Spring? I made it this summer and it’s for sale now at blurb.com. I hope you’ll order a few copies and pass them out to your family and friends for Christmas 🙂 FYI I’m not making a bundle of profit on this book, it being my first and all. I just want to see it get into peoples’ hands who might need an encouragement, or who might enjoy some pretty landscape pictures.
Blurb thumbnailAnd don’t forget, if you don’t want to spend the money on the paper version, there’s always the eBook for $4.99!
Waiting For Spring would make a nice stocking or iPad stuffer, just in time for Christmas!
Note! Only currently available for iPad, iPhone or iTouch

Pray with us

Darby Family

Preparing for our move to Thailand – We have lots of details to sort out before our departure. We found a house and health insurance! Thank you God! But we still need to: buy a car and a motorcycle, choose a language school, pack our things and move to the north, and raise more funds for our move.

Family health – Please pray for good health during this super-busy time. Especially for the boys during cold and flu season.

Heart surgery news – Just think; It’s already been a year since my surgery! My back is doing much better, but it still has a way to go. I continue to have tight muscles in my back and shoulders and between my shoulder blades. The good news, I no longer need to take Metoprolol! The medicine I was told I have to take for the rest of my life.

CAUTION! DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE EASILY SWAYED!

Now, if you chose the dangerous path to keep on reading, we invite you to consider helping us in our move to Thailand by either joining our support team (by donating regularly to our ministry), or by giving a one-time donation towards our move. The cost of our move is approximately $20,000US. That sounds like a lot and it is. But before you gulp too loudly, let me explain that some of that raw cost is already covered by things like potentially selling our car before we leave Sweden, and some gifts that have already come in.

Here’s how you can help support our ministry:

We love what we do, serving God with our gifts and talents as volunteers in YWAM. But we can’t do it alone.

PayPal donate button

Would you consider making a donation to our ministry?
$10, $50, $100 or another amount

Here are some things we need to raise money for:
car
A car and motorcycle
for getting around town, going to work and transporting the boys to a from school
plane
Flight tickets
We’ll be doing travel for work and furlough trips on regular intervals.
plane
PAID!! Boys’ school fees

Do you have questions?
We’ll be happy to share with you if you’re interested. Just drop us an email.
email

Connect with us

Make somebody happy, keep your promise

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The nun we met on our journey. I’ll never know if she got my message.
I once asked a talented photographer friend in Nepal to give one piece of advice to traveling photographers. She said this, “If you tell someone you’re going to give them the photo.. keep your promise!”

She then shared about a time she asked to photograph an old woman in a mountain village. She promised to bring the photo with her the next time she came through that village. The old woman sort of [chuckled] and said that in her long life many travellers had made the same promise, but not one of them ever kept it. So, my friend decided to break the cycle.

The next time she came through that village she brought along a printed photograph, found the old woman and gave her the print. She told me that this small act made the old woman extremely happy and it opened a door to build a relationship of trust with the old woman.

After hearing that story I decided to start doing the same. Already I’ve had several opportunities to keep my promise to people I meet in my travels. One such encounter happened this way:

One hot and sunny day, my friend and I were walking up a steep mountain road in Nepal. About half-way up the hill we passed by a nun and two of her students trying to take a group photo. But their camera didn’t seem to be working. So I offered to take a picture with my camera promising to send the picture when I returned home. She agreed, so I took the photo, asked the nun to write her contact information on a small piece of paper, and we parted ways.

Back home, as I was sorting through all of my notes and receipts, I discovered the crumpled piece of paper where the nun had not written her email address, but only the name of her ‘nunnery’ – I think that’s what they’re called. I should have paid better attention in Catechism!

“Okay Rob! Remember what your photographer friend said; keep your promise.”

Now I had a choice to make. I could simply consider my promise void because she had not given me a complete email address. Or, I could “take the dirt road” as it were, and try to reach the nun through the information she had given me.

With the powerful story of the old village woman etched deeply into my soul, I remembered my promise. I began searching the web – it actually took only 10-15 minutes – when I found something that seemed to match the name on the paper. So I sent the photo to the main email address and waited.

Sadly, I never heard back from the recipient, so I don’t actually know if the photo ever reached her. But I can sleep at night knowing I did what I could to keep my promise, even if nobody ever finds out.