This Newsletter is dedicated to my father Dan Darby (see lots of pictures here) who died of lung cancer. I was fortunate enough to arrive back in Angels Camp in time to be with him before he left us to be with Jesus. He died two days later, on 9 November, 2013. – I love you Dad!
Thoughts on our first year in Thailand
When I was a boy, I never imagined I’d be driving down the road in Thailand trying to find poinsettias for my Swedish wife! You can never underestimate God’s plans for you life, can you?
Eleven months ago Veronica and I rolled our two children and ten pieces of luggage through Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport to being our journey to Thailand. When we arrived in ChiangMai we we expected to confront major culture shock, but thankfully it hasn’t been bad at all.
However, one of my biggest shocks has been the price of our car. When we sold our fairly new, clean car back in Sweden we thought, “This should be enough to get us a really decent car in Thailand. But we were wrong; we actually paid more for our 1996 Toyota Corolla here in Thailand than what we sold our 2003 Skoda for back in Sweden! If that doesn’t let the air out of one’s financial tires, I don’t know what does.
But let’s exit this road of complaints so I can share one of my hi-lites after moving to this good land. Now, this may sound a bit shallow, but one of the best things, so far, about living in Thailand has been the Ice Cappuccinos. They are so yummy, and sweet! On a hot day – which is most days in South East Asia – an Ice Cap (or Capu-bon which is the Thai nickname) provides one of the most satisfying tastes in the world. And the cool thing about buying an Ice Cap at a small cafe is that I get to practice my Thai language a lot, which has been our goal for this first year.
Click the word to see and hear “Iced Cappuccino” in Thai
The Thai people are always willing to stop and help you learn their language. They’re also very inquisitive. I’m hoping that, as our language progresses, these conversations and friendships will lead to deeper talks about Jesus, and life, and everything that entails. (Watch year 2 for details.) It’s tempting to skip language learning, and get right to “ministry”. But we’ve heard too many stories about how that shortcut leads to a dead end.
Think about it. Would you really want to get to know someone who moved to your country, if they never cared to learn ‘your’ language? Language learning is ministry! Even so, I am humbled by how gracious and patient the locals are with us as we try to learn.
For Rasmus, This first year seems to have gone quite smoothly. In the beginning he had a hard time feeling comfortable in his new school setting. It’s an international school, run quite differently from his Swedish school. Still, he has finally managed to make some good friends. He just recently invited 14friends to his birthday party. We’ll take that as a good sign that all is well.
Lucas started Kindergarten this year. He has actually had a harder time making friends, mostly because he gets rather shy when he’s in large groups. Believe it or not, I was that way when I was his age! But, just as Rasmus has made friends, Lucas too is becoming more social among his classmates, especially since returning from a month in the States. Really, all it takes for Lucas is to have enough time to get his social motor warmed up.
Both boys are doing quite well learning stuff at school, even if their learning styles are quite different. And we have made a real effort to speak both our native languages with them so that they are fully bi-lingual. Now, if only we can get them exposed to more Thai kids so they can learn a third language.
Veronica’s first year has been more challenging than when we lived in Sweden.. duh! She is finally experiencing a bit of what I experienced the past thirteen years in Sweden, which is, she is now the one who can’t get her sentences out fast enough to keep up with the conversation. Still, I’m impressed that she can read Thai already, but I can’t! She started taking on a couple of projects at School of Promise, a Christian Thai school near our house. The school was started as a way to prevent trafficking, and has around 90 kids enrolled.
As for me, I recently travelled to Southern Thailand with a team of around 15 people to make a short, drama film for the Southern Thai Buddhist people group. The entire film was shot on the Southern Thai peninsula, in their local dialect, with all indiginous actors. The film is called ‘The Dream’, and it tells of the struggle to escape bad karma by trying to gain merit through doing good works. ‘The Dream’ is in the final editing stages and will be uploaded to Indigitube.tv when it is finished. You can browse all of our films and animations there.
As a family we’ve enjoyed learning to adapt to a new culture together. We’ve been applying the 40% rule – They say that when people move to a totally new culture they generally can only accomplish about 40% of what they would normally do in their native land. This has proven true for us here in Thailand, and we find ourselves out of gas at the end of nearly each day. At least it makes for a good night’s sleep!
And that’s just where I am headed after I share one phrase for you in Thai.
Suk san wan Khristmas le suk san wan pii mai! – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!