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.
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.
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.”
2. 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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