We plodded under the covered walkway protecting us from the sun to the new building and made our way to the meeting. The morning meeting moved to the afternoon now. A meeting happening because of me, a meeting I looked to with equal parts hopeful anticipation and pessimistic dread. I sit in the very back seat, so far that I have to move up one seat because there is no one to fill the seat between myself and P. Bon.
Sister Pranee is up front in a yellow, blue, and purple gingham shirt with her cross of the Good Shepherd Sisters dangling out. She sits at the head of a table worthy of the last supper or a Wall Street board room; it sprawls across the large, echoic room with soft pink walls. We sit spaced apart with 6 oscillating fans running full out on the ceiling above us. I take a moment for self-congratulations, because after 11 months none of my papers have been sent flying. Just before the beginning of the meeting, as if the planets were aligning against me the thunderous hush of Sr. Pranee’s voice reaches me. “Yes, Sister Pranee?” - Of course I can come sit next to you at the front of the room.
The meeting begins with Sr. Pranee translating to Thai a religious prayer song played as serene landscapes scroll across the 48-inch LCD television that she will use for her presentation. She starts by saying that this is the semi-annual meeting, and we will be going over staff scheduling, and each person’s job description as we move forward with the year. Now, everyone one of the other employees can see me at the front of the room, and I cannot see them when I am facing the presentation. However, I have the sneaking suspicion they don’t know this whole meeting is about me yet.
The meeting proceeds quickly (for a meeting that has to be translated as it goes), and the scheduling is discussed. Each person then reads their job description out loud, and there is a little back and forth for clarification. At some point, Sr. Pranee reaches the usual point of being unaware in which language she is speaking or mentally fatigues past the point of being able to translate everything. I just have to trust that she is delivering the message I need. At certain points, I recognize that she is speaking or clarifying the things in the way I am hoping for - hopefully that came through in Thai as well.
I mentally start to fatigue and drift off. “When did Koo Kai have her braces removed?” “Wow, Sister Pranee is a pro at fly prevention. A cup of orange drink with ice sits on a coaster. Above the drink is a stack of papers, with her wireless mouse securing them from the whirling winds of the fans. Such resourcefulness!” Oh there it is, P.Bon and Noi will do the intake and I will help them: another encouraging point I had brought up. We talk about a few patients and problems for a few minutes.
Oh, it’s over? That was a quick 3-hour meeting. I’m not getting bad looks? No one thinks that I am just being lazy and trying to avoid duty? Well, at least I can pretend they are just saving face so that I can keep feeling bad about myself for setting some boundaries. P.Bon must be especially mad at me because she is going to cook me soup for dinner since I have a sore throat with a hoarse voice.
Updates From the Community
There is a general anxiety about. I think it may have to do with the fact that we are leaving in a little over a week. People keep stopping by the house, we are not exactly sleeping well, and everyone is a little heightened. I don't think there is anything to worry about, but everyone we all have a lot on our minds. I think that this trial separation calls to mind the more permanent future separation as well.
Sister Pranee hired a new nurse! I was able to meet her on Sunday, and I really get the sense that she will be wonderful. She has many years of experience, and most recently taught at University. I am excited for her warm demeanor, focus on education, and the care she will give to this community.
I am sure I will have more to post, but we will see if I have time to upload them prior to us leaving. I am excited to see a great many of you, and am sure to be writing in the coming week and on the plane.