Just another week in Nongkhai

A star nut

Let me tell you a little about my week. Unfortunately, it began with our Thai nurse having a major car accident this week. Thankfully, he’s mostly okay - besides some chest soreness and a pretty beat-up car. We went to go visit him at his home to check in with him and let him know that we care - thanks to our Thai friends who suggested the idea and drove us there. We came to ‘cheer’ him up, and his family ended up serving us a somewhat elaborate and definitively delicious dinner.

The next evening, a staff member popped by our volunteer house to suggest that we go on another outing. It was the Chinese New Year this week, and apparently, there were several nights of celebrations in downtown Nongkhai (we knew there were some celebrations for the Chinese New Year, but didn’t know the where and when). John and I decide to take her up on the idea - which involves taking the teenagers of the Garden with us.

There are two people under that costume. Can you spot one of the feet sticking out in my fuzzy photo?

What a fun night this ended up being! As a bonus - for my tired self - we were home by 8:30pm. We got to see the acrobatic work of two gymnasts navigate teeny, tiny platforms in tandem under the same Chinese dragon. I had never seen this before, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Stay tuned for John’s blog later this week, in which he posts a video of said event.

Random thankfulness… Many of our Thai friends gave us gifts of food throughout the week. Generally, our friends are incredibly generous with food, but this week was even above and beyond the normal generosity! Yet again, I was very tired this week. My role at Hands of Hope continues to be busy, as we fine-tune our new products for the year, and as I create many of the logos for these new products.

Anyway, these random acts of food gifts were so sweet and perked me up a bit. It began with a little treat this week from someone who doesn't do things like that very often. She is more of a private person and not as outgoing, so that was an unexpected surprise. As we settled into our overnight duty on Friday night, the food treats continued… One friend came over with some food bought from one of the mini-food ‘trucks’ (really - just an expanded motorbike) that stops in the Garden regularly. The meats/dumplings/who-knows-what-else on a stick were still piping hot and came with a delicious sauce. 

A little while later, Jiem gave me a little bag of coconut cookies that she bought at the local Friday market. Ten minutes after that, one of the kids stopped by with a plate of popcorn from her mother. The next morning, we were offered sticky rice dipped in egg and then grilled… 

Now, don’t worry. I’m still feeling healthy. Even with all of the food we consume regularly (John and I still both love to eat!), something about it all is much more healthy - which I think mostly has to do with the substitution of rice as our main carbohydrate and how the treats themselves are not as heavy as many of the ones back home. I feel very fit and lean here.

While I love eating the food here, the gifts mean more than that to me. I feel loved and supported and thought of. The same goes for our regular care packages that we get from folks from back home. (Now this isn’t a call for more of that! Everyone has been extremely generous in that regard! But then again, I would never say no to a long, juicy email or an old-fashioned, handwritten letter…)

Chinese lanterns

Those were some of the highlights of my week. Now let’s move into some of the lowlights. 

I’m back into my normal massage schedule, now that the holidays and the constant stream of visitors has abated some. The issue is that I don’t know how to massage everyone that I want - in the time allotted! People’s aches and pains were backlogged, the weather had been cold which resulted in stiff joints and muscles, and so I had some catching up to do. I’m finally starting to feel caught up a bit. The downside is that there was some physical exhaustion from my desire to massage as many people as possible - without taking many breaks for myself.

Another lowlight is that we also have some big-picture stressors going on at Hands of Hope right now. I will divulge more of that information in an upcoming post.

Right now, as I compose this blog on my Saturday night, I feel a little recovered. Even though I awoke at 6am to begin our duties from our overnight shift, I’m no longer as exhausted as I was yesterday and earlier in the week. And while we had some unexpected and complicated drama on our overnight shift, I felt like we could handle them fairly well.

In these brief, clearheaded moments, I feel grateful for all the skills and experiences that I have had before I came to Thailand. I feel like I’m pulling from all of my resources (internally and externally) to offer what I can to this community. Now, the trick is how to continually put some ‘stuff’ back in, so I can rejuvenate myself on a regular basis. 

John and I both have a variety of self-care we do here, and so we shall continue. We also have some self-care built into our Good Shepherd Volunteer program. Our GSV contact, Kimberly arrives this week, and we will get time to reflect and assess with her. We even get an off-site retreat next weekend! (There is a chance that my blogging schedule will be delayed due to this retreat. If so, I apologize in advance and look forward to checking in with you all again very soon).

Until we meet on the world wide web again~ Sowatdee kha!