Some Slack

My exhaustion (burn out? compassion fatigue? can you tell that I have been on a retreat and learned some new phrases?) has begun to ebb thankfully. 

Our week with Kimberly, including our weekend retreat, was a big help. We have gotten to know Kimberly for almost a full year now. We met her during our interview process with GSV (Good Shepherd Volunteers), and she is one of the reasons that we were drawn to this program - including how well she could articulate what this Thai experience would be like. 

As we prepared to depart the U.S., throughout our orientation and the last 6 months in Thailand, we have built some trust and rapport with her. She offered a fresh, much-needed perspective for our lives here. There were some major influences and some minor ones. John speaks to some of this in his blog last week. It was like I was a tight drum before - the material pulled taut across the drum. And now there is some slack in the drum, and I feel like I can breathe more easily - not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually too.

Kimberly with some of our favorite Isaan food (Isaan is the name for the culture/region in our northeast part of Thailand. Sticky rice, spicy papaya salad, fried chicken, and fried noodles... Yum!

Views from our retreat salah (outdoor covered patio)

In minor ways, it’s always refreshing when we have visitors. They remind us that we live in Thailand for the year! This week I have been noticing more fully: the brightness of the flowers, the sounds of the birds (there is one that has the most unusual melody!), the sounds of the cows mooing and their cowbells tinkling in the field beyond our home.

Speaking of random pleasures, I completely enjoyed eating the food item below… Can you guess what it is?

The answer will be shared later in this blog. Stay tuned…

In other news, Sister Mary (the 96-year-old Irish nun who began much of what the Nongkhai Good Shepherd Sisters do here) has been unwell. She ended up with bronchitis and hasn’t been able to get back to a more healthy state. Antonia, the other Sisters, our Thai nurse and nurse assistant have all been working relentlessly to provide her around-the-clock care. Thankfully she seems to be rallying a bit, and we’re hopeful that she may pull through the worst of it.

Lotus flowers

A patient passed away this week. I didn’t get to know him well, since he was only with us at the Care Center for a day or two. He ended up in the hospital before he died. If only you could see how frail and weak he was…

Simply being here and experiencing death and tragedy, living among people who are often poor and marginalized - it continues to inspire me to use my time and energy toward good now and the rest of my life. 

Did you know that one-third of the world’s poor are in India? I knew there was much poverty in India, but I didn’t know that specific statistic. I read it in this nonfiction book that John and I both enjoyed recently: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Feel free to check out more at John's short description on the book on his media blog:

One of the Thai teens

John and I had some small yet fulfilling successes this week. He initiated a patient activity on his own that went well. Since Antonia was out part of the week taking care of Sister Mary, I led the patient activity on Wednesday morning by myself. That went really well, too! After coloring a mandala myself this past weekend on retreat, I was inspired to share them with the patients for some art therapy. I printed five different options and let the patients choose which one they wanted to color. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. One of the patients even said, ‘good job, Susan - good idea!’ afterwards. 

As we wrap up our week, we have been looking forward to our next visitor. Our dear friend Patrick is already in southeast Asia, and we will get to see him this weekend! (this past weekend by the time you read this blog). We are looking forward to sharing our Thai community with him, and we will even take a planned, long weekend away to Chiang Mai with him. Let the adventures continue!

And for those of you still wondering what was in that photo… it’s a water chestnut!