First of all, it’s nice to have some people come to visit! Now that we are more accustomed to living in Thailand, and after our flurry of visitors, it felt like there should be a revolving door at the volunteer house. And then it slowed down for a solid 6 weeks - until now.
We have had the pleasure of two previous volunteers (who did what we are doing for 6 months or a year) coming to visit. It’s so refreshing and gives me some perspective.
Frankly, I’m surprised that I found it refreshing. My health has not been the best for the past 10 days. Secondly, I get totally stressed out when people come to stay at my home (especially people I don’t know well). Part of the reason that it might be refreshing is that I don’t feel like I have to ‘host’ these previous volunteers. They know this community and the language already.
It has also been refreshing because it reminds me of how special this community is. When I asked one of the volunteers how it felt to transition to life back home, she cried and explained a little of why it was so hard. One of the dear people in my life here and I always connect when other people come to visit - because it reminds us of my impending departure and how hard it will be.
It’s also reassuring that these previous volunteers came to visit so soon after their own volunteer stints - only 2 years later. Perhaps it won’t be so long until we would return.
Also, everything feels easier now that the new building has opened. We had a big celebration this past Tuesday. It was quite the event. The Japanese government helped pay for a huge portion of the building, so their deputy ambassador was in attendance. The local Catholic Bishop came, as well as NongKhai's Assistant Governor. There were approximately 80 guests in attendance, not to mention most of the people affected by the Good Shepherd Sisters projects here - probably another 80 to 100 people.
To everyone’s delight, Sr. Mary was able to make it! She has not been well enough to do much besides leave her bed to sit in a chair for an hour or so per day. So it was a big feat, and she was in good spirits despite the effort.
All the hard work and preparation - including Sr. Pranee barely sleeping the nights leading up to the event. The night before the opening, she even offered a 2nd dinner for anyone who stuck around to clean one last time! It’s all over thankfully.
Of course, we still have work to do. There are items being delivered to finish outfitting the new building. We had all of the patient beds and furniture set up, but there are more things that we needed - like drying racks for laundry. Then begins the process of separating the more healthy/stable people from the patients who need to remain at the Care Center.
But, as John said the morning after the opening, happy “PO day number one!” (PO, aka post-opening)
In closing, I thought I would share this short and informative article I read this past week: http://www.unfpa.org/news/10-things-you-should-know-about-women-world%E2%80%99s-humanitarian-crises