The rainy season has been upon us for a month or so. As I compose this blog, it’s raining quite heavily outside - and has been doing so intermittently throughout the entire day and last night. The rain resulted in some deliciously cool weather today. I was wondering how cool it really was, so I looked up the temperature - and it was only in the low 80’s. Woot, woot.
That’s why John & I are a little scared of camping in Michigan with my family when it could get down to the 60’s or below - that is what winter in Thailand feels like!
Lately, though, it has rained fairly regularly, but in between rainstorms, it’s so humid and sticky and uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as the dry, hot season of April - 6 weeks straight of 100-110 degree weather without the heat index. But still uncomfortable. Not to give too much information, but every time I do music therapy with the patients, I’m sweating buckets. I have no idea why, but I guess singing & playing piano & trying to communicate in Thai all at once - is like exercise for me in this climate.
Recently, I’ve also been wondering how much of my stress is from my environment vs. self-induced. There is definitely some from our environment - we’re all still learning how to operate the new building, we continue to welcome new patients into the Care Center (now that it has more room) & these patients are not in good health, our Thai nurse officially left this week and John is busy doing more than he expected to this year…
Hands of Hope continues to be busy for me. I’m undertaking quite a few projects at once there - including editing and posting all of our products in our online shop (check out the Christmas cards and more at: http://www.handsofhopenongkhai.com/#!christmas-cards/c1x79 - Also, note that these are online prices. We have reduced wholesale prices for orders of approx $300 USD or more).
Some of the stress is self-induced, as I try to make everything perfect and complete with limited time - our deadline was the end of June for the bulk of it. But the truth is - there is always plenty to be done, so some of my desired updates will wait until July and throughout the rest of the year.
We had an unexpected visitor this week - a friend of a friend, who is an ER nurse in the Chicago area. It was a joy to meet her (Wendy) and share this community with someone else. Wendy surprised us with her adventuresome spirit; she even biked all the way from downtown Nongkhai to the Garden by herself for part of her visit.
As of this writing, it’s only 4 weeks until we’ll be on our way to Udon Thani —> to fly to Bangkok—>Shanghai—>Chicago. Can’t believe how quick the time is going.
Other than that, I feel like my week felt fairly normal - some good moments, some not-so-great moments. Mostly from stress. Here is a random selection:
- I was rushing to get to a Skype phone call, wasn't totally awake yet, and didn’t take it in when one of the teens greeted me as it was the early morning hours. Later, she pointed it out to me; it’s a big deal not to greet someone in this culture. I felt sorry and immediately said ‘sowatdee-kha’ several times and gave her a big hug to make up for my mistake.
- I did the Hokey Pokey with the patients this week, and everyone had a good laugh - mostly when you 'shake it all around' with your face or ear.
- Despite many electrical and internet issues, Antonia and I managed to get the blog and website in time at Hands of Hope - but not without some running around.
- Our visitor, Wendy, treated us to a delicious dinner out in Nongkhai unexpectedly and greatly appreciated. The meal was delicious and 'Thai-spicy', which is very spicy. We shared the most amazing cappuccino ice cream for dessert.
- We went on an outing to a temple with the patients. It turned out to be a special day, and local people were bringing lots of food to share with everyone. The patients went a little crazy with the food; one of them never even made it to the temple because he kept on sampling all of the food - for hours! I told a staff member that people are going to think that we never feed the patients, because they acted like they had never seen food before! It was so much fun to watch their joy.
Some photos from our outing to a temple and its grounds
With that, I’ll leave you with yet another quote that I thought captured some things about poverty well. (A couple of notes... On the selection of reading - GSV asks us to explore our spirituality during our volunteer commitment in whatever ways we are comfortable with. I am also reading a book on Buddhism and am open to explore many ideas spiritually. This quote talks about living simply; another GSV tenet is simplicity, which is also something we strive for this year)….
“The Jesuit [Catholic] goal of voluntary poverty in imitation of Christ is different from the involuntary poverty that is a scourge for billions across the globe.
But the two are inextricably connected: living simply means that one needs less and takes less from the world, and is therefore more able to give to those who live in poverty. Living simply can aid the poor.
Entering into the lives of the poor also encourages simple living. You see how the poor are able to manage with so little. How they sometimes live with greater freedom. How they are often more generous with what they have. And how they are often more grateful for life than the wealthy.”
(The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, Location 3277 - sorry no page number from my kindle on this one).