Friday, July 16, 2010

The Guys

Josh Ensminger
Best Man
Ryan's Brother.

Trey Seymour
Ryan's Brother In Law

Chris Long
Ryan's Cousin.

John Lane
Ryan's Brother In Law & Friend

Shawn Cordell
Ryan's Friend

Josh Alexander
Ryan's Cousin and one our favorite people!

Tucker Bolton
Ryan's Friend and "Little Brother"

Cortland McCormack
Ring Barrier
Ryan's Cousin.

The Girls

I think I have the prettiest, kindest, and funniest wedding party, friends, and family!

Jamie Seymour
Matron of Honor
Ryan's sister; my best friend.
Tasha Collins
My adorable little sister.
Brooke Collins
My beautiful younger sister.

Mandi Lane
Ryan's sister, my wonderful friend.
Meghan Stout (soon to be Blackmon)
Lifelong Friend since 2nd Grade.
Jessica Conrad
Amazing Friend.
Amy Katherine
College Roommate and Fantastic Friend
Kealey Collins
Jr. Bridesmaid
My cousin.
Calli McCormack
Jr. Bridesmaid
Ryan's cousin.
Cassi McCormack
Jr. Bridesmaid
Ryan's cousin.

Planning Our Big Day!

When we first started planning our big day, Jamie told me to get a binder and print out these checklists from I thought she was crazy! I was thinking, "What do I need with a whole notebook?" "Those lists are forever long, they don't pertain to our wedding." Oh how I was wrong. Once I printed those babies out- I was immediately hooked on the planning.

Now, four months away, my OCD has kicked in (not in a bridezilla way). You should see my notebook. It's full of our checklists, each girl's dress, price list, my inspiration for the guy's tuxes, our registries, receipts, guest list, shower lists, and yet another list for the Tea Party for the Bridesmaids (shh... those details are secret).

Many are curious about the many details of the wedding. I don't want to give away every single beautiful detail, oh heck, who am I kidding... I want everyone to be just as excited as I am. The only thing that I won't post pictures of is my dress and the favors (I want you guys to be suprised too). Our wedding represents us. The wedding is very laid back except that we will be in fancy clothing (yay!). We just want people to enjoy themselves for a couple of hours, laugh, and just be happy!
Wedding: Saturday November 6, 2010 at 4:00 in the afternoon. We've got our invitations from Southern Traditions. They are the traditional ivory invitations. They will be arriving mid September (according to my checklist).
Location: Black Fox Farms (the most beautiful place). We absolutely love it. Everything about it is fantastic. After the ceremony, we will have the reception in the barn with a huge party with our friends and family. If you attend, better bring your dancing shoes. Thanks to Adam Willingham, we will be celebrating and dancing all night!
The ceremony will be held outside, weather permitting. Can't you just imagine the fall colors and beautiful leaves!
This is the inside of the barn. The picture isn't very big, sorry about that. Just imagine this with ivory table cloths. Joe at Black Fox Farms places all of the fall decorations from his nursery. This is all included in the price. We don't have to do any decorations! Aren't we lucky?!

Food: We are having BBQ, potato sald, baked beans, cole slaw, and some good ole fashion sweet tea. The food goes with the feeling of the atmostphere at the barn.

Dresses: The girls have all chosen different dresses but in the same color and same fabric. I love this idea for the simple fact that all 10 of them are different shapes and sizes. Yes, I said 10!! Isn't that crazy?! There have been a few people's eyes bug out of their head when they hear there will be 10 girls standing beside me. I wouldn't change anything about it. They all mean something very important to me. I can't expect them to all look great in the same dress. Also, since they have chosen the dress, there won't be any complaining about what "awful bridesmaid dress" I put them in. Here is my sister's, Brooke, dress. I chose hers to show you, because it's in the right color. Isn't it beautiful! I absolutely love it! The color is called Vintage Bronze. It's not quite a chocolate color, and it shines in the sunshine to give all the girls a princess feeling.

Tuxes: We haven't went and picked out the exact tux just yet. We are planning to do that next week. We've been extremely busy. Here is our inspiration though. The tuxes will be black, with a Vintage Bronze vest and tie. Most people think I'm crazy for having brown and black, but things change, and I think it's very elegant.

Since I've mentioned the number of girls I'm having... I'll just introduce the bridal party in another post.

An Update, A Month Later.

I haven't written a single thing since my last night in Thailand. Wow, it feels like forever since I was there. I still think about my experience just about every day. I don't talk about the trip that much, because I have a hard time discussing it. It was such an amazing time that I'll never do the trip justice with my words. The thing I miss the most about Thailand are the children. Those children are a true gift from God, and I miss them terribly.

There is something I have to look foward to: student teaching, wedding festivities, our wedding, honeymoon, then graduation! Whew, it's about to get busy around here! We've been extremely busy with working during the day, and then working to improve the house too.

Here is the new plan. I plan on to continue my blog. It might end up just being me that reads it, but hey, that's ok. I'll be able to look back at all of the posts and smile.

Friday, May 28, 2010


The people here are so sweet, kind, and gentle. It's unbelieveable. I haven't met a snooty person here yet (other than other tourists). When I've got my hair washed, they gently comb out my hair. I'm used to my hair being pulled not so gently (I'm not talking about just mom, but I'm not even gentle with my own hair). The kids were brought up in this nature too. The atmostphere is so laid back.

This trip had a lot of firsts for me. I have experienced the left side driving before, but nothing compares to the driving here. I don't think there are any rules other than : Don't Hit Anyone. The cars are constantly swerving in and out. You can pass on the outside of the road if you want. I always felt like we were going to run a car off the road or something, but we never did. People would graciously move out of our way (see what I mean by gentle). If we decided to do that in America fingers would be thrown and cuss words would be flying.

You take your shoes off everywhere. You take them off before you walk into some stores, homes, and schools. It was definitely something I had to adjust to. I'm used to walking around everywhere with shoes, but not here.

I think Thai people have a bone in their body that is called service. The people are constantly serving others. There are massages everywhere because people are true servants. People are always doing things for others. When we were at the orphanage, the older boys would shelter or help out the younger boys that were shy at first. It was a humbling experience to see the older boys serving the younger ones not because they must have service hours to graduate, or that they were told to. They just did. It's that simple. Service.

Thank you!

I want to thank everyone that has been reading this blog. I've really enjoyed writing it. I hope everyone was able to experience the wonderful things along with me. I thought I would just write this blog to keep as my journal for class as a grade, but it's definitely become more than just a grade. I've enjoyed being able to capture the moments to be able to share with so many people!

I would also like to thank everyone that has prayed for us and for our wonderful safety. We truly had a great time, and many don't want to leave. We've been blessed beyond belief. I would like to ask everyone to continue to pray for the country of Thailand, because they are a Buddhist nation. Pray for the sweet sweet children at the orphanage and their futures. Please continue to pray for us as we have another 24 hours just traveling, until we get home. Pray for those in my group that have to continue to travel home after we land in Chattanooga... some are driving to Ohio, Texas, Arizona the day after we get back.

While- I'm on the "thank you" kick, I need to give a shout out to Ryan and Mom! I know they have worked their hineys off while I've been gone. For those of you that don't know, Ryan and I got a house before I left so they have been painting and more (they want give me details). Thank you so much for all of your hard work. I love both you so much! What would I do without you?! Mom- I owe you a hand massage :) Promise. Also- there have been others that have helped and I want to thank them too for their time and effort. I so appreciate your work and love for Ryan and I. I'm so excited... and I can't wait to see the house! I know it looks amazing!

Friday May 28, 2010

Day 14:

Our Last Day... bittersweet.

I wake up to the feelings of happiness, sadness, comfort, excitement, anxious, humbled, grateful, love all because I'm leaving today. I honestly don't know how to feel. I'm excited to come home and see everyone! I have missed everyone tremendously. Then, I'm sad that we are leaving, because I have made some memories with this group of people, and the orphanage that will be forever embedded into my soul. I could see myself living here, if my family was with me. This side of the world is so different but different can be good right?! I know, once I'm home I'll be happy and there is still God's work to be done in Cleveland, TN too... but I know I'll constantly think back to those precious children at the orphanage.

We went to Tiger Kingdom today to play with the tigers. I definitely got into a cage with the "Big Cats." The tigers are beautiful animals. I do believe the tigers were sedated, because they never moved, they just slept.... so it's not as risky as it sounds at first. I had a better experience with tigers than with stingrays... how does that happen?!

I'm back at the hotel right now while everyone is packing and getting their hair did at the beauty shop across the street. I had mine done this morning before Tiger Kingdom. And of course, it was wonderful as always... the hair washing is truly the best. I'm already packed and ready to go except the minor little things... I just thought I would share the rest of my trip with everyone!

Thursday May 27, 2010

Day 13:

I rode on an elephant today- no big...

We went to the Meataman Elephant Camp about an hour away from Chiang Mai. We first walk by two baby elephants (which has to be the cutest thing ever!). They were in seperate fences, but were playing with each other using their trunks.

If you tipped an elephant then he or she would pick you up with their trunk. It was a weird feeling. The skin is so rough, and elephants are hairy... wasn't expecting that. I tipped my elephant 20 baht and he picked me right up. It was a lot of fun, I have pictures to prove it :)

The elephant show was my favorite part of the day. The elephants go into training when they are about two years old. They can do lots of stuff, it was incredible... did you know that elephants can live up to 100 years? I thought this was fascinating. The elephants started the show out holding up a sign that said "Welcome." They held on to each other's tail and walked in a circle. Then an elephant kicked a soccer ball. I have a video that I will post on Facebook. The coolest thing was when the elephant actually painted a picture! It was incredible... I have tons of pictures :)

Tonight we went to the Night Bazaar, I finished up all of my shopping for other people! I'm pretty pumped about all the goodies I'm bringing back! Can't wait to see everyone.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday May 26, 2010

Day 12:

ZIPLINING BABY! Today was soooo much fun!

At first I was a little apprehensive, because I didn't know what to expect. They hook a harness up to you, and trust me, it's the worse, awkward, and uncomfortable thing to wear! I was safe though, and in the end that's all that really matters. We put on a helmet, which was real attractive- let me tell you.

Our guide was ummmm..... different to say the least. I'll leave it at that.

The ziplining itself was amazing. It was so neat to see the rainforest, and the pretty trees and views from our stands. Some of the people would go upside down (not me). I was too chicken. I did do the superman thing once, and landed into a net. That was neat. I didn't like the propelling so much. It reminded me of Tower of Terror (and we all know how that story ends). I'm so glad I got to experience this, who knows if I'll ever be able to again.

* Side Note: The ziplining company that we went with is called Flight of the Gibbon which was seen on the Amazing Race. I thought that was pretty cool.

Full Body Oil Massage at a place called Let's Relax is amazing! It's incredible. Just to warn you the details to follow could get a little graphic... haha. You start off slipping into some slippers and head upstairs. Two to a room- Jade & I in one, and April & Dr. B in another. We had to take a quick shower rinse off and put on a robe. Okay- most of you know that I'm a very modest person so this experience took me way out of my comfort zone, but hey- It's Thailand Baby, so why not. We lay down face up on the massage table, and the ladies immediately cover us with a light sheet. The massage begins. We had been warned about the places they massage you... and let me tell you, you aren't shy at the end. I don't want to give the massage a bad rap, it was very professional, just different. Apparently, I got the "G" rated version of the massage compared to some of the others- Thank goodness. I tell you though, she definitely massaged my ba-donk-a-donk A LOT... that was the weirdest thing of the whole massage. Overall- my experience was good, and it was fun. I believe we are going to try the Herbal Thai Massage tomorrow.

Tuesday May 25, 2010

Day 11:

Today I had a fudgeround for breakfast! I haven't been making it down to breakfast because I try to get as much sleep as possible. I know that you guys can't see me pushing the limit on sleep?! Right?!

Today was interesting, but to be honest, it was my least favorite day. I thought there was going to be more to it. We rode in a van to three different villages. Two of the villages were just dirt roads with houses, and we simply walked through the little community. I felt bad for taking pictures because we were at their houses. I wouldn't like if someone just rolled up by my house to take a picture of my everyday life. They didn't seem to mind, but it just wasn't what I expected. The cool thing was that we got to see little baby piglets that weren't even an hour old! That was cool!

The Long Neck Karen (not pronounced like the name Karen) was interesting. I thought we were going to be given a little bit more information. All I know is; 1. They start putting on the rings when the children are young. 2. Keep adding the rings along the years til about 20-22 years old. 3. The rings are inserted into the skin where each neck bone is, and it allows the bones to seperate and the neck becomes longer. 4. Some can take off the rings, but sometimes if the rings come off, then their neck is broken. 5. The men think that it is beautiful to have a long neck (like a swan). I personally think this is crazy. In America though, we do crazy stuff like tanning, dieting, coloring our hair to become more beautiful! So I guess it's the same way (sort of) in every culture.

After the villages, we went to dinner at Riverside. It was amazing! I had a good ole cheeseburger, I was sick of rice... and more rice. The food was good but the view was amazing! It was a lot of fun.

I just want to take the time to share how amazing our group is. Of course there are attitudes and personalities that don't always mesh well, but our group has been exceptional with just going with the flow. We all mingle in and out with each other. There aren't any cliques. This trip has been a blessing, and it's mainly because we have such a good group!

Monday May 24, 2010

Day 10:

Man- I'm three days behind... so lots of a blogging to do, here we go!

Today was an easy day... lots of laying around. I got all of my class assignments done! Woot Woot, less I have to do when I get back. Bishop Somnuk left us this morning to head back home to Bangkok (just to ease everyone's mind... so far no more riots!) After we got our homework done, we went to have our hair washed again! I'm telling you this is the best shampoo and style on earth (sorry mom!). You lay on this bed thing with a cape around your neck. They shampoo and scrub your head for literally 30 minutes. I've never spend that much time washing my hair before! It felt amazing! We also had them braid the front of our hair... my new favorite hairstyle. My hair stays out of my face, it's fun, and I don't have to deal with oily bangs!

Tonight was the cultural dinner. It was a lot of fun. We sat on the floor while we ate. They fed us wonderful food... one of the best meals yet! Thai food is starting to grow on me, but I do wish they served cheese dip with it :)
Everyone that bought "Thai" pants, wore them! We were definitely a sight to see... April's was hilarious! Her poor pants looked like a saggy diaper. (Ours are cute!). Here are our pants, we all match!

These girls performed a lot of dances after dinner. It was entertaining for the first 15 minutes, and then it became so uncomfortable sitting that it was hard to enjoy, not to mention the group sitting beside us thought it was night time. They were spread out like eagles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday May 23, 2010

Day 9:

We had the option to sleep in early this morning, but I chose to talk to my family. The time difference only allows us to catch each other when one side is going to bed or just waking up. I don't care to wake up early and chit chat. Being able to communicate every single day helps the days go by smoothly without the constant urge of homesick in my stomach.

We had church at 10:30. Bishop Somnuk gave the sermon.
* I'm going to take the time to explain who Bishop Somnuk is. He is the overseeer of the Church of God here in Thailand. He lives in Bangkok, but has been amazing and stayed with us in Chiang Mai to help us out and be a little tour guide and protection. He truly has been a blessing. I hate to see him go tomorrow, but he has greater things to accomplish like spending time at the orphanages, opening churches... you know that sort of thing.

After church, we went to lunch at Dukes. It's an American resturant. Everyone loves it. I got a cheese pizza, and it was delicious. After lunch, I was able to experience a wonderful thing called a massage! Dr. Higginbotham (Higgie) paid for this massage! It was wonderful. The massage was called the Dream Package. It's something to die for. Hour and a half. They focus on your feet, legs, hands, back, and neck.

Saturday May 22, 2010

Day: 8

Today is the 5th year my grandfather has been gone. I can't believe it's been 5 years. I remember sitting there when it happened, how things have changed within the five years. Do I wish things were different? Do I miss seeing him and playing cards? Do I miss him calling me Lucie? Do I still laugh at the thought of the only time he scolded us for having a pillow fight? Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Today was hard for me emotionally 1. because I immediately thought of him and my family & 2. we went to the orphanage for the last time.

We woke up to head to the orphanage. It's about an hour and a half ride to the House of Faith in Chiang Dao. I can't express the feelings I have for that place and for those children. I know people say you never know a love until you are a mother, but these children really taught me how to love. The House of Faith is called an orphanage, but it's really like a huge Brady Bunch times 10! The children are so open to others that are different. They didn't care that we didn't look like them and that we spoke a different language. They are so geniuenly happy. There were some that I got to know a little more than others, but I know I got a hug from each of them at some point.

Today while we were there, we play with the children. It was so much fun! They taught us games that were new, and then some that were other versions of our games in America. We jumped rope first. This was interesting to see. We were definitely taller than the children, and so when the tall Americans jumped rope they really exaggerated to make the jump rope go high enough over our heads. It was so cute and kind for them to adjust to us. After jump rope, we played baseball. This was right up my alley. We played with a soccer ball and a stick on a basketball court (talk about integration). The rules were slighty different. There are no boundries or foul territory. If you fouled a ball behind you, you still run to first base. Also we didn't play with gloves since we played with a soccer ball, and so you can peg someone to get them out. There was this one boy on our team that we called Bamboo (you know, Babe?). He could kill the soccer ball, and I do believe he got a homerun every time. After baseball, we played a game that the kids had made up. If the game of dodge ball and monkey-in-the-middle had a baby, that's what this game would be. One group was in the middle, and the other group stood on the ends of the basketball court. The outside team got to throw the dodgeball at the team in the middle to try to hit the players to get them out. It was a lot of fun! We were running back and forth trying to not get hit.... and I was the last one left, and I was bobbin' and weavin' and then one of the boys threw this rocket of a dodgeball at me, and hit my knee.

While we were playing games, I realized something. We might all speak a different tongue, but we all laugh. We would all laugh at the same things. It helped make a connection between us and the children. We would laugh is someone fell down (wasn't me). It was nice to see that even though we are all extremely different; we have a lot of similiarties.

After the games, we went back to the house and gathering spot in the orphanage to cool down a little bit. Have I mentioned how hot Thailand is! Dr. Browning had taken a few of us on a little tour of the orphanage. She had showed us the fruit trees that the group from last year had bought for the orphanage. It was really cool to see the work of last years group still going strong. She was telling us that the house parents were wanting to plant a rice field so the children can learn how to grow crops and be sufficient without relying on others. The cost of clearing the land would be 9,000 Baht which is only 300 US dollars. They are also needing a male pig so they can make babies. They aren't asking for material things, but things that are useful and needed for their everyday lives. We are taking up an offering tomorrow at church for the orphanage, rice field, and husband pig. We took the whole orphanage out to dinner down the street. They were so happy, and so polite and respectful. It was a lot of fun eating the boys at our table.

After lunch, we went back and played a couple of "inside" games. They were so much fun, everyone had a good ole time. We sang some worship songs with the students, and it still amazes me that we are all singing the same song in a different language. I wish I could express the worship of the children. The house parents aren't leading worship, the children are. We send our children to the nursery or sunday school during church, but these children are a miniature choir that takes my breath away every single time. (See why today was so emotional?) We then prayed over the children and left. It was really hard to say goodbye to the children. I know I'm never going to see them again. It hit me, and it hurt. I can't express my feelings for these children. No one will understand.

We came back to the hotel, and had class. Ate dinner, and couldn't enjoy the Night Bazaar because of the same ole curfew at 9 oclock. Tonight is the last night of the curfew.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday May 21, 2010

Day 7:

Today was incredible! All of us on the trip is an education major except one. So we were all excited about the plans for today. We went to the Thai school and taught some lessons. I was in a group of four, we rotated around four classrooms ranging from sixth grade to eighth. It was amazing. First I need to explain the conditions of the school. The school building was paint LIME GREEN! I loved this because it was so bright and cheerful and inviting. There is no air condition in the school, just a couple fans around the room, I'm telling you it's hot! These are not the conditions I'm used to teaching in let alone living. Most places here don't have central heat and air. I don't know how they survive, but they do it without complaining. The students greeted us, "Good Morning Teeacher!" They yelled this to the top of their lungs. It was the cutest thing. We were in charge of teaching them some English. It was so nice to see the students appreciate the education at a different level than back home. It wasn't just the appreciation for education, it was a completely different look on education. They were so respectful towards their teachers, others, and us! The students never complained about the heat, and let me tell you... I don't know if I would be able to focus under those conditions if it was an everyday thing. It's so hot. They were trying to speak English as hard as they could, and repeat all English words. I found it interesting that the school was 1/5 special ed. There were at least 1 special ed student in each room, and I specifically worked with two blind students. I would help them draw and write by placing my hand over theirs.

This experience just showed me that you don't have to be extra fancy to reach the children if you are strong (it can break your heart), kind, and patient. These kids were wonderful, and I'll never forget this experience.

These kids will forever be in my heart. I had such a good time!

After the Thai school, we went back to the hotel and had lunch. It was amazing! I'm really starting to dig Thai food. The electricity company had cut off the power across the city, because they do maintenance that way. So we were blessed to go to a resort about an hour away. The resort had hot springs and massages. A few of the group got in the hot spring pool. I don't know how they did it. It was extremely hot! I mean, they even boiled eggs in it! I, on the other hand, enjoyed a wonderful foot massage! It was amazing! I can't describe how it felt other than I want one every single day. Here is a picture of me getting my massage :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday 20, 2010

Day 6:

We woke up (after a sleepless night) and went on a handicraft tour. The tour consisted of visiting the silver, leather, silk, and umbrella factory. The tour was pretty neat. We were able to see a lot of cool stuff and how it's made.

We went to the silver factory first. We walk in to get an introduction from this man. I can't describe how the man was talking. He was speaking English but I couldn't understand a word. It was seriously like someone had pushed a button, and he was speaking like a robot without taking any breaths. I look around and everyone is trying to hold in their giggles. Dr. Browning had to punch a girl in the arm from laughing so hard. April got a video of him talking... I will upload as soon as she does.

Here are the factories:

After the factory tour, we head to the mall to eat to find out that it will be closing at 12. We see soldiers outside the mall with guns in hand. The mall will also be closed tomorrow. We were able to eat the restaurant at the mall. It was an uneasy feeling having armed men walking outside, but I know they were there for protection in case the red shirts had a riot at the mall. It's pretty cool to know that one day I can tell my grand kids that I experienced a part of Thailand's history.

After lunch, I had to complete some homework for class, and then took a little nap before class. After class we got ready to go on the dinner cruise. I've already explained what a sangthoew is, and me Jade rode on the back of one. It was a cool experience, much better than riding inside :) The dinner cruise was amazing! It was neat to riding down the river seeing sites along the way and enjoying my new favorite food= spring rolls. They really are that great! It was nice to see that people were back in the same routines as before other than the fact we still have curfew throughout the city as a precaution. I'm hoping the curfew is raised soon so we can do more shopping!

Just because things look and seem better, keep praying for us and the country! Thanks!

Wednesday May 19, 2010

Day 5:

We went back to Payap University to hear a lecture on the country of Burma. I can't describe how awful the situation in Burma is. Basically, the regime in Burma is wanting full control over the entire country and citizens. The regime is able to get by with just about anything and everything. They took 20 years to write a democratic constitution saying, the regime can take control back over whenever they want. So what is the point in the constitution? The capital (where the dictator rules) is in the middle of the country, and the "Ethnic" states are surrounding the capital. The Ethnic states rise against the regime when possible. The regime doesn't like to fight the Ethnic groups, because they are aware of how powerful they are. So the regime will pick on normal every day civilians. The government forces the citizens into labor without pay and other crazy inhumane stuff. Who would want to live like this? It reminds me of Hitler's rule, because no one likes the way the country is being ran, but no one will stand against the dictator because fear of losing their life or their families. It's such a sad situation. There is supposed to be an election in October, but we shall see if anything will change.

After the lecture, we head back to hotel and hear about how some of the "Red Shirt" members had surrendered. We were all relieved, until after our class. We get into the elevator, and we read a sign that the government had issued a city wide curfew effective immediately. The moment I read that, Jade and I ran to our rooms to look at the news online. Sure enough- there was a riot on a bride in Chiang Mai (where we are staying). We could see the smoke from the burning tires from the hotel. Just so you know- The Red Shirts aren't armed. I was a little nervous not going to lie. I called Mom and Ryan to reassure them that we are ok.

Just pray for the country of Thailand for guidance and wisdom for this uprising to be settled. Also, pray for those on the trip that are really scared. I felt much better after speaking to Mom & Ryan. Just please continue to pray for us! Love and miss everyone!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday May 18, 2010 Continued...

Day 4 Continued:


I can't believe I did this. We went to the fish spa. I only went because 1. I'm in Thailand and will never experience anything like this again. 2. Laura and Jade practically twisted my arm (peer pressure sucks).

So this is how the experience went... I'm trying to describe the experience in as much detail as possible so you can get the full effect of how gross it was!

We walk into a very nice looking spa that reeks with fish smell. Giant glass tubs filled with fish and fish the size of minnows. Washed our feet, why we did this before hand is beyond me. Sit down in front of the tub on this pretty cushion. Place your feet in the tub and scream! I was the big chicken and wouldn't put my feet at first, so the screaming only terrified me even more! People heard the screaming miles away. I'm sure people think someone was getting kidnapped the way Dr. Browning screamed like a little girl. You may now call her Dr. Pam Squealer Browning. So I finally put my feet in the water, and jerked them out ASAP! I couldn't handle it. It tickled so bad and then the thought of the fish on my feet was grossing me out! April and I may have had our feet in the water for grand total of 3 minutes. The fish latch on to your feet like mini vaccuums. It's the weirdest thing ever. I will never experience this again...

Caution: This may not be appropriate for younger ages, actually I take that back... It's really not appropriate for anyone to view the following pictures. They will disturb you and possibly make you squirm or become sick.

This is a fake smile. I was not happy about this at all... I was definitely laughing at the other fools sitting beside me. These would be the fools, and there were four more crazies on the other side of the room torturing themselves like us. These were the fish that sucked on our feet... I was ok (not sure if you could really be okay with it) with the smaller fish, but the bigger fish freaked me out. They looked like they belonged in the lake as Stephanie put it.

Tuesday May 18, 2010

Day 4:

We went to the lecture at Payap University, which is a Christian university here in Thailand. We listened to speakers on the political issues here in Thailand. We are experiencing a first time thing while we are here. Then we heard a lecture on Buddhism in Thailand. Both were very interesting and opened my eyes while making me appreciate HOME that much more!

Payap University isn't like Lee where there are Christians all around. This is a Christian school in the middle of a Buddhist nation! A complete 360! We learned some interesting facts...

1. The king's daughter was de-crowned because she married someone from California and dirtied the blood line. Her parents were furious, and de-crowned her before she moved to the States. Since she was de-crowned her younger sister is now the crowned princess.
2. Apparently tanning is complete opposite here than in the states. The darker skin you have the lower you are. Thais associate darker skin with labor. If you don't have to work, then your skin is lighter and you have more money! This is just a stereotype, but one that is different than ours. While watching the news, all of the news people look white! That is more appealing, and "higher class." Also, you may purchase whitening face cream! Is that not the craziest thing!

Ok- on the lecture material stuff...

Thai's Political Issues.
Red Shirts = Democracy. Yellow Shirts/Army= Monarchy. Thailand is ruled by the king (hint: monarchy), but some people (red shirts) in Thailand want a democracy... I don't blame them for that. The red shirts are protesting mainly in Bangkok against the government asking for democracy. They have set up barricades using bamboo sticks and barbed wire. The protesting is a 24hr job. These people eat and sleep on the streets in Bangkok. They even have buses that have nothing but toilets in them. The military has had to step in and some of the red shirts have been killed. I understand the wanting of a democracy, but I don't want them to fight while we are here. The red shirts don't have any weapons, so they will not be able to defend themselves. The professor giving the lecture thinks this will end before we leave because the red shirts won't be able to continue much longer. The professor also said that Americans are safe, because this is an internal issue.

Buddhism in Thailand
Buddhism has been around over 2000 years. Over 90% of Thais profess to be Buddhists. There are over 300,000 monks. One half of 1% are Christians in Thailand. All kings have been Buddhists. There are three parts of the Buddhist religion. I'm going to give you the facts, then my opinions about the religion...

Buddha: He was a real person, named something else. He was born in India. He was a prince. He left the palace and went into the forest. He started torturing himself (ascetic way) with other people like him. He eventually left the Ascetic way. He said that there should be a balance between overindulging your body with good and bad stuff. This was called the Middle Way. The Middle Way is also referred to having a balance of thinking. Buddha became enlightened because he was free of indulgence and agitation. He was no longer searching or wanting anything in life. This is what state Buddhists want to reach: fulfilling everything.

Dhamma: the teaching of Buddha. The teaching is the laws established by Buddha. There is more that go into this, but it becomes a little confusing for us.

Sangha: the community of Buddha. This simply means the temples and monks. Girls are allowed to become nouns, if they choose, but nouns aren't allowed in Thailand. Also, it's honorable for men to become Monks, but not for women.

The professor was telling us that some of this has been changed. The rules have been altered. The monks go every single morning taking up an offering. Jade and I were talking about this topic, if the temples are so sacred then why do they charge people to come and take pictures? Why do they let people roam around if it's a place of worship? I don't see people coming into our churches just to take a tour? Also, when they are worshipping they are just thanking Buddha for bringing the laws to them, but they've altered so many rules that they're not all his now. The whole process is hard for me to wrap my mind around it.

This is what we did for the first half of the day! I really did enjoy learning all of the new stuff, and it broadens my thinking and knowledge, but at the same time it's hard to think that there are people that don't believe in our Almighty Wonderful God.

We are about to head out to dinner, get a pedicure (by fish I might add), and then a little more shopping! There will definitely be pictures posted of tonight... I might be crying!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday May 17, 2010

Day 3:
Today was different in a lot of ways.
1. We had our first class today.
2. Visited the temple.
3. Climbed 306 stairs.
4. Visited the Hill Tribe & Flower Garden.
5. Didn't get car sick going up this mountain.
6. Rode in the first Tuk Tuk of the trip.

We had class discussing our observations and thoughts about the orphanage. It was really cool to hear what other people thought. We then went on to the temple tour after lunch. Whew- what a ride that was, I can't even try to begin to explain it other than motion sickness extravaganza! The road was so curvy, the twists around the mountain were seriously more curvy than U-Turns. Luckily I didn't get sick- Praise Jesus!

Before visiting the temple, we went to the Hill Tribe. There was this enormous flower garden that was beautiful. The Hill Tribe was interesting because it's completely different than I've ever seen in my life. The way these people live just shock me.

In the picture on the left is the view from the top of the flower garden. The houses in the right hand corner of that picture are the houses of the village people. The middle picture is just one of the three of us... it seems to be our group:). The right picture is an attempt to capture all of the garden. It was sooo beautiful!

The temple was beautiful with all of the colors and details. We had to walk 306 stairs to the top, and we MADE it! I'm not going to lie... I was a little out of breath (how sad right?). The temple was interesting, but I just don't understand the justification of Buddhism. We did hear some interesting facts though... Monks choose when and how long they want to be a monk! I though this was the weirdest thing. I thought once a monk always a monk. I feel like if you are as devoted to the religion as they claim to be, then why would just opt out of the Monk business? Also, when seeing a monk or walking past, you must lower your head until it's lower than his... for Americans this can be tricky considering most Thai men are short. If you want to take a picture of the Buddha statues and such in the halls, you must sit on the ground. (more insight to Buddhism on the next blog) The view from the temple overlooked the entire city of Chiang Mai. It was breathtaking. I have pictures of that but it seriously doesn't do it justice.

We were able to learn a little about the word sums it up "sad." I know that's odd... but my thoughts were 1.) These people are doing all of this worship and offerings for nothing. 2.) What is exactly Buddhism? My next blog will be about Buddhism and the Riots in Bangkok, because we are going to be hearing about them in the lecture from Payap University.

Last night we went to the Night Bazaar again. We are fierce shoppers... we are definitely getting better at this bargaining thing! I've got some really neat/cool stuff... and some goodies to fill our new house! I can't wait to pass out of the gifts! To sum up the Night Bazaar think China Town! There are vendors everywhere selling everything you could possibly think of! We had our first experience in a tuk tuk. A tuk tuk is best described as a three wheeler motorcycle with a roof. Jade and I got a ride back to the hotel after we were done shopping! There are two ways to get around in Thailand (taxi style), tuk tuks or songthaews. Songthaews are a truck with two benches in the cab with a roof on top. Tuk Tuk is on the left, a picture of the Night Bazaar is in the middle, and a Songthaew is on the right.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday May 16, 2010

Day 2:
Last night I was dead tired... and went right to sleep just to wake up at 4:00 am (5:00 pm Clevegas time). I had a skype date with Ryan and the family anyways, but still another hour would have been nice. The skype date was great! I got to talk to just about everyone... and have managed to talk to everyone in my family some form. This makes my trip that much better, because I'm still able to communicate with the loved ones :) This is the picture I took of Ryan and Cort while we were skyping. Cort was having a little too much fun just making silly faces at me (Ryan was definitely encouraging this). We will be heading to the orphanage today to have church service and play with the kids, then on to more shopping :)

These are the children at the orphanage. They really are precious. Two of the girls (ages 18 & 21) led our worship this morning. I was completely blown away with the service. I can't explain the children to you... the experience was so humbling. These children don't have parents anymore, and this orphanage gives them a new start. The children are completely different than the ones I'm used to in the classroom. They are grateful for everything. I was expecting to feel sorry for these children when I left, but instead I left feeling sorry for us. We don't have what the children have in their hearts. We definitely fall short. I strive to be like those kids.

Today was really an "Ah-ha" moment, because we were all praising and singing in different languages, but it didn't matter because it was one God, Our God! To think that people don't believe in God is odd to me. After seeing this "other" world and the wonderful things, how can someone not believe a higher authority created this beauty we call home (for now)? Another girl mentioned this today, when we are sleeping back in the States, people are worshipping our same God! (and vice versa) It's incredible to think that God is being worshipped at every moment. Also, if God was so evident on a concrete floor, with no choir, projector, or any elaborate decorations, then why do Americans feel the need to be so fancy with our Christianity. We will be able to show Christ through our actions not by boasting what we can afford.

Here are some more pictures of the children! Enjoy, because I sure did enjoy my time with them. We will be going back on Saturday!

After the orphanage, we (Jade, Laura, Stephanie, and myself) went to the hair salon next door to our hotel. It was amazing! They washed and styled our hair. When they wash your hair, they lay you down on this bed type thing and scrub your hair with shampoo three different times. After the shampoo they condition it. While conditioning your hair they massage your head and temples... Amazing :)