Saturday, September 14, 2013

Start September with a BANG!

Our Hindi Watchtower study officially started in September. It is held twice a month, in the second school, with a Public Talk once a month. This involves copious amounts of work coordinating comments for four non-native speakers, translating, practicing readings, research and so much more... to all of you serving in foreign fields learning other languages and starting groups this all sounds quite normal. But somehow translating everything between three English native speakers and three Thai native speakers- all into Hindi, is unlike any task I've undertaken before. It starts a week before with the magazines all being downloaded off the site in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Tamil, they are then printed off at Candy's work place, where they are then taken to a copy shop for multiple copies of each. On Sunday an in-depth preparation of the Watchtower in English where necessary comments are allotted to each person depending on length and personal comfort levels. Monday night the short comments for the two Thai sisters are translated and practiced. Hindi songs are transcribed and sung.
Hindi group end of service year lunch
On Tuesday the longer answers are located in the Hindi Watchtower and BonBon and I spend several hours deciphering, reading and practicing what we have to say. Brian practices the reading of the paragraphs, while Candy practices the read scriptures. By Saturday Brian has his auxiliary questions and we research them to prepare answers until about 1am Sunday. Sunday morning we attend the Thai talk and then Brian conducts and reads the Hindi WT while we support with incomprehensible answers. Now all this with... September's prophecy magazine. Poor Brian! He is such a trooper never complains just smiles. Yay! Candy speaks Hindi well but she is very reticent to jump in the deep end. I volunteered to read so Brian would have less on his plate. But after three hours we agreed that it would take me the hour to read the paragraph aloud. So we really aren't worth much, but we just say whatever and hope for the best. Much to Brian's chagrin... "That sounds right let's say that! Answer all the comments!!" He just smiles and nods patiently. Though we have gotten some perplexed looks as well.
The Sunday before it all officially started, a study from Sri Lanka, who speaks Tamil brought three Urdu speaking men with him. Thankfully Alanna and Terry are back and as with all foreign language groups, they have been kidnapped without their knowledge or consent. Much like BonBon and I. Anyhow we had an impromptu meeting in the second school. Terry and Alanna speak Thai, Brian speaks Hindi and BonBon and I are willing helpers. Terry translated the Thai talk to English. I looked up pictures to use as visual aids and Alanna and Christina helped them find the scriptures. I managed to locate the scriptures in the Tamil bible and the Urdu men followed in the English bible. By the middle song we were exhausted. Then Brian took the WT and Terry read in English. We gave them all our English magazines which left us with our Thai copies which made answering interesting. Brian half translated in Hindi/Urdu, as I helped the Tamil man follow along and it was like the tower of Babel. After the meeting the men were very happy and grateful, which made all our adventures even more worthwhile. We asked where they lived and they said Soi 77. So we decided to explore Soi 77 and see what we could find...
Alanna in Soi 77
That Wednesday after Thai service in the morning we headed out to Soi 77 in explorer mode. As we got ourselves sorted- which means buying slushies- a Pakistani man walked by and Brian flagged him down. He took a Listen to God brochure in Urdu and pointed us in the right direction. We managed to locate the building after a few false starts and Alanna kindly interceding on our behalf in Thai. There were four Pakistani men outside who filled us to the brim with orange soda and spoke with us under a tree for quite some time. They are all UN sponsored asylum seekers from Pakistan, they are Ahmedi, a type of Muslim that has been heavily persecuted in Pakistan and lost recognition as Muslims in Pakistan. Brian explained that we have also suffered persecution at the hands of governments around the world and this piqued their interest. After we spoke with them, we went into the building and it was full of Pakistani families. The catch is that the women are often reticent to talk to Brian because he is a man. So the fun began, at one door I managed three sentences before my brain imploded, so Brian whispered what to say and I repeated. Then after the horrifying part where I speak ended, he stepped in for me and said a few sentences. But the woman wouldn't even look at him so after that door he wrote out something simple for me to say in Urdu and we went from there.

After that building we headed down along the klong (stinky canal of rubbish and sewage) basically stalking a woman. When we finally caught up to her, she actually stopped and waited for us, she was really excited about my incomprehensible gibberish I pass for Urdu and talked with us at length. She indicated three more streets where Pakistani families are living, so we headed off in their direction. We found another building where we were again invited in, we sat on the floor with them and chatted for nearly an hour and were filled once again to the brim with orange soda... yay! While we were there the man we had met at first appeared and we perused his Urdu brochure, since we had run out of literature. The next door invited us in again and by the time we got out of there it was already 6pm. We headed home with three more streets untouched.
We have been going every Wednesday afternoon and have found more buildings filled with Asylum seekers. At one building the Patriarch was talking to Brian and we looked up to see a myriad of tiny faces peering over the railings of four floors above us. The longer we stayed the braver they got and by the time we left, we were surrounded by little kids, who speak a fair bit of English and some older girls I had preached to earlier. We promised to return and as we looked back all four floors of the building were filled with little waving hands and smiling faces. This week we went back armed with YPA and coloring pages about Abraham. Alanna gave them coloring pencils and their little hearts were overjoyed. They kept showing us the pictures as they colored them in and held them all up proudly to show us their fine work. We can't wait to go back next week!
We are so glad to have Alanna and Terry back, they have been such a source of encouragement for us. One day they took us to the prison to preach. This involves taking a bus 30 minutes to the boat stop- then an hour boat ride up the river to Nonthonburi. While Terry did a man's study on the inside, we scouted the area for Hindi. Then the following week we headed to the immigration prision where all the undocumented go until their situation can be sorted. The Tamil man had us take food to his son, who has been there two years, with little hope of redress.
Terry studies with a Chinese man, who is now an unbapitized publisher. He has little hope of getting out, as he was born the second son of a Chinese family and was therefore never registered- so he in effect doesn't exist. He is ever patient and never loses hope totally, always relying on Jehovah. That week they were reviewing the first article about the revised understanding about the prophecies. It is crazy, the prisoners are all called out at the same time and they stand behind their fence yelling and you are straining to hear you prisoner over the 30 others who are all yelling through the fence. It is mayhem! Now imagine trying to discuss the prophecy WT study over that din. While Terry was studying with him BonBon and I wandered about here and there, preaching to some Hindi and Tamil speakers. I found a French speaking man from Cameroon and managed to preach to him for a bit too. After an hour everyone is sent back to their bunks and the visitors are sent away. But really 20 minutes of yelling suffices.
With all these projects going we still managed to sneak away for a beach day in Hua Hin and see some elephants... finally! Five months to see elephants. A man also has a pet gibbon, it's adorable! I want one.

SO these are just a few of our current adventures in Thailand. Next week we head to Vietnam for a visa run. So our next post will be Vietnam.
Love you all! Thanks for all your comments and encouragement. xo

CC replenishing electroly
tes in service
Terry getting his shoe repaired

Hindi Ministry

Japanese friends at our home
Meat market
CC at Chatuchak market
with some gigantic shrimp
Green Papaya Salad with fermented crab


 This family was just baptized at the English assembly last year. She is Thai, he is Lithuanian and they met in Spain. This was our last evening with them before they moved to Lithuania. We miss them so much!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pattaya in Pictures

We skipped down to the beach to see Amy and Lexi for a couple days last week : ) It was a really nice break, they probably think we are narcoleptic beach bums because all we did was go to the beach and fall asleep on their couches, hammocks and pretty much anywhere we sat still for five minutes. We also got to go to their English meeting that is taking care of a little Russian group. Lexi had a talk with a Russian sister and she used the setting when preaching to someone whose language you don't speak. We got to hear the scriptures in Russian and Lexi did an amazing job!! Our highlight though was family worship with the girls. It was so refreshing and encouraging spending time with such zealous, down-to-earth sisters. And of course Bonbon got to drive a scooter around for 2 days!

Right before we left for Pattaya we went to a lunch for Lita. She was celebrating 50 years in Thailand! She told us all about how she was fresh out of Pioneer school when they assigned her to Thailand. Talk about trial by fire! She is such an incredible sister and has been a great source encouragement for our teeny tiny Hindi group. As always she was thinking about others and brought us back goodies from Canada... mini pecan pies and... the piece de resistance... convention goodies. That's all I'll say ; )

We met at a fancy buffet that had- Northern Thai Peanut Curry and a variety of succulent bits of heaven and Mango Panna Cotta and apple tarts with strawberries. Oops! I swear I meant to get a picture before I devoured it : )

Here are some fun moments in BKK...

 From left to right: Hindi class; Dinner with the girls before the went back to Japan to work; Pioneer meeting with our CO; Dinner at our house with couples from our congregation (they are holding bookmarks of their favorite scriptures); Our local motorcycle taxi driver ; )

Things are going to be crazy! So... you might not hear much from me the next two months. But please know we are well. Thanks for all your encouraging words. xx

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A quick succession of busy nothings

Nothing earth shattering to report here. Life continues to bustle along at its usual alarming pace. How in the world is it August??? Our negligible language skills are improving marginally. We have studies now in both Thai and Hindi so hopefully we aren't teaching them reincarnation : ) We are really excited about the new Thai WT Library on the website. Hopefully this will help us with our comments more than Google translate... my latest odyssey continues to inspire confidence in their incredible translating skills... For meeting last week I translated these two comments:
Paul said in testimony before the governor, Prof. French and King's Park with my Sangha. (Acts 25:22-26:32) with the backing of Jehovah.
Which was meant to say- Paul also gave a witness before Governor Festus and King Agrippa with the backing of Jehovah. Are we playing Clue? Prof. French in the king's park with my Sangha! Seriously Agrippa give them back their Sangha!
Never being one to be deterred, I tried again:
As Jehovah hath added Mosaic and mosque between me and her.
Which was: As Jehovah strengthened Moses and Jeremiah. I like mosaics and all but who are they coming between? And a mosque? We really don't have room in our tiny studio for that, seems like a lot.

We finally got our letter saying we can have a class it only took 4 1/2 months! And I was officially announced as a pioneer here! So things are slowly falling into place. Since our arrival we have been a little unsettled, as far as, where we should serve- having been reassigned three times before we decided to make the move to Hindi. In the process we selected "temporary" accommodations, but with both of us working, eating, studying and sleeping etc. in one room, we can feel a little privacy deprived at times. So we were still sort of home hunting here and there. However, since the price of one or two bedrooms triples our housing budget, we have ended up staying here for four months and will now remain for the duration. We are both amazed at how well we can function and amuse ourselves in such a tiny space- it's definitely Holy Spirit.

As the months fly by and leave us spinning we are slowly getting our home together. We had our three month anniversary and to celebrate we finally managed to save up to get peanut butter and a bottle of wine! Yes, we make grown up PB and J's... only our grape jelly is fermented : ) Lisa's parents brought us a potato masher, we found "steak" on clearance which equaled a fancy little dinner, minus the peanut butter, of course. Then we managed to get a toaster oven! So we can bake, toast, grill and roast things. We are uptown now! Not that our other methods of cooking weren't inventive and entertaining... For Lisa's going away dinner we had Cream cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped chicken with rosemary potatoes and banana splits for dessert. And then we had Ramen the rest of the month. Hehe
Getting up at the break of dawn everyday to work, study and learn two languages can be challenging at times. To say we are tired is an understatement. Sunday I sat up looked at Christina and said what day are we? She looked at me confused for a sec and said it's Sunday. At which point I slumped back into my pillow and back to sleep (no work at 5am!). And she sat there staring at me bewildered. Another time I woke up to Christina cracking herself up in her sleep. She was laughing so hard she woke herself up. When I asked what was up, she played it off like it wasn't weird lol. Then one week we had Family worship at 6am because it was our only available time slot. My alarm on my phone went off and I shut it off in a sleepy fog. But then my half awake brain convinced me my phone was ringing so I tried to answer it but I couldn't form the words to speak and drifted off to sleep again. Five minutes later I woke up with the phone laying on my ear/face and I asked CC if someone called me. She doubled over with laughter and gave me her phone... lovely! Don't worry we know our limitations really well. We like to wave at them as we pass them by. : ) But Jehovah has been really good to us, as always, giving us what we need.

Yesterday three of us went out in the ministry but we were all running on empty and just trying to be supportive. So we got to the territory and at the second door we were invited in. After chatting with the Nepali man for about a half an hour, he took us to a vegetarian restaurant, where he treated us to Roti, Rice, Raita, Dal, Pura, Vegetable Curry, Cabbage and Peas and to top it off a Mango Lhasi. And Brian preached the whole time! We were all running on fumes, so it was such a wonderful blessing to have an easy morning- preaching while sitting and getting fed too! Rather than wandering the alleys in sweltering heat. On Saturday too a family fed us Curry and Chapati while we preached to them. So every so often we get a bit of a break from the sun's surface heat, while still being productive.

CC has a wonderful study Rahki left her. Angeni is very appreciative and meek. She responds really well to CC's mild and easy going teaching and thanks us every time for our visit.  Her questions and reasoning show how deeply she reflects on things she reads and she is very honest hearted. She has had a hard life losing her parents when she was young, much like her husband who lost his mother at a young age and was shunted about India until his father's remarriage. Thereafter his father died and he had to care for his step mother and two small step sisters. It is interesting Angeni was originally Hindu but converted to Sikhism when she married. Sikh means student so they are often quite interesting in learning and discussing holy books. We look forward to her study every week.

Because our territory is all of Thailand but specifically Bangkok, we are often wandering about on buses and on foot doing census work in search of Hindi/Punjabi/Urdu speakers. This means we are quite often on buses that are quite an adventure to ride. Remember pogo balls from the 90's. Trying to remain standing on the bus is the equivalent of trying to stay upright on a pogo ball. They are also extremely crowded which is really cozy and personal. But we are used to DR where our personal space ends at our skin so nothing too startling. The guys are a bit fresh, but again nothing we haven't dealt with in the past.
CC says trying to fit during rush hour is much like Tetris. Scoot a little here, a little there a then this
random piece comes along and clogs up the whole thing. But we spend all our hours on the bus well entertained.
Brian says we are like the Animaniacs, bouncing about the city, carrying on, laughing and finding humor in everything we see. I'm not sure who is Wacko, maybe we take turns... So this is our new Hindi Five group pic : )

Spending so much time together we end up having rather odd conversations. Brian said CC was a Bonsai because she is so much shorter than him. So we now call her Bonbon, it's an improvement on her Japanese nickname, lost child. Then a couple weeks ago we had the WT about Marriage and we were talking about how the words of the song "Now we are one" make us feel a bit funny, as it says now we can be all that Jehovah made us to be... well that's awkward I guess we aren't all we were made to be. Bonbon said she remembered there was a singles song, but she couldn't find it. As it turns out they all are when you read the titles. We continue "holding fast to our hope" and keep on "Enduring to the end". "Keep your eyes on the prize!" for there are "Myriads of brothers."  So "Seek out deserving ones" and "He will call" and I shall say "I want to", "Here I am! Send me." But we aren't worried because my Pakistani call is trying to arrange marriages for us. Win, win! Speaking of Kingdom songs this little girl is so cute. During the CO visit in English after we would sing the would start humming the tune really loud in the meeting. She barely talks but she can memorize the tunes already!!

Love you all so much and miss you dearly.