First of all, thanks to all who've sent birthday wishes via email, sms, facebook and the like. it's been awesome to hear from you all. Hopefully i'll get a chance to reply to most of you personally soon. For all of those who forgot it was my birthday today (well on the 7th - i'm sure this blog will show this post to be on the 8th of May now) - shame on you! Kidding! :)
To be perfectly honest, 2 days ago, i had no idea what to do for my birthday here. The past 3 weeks have been unexpectedly busy with a couple unplanned visits by some friends from Korat - which have been awesome fun!! - but it's meant that i haven't had a chance to think about what to do for my birthday let alone plan anything. It seems that it's my Thai friends who were more worried about what i was going to do for my birthday then i was. Due to all the busyness of late, i was seriously tempted to do nothing, or just do a really quiet family dinner with Denise, John & the kids.
But, Monday afternoon (5th May) i get a call from Pi Ratree, asking me if i was free that night cos there was something she really needed to ask me and talk to me about. At the time, i had just got back from a day trip to Mae Tia with Tong, Nick and Png where we were teaching english and the Bible (partly in preparation for the Korat team coming in October), the boys were packing their bags as i was just about to drop them off at the bus station, then i had to go down to Baan Tawai cos we were starting the new english class coupled with some Bible (will tell you more about that in another post) and i was seriously wasted! But Pii Ratree sounded really serious, so even though i wasn't sure i'd get through the english class, i thought i better go round to chat. Turns out the 'something really important' was a surprise birthday party for me with a group of my friends from church! It's the first surprise i've had in AGES, and i was seriously surprised! They were feeling really bad that they couldn't do anything with me on Wednesday night, so planned that instead. Unfortunately i don't have any pics of that, but that night, i got a Thai Cookbook as a present from my friend Peung, so it was decided, my first birthday in Thailand would be celebrated by me cooking for everyone with recipes from my new cookbook (all in Thai by the way).
So an all Thai cookbook can prove challenging for someone who can only read slowly and doesn't know vocab for all ingredients yet let alone understand instructions. So Kim offered to come shopping with me on Tuesday night. After we finished shopping, she left to go home about 10pm and after doing some things, i went to bed just before midnight. About 2 minutes after midnight, i get an sms from Kim that said:
"Happy b'day huray :) do you need a cake? If yes open the door"
so i honestly had no idea what the second part of this message meant. i was in the middle of replying to the sms when Kim decides that she'll call me instead. So i answer the phone, and there's a anxious sounding Kim on the other end of the phone. I thanked her for the sms and asked to explain what the 'open the door' meant, when it suddenly dawned on me. She was literally downstairs, waiting outside my gate with a birthday cake! Surprise No 2! I was so blown away by the fact that she would come back at midnight to be the first to celebrate my birthday with me in Thailand!
Here's me and Kim with the cake she bought from 7 eleven just before coming to my place (not sure what she would've done if
7 eleven ran out.
I've come to realise that Thai's don't seem to sleep - more like many of the sleep REALLY late, but somehow also wake up REALLY early too. So i'm receiving birthday sms's at 1am, 6am and the like. But that's cool. It's really nice that they're thinking of me and remembered it was my birthday.
I still went to class today (which turned out to be an awesome decision) because today's lesson turned into a really great day of chatting to my teacher. Sadly, her grandmother died yesterday and the whole incident has brought up a lot of questions for her and for her kids. What do you do if you want to pray to God because you a christian, but your buddhist family won't allow you? Will her grandmother go to heaven or not? What do you do when your kids ask you those questions for real, but you don't know what to say? then questions of does God cause natural disasters or not (in relation to the recent cyclone devastation in Burma on the weekend. Even though we didn't learn a thing from the textbook today (nothing new really), it was a really good time to chat, and it really pushed me in trying to explain christian things in Thai. Needless to say, i've got a LONG way to go still in language learning, but it was a really fruitful time of chatting with my teacher. So praise God for that opportunity today.
Well, after my lesson, i had a really nice buffet Yum Cha lunch with Denise and John & the kids, before returning home to start cooking for my birthday dinner. So i couldn't really read the recipe book in the end, but it has colour pictures, so i figured make up the recipes instead and just make something that looked like the pictures. It's not like you can tell what something will taste like from a picture anyway. So here's the outcome. Birthday dinner for 12 :) So we had this fried boiled egg dish, cabbage rolls, fried chicken and honey soy chicken wings, with rice.
Then what to do for dessert - well, as much as i was keen to do something Thai, i figured few (if not none) of my friends have ever tried a Pavlova. So even though i've never successfully made one (they always turn into giant meringues) i thought i'd try. first attempt, i achieved a giant meringue 'cookie'
Rather sad if you ask me. Wasn't sure how this was going to feed everyone. Oh yeah, forgot to say, i actually had no idea how many people were actually coming tonight either. It turned into an open invite to my cell group, so i could get anywhere between 7-20 people! Surprise no 3 i guess :) hehe
What to do? Easy, i figured i'd make another meringue cookie and make a double layer pav. Must admit, i was pretty happy with the outcome, and all my friends loved it and ate it all.
We all ended up having an awesome night of food, fun and games and TV as we watched what i think is the final episode of this Thai soapie that we're all addicted to. Turns out that Sumo is a massive winner over here too (for those of you who know the game Sumo). Plus had a fun night doing various magic card tricks and having my friends completely 'ngong'ed' ie. confused
me with Ratree, Peung and Kim
People glued to the TV as the soapie ends
I also got a few cool presents, from a chinese steamer filled with hershey's chocs, to an orange stuffed toy which is apparently a 'little hamster called Hamtaro.
To a hilarious t-shirt from my Pi Tor (my zoo keeper friend) - check the design below.
a closer look at the design - i can't even remember him taking this shot!
Not sure this t-shirt is ever going to see the light of day, but hey, i now have my first Panda souvenier :) haha
So, my first birthday in Thailand really has been a blast! i really thank God for all the people he's brought into my life so far, for all the blessings in life and for so many opportunities to be able to share my life as a christian with people here. There's so much more that i'd love to share with you now about what's going on and upcoming opportunities, but i'll save it for another post.
For those who are praying:
- thank God for everything so far and for a great birthday over here
- Pray for Khruu Kwan (my teacher) as she mourns the loss of her grandmother and wrestles with big concepts as a christian
- Pray for me, for wisdom in how to encourage my teacher and for language so i can effectively share with her
- Pray for the Baan Tawai english program (will write more about this soon)
- Pray for the great ways that God is working in Mae TIa with Png, and for the opportunities we have to help her with the short term team from Korat
- Pray for some rest in the next couple days as next week is going to be a killer and i've got HEAPS to do before the end of this month and i've got no idea how i'm going to be able to do it all
- Pray for wisdom in what to say as i share with all the teachers at my school on the 21st May
- Thank God for sustaining me over the past month with all the travel, visitors and busyness
I'll post up more details in the next few days about some of the random things i've mentioned above, so stay tuned