Saturday, January 31, 2015

Odds and Ends

Pedicure anyone?
One of the interesting sights we saw in Chiang Mai night market was this specialty pedicure.This didn't look like the kind I would like, but there were many who seemed to "enjoy" the treatment, and it drew many observers. Just put your feet in the water and let the fish nibble off the dead skin. No kidding!

They mow the lawns (any size) with weed eaters. I still haven't seen a lawnmower in Thailand. In this picture, our guard and outside handyman is edging the grass--with scissors! The cost of labor in Thailand is really cheap, so apparently the price of equipment isn't cost effective.

Here is an example of the installation of a water heater and water pipes into a house. The water is warmed by the sun in this blue tank and the water pipes are run along the outside of the house and then a hole is drilled into the wall where they need the water to a faucet, shower, etc.
Businesses consider the sidewalk in front of their building as part of their usable space. Most local restaurants and stores use the sidewalk to serve, sell, collect, build--whatever they need to do. Many of them tile the sidewalk from the building out to the street so it is easier to keep clean. The tile also identifies their section of the sidewalk.
This sign company is always building huge signs out front like this.
The Thais love colorful buildings. This is the bakery where we buy our bread. It was started by a Swiss man married to a Thai woman. He passed away, and the wife continues to make all kinds of delicious bread. The young elders and sisters love it when we share with them.
Ray was interested to see this drilling rig. It's not as up-to-date as the ones most of our customers have, but apparently it gets the job done.
This fish farm is right in Udon. There are many such fish farms and shrimp farms, as well. We have a family in one of our branches that owns a shrimp farm. They serve them in their own restaurant, and also sell to others. They always fix us a big plate of cooked shrimp with a fabulous dipping sauce when we go to visit them.

The temperatures dipped into the 70's and people were dressed for winter. They were all complaining about the frigid air, and we were enjoying the cool air. They would be shocked to see Ray going to see the Christmas lights on Temple Square in the snow without a coat.

A typical looking neighborhood in Udon.

A procession lined up in preparation for a wedding at a hotel we had just checked out of. The people were very friendly and seemed filled with anticipation for the event.

Thought this was interesting. No matter how little people have, they can find money for what they feel is a priority.

Some of our former English students came back to visit during school break. We were so happy to see them--we love these kids! Two of our English students have been baptized since we've been here. Kwan, on the far right, is the most recent about two weeks ago.

We don't have TV in our apartment, but one night when we stayed in a hotel. we switched it on to see what there was to watch. This was one of our choices. It even had flutter by flutter, peck by peck  announcers! It was amazing to us that people could get so excited about two birds trying to kill each other.

We still haven't figured out the significance of these characters, but they were part of the Christmas celebration in Central Plaza, the big mall here in Udon. They drew quite a crowd and lots of cameras--including ours.
Still think they are a little strange. What do you think? Christmas?

All of the missionaries went to Swenson's for ice cream. This is what one of the Thai sisters ordered. Yes, that is corn on top of the sundae, and it's not a special order item. It's on the menu! She loves it!
One of our English students has a school where he teaches English and abacus math to children. He has about 150 students. He invited us to come visit and talk to some of his classes, mostly eight and nine-year-olds. They were a little intimidated, but some of them asked us questions. We showed them pictures of our family and of Evan and Lydia sledding down the hill of snow. They thought that was pretty fun to watch. It was fun to see Mongkol use some of the skills we have been teaching him.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Impromptu Picnic

The missionaries ordered McDonald's and had it delivered! A couple of comforters spread out on the cement in the parking lot in front of our apartment, and it was an impromptu picnic. They only had a short time for lunch because they had work to do, but it was a fun break! Beautiful day!
Elder Brown, Elder Martindale, Elder Cooper, Elder Lim, ElderWinsor
Sister Embley, Sister Packard, Sister Hatch, and Sister Tauteoli

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas to all!

We had a wonderful combined Udon branches Christmas party. The primary children sang "The Nativity Song" and presented the cutest manger scene!
This is often where I am found--

The Branch One choir performed "The First Christmas in Zarahemla". Their hard work really paid off. They put a lot of thought into their costumes and performed the narratives and music with great feeling. I give it a "WOW" rating.
The missionaries always give 100% support to the branches! We love our eight missionaries!

Two of our English students surprised us by attending the party. They said they really enjoyed it. Beam made us a lovely Christmas card and Sangchai gave us a beautiful "crown of thorns" plant he grew from seed. We really love our English students. 

Outside was a lot of activity--food, games, prizes, and visiting. The evening was well planned, well attended, and enjoyed by all.

We continued some Christmas traditions like baking Granny's cookies for home teaching families and friends.

We went to the market and bought watermelon, pineapple, and oranges to go with the cookies and fudge.The tiny little mandarin oranges are so sweet and juicy. All of the fruit is so good!

We had fun decorating the tree with the elders and sisters. (Notice two helpful missionaries in the background continuing to do dishes.)
Christmas Eve found us gathered in our apartment singing Christmas songs, reading Luke 2, and sharing feelings about families, missions, and the blessing of the birth, life, and atonement of our Savior.  It was a special time.
When all of a sudden, there arose such a clatter, we flew to the door to see what was the matter. Actually, it wasn't a clatter at all but joyous singing by some of our great friends from Branch One who came to wish us Merry Christmas! It was great fun! We gave them each a Danish butter cookie, hugs, and good wishes.
They came on motorcycles and in a red and green balloon-decorated tuk tuk driven by the Relief Society president. What a party!
We had Michael buy these stockings from the dollar store at home. The postage to get them here was four times the cost of the stockings, but Santa had to have something to work with. We filled them with cans of A&W rootbeer, oreos and other cookies, candy, apples and oranges. We also printed off several Christmas stories for them to enjoy. I think it was the first Christmas stocking for the Saengwians and Sister Sumittra. They all seemed pleased.

Christmas morning at 8:00 sharp, the missionaries were at our door for breakfast. Two pans of homemade cinnamon rolls, chocolate milk, fresh watermelon, pineapple, and somo.
There was excitement in the air because there was food to eat, presents to open, and Skype calls to be made to families soon.
Merry Christmas, Elder and Sister Brown!
 Everyone enjoyed seeing what was sent from home!
Sister Hatch added a Thailand Bangkok Mission ornament to our tree that her mother had sent her. We all want one, too!

After Skype calls and preparation at our house, we all gathered again for Christmas dinner: prime rib and beef tenderloin, loaded mashed potatoes, carrots, rolls, coconut cream pie, apple crisp, and cheese cake. There were no complaints about the food! Smiles all around!
Sister Embley, Sister Hatch, Sister Sumittra, Sister Tauteoli, Elder Martin, Elder Mageno, Elder Darby, and Elder Winsor
 The missionaries had to be back to their regular missionary work at 6:00 p.m. So, after all the busyness and cleanup, Ray and I settled down in front of the television to watch our favorite movie which he downloaded from I-tunes:
We both still get teary-eyed when we hear: "To my big brother, George, the richest man in town!"

Even though we were far away from our family, we were still able to stay close via technology. Matthew and Meghan called us early Christmas morning (Christmas Eve Utah time) to wish us Merry Christmas and give us our Christmas present. It was a beautiful memorial book for Emma which Meghan had put together on line and published. They showed it to us on FaceTime and sent us a digital copy by email. It was so sweet and we both cried. It is waiting for us when we get home in February.

Friday morning, the 26th, we FaceTimed/Skyped our kids after they finished their Christmas dinner at our house. They all gathered around the tree in our living room and we watched them open the gifts we had sent to them and the family gifts. They gave us a beautiful bronze statue titled "Eternal Companions". (More tears!) It is also waiting for us at home--much too heavy to send. We are so grateful for our wonderful family and their support of us. We love them!
It is a remarkable to be in a country that does not recognize Jesus Christ. We are grateful for Him. He is our great hope and salvation. We are so blessed and honored to serve in His name.

I better give thanks before we celebrate Christmas!

This is the size of oven I use every day. I didn't think to take this picture until after dinner was over, so it has the left over apple crisp in it. (I store things in here that I want to keep away from the ants. We have a lot of those!)

It doesn't look very big, but. . .
it was big enough to cook our $80, twenty-two pound turkey. It was an imported Butterball since turkey is not eaten very much here.

Elder Saengwian, Sister Embley, Sister Tauteoli, Sister Hatch, Sister Packard, Elder Winsor, Elder Cooper, Elder Martindale, Elder Lim, Sister Saengwian

The missionaries were very appreciative, too. Good food, good company, and much gratitude expressed.

Home teaching!

We recently got our assignment for home teaching families. We are excited to visit, but there are some challenges. First of all, we have six families, but one we have no idea who she is or where she lives. (That will be our finding mission since people are very hard to locate.) Addresses are not really much help, we need someone to show us where they live or have people draw us a map. The maps are often hard to follow, but eventually we get there! We had a great time visiting.

 Sister Daa is primary president in Udorn Branch 1. Cute kids aged 14 and 4.

Udomsak and Nuu are recent converts of about 4 months. They are great!

We visit the branch president and his family. We didn't get a picture of them together, but this is President Aphiwat and Ray in the president's rice field. It is so beautiful in the country this time of year! (It makes me miss my garden!)

We also visit a young single mom, Wiw, and her little four-year-old son, Pooh. He was at school when we visited, so we didn't get a picture then. But we got a picture of them at the Halloween party--cute pair!

Sister Prajim is a sweet, giving soul. When we stop to visit with her at the market, I always buy shredded coconut from her, and she always gives me bananas. We kept trying to get her to smile, but this was the best we could get. She said she doesn't have pretty teeth, so she didn't want to let them show.
 It is a joy to get to know these families better, and we hope we can be of service to them.