Saturday, March 29, 2014

Petal Paving

We do not get Snow in Thailand.  However the other day we were leaving for our condo and it looked like it had snowed.  The ground at on the backside of the Service Center was literally covered with flower petals.  Lois insisted that we take pictures. So I had to put her in the pictures to make them interesting to me.  Enjoy!

Weekend Market

Me in 2011 over looking a portion of the Jatujak Market
We had the opportunity to go to the Weekend Market at Jautujak on Saturday - our preparation day.  It is a very large market with literally thousands of stalls that are filled with everything imaginable - from crafts, to luggage, to clothes, to pets, and food and everything in between.

Main walking area in Jatujak Market

Typical interior aisle way

Another interior aisle way
Lois has been interested in finding a Thai style Nativity Set. She found the one pictured at right made from Celedon ceramics. She thought it was quite expensive so she didn't get it yesterday.   I predict before we leave Thailand that we will own this set. 

Sunday Morning on the balcony
When I came home from Thailand in 1977 as a young missionary, I brought home  a dress for my mother.  After we got married my mother passed this Thai dress onto Lois.  Lois loved to wear it around the house.  It was a dark blue one piece pullover dress.  I understand it was very comfortable.  It eventually wore out.   Lois has now found a new house dress.  We spent the equivalent of 9 dollars on this dress.

  We took the new Self Reliance/Perpetual Education Couple - Elder and Sister Seppi with us to the market.  They have been in Country for about two weeks.  We had lunch at the Market.  I had a Thai shrimp dish, Lois had some Garlic Chicken. Elder Seppi had fried rice and Sister Seppi had  a Thai noodle dish.  I also had a blended Ice Drink made with fresh Pineapple. Lois had one made with Watermelon. It reminded me of our vacation trip to Thailand where I had a blended Ice drink on the beach every night with dinner. Yum Yum.

After we were done perusing the Market (we no-where near saw even a 1/10th of the Market) we went to the neighboring park.   It was vey pleasant place to visit.  It was being well used - lots of people there.

I bought some bird and fish food so that we could feed the animals.  Elder Seppi enjoyed feeding the pigeons.  They were more exciting than the fish.  Note the Thais lounging on the grass in the background.  The mats that they are on are available to rent in the Park.  There are entrepreneurs walking around offering them to you to rent as you stroll through the park.  There are others walking around with snacks and cold drinks bringing them right to you if you desire to buy. 

Elder Seppi with pigeons gathering

Some of the fish were huge and some smaller. There were even several turtles that came for the
food.  The fish seemed to be fairly well fed.  They did not attack the food like the fish we saw in Ayuthaya several months ago. 
Sister Meeker and Sister Seppi feeding the Fish and Turtles.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday in Bangkok

I took a little trip to the northwestern part of Bangkok this morning.  I took the Mission Van and invited Elder Seppi to go with me.  Elder Seppi and his wife just arrived in Thailand a week ago.  I drove to a section of town called Bangbuathong.  I went there to see the Missionaries apartments and to investigate potential new apartments that they might live in. 

Once we arrived in the area, I parked the Van and we hoofed it around to get a feel of the area.  We  stopped at a 7/11 for a cool drink. Elder Seppi had a bottle of water I had a cold Ovaltine. Upon exiting the store I felt a little moisture from the sky.  I mentioned to Elder Seppi that it is going to rain.  About 90 seconds later it was pouring.  Not raining hard - it was pouring. We stopped under a 6 foot by 6 foot awning on the side of the road for about an hour.  A young Thai man found shelter there too so I talked to him a lot. Beacause we talked in thai I tried to keep Elder Seppi apprised of what we were talking about. Finally it slowed a little - still raining hard and I decided that we should make our way back to the Van.  We got almost to the pedestrian overpass and we came upon a challenge.  The only way across was to wade to our destination - Water was about 8 to 10 inches deep.  So we stepped into a small restaurant, took off our leather sandals, removed our socks and then put our sandals back on again.  Oh - and we rolled up our pants. 
The photo below was taken at a different location after we had crossed the major street and had lunch.  The streets of Bangkok were flooded. It reminded me of the first few days I spent in Bangkok back in 1975, the streets were flooded then also. 

After the rain had stopped and some of the street flooding had started to recede
In the afternoon, the Meeker's and Seppi's went to IKEA to shop for some furniture.  This IKEA is at a large mall on the outskirts of Bangkok. We took mass transit for about 10 stops and then rode a shuttle bus to the Mega Bangnaa mall.  We bought a small bookcase and a shelf for storage of items under the bathroom sink.    They will deliver the items on Monday.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Missonary returns home from England

This morning Sister Meeker and I went to the International Airport (via the Airport Link sky train).  We went there to meet a returning Missionary.  Her Name is Sister Kanda Kannasut.

We went there to escort her and her family to the Mission Office so you could be officially released as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints after serving faithfully n the England London Mission for 18 months.

Since most of Thailand is covered by Districts (five different geographical church areas) the Mission President has many of the same responsibilities that normally fall upon Stake Presidents for members in those areas.  Thailand does have one Stake covering a large section of Bangkok.  However, since Sister Kannasut comes from Korat in Northeastern Thailand ( Khon Kaen District), she needs to be released from her missionary service by the Mission President.  
Mr. Cookie (Father), Sister Kannasut, Mother, and Younger Sister Lek

I met Sister Kannasut's Mother, Father and one of her Sisters when we got to the airport.  He father drives a Tuk-Tuk in Korat.  A Tuk Tuk is a 3 wheeled taxi with  covered bench seat. He gave me his card.  He calls himself Mr. Cookie "There is only one Tuk Tuk in Korat who knows everything."  He was very fun to talk to.  On the Sky train ride back to the office they were amazed at my Thai speaking ability.  It is so fun to talk to Thai people.  It was like we were old friends that were getting acquainted again.  Wow!

President Seangsuwan and Sister Kannasut

President Senior was not able to release Sister Kannasut due to the fact that his is in Udorn today holding a Zone Conference with Missionaries serving in that area of the country.  He asked his Mission Presidency Second Counselor Mani Seangsuwan to release Sister Kannasut.

It was a great morning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Drinking in Thailand

Sister Meeker and I have a great opportunity to try out all of the available drinks (non alcoholic) that that there are here.  There are lots of choices each and every day.  Today I was tempted on my trip back to the office just prior to lunch. I had gone to the office supply store to pick up some lead for my mechanical pencil.  The picture below depicts the results.

My choices for lunch
The little bottle contains a fruity yogurt drink  that Lois really likes.  This one has an orangish flavor.  Other choices are strawberry and fruit (remember my post about bubble gum flavor).  We had brought that from the condo to be our drink for lunch.  The orange bottle in the middle is fresh squeezed orange juice.  When I say fresh - I mean fresh.  They are squeezing it on the street as we pass by.  That little bottle costs a whole 30 cents.  Now for the two large cups.  It is called Ovaltine cool (remember in Thai the adjectives come after the noun).  So a true English speaker would call it Iced Ovaltine.  It starts with Ovaltine powder spooned into a small mixing cup.  Then the street vendor adds several spoonful's of sweetened condensed milk and a dribble of evaporated milk.  Then a cup of hot water is added.  The vendor then stirs the concoction vigorously.  The vendor then opens a large ice chest fills the cup to overflowing with ice. Next the hot mixture is poured over the cup of Ice.  It is topped off with a few more dribbles of Evaporated milk. A cap is applied, placed in a bag and a straw is provided.  And for 19 Baht (About 55 cents) you get to walk away with this sweet cool refreshing concoction.   

Lois and I quite often have our refrigerator filled with the local juice concoctions.  Pomegrante - which is mixed with red grape juice.  They have mangosteen juice which also has some grape juice added. In addition they offer Kiwi juice now this can get a little thick and slimy looking.  On the street, besides the orange juice you can get freshly squeezed 100% pomegranate or Coconut milk (which is served still in the shell).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2nd of 3 missonaries from one family all to serve at the same time from Thailand is Set Apart

Today we had Sister Rakthisud Saedan come to Bangkok with her father and mother.  She is ready to leave the country early tomorrow morning to begin serving her mission.  They flew in from Chiang Mai this evening.  After Church today Sister Meeker and I took the Assistants to the President Van to the Domestic Airport (Don Muang) north of the city. I scoped out the route before I left but I missed the first turn off the Expressway to another Expressway.  So I thought to myself, no problem the other Expressway I am still on goes north just the same - just a little farther to the west.  I have driven from the other expressway to the airport before, So I was expecting no issue with the 1st missed turn. 

When I got off the expressway heading back east everything was going per the back-up plan until I got to the area called government complex. It is an area north of the city where a large portion of the national government has offices.  There are still protesters there blocking the street.  All of the other so called Shut Down Bangkok protest sites have been abandoned. I did not know this site still had blocked streets.  So the traffic was thick and I had to drive around the Government Complex. I am beginning to sweat that I will be late to pick up Sister Rakthisud.  Finally got around that obstacle and then I come to the street that runs north/south under the elevated expressway that I missed back in town. I turn left onto the frontage road next to the divided highway. Feeling pretty good about now, but it is only a few minutes till her airplane will land.  I get to the area to turn into the Airport terminal - but I miss the turn. Not well marked even in Thai.  I think no problem just go the next U-turn spot and all will be well.  Well the next U-turn spot must of been about 10 kilometers north.  There is the expressway above ground the divided highway on the surface with the railway in between.  No place to cross the road.  Really for ~ 10 kilometers.

After I finally get turned around there is major fork in the road, unsure of which to take I take the one to the left.  Wrong. I know this because an airplane flies over head to the right of where we went left. I stop a kilometer down the road and talk to a roadside vendor and ask how to get to the airport.  He tells me to go a few hundred meters do a U-turn then a kilometer back to a left hand turn that becomes anther U-turn.  A few minutes later we enter the airport and search for the pick up area.  Not as obvious as it should be.  We do finally get there about 40 minutes after the Saedan family had landed. We had called them so they knew we were running behind schedule.

On the way back to town I really enjoyed talking to Brother Seadan and his wife and daughter.  He has been a member for over 30 years - his wife for over 25 years.  I commented on the names of his Children that have been called on Missions.  He and his wife have 7 children total.  His older son Suriya is serving in NongKhai (northeastern Thailand) right across the river from Vientiene Laos.  His daughter Rakthisud about 23 years old. She is an accomplished piano player having studied Music in College.  Her name means " Love the Most".  She has been called to Serve in the California, San Diego Mission.  She is headed for the Provo MTC Tomorrow morning. Her other younger Brother Yodrak is to serve in the Utah St. George Mission and will leave for the Provo MTC in two weeks.  His name also has the word for Love in it. Sister Seadan's name is Sudthirak. Her name means Most to Love. Brother Saedan's first name is Somchai - Som means suitable - well matched.  I love dissecting the Thai language and the names of people. Most of the actual names have real meaning.  Many Thais also however had playful (nick-names) names that they use with there friends.

When we go to the Office President Senior set Sister Rakthisud apart as a missionary.  He will get that opportunity to do that for her brother Yodrak in just two weeks.

President & Sister Senior, Rathsud, Sudthirak, & Somchai Sae-dan, Sister & Elder Meeker

We believe the Sae-dan family is the first Thai Family to have 3 Missionary Children all serving at the same time.  I believe it will be featured in the Thai Version of the Liahona in a few months. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Change is constant and good

During the end of Febraury we welcomed in 14 new missionaries, 13 Elders and one Sister.

It was a busy time with 98% of the mission affected.  Meaning they either had a new person move into their house/apartment, moved themselves or had a new companion. Almost all of the missionaries were at the meeting.  You may notice in some social sites that said we got 13 new missionaries.  Well the number was actually 14.  Let me tell you the rest of the story.  Sister Black the one sister in the group traveled with the Elders all the way to SanFranciso.  Once there, she discovered hat she no longer had her Passport.  So the Elders were directed to continue on without her.  Her passport was located in the Salt Lake Airport and was forwarded to her.  She caught a plane about 12 hours later.  So for those activities you saw the missionaries participate in such as: lunch and the roof top pictures she was absent.  Sister Meeker and I went to the Airport at about midnight to pick her up.  We brought her to our condo where she slept in the spare bedroom.  We reunited her with her MTC group after breakfast and we took them all to the Transfer meeting together. 

Just yesterday we had an interim transfer where 3 local missionaries (two from Thailand and one from Lao) completed their 2 weeks of training at the Philippines MTC and joined the mission. So I have another round of closing/opening apartments, phone changes and house leader changes to account for.  House leaders are the missionaries who I send reimbursement money to for expenditures of things for each group of missionaries that live in the  same house.  Items include Transportation costs, Water, Electricity, Drinking Water, Cleaning supplies, Toilet Paper, Batteries and the like. 

Also arriving in Thailand 1 hour before the local missionaries was a new senior couple from the United States.  I rented them a condominium in the same building that we live in.  I have been doing lot's of different things working with landlords and missionaries. Always something new to do and especially fun is the new Words in Thai that I get to learn.  I can not get over the response of the Thai people when I speak Thai.  They are so surprised and say over and over again - O you speak so clearly. They always ask me how long I have been in Thailand. Of course, I say 4 months and they are even more shocked.  Then I have to tell them that this is my second time learning Thai. I spoke really great Thai 36 years ago when I left Thailand after spending 22 months in country. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mission Leadership Conference

Each Month on the first Wednesday of the month, the mission President (President Senior) gathers his young missionary leaders from all over the country for a training session. This includes the 14 Zone Leaders(ZL) - two from each of the 7 separate Zones.  Also invited are the 9 or so Sister Training Leaders(STL).  These are experienced Sister Missionaries designated as training experts.  They use their knowledge and experience to switch off with less experienced sister missionaries much like Zone Leaders do.  Essentially there is 1 STL in each Zone but is not always one STL for one zone. The Assistants to the President (two young very talented missionaries), President Senior and Sister Senior all have a part in providing the training which lasts about 3-1/2 to 4 hours. 

The missionaries come from all across the country.  Those that come from the 4 zones not near Bangkok, ride a bus all night long to get here in the morning.    Sister Meeker and I have the opportunity to serve breakfast to these Missionaries at 8 AM in the morning.  So we serve abut 36 Missionaries.  Some of the STL come with their companions who do not participate in the leadership meeting, but do need to eat.  Thus the larger qty of Missionaries for breakfast.  The custom has been established before we arrived to feed them pancakes.  So we have continued that tradition.  We have added to the ritual by introducing the missionaries to sweetened Pineapple/Orange/Banana Syrup. 

We fry up pork link Sausages and make lots of pancakes. Of course we are blessed with the opportunity to provide fresh pineapple and some great tasting bananas.  It is quite a production.  Today just as we were nearing the home stretch in pancake making, the grill stops working --- so we had to scrounge up a couple fry pans to compete the pancake making.  Lois does the majority of the mixing and flipping. I tend to be in charge of the logistics - table setting, ice water, serving etc.  We do get some help from those Missionaries that arrive early.  I sent two sister missionaries off to a local street market to buy the banana's.  Lois sent two missionaries off to 7/11 to buy the milk.  Milk costs are the same at the grocery markets as at 7/11.  Milk cost 89.5 Baht for 2 liters or about $3.00 per gallon. 

See the attached facebook link for a picture of the Missionaries attending the meeting today.