Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter in Thailand

Today, Saturday I was privileged to attend the Bangkok Stake Easter Program. 

Easter in Thailand in general is very low key.  They are aware of the Easter bunny and candy. But since the country is 95% Buddist they have very little knowledge about our Savior Jesus Christ.

The program was put on by the Bangkok Stake.  It wa intended for members and investigators to gain additional appreciation and knowledge about Jesus Christ.  It was amazing.  It was a mixture of Music and dramatic acting. 

At the very beginning they showed a short Video "Because of him" it was made with Thai Subtitles for the Showing in the Church.   Because of Him Video

The speaking portion of the program started with a testimony by Sister Senior the wife of our Mission President.  President Senior was the next to speak.  After he was completed, the final speaker was the Stake President - President Sarawut.  Then we were blessed with the opportunity to watch a church Video about the Crucifixion of the Savoir.   Then the program moved to a full on theatrical production with live music and lighting. The crew projected scenes on the wall behind he actors.  It was scenes from the Saviors life and then scenes from Book of Mormon.  The actors were dressed in authentic looking costumes.  They even had sound affects.  Sister Meeker was surprised by the Thunder and the flashing lights depicting lightning as mentioned in the Book of Mormon at the time of the Saviors Crucifixion.  Another amazing fact was the number of recent converts who acted and sang in the choir.  The brother who played Nephi is not yet a member and will be Baptized next week.  The feeling and dramatic affect projected by the actors with their lines and demeanor was magnificent.  I now speak the Thai language well enough that that feeling came thru to me also.  

President and Sister Senior
Choir and Actors gathered afterwards for pictures

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday Afternoon in Lopburi - Monkey City

After spending the morning in Ayuthaya, we got back on the road and headed farther north.  We spent more time on the road than we planned since it was the beginning of a long weekend - the roads were very crowded.  There was even a constant stream of cars driving on the shoulder.    Once we got off the major highway we made more progress on the two lane highway.  We arrived in town and I decided to go one of the houses that I lived in as a Missionary.

2nd Lopburi house - Church was held here years ago
Where you see the health store was where we had Church.  Our Bedroom is on the second floor.  The gas pump is a new addition.  There is an open courtyard and sky bridge that connects the front structure to the rest of the house.

We then went to the center of the old town to see the monkeys. Many years ago there were only a hundred or so monkeys and they were mainly resident in the large traffic Circle that had trees and a shrine.  Now there are thousands of monkeys which roam most of the old city.  They are everywhere, crossing streets, getting into the backs of pickups stopped for a train, on the roofs of building on the power poles on the wires, on the balconies and all over the ruins that occupy this section of town.
Sister Meeker and Sister Seppi with one of the monkey wranglers

The Monkey Wranglers will sell you slices of corn cobs to feed the monkeys. They then use a stick or slingshot to threaten the monkeys to keep from getting too aggressive when you feed them.  I saw several monkeys climbing on those who bought food and decided to not get into the feeding business.  Several Elders have been bitten here.  And the treatment for a monkey bite includes rabies shots.  Something I am not interested in.
Note the monkey wrangler at the top of the steps ready to be hired.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday in Ayuthaya

Spent Saturday Morning in Ayuthaya Thailand, Sister Meeker and I were last there in December See Post from Tuesday, December 31, 2013.  This time we went to take a bike to a missionary and to look at a potential new home for the Missionaries.

I drove the Mission van and we took along Elder and Sister Seppi - their first trip to Ayuthaya.  One of the 4 Elders assigned to labor in Ayuthaya had left his bike unlocked in front of the Church and apparently someone came along hopped on and rode off with his bike.  We have a few Bicycles donated by departing missionaries that I keep in the garage at the service center for just these occasions.  After taking care of the Missionaries We did a little sight seeing with the Seppi's.  Saturday is called our Preparation Day and we are free to use the day as we see fit.

Elder and Sister Meeker
We started with some ruins that are called Wat Ratcha Burana.  It is a less popular destination, so there were far fewer visitors at this location than we ran into later in the day.  The largest Prabang (the tall spire structure seen thru the doorway) was undergoing restoration.



The second set of runs we went to see is called Wat Mahathat.  At this Wat is the famous Buddha Head that has grown into the tree trunk in an upright position.
Elder and Sister Meeker

Elder and Sister Seppi

That is a column behind me that at one time supported the roof of this building

The City of Ayutthaya flourished as the Capital of Thailand between 1350 to 1767 AD.  It was designated as a World Heritage site in 1991.
We happened to be visiting just prior to the Thai New years celebration which is called Songkran.   It is a three day holiday where they throw water on each other. I think of it as a 3 day water fight.  Because the 1st day of Songkran (April 13th) is on a Sunday they added another Day to the holiday to go thru Wednesday.  They have to get their holidays off. As you can see the Elephant tourist site in Ayuthaya was getting into the celebration by painting the elephants.  One of the elephants that we failed to get a picture of was even painted with tiger stripes. Sister Meeker especially like the Elephant painting below.   

Note the Eyes, Mouth and Nose (tail)
After the Elephants we stopped by the Reclining Buddha

For some extra Fun I have attached some unedited short videos

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ronald McDonald knows how to "Wai" Do you?

The universal greeting in Thailand is called a Wai (Sounds like why).  When ever you greet someone you Wai them.  You do not generally shake hands.  If you are in a meeting with businessmen or others who have dealt with westerners you can get away with a handshake.  When you Wai someone you place your hands together in front of you.  The higher you place your hands the more respect you are showing to that person.  I usually place my hands so that my fingertips are just below my lips.  If you are greeting someone older than you, you place your hands higher.  When you greet someone much younger you place your hands even lower (Chest or waist high).  You never Wai a child first - you would wait for them to Wai you and then Wai them back.  Notice that Sister Meeker is also dong a little bow (Head Nod).  that also is done to show additional respect.  If you were to have an audience with the King you would be on your knees with your hands above your head. If you hands are full you can nod or do a one handed Wai. In addition you would also say Sawadee Kraup (male voice) or Sawadee Kah (Female Voice).  This greeting essentially means hello.