Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teaching English

We as Missionaries in Thailand teach English every Tuesday Night.  We have a Website called or Thailand Free English Class.

We teach every Tuesday night at every chapel in Thailand.  We generally start at 6:30 PM and go till 8 PM.  It is Free to anyone who wants to attend.  If they want to buy a book that we teach from - it will cost them 40 Baht ( ~ $1.20).  The Thai government appreciates our program of teaching English for free. We use it to foster good will and it does help in our ability to get 1 year non immigrant Visas ( it is renewable) for the missionaries. At this time we are authorized up to 200 non Immigrant Visas at  a time.

Ever since we arrived in Thailand Sister Meeker and I have been teaching English each and every
Tuesday night.  There are three class levels offered. Beginning, Intermediate and advanced.  We started out teaching the intermediate class.  After several months at that, we were "promoted" to teach the advanced class.   The manual we teach out of has 24 lessons.  We have gone thru many of the lessons in the manual twice.    We started out in a classroom that was very small and we had to have rows of students.  We finally arranged for a bigger space and now have one third of the cultural hall. This allowed us to have everyone in the front row.

Today the Missionaries have had great success in finding individuals who are prepared to accept the gospel.  Many students have met the Missionaries thru English and then go on to take the discussions and join the church.  However at the present time, Street contacting is the major source of the investigators that meet with the missionaries.

I truly do enjoy teaching conversational English. We try to make it fun for the students and the goal is to get them to talk more.  Most of them have a good background in the theory behind English and understand the grammar rules.  They just do not know how to speak very well.  They especially do not understand all of the exceptions to the rule in English.  I get to learn a few words in Thai as I teach them English vocabulary.

Sister Meeker writing the lesson plan on the Whiteboard prior to class starting
Students - intently listening to Sister Meeker's explanation

One Hungarian student (far left) the rest are Thai Students

Most of the students go by a nick name - they call it play name. This is not just for our sakes.  They use these names in their everyday life.  We have No Name, Eve, Mint, Ink, Bakery, Green Tea, and Blue just to name a few. 
On the left side of the white board you can see some of the students names
that were there at the beginning of class

I have received a new calling in the Branch that requires my time to spent elsewhere on Tuesday evenings. Therefore we will not be teaching English on a regular basis any longer.  The Students were quite disappointed.  Other missionaries will be teaching the advanced class starting next week..

After our last class

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day on the Klong

The word Klong translates as Canal in English.  On Friday Sister Meeker and I took another Senior Couple and spent the morning on the Chao Praya River and on the canals of Thonburi.

Elder Meeker on the Chao Phraya River in a long tailed boat
Friday was a public holiday.  All of the Thai Church Employees had Friday off and they also get Monday off work.  The other three Senior Missionary couples that serve in the Service Center side of the Church office had gone to the Young Single Adult Conference (Thursday - Saturday) being held in Phitsanulok.  So the Goodson’s (the only other couple in the office) did not want to go to the office and be alone.  They suggested that we do something.  So Lois and I took them on a Long Tailed Boat tour of the Canals on the Thonburi side of the river.  We took the BTS above ground train to the River and then took the tourist boat to the Chang Pier (near the Emerald Buddha Temple).  I then negotiated a ride on a long tailed boat for the four of us.  I got them down to 2700 Baht. They wanted 3600 Baht for the three hour private tour.  We first went up the river and into the Bangkok Noi Canal.  We stopped at the Royal Barge Museum.  We spent 30 minutes or so there and took some pictures.   

Elder Meeker in the Royal Barge Museum
 Admission price for the Royal Barge Museum was 100 Baht (~3 dollars) each.  But it cost us another 3 dollars for the camera permit. These were in active use prior to World War II. 
 At the Royal Barge museum you can discover eight of Thailand's most unique and stunning vessels: the Royal Barges. These boats are reserved for auspicious ceremonies and state occasions like the very rare Royal Barge Procession, and have only made an appearance on the water 16 times in the last 65 years.  Each is carved from huge pieces of teak, their prows engraved with mythical creatures, gilded in gold and intricately decorated with tiny shimmering pieces of glass. Rowed by up to 50 specially trained oarsmen, the boats leave their dry dock at festival times and important state occasions for spectacular processions along the river.

Each of the eight royal barges has a sign indicating the name, the year of construction or renovation and the number of crew it requires to operate it... it is rather impressive to think that the largest amd most important vessel named 'Suphannahonse' is 46 meters long and needs 50 oarsmen and 14 crew members!

During Thailand's  turbulent history, the barges were often damaged or partly destroyed by bombings or fire. All around the building  photos and illustration are displayed showing past processions  and the remains of previous vessels as well as the techniques used to operate the barges.

 Many of the Boats were damaged by Japanese bombing during World War II.  The Current King (longest currently serving King in the World) had the Barges restored for the first time in the 1950's.   

Sister Meeker close to one of the Royal seating areas

Lucky Bamboo plants woven together

Various Figure heads on the Bow

Side view close up

Yes that is a cannon in the front of this barge

Serpent heads that would cradle the King when he slept

After leaving the Museum, we then went back to the river and entered Klong Mon (Mon Canal) for the long trip to an Orchard Farm.  That was quite a ways inland and finished on a very narrow canal. 

Typical Thai residence on the Canal - Wooden structure with Corrugated Tin Roof

Affluent Thai house on the Canal

Nice Thai Home with Historically accurate Architecture
 We eventually arrived at the Orchid Farm.

Our Long Tailed Boat Driver with Elder Meeker - note the narrow canal we are on

Getting around on the Canal

Prepared food sales from the Boat  - directly to your back porch

Passing another Long Tailed boat on the way back home

Friday, July 11, 2014

Special Saturday Morning Breakfast

Saturday is our Preparation Day.  So we sometimes take a little more time preparing food and doing other household chores.  It is the day we do laundry.  I should say Lois does laundry. I do help - but she does the yeoman's share.

So this morning we took the time to make French toast.  Sister Meeker makes the Syrup from Scratch with Mapeline shipped from the US. See the small bananas all laid out ready for me to attack.  Sister Meeker commented they look like they are all prepared for a sacrifice.


We do eat meals with our family - Note the pictures on the wall.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Fruits of Thailand

Some of the fruits of Thailand
We have commented on how much we are enjoying the variation of fruits here in this tropical climate.  We have tried quite a few though there are many that we are yet unaware of.  Many of the usual and familiar are here - for instance: watermelon, cantaloupe and other melons, pineapple and bananas: many sizes - they vary in flavor, texture, and rate of ripening (some stay firm and delicious for two or three days and one kind goes from green to mushy in 24 hours or less). We have taken some photos of the more tropical and will try to describe some of what we have sampled.


Longan: this fruit almost looks like small potatoes on a stem.  The skin is leathery and you just peel it off with your fingers.  There are several varieties - most have only one semi translucent fruit in it with a larger seed in the middle.  This one has several small sections, the larger sections have a seed in them.  The fruit is mild and sweet.  The seed is very bitter so avoid biting into it. 


Rambutan :  This fruit reminds me of a sea urchin.  It is covered with red spines with green tips.  Unlike a sea urchin the spines are soft.  The skin is leathery and peels off revealing a clearish fruit with a seed in the center.  The outer part of the seed comes off with the fruit and does not add to my enjoyment.  The fruit is mild flavored and sweet.

Sala: The reddish brown skin with bristles.  It is a pointed oval and when it is still on it's stem it reminds me of a Christmas ornament with the pointed ends all sticking out like on a wreath.  The skin is thin and a little prickly - more crisp than leathery.  There are usually 2 or perhaps 3 sections inside.  It rather tart and has a creamy texture.  There is a usual a seed inside.  I read online that it is best to peel the thin membrane off of the seed before eating it - this was difficult.  I really liked this one.  

Mangosteen: This is Jay's favorite, it is the size of a large golf ball, purple or reddish, with a green topknot and a 'cute' five to seven petal mark on the bottom. It looks kind of like something like a scrap bookers stamp.  The skin is fairly hard and thick.  To get to the fruit you may use a knife and carefully score it around the diameter then pull and twist to remove the upper half.  You may also put the mangosteen between your palms and press until you hear it pop and hope you haven't squished the guts out. This should create a break in the skin and then it can be carefully pulled open.The fruit inside is white and sectional. The larger sections have a seed in it, not particularly edible.  Most delicious, sweet and with a combination of tropical flavors.  Careful with the outer skin - it will stain your clothes.


Papaya: This looks a little like an over grown butternut squash.  Yellowish colored.  Cut it in half lengthwise, the flesh is orange and it has a lot of slimy black seeds - remove them like you would from a cantaloupe. Peel it and eat.  Jay likes it with lime juice. A good one is really sweet and flavorful, the less good ones are pretty tasty too. The Thais like to grate it when it is not ripe and use it in a dish they call 'Som Tom'.


Mango:  This is likely my favorite. The mangosteens ARE delicious but difficult to open and small - Mangos are delicious and substantial in size. They eat them unripe - crisp and a little bit tart. Ripe they are similar to the king of peaches.  Peel with a sharp knife and cut the flesh from each side of the flat seed.  Very sweet, smooth, delicious on its own - often served as a dessert with sticky rice and sweetened coconut milk.

Custard Apple

Custard Apple: Jay said that this fruit looks like a hang grenade, I think it looks more like a rather smooth pinecone.  It is ripe when it gets a little squishy.  We just kind of break it open. The inside consist of sections that radiate out from the center.  The larger sections have a - you got it - a seed. There is a little liquid just under the skin, it is very sweet and granular,  It is aptly named a sugar apple in that it is sweet - the rest is not very apple like.

Santol or Krathon

Santol or krathon:  This one looks like a small round pumpkin (tan color).  The easiest way to eat it is to cut it into sections.  The inside is hard close to the outside (this part is tart).  The inside contains a few large seeds and is soft and sweet.    The seeds are not edible.  Pretty different but I liked it.


Durian:  This fruit comes with a terrible reputation.  Subways and hotels ban it.  It has the potential for having a very strong odor, the odor gets stronger as it ripens.  It is usually very large and more than rough.  Removing the fruit is quite the process, the fruit is in pockets throughout.  There are large seeds in it.  The flavor is one you either like or don't and I believe it can get very strong tasting.  They often dry or freeze it due the fact that many don't care for the texture.  It is extremely smooth and creamy, almost slimy.  I liked it pretty well though I will not likely seek it out.

Dragon Fruit
Dragon Fruit - There are a couple of varieties of this one.  The white variety is more common and often costs a little less.  They are really easy to prepare. Cut in half lengthwise and the skin just pulls off.  The flesh is solid but not fibrous at all. There are small seeds throughout - they remind me of a poppy seed muffin.  The flavor can be mild to the point of being flavorless but a ripe one is really good. 

Rose Apple

Rose Apple - these remind me of Japanese Pears.  Crisp and sweet - very refreshing. Not much in the way seeds or anything.

Jackfruit:  From the outside this looks a lot like Durian.  It is even larger and just as rough.  It has yellow fruit inside and I don't know how to describe it.  It is usually sold prepared - they remove the seed from each section, the sections are about 2 inches long and less than an inch across.  They taste pretty good, but I found I had, had enough
before I had eaten very many.

Food Cart with prepared fruit - pineapple, watermelon, rose apple  papaya

Watermelon - usually they are midsized, with a green rind.  They are not seedless.  They make an drink with them in the blender - with ice.  Very refreshing.

Pineapple - several different varieties.  They call one Hawaiian Pineapple, another is Thai Pinapple - the outside is rougher, there is a small variety that is really delicious.  We usually buy them all prepared by a street vendor they put 2 and half small pineapples in a bag and some sell them for 20 Baht (about 70 cents) or in more touristy areas you could pay twice that.

Fruit cart with whole fruit  / mangostein, rambutan, dragon fruit, oranges, guava, longon,, apples and grapes


Friday, July 4, 2014

Yes they have July 4th in Thailand

The calendar works the same here in Thailand as in the US,  So yes there is the fourth day of the seventh month.  However, it is not a holiday.  But we as American Citizens did celebrate the event of the Birth of our Nation.  We started out by purchasing donuts and taking them to the office to share in the morning.  We bought them from a place called Mr. Donut.  Sister Meeker prefers the cake donuts over the raised donuts.  I especially liked the Chocolate Cake donut rolled in sweetened coconut flakes.

Note the Red, White and Blue Color Schemes
This evening all of the Senior missionaries from Bangkok (and also Ayuthaya) got together for a meal at the Mission Home. President and Sister Senior hosted us. There were 14 of us all together. We had Hamburgers, Baked Beans, Potato chips and Dip, potato salad (Sister Meeker), and even 7-up Salad (Sister Meeker).  We had Milkshakes and Raspberry Tarts for desert.

When we were deciding on what to wear today with our limited wardrobes as Missionaries we had to be a little innovative to get the Red, White and Blue Colors.

My Red Tie actually has snowflakes on it - So I imagined them as bombs bursting in air.

Sister Meeker found a Blue tie in my closet that she adroitly added to here fashionable wardrobe for the day.