Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yindii Tonrab Thailand!

I'm writing this blog from an internet cafe in Udorn Thani Thailand. Today marks day 4 of our trek! And what a trek it has been!

We arrived in Bangkok early early Sunday morning and wanted to do nothing more than go to sleep. We got off the plane, hopped in a taxi, and went to our room. The hotel was nothing special, but it was just what we needed after traveling for nearly 24 hours! After a three hour rest in our hotel, we got up and got ready for church. We hopped on the next plane to Udorn Thani (near the border of Laos) and arrived around 8:00 AM. Church started at 9:00 so we thought we'd go check in at our hotel first, and then head to church. So we got a ride over to the hotel, check in, and then got ready to go to church. I, the stalwart leader and local Udorn resident, feeling very confident got in a Song Tao and thought that I would remember the route to the church as if I had only left the area yesterday. After the driver asked me where to take him though, the reality of the situation set in as I realized I had no idea where the church was. I told him I thought it was by a technical school and if he knew of any. He said his route passed by a technical school. So we hopped in, but found ourselves even further away from our destination than we were when we started off. Worse still, I had no idea where I was at all now. So we found another driver and told him our situation and with some luck, he knew exactly where to go!

Church was amazing! It was a sincere joy to go back and see so many familiar faces, and even more so when they remembered me too! Perhaps the best experience I've had so far came after we sat down. I looked up a couple rows in front of me and there was a woman sitting on the bench that Elder Teran and I had found on our bikes almost four years ago. She turned around and recognized me right away. She came over and sat down next to us and asked if I was Elder Metcalf, and if I remembered her. I told her I did, and confirmed that she was Sister Nim. She was so thrilled that I remembered her! She went on to tell me about her life since we had last met. It turns out that now she, her daughter, and even her husband are active members of the church now. What was even more surprising was that the reluctant husband I had known years ago was now the branch president!

When church started, the 1st counselor (who was the mission leader when I was there) invited Lydia and I to share our testimonies. So we did and were both surprised at how much Thai we still remembered! Sister Nim got up later and bore her testimony too. She said it was a special opportunity for her to bare her testimony, and shared how thankful she was for the gospel in her life and how it has blessed her and her family. What an awesome experience!

The rest of this week has been exciting as well! Our hotel is beautiful and very reasonably priced. We've had lots of great food, and still have lots more to eat on our list. Unfortunately, mangoes aren't in season right now, so we won't have any mangoes and sticky rice any time soon. We've seen some pretty awesome things too. We went up to Ban Chiang and had the chance to see artifacts preserved from the bronze age! We also had the chance to see some of the local artists paint pottery and chisel woodcarvings.

Our third day in Udorn, President Nit and Sister Nim were kind enough to offer to take us across the border to Laos. We drove about an hour North and got a new stamp on our Visa. Laos is a lot like Thailand, but not nearly as developed. We went to a market in both countries yesterday and after going to the market in Laos, it made Thailand seem very clean and organized. We couldn't read Laotian (even though it's very similar to Thai) and had a hard time trying to talk to people in Laos in Thai. We know a little bit of Isan, which is very similar to Laotian (because that's what they speak in Udorn), but it was still difficult to understand what people were saying.

We saw a cool temple in Wiang Jahn (the capital of Laos), but probably the best part of our trip was running into the Martins. We were resting in the market having a drink of water when we saw an elderly American couple with black tags on. So we ran after them and asked them if they were from the church, and sure enough they were! They were thrilled to see us and told us all about they're experiences thus far in Laos. They gave us big bear hugs and cried as they told us about some of the miracles they had seen in the short time that they had been there.

Today we were hoping to book a flight to Chiang Mai, but haven't been so lucky. The only flight that would get us there today flies to Bangkok first and then back up North. So it looks like we'll have to bite the bullet and take a bus. It's a lot cheaper, but it just means we have another 12 hours of travel in front of us. Ugh. Maybe we'll go buy you that Ambien now Dad.

Well there's so much more to say, but we need to go check out of our hotel soon. The video camera has been great and we'll show you all the great footage when we get home! I'll keep you posted about our adventures in Chiang Mai!

Mike

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