Monday, April 23, 2012

Asia Adventure: Thai Beach Trip

      For the past couple of days, we have been on an island off the coast of Thailand called Koh Samet.  It is gorgeous, and as the Bennos put it, it has given us the quintessential Thai beach experience.  I feel like I could write a million things about Thailand and all that we have seen and experienced so far.  There is not the time or energy for that tonight, so this post will be mostly pictures.  The jet lag is mostly worn off for us now, but we are still trying to catch up.
      The resort we are staying at is beautiful.  We have enjoyed the food, the beautiful spacious rooms looking over a nice pool, and of course, the beach.  The beauty of it all really is amazing.


It is also quite an experience to ride or walk through the little town on the island that has poverty mixed with the usual tourist fare.  Animals and people roam pretty freely through the "streets," and we make a bit of a spectacle as a party of eight white people - four of whom are small children.  Yesterday afternoon after riding a ferry over from the mainland we ate lunch and spent time on the beach all afternoon.


While we have been here, we have been enjoying Magnum bars, sometimes a couple of times a day.  Here is Lily sharing her's with Bella by the pool.


We've really enjoyed trying different kinds of fruit - including this sort of hairy one.  I don't know the name of it, but it was way more trouble than it was worth to eat very often.


Today we hung out at the beach in the morning again.  The girls only partially enjoyed being in this boat - actually, Bella hated it, mainly because of waves like the one pictured.


Family beach picture with typical strange or blank faces on our children.


People walk up and down the beach selling fruit or cooking chicken and corn on the cob for you right there on the spot, so we used several of these people to create a delicious lunch today.  Bella ate literally about 10 mini bananas by herself, and I found myself wishing that someone would always cut up a fresh mango for me.  A couple of other people were out doing metal detecting.  I wish I had gotten a picture of one of them who was basically wearing a ski mask.  He came over to talk to Bella, which scared her to death.


This evening we went to a different beach to comb for seashells, which the kiddos loved.


I caught this moment right before she lifted up her dress to access her belly button again.  Check out the massive purple-ish bump on her forehead from when she fell on the pool bar.  Poor thing.


Say, "Sisters sharing seashells" five times fast.


We are having a wonderful and rich time with the Benno family, which is such a blessing.


We had dinner right there on the beach, and when Bella started fussing, the staff brought over a ceramic monkey for her to play with, since that is a great idea for kids.  The kids had a great time playing with them, until one got broken.  Thankfully, everyone has been so gracious with all the children, and they were not concerned about it at all.


The sunset was a sight to behold.


Tomorrow we will fly out of Thailand to continue our trip here in Asia.  What an adventure it has been so far.  We are so thankful for the prayers and looking forward to the rest of our trip, which will bring a whole different feeling along with it.  Please pray that the Lord will be magnified in our lives as we continue this journey.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Asia Adventure: Bangkok

      Because we knew we would be fatigued from the travel, not a whole lot was planned for today.  So, the Bennos took us to some of their favorite places to spend time while here.  Breakfast at the guest house this morning had delicious home made cinnamon rolls - what a great start to any trip!


Also at breakfast, we saw this bag.  Nothing like having CFA icon greet you in Thailand.  We also met a couple that went to John Brown University - the world is, in fact, tiny.


One highlight of the morning was riding the air-conditioned Sky Train around the city, which gave us a great birds' eye view of Bangkok.


Gotta love crazy milkshake mascots by KFC in the train station.  I am always amazed and maybe slightly depressed at how much American culture has been exported around the world.


The kids all loved the Sky Train.


We had lunch at an international chicken chain restaurant that John and Greg ate at while they were in Zimbabwe together many moons ago.  I got the Thai version of Diet Coke.  It drinks the same in any language, thankfully.


One cultural highlight of the day was us all piling in to a Tuk Tuk - one of those little motorized taxi things.  If there had been two, we would have taken two, but there was one, so we fit our party of eight in it - much to the delight of our Tuk Tuk driver and the other drivers who heckled us along the way.


After lunch, we came back for much needed naps.


Then, Bella sank some hoops.  Okay.  Not really.  She sort of threw the ball.  We have always said that if either of our children are blessed with athletic ability, we will wonder whose they really are.


Next came the low-light of our day.  Not because it was a bad activity - mainly because the girls were so tired and whiny.  We wandered through a night market, and both girls pretty much completely melted down, tragically.



Side note - I saw these power lines.  I do not know how that can possibly work, but it does.  Somehow.


After a whiny 45 minutes or so, dinner came to the rescue.  Greg and Jennifer had a gorgeous Thai restaurant picked out for us to try, and the food was delicious.  I mean, really delicious.  We have always like Thai food in America, so it was nice to know that it was even better in Thailand.  Which makes sense.

Jennifer had a book that she read to all the kids, which was a mjaor hit.


Lily was the one that had been the whiniest, but once the lemonade hit, she did much better.  All in all, the meal went pretty well.



Isn't this table awesome?  We loved sitting on cushions while having fans blow on us.


Bangkok was a smashing success for the most part.  It is truly amazing to be on the other side of the world experiencing things that are a world away from our normal lives.  I am so thankful to be here.

Asia: Travel Over

      As I write this post, everyone else is napping - trying to catch up.  I will wake them all shortly, because the sooner we are onto the schedule here, the better.  I don't know how many opportunities I will have to blog during this trip, so I am taking my chance now, since we have a great internet connection.  We started our trip early Thursday morning and flew from the Rock, to Atlanta to South Korea to Thailand, which is a lot of flying.  The travel was about what we expected, maybe a tad bit better.  We certainly felt the prayers of our friends and family, because it was safe and smooth and we got all of our luggage.  The girls slept around seven hours total during the flights combined.  John and I slept hardly at all, and I will not lie to anyone here - there were several moments on our 14 hour flight that I was sort of hating it.  But, in hindsight, it was not that bad.  The girls really did well, considering what we were asking of them.  Here are a few captured moments.

We flew Korean Air, which was awesome.  Everyone was so kind, they gave us lots of toys and food (though I cannot necessarily recommend Korean food done by an airline), and the stewardesses were all dressed in beautiful turquoise silk with matching hair pieces.


Before the longest flight.  We did not look quite this chipper later.


Learning to use the in-flight entertainment.  This moment did not last long.


Sleeping Lily.  The best kind of Lily to have on a plane.


We had nothing but daylight for a whole 24 hours, which is super trippy.  Bella dealt with that in her usual way.  I am so glad that you cannot lose belly buttons.


This next picture is on our last leg from South Korea to Thailand.  This flight had mostly Asian people on it, and they were enamored with the girls, especially Bella.  They immediately gave us chocolate covered sunflower seeds, which fortunately, she liked.  The girl in the background spent a lot of the six hour flight staring at us.


We arrived in Thailand and were waived through to the Premier Immigration line, because we had the girls.  We did get stopped by a crowd of Thai people who wanted to photograph the girls or take pictures with them.  I think the girls were delirious by this point, because Lily was actually smiling, and Bella just kept waving to her admirers.  It was like we were celebrities.  But, then we made it through everything to Greg waiting to take us to the Guest House we are staying at.  It is always a glorious feeling to reach your destination and crawl into bed after that much travel.  But, thanks be to God, it was a good trip - though certainly not one I would like to do often.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting Ready to Go to Asia!

***I am editing this post to add links too all the Asia posts that I did, so that whenever I mention it in the blog, they are all linked up together.
      This post is the first, and the links will be at the end of this post!***

Tomorrow morning we board a flight (actually several) to take us to the other side of the planet.  We are excited and nervous and sort of ready to just get the show on the road.  We are going to visit some dear friends who live there with their two young boys.  We have been preparing for quite a while now, and it is wild to think that tomorrow at this time, we will be winging our way there.  Here is a peek at our preparations from a couple of months ago - we had to get photos made for our visas with John standing  behind the white screen holding up each girl, which was sort of a funny sight to behold.


Our bags are all packed - we could have left this morning if we had needed to.  There are a few last minute things around the house that need to be finished, but there is time for those.  John told me that he would be fine as long as nothing big came up.  Then, he called yesterday to tell me, "Something big came up."  Isn't that how it goes?  The Department of Labor is auditing our business, and it needed to be turned in while we were gone.  Thankfully, after talking to them, it doesn't involve too incredibly much, but that is certainly not what John thought he would be doing on his last day at work for a while.
      As we talked last night, we realized all over again that God has uniquely equipped us to be able to serve in this way, by taking this trip, at this time.  There really is something amazing to be able to say that we believe and are trusting the Lord that this is what he has for us right now.  There is a lot of peace to be found in that as well.
      So, I don't know how much I will be able to update this here blog, but if you think of us, please pray for our time away.  Here are some specific prayer requests that we have:

-  For Safe and Smooth Travel 
-  For Health, especially the girls, especially Bella who could not get the Typhoid shot and is most likely to put stupid stuff in her mouth.
-  For Sleep, it is an 11 hour time difference.  So between travel and jet lag and little friends, we are thinking sleep may be at a premium.
-  For Happy-ish Campers.  We will be there during hot season, which, apparently is no joke.  Please pray with us that the conditions don't irritate the girls (or us) too much.
-  That we may be a true encouragement.  We hope to be able to really lift up the family we are visiting.  We are hoping and praying that somehow God will use us to refresh their spirits.
-  For the people they minister to, whom we will get to meet.  We will be traveling upcountry to see their work, and we hope to be able to shine Christ's light to the people we encounter.
-  For the things we have no idea we should be praying for yet.
-  That God will be glorified in our lives as we seek to serve him.  I'm thankful that he goes before and behind us, hemming us in.  (Psalm 139:5)