If you’re short on time, have a listen!👆🏼
After six months in the mission field, life has settled into what everyone told us it would eventually be: normal. And that’s the reason you haven’t heard from us for awhile. Normal isn’t necessarily the most inspiring thing to write about. (Oh, and also normal has been very busy!) But, here goes anyway: this is what a normal day looks like for us right now.
The Asian Koel that sleeps in the tree outside our window decides at 5:30 (or a few minutes before) that is high time for the world to wake up, and begins a series of frenzied shrieks. Think of it as the bird-version of a car’s panic alarm. Matthew and I get up and have devotions. Gradually more birds wake, until the morning air is filled with a chorus of echoing, trilling melodies. Often our neighbor walks past, tending to his cows, or one of the (like 20) neighborhood dogs trots past, tail held high, obviously on some critical mission.
I will often pop in my earbuds and listen to the Bible or other devotional content while I catch up around the house or cook something for breakfast. By morning it’s usually very obvious if we have missed any crumbs or spills on the floor or counters— the neighborhood sugar ants are very quick to call a party. The only place in the house that is immune to their onslaught is my pantry shelves— and only because each leg sits in a cup of talc powder.
If things inside are under control I often go outside and work in the garden. It’s the most comfortable part of the day (upper 70’s), and I savor the coolness before it heats up to the mid-90’s later in the day. I’m not the only one who loves the cool air— an abundance of mosquitoes come out in the morning and evening, so mosquito spray or long sleeves is a must. Sometimes when I pull a weed, a panicked centipede will drop out and scurry away.
The kids usually get up at 6:30 and have some quiet time, but it’s not uncommon for me to turn around well before then and see a little face grinning sheepishly back at me. The little face gets kissed and sent back to bed. 🙂
At 7:00 we have family worship and then eat breakfast. Often during breakfast we will FaceTime with family back in the States, and the kids regale their grandparents all the latest and greatest— which can include anything from last night’s scary dream to the new banana stalk they found sprouting in the garden. Breakfast is usually either cereal of some kind, or waffles. Sometimes I will make potatoes and scrambled tofu. We usually have a lot of fruit— always bananas, usually mangoes, and sometimes a new fruit that I picked up at the market to try out— longans, custard apple, dragon fruit, durian, passion fruit, or mangosteens. The kids explore these new fruits with a with a variety of reactions ranging from disgust to delight.
After breakfast we go on a walk and the kids ride their bikes. The road we live on winds through rice fields and is bordered by an irrigation canal. We pass many people on our walk— men coming to and from the rice fields, women riding their scooters to market, and the occasional bicyclist. As we walk, we enjoy watching the rice farmers at their work. Rice planting season is well underway, and we often are startled by a loud blast as a farmer tosses a small explosive into his field to drive away the voracious birds. Usually the sun is higher by the time we turn back, and we arrive home dripping with sweat.
Matthew begins his group Thai class at 9am. The teacher introduces him and the seven other students to more than 40 new Thai words and phrases each day. They practice together during the three-hour-long daily class using games and open discussion to incorporate the new words in proper sentence structures. He is expected to remember them by the next day. It has been intense, but he really enjoys it. Of course, learning a new language always comes with its humorous moments. I laughed so hard at lunch the other day when he related that he had told the teacher that he likes to drink, not beer, like many of his classmates, but fish sauce. (The word for “fish sauce” is perilously close to “plain water”.)
While Matthew is in Thai class, the kids and I do a few chores, and then I start school with them. Juggling three kids during school time has been a bit of an adjustment for me. Thankfully, Luke is very good at entertaining himself and almost always is very happy to play quietly with a bowl of legos or some clay while I work with the girls on their bookwork. All usually goes well until a baby gecko runs across one of their school books, at which point pandemonium breaks loose as three little pairs of hands try to catch it. They also keep a sharp eye out for our elderly neighbor and his cows, and I always let them run down and say hi when he goes past.
After lunch it’s my turn to study Thai. I’m just beginning my third month of reading and writing, and by the time four hours of class and self-study time are over my mind is swirling with vowel structures, dipthongs, and tone rules. All the work is paying off, though, and I’m slowly starting to make sense out of road signs, food labels, and text messages. Next month Matthew’s language school will be opening an afternoon class, so I will be transitioning to that.
While I’m in Thai class the kids have some quiet time listening to stories and coloring or doing some other quiet activity, and Matthew usually cleans up after lunch and puts in an extra hour of Thai homework time. Then he does math with the kids, and they do a few more chores together.
We often watch a Thai dialogue video together as we eat supper. It can make for some lively discussions as we try to figure out what is being said. The kids are soaking up the language as quick as it comes at them, and are already able to answer some basic questions when people talk to them. The Thai people love to get down low and ask them “Cheuu a-rai?” (What is your name?) or Puut pasaa Thai daai mai?” (Can you speak Thai?), and they are always so tickled to get a response in Thai.
We usually read some stories with the kids after supper, then get them tucked in around 7:00pm. Darkness falls quickly in the tropics, and before we are done cleaning up from supper the sounds of night and welcome cool breezes begin drifting in through the windows. Geckos congregate on the screens and we cheer them on as they make a valiant attempt at decimating the bug population. The querulous colony of bats that lives in our attic drop into flight from holes along the edge of the eves and begin their night-long mosquito fest. But somehow there are just as many mosquitoes by morning.
We usually do paperwork, Thai homework, or some other necessary evil in the evenings, and try to squeeze in some time together before turning in under our mosquito net, ready for it to start all over the next day when our feathered friend decides we’ve slept long enough.
So, while not every day looks alike, that’s how the typical day goes here. Exceptions are days when Matthew volunteers at a foundation north of Chiang Mai maintaining various Thai Adventist websites. This gives him opportunity to practice the language skills he has learned during the week. We also go to the markets and roadside stands nearby during the week and practice with the vendors.
Communication is key in this endeavor of spreading the gospel, and we are so thankful God has given us a quiet time and place to focus on language learning in this season. We are also grateful for our financial supporters, because your generosity is what is allowing Matthew to take time off work so we can both focus on learning the language. Thank you for your unceasing prayers that the Lord will bless our efforts to learn to speak of His love in the heart language of the Thai people!