Archive for June, 2012


Feeling Like Family


Yui, one of our employees at The Brick Oven, just built a new house in her home village right outside of Phayao. This weekend she had a new house ceremony, which is a very common Thai tradition. The ceremony typically consists of monks saying blessings over the new home and family. Relatives and neighbors will bring a housewarming gift, and the hosts will provide a meal.

Ryan, Chris and I, along with Chris’ mom and Larry Henderson who were both here visiting, went to the ceremony on Saturday. However, since our restaurant was open, the other employees were unable to attend. Therefore, Yui invited them and the rest of our families for a special meal at her house on Monday. It was a fun time and a great manifestation of Thai culture and hospitality. We all sat on mats on the floor and enjoyed some “real” northern Thai food. Yui’s neighbors and relatives were around and enjoyed passing around Dax and Knox. Some of us took a short hike to the nearby rice fields while everyone else sat around talking after lunch. While the scenery and food were amazing, our time at Yui’s was especially blessed because it felt like a family gathering during the holidays. We have grown so close to our employees and are grateful that they have welcomed us into their lives. It is such a joy watching them love on our children as if they were nieces and nephews. Monday was a good day to be in northern Thailand.

Here is a short video and two pictures to give you a glimpse of our afternoon. Hopefully these will help you see more clearly what our lives are like in northern Thailand.



Learning to Ride a Bike


From Ann’s journal.

A few days ago Brynn was wanting to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. She excitedly got her jeans on, knowing she might fall, put on her gloves that she borrowed from her bike-riding friend Esan, laced up the tennis shoes to avoid a stubbed toe, and ran outside with her Daddy to “do this thing!”

She hopped on her Hello Kitty bike and was ready to go. Until she wasn’t. As soon as she felt the difference in her balance because the training wheels were off, she wasn’t nearly as excited. Derran held on to the back of the bike and tried to help her along, but, as soon as she had a big wobble and almost fell, her joy dissipated. Though we encouraged her along, and at some points even made her continue to try, she had lost heart. Her shoulders slumped as she rode along; her fear of falling made her groan and grunt with frustration. The joy was gone.

So, we stopped for the day. I told her, “Brynn, you can do it. You just have to try. Know you are going to fall and know you’ll be okay. This is the hardest part. This first part. But once you get it, you’ll think it is so easy.” I went back and forth in my voice between encouragement and frustration because of her attitude.

Since that day, I keep thinking about how much she and I are alike. Her challenge is riding a bike; mine is living here in Thailand. Just like her, I suited up, got ready, and ran out the door with excitement and determination. I knew my Father was going with me and would be there to help me. But these two and a half years have felt like a big, wobbly bike. There have been moments when I could feel the wind blowing my hair and I was doing it! Followed by many moments where I could just go a few feet and, like Brynn, say, “Don’t let go, okay?” As well as those big times of almost falling and crying out in frustration and exasperation at myself and my situation.

Brynn said yesterday, “It just wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.” Derran and I chuckled, and he replied, “Welcome to life.”

Here I am in Thailand thinking the same thing. “It’s just not as easy as I thought it would be.” Unlike Derran who looks at the situation as a challenge to get out there and go for it, my shoulders are slumped, my attitude is bad, and I just don’t want to do it anymore for today. “Welcome to life.”

Yet, Brynn knows we love her. We don’t love her any less because she gave up for a few days. She will ride a bike one day, and she will love it. She’ll do it at her own pace and readiness, not because her friends are doing it. She’ll get it. Then one day she will tell her sister and brother, “I remember it was hard to learn and I didn’t want to do it, but now I love it.”

Lord, let it be with me. Please forgive my terrible attitude. Please remind me that you love me whether I ride this life well or wobbly. Someday Derran won’t be able to hold on to the back of her bike any longer. She won’t need it. But, I can rest in the fact that you will never let go of me. I will always need you guiding, holding, affirming and leading. I praise you for your faithfulness.

A friend of mine shared this poem with me, and it gave words to my feelings.

An excerpt from Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Two Countries”

Skin had hope, that’s what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers–silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin’s secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.