Well, 3 weeks down and 2 more to go. Wow, time is flying by. Everyone says that the weather is not normal; Thailand at this time of year is "cool" (meaning low-mid 80's). Not so this year, it's in the low 90's every day, with humidity varying from mild to suffocating. After 10 days here, the little critters have found me--to be quite tastey. Mosquitoes, bed bugs, and something that must be invisible cause I havn't spied the culprit, but it leaves an itchy bump. If I didn't consume so many sweets, my blood sugar wouldn't be so delicious. Maybe if I ate a lot of garlic they'd leave me alone. Ya, like I'm ever going to eat garlic in lieu of sugars. I have bought bug spray, lotion and a bug repelant (sp) wipe; they do help.
Today is Saturday and I've hauled all my dirty wash to the Maryknoll Office. They have a washer & dryer. I can once a week hand wash socks & undies in my room; but they really don't get too clean. Today I even brought my sheet (notice singular) and towel. The only problem is that the dryer barely works and you need two cycles to dry, then must let the dryer cool off for 1/2 hr. Oh well, it beats taking it back to my apt. and hang it all over the furniture to dry (like I used to do when Sigi & I lived in Japan) Besides, it gives me time to write to you.
My days are busy. Up at 6, eat a bowl of cereal, leave the apt. at 7, walk/truck-bus/walk to Wat Mai where I teach the Shan monks. Class size always fluctuates. civilians--2 men &2 women, monks--2 novices (ages 19-33), and 1-6 Phras (monks). Thurs. & Fridays the students (novices & Phras) who attend a university join us. Let me tell you, these guys are smart! Most of them are sons of farmers. Through hard work, they have gained an education. They are so thirsty for knowledge. Burma/Myrenmar (sp) is a country that is made of up of about 12 states, the Shan state being the largest. These monks are very, very proud to be Shans. Many of them have had their villages burned and families scattered. They want so much to return to the Shan state and be teachers. We had a visiting professor from Xavier U., Mike Gable. One of the monks told his story to Mike. Later I told the monk that I had tears in my eyes when he told his story. No, he said, if he had told his whole story, "you would have a flood". He meant that I would have cried a flood of tears. Fridays we work on conversation and pronunciation. We played that kid game of "telephone" where one person says a word and then whispers it to the person next to them. Well, I divided them into 2 teams,6 person each (only 1 woman that day and she was not allowed to play--cant touch or get "whisper" close to a monk). I gave the starting persons the same word. The last player was to run to the board and write the word. Lordy, lordy, it was hysterically funny. People around the area (civilian construction workers, kitchen help and little kids (monks 6-10 yrs) gathered at the edges of our outside room to watch. "My monks" were laughing so hard and having such fun. Team #2 found some novel ways to play. #1--pass the paper with the word down the line. #2--say the word loud enough so that at least 3 players hear the word and #3--the last player got up, leaned into player #3 to hear the word and then tried to run to the board. It had never occurred to me that there were these "other" ways of playing the game. And they were so good that I realized that I had to increase the difficulty of the word. Fun, fun!
Up in the north of Burma, one of the states (I can't remember its name) is Catholic!) It has nuns, priests, and even a minor seminary. They send their seminarians to a major seminary in The Philippines. That's why there are notices in the Maryknoll Magazine for English teachers for 3-12 months to help the seminarians with their English. Two of our Seattle Affiliates, Ralph & Kate Maughn, have gone up there and installed solar panels to provide electricity.
After class I take 2 trucks/buses to Maryknoll, drop my stuff, bathroom break and then walk over to a little restaurant on the river. Those truck/buses are little trucks with a covering over the top, open sides and benches alone both sides over the tires). I like it better than the big buses (which are cleaner, faster & more expensive) because when I ring the buzzer to get off, the driver has to wait for me to get off and walk around to his window to pay him. A regular bus practically makes a rolling stop (for both entering and exiting). There is a person collecting money that walks up & down the aisles. But in '04 I fell as I was getting off (that is a high stop down to the ground). Many months later I learned that I have arthritis in my right knee. Luckily I am having no problems this trip.
Around 1:00 I am free. Sometimes I meet with a former student at a nearby wat (I'm helping him with his application for a visa to Canada), or check the internet or go to the grocery store. Late afternoon I hit the pool. But 3:30 is when the bugs start to come out (both outside & inside), so I try to stay in the deep part of the pool. Evenings I may eat in my room or eat at the little restaurant downstairs. Last weekend after Mass, we stopped by McDonald's for burgers, fries & a drink. Mana from heaven. After picking me up at the Seattle airport, Sigi has promised to fix a steak dinner for his mom. Oh, bless you, my son. In the evenings I watch CNN or the BBC. The movie channels are usually too awful. And I read. I brought 15 books and am down to the last 4. Looks like I'll have to find something for that 24 hr. flight home. This is my 3rd trip to Thailand. It is the best, by far. Mainly because I have been in community with others from the USA. I greatly appreciate everyone's prayers for me; you are with me in spirit and I think of you every day. I'll be home the evening of 13 February. Til then, Love & Peace, Carolyn