Meet our new teacher, Krew Air. Sharon and and Krew Air (krew means teacher) hit it off quickly, making our daily lessons a joy. Basically Sharon and I take turns interviewing Air for 3 hours every day. We record the entire time session, take the data home, process it into our database and then take what we learned and ask other people about it. An example from today: we learned that in the past women in Thailand often didn’t learn in schools and didn’t have jobs. This is something that changed recently so we go around asking people’s opinions of this change. What are the pros and cons of women working outside the home? What are the advantages and disadvantages women face in society today? In the past? These sorts of questions get our friends thinking and sharing their opinions and we become more and more knowledgeable about the way our friends think.
Posts Tagged ‘Thai’
During our nearly two week trip to our future ministry location Sharon and I visited five Phu Thai villages that we’d never been to, interviewed over 100 villagers to test their reading comprehension and were able to meet with several key missionaries working in the area. It was productive… but tiring. That came on the heels of our latest language evaluation which was helpful, productive, but also tiring. There’s no rest for the wicked however as events move on apace. We’re in a packing/ preparing phase as there are many things to think about before we head home to the US in a few short weeks. More details will follow soon in our June newsletter. God bless and thank-you for standing with us. -Ric and Sharon
Last week we took a trip with our friend Pama to Chiang Dao, an area directly north of Chiang Mai. Pama had always wanted to see the long-neck Karen so we cancelled our language session for a day joined a tour group headed that way. It was a really weird feeling… being a tourist all over again. Below are few glimpses of our time. You can see all the pictures on our Picasa Web Albums.
Just heard these two from our teacher. They are full of Thai humor and culture.
A new Christian goes on an evangelism trip with his pastor up a mountain. After the pastor has explained the gospel to an unbelieving family he asks this new Christian to pray for the residents of the house they’re in and to bless the message he’s just shared. The new Christian obediently closes his eyes and repeats the things the pastor asked him to pray for but he can’t remember how to end so he just begins the whole prayer all over again but still can’t remember. Finally after a few rounds of this he leans over and asks the pastor, “Who was that guy again?”
“Jesus” the pastor answers.
“Oh yeah. In JESUS name we pray, Amen.”
Another time the same pastor asked an older gentlemen to pray and bless the food they were about to eat.
“Okay, let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes” the man began. Everyone gathered around the food, folded their hands and closed their eyes. Five seconds went by. Then ten. Still no prayer was uttered. Everyone began looking around and a few people caught a glimpse of the man running full tilt out of the room.
This weekend we visited our Thai church’s sister church in Turtle Mountain (Doi Tao) Thailand. Though there are not many members the church was very warm and welcoming. It was a joy to join them for their annual Christmas celebration. Here they are singing Joy to the World in Thai.
Life around this time of year is nuts. Whether it’s caroling all night, preparing special songs, or passing out tracts our friends hardly sleep this time of year. It’s true that we work hard but sometimes it seems like we “play” even harder with our friends. Unlike back home, people don’t get work or school off during this time of the year leaving schedules packed full and little end in sight until the new year.
A common question we get is, “How’s your language learning coming?!” Language learning is a lifestyle. It’s like trying to lose weight, eat healthy, get enough sleep or read through the Bible in a year. It’s hard work and requires a lot of discipline. It also requires sacrifice. You won’t lose weight unless you stop drinking that six pack of Pepsi for breakfast. Language learning has its ups and downs but overall we’re very encouraged with our progress.
We moved. Our new neighborhood is awesome. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people that walk around our neighborhood at night and the people that loiter around the local snack shop. Mostly we’re thankful for the lower rent outside the city as it helps us cover our expenses better. Thank-you to those of you who gave to cover our moving expenses.
A recent trip to visit a tribal team about six hours from here was incredible. There are people groups here in Thailand who need to hear God’s live-giving message, the gospel, in their heart language. During this Christmas season our hearts go out to you, our family and friends who have cheered us on to this point. We appreciate your love and support.
Yours, Ric and Sharon
After hours and hours interviewing dozens of people (sometimes multiple times) our friends are likely quite sick of us. On the plus side we now have several hours of raw language data from multiple speakers. Our goal is to now organize all that data, write it out in Thai and then speak it back to the people who gave us the interviews. Easy!
We’ve gotten some incredible stories. Today Tang was telling me about his childhood. His dad took him to boarding school when he was six years old. Dad told little Tang he was just going to go register him and be right back. Tang sat on the sidewalk for twelve hours before one of the teachers at the school found him and asked what grade he was in. Soon all the things Tang had brought to school were stolen except the clothes on his back and the spoon he had to eat with. Even his shoes were gone! But he held onto that spoon for dear life when other kids would beat him up because if he didn’t have it he would go hungry at dinner.
Puts our small troubles into perspective. Thanks for your continued prayers and support! – Ric and Sharon
I knew it would be long week when Martin opened Monday with, “Thai uses ‘Topic-Comment’ sentence constructions rather than the ‘Subject-Verb’ formats we’re used to in English .” For the past five days we’ve been meeting with three other missionary families in all-day grammar workshop sessions. We’ve been learning about things like discourse analysis, the ten things people do when they speak, life perspectives and communication relationships. If you have no idea what those are don’t worry… we’re still learning too. The best part of the week was summed up by fellow attendee Ben, “I was just looking forward to sitting in the air conditioning all week.”
Sharon and I are breathing a sigh of relief this week as our second set of intensive language evaluations drew to a close yesterday. Virtually all we’ve done for the past two weeks since Sharon’s family left was prepare for the evaluation by doubling our language sessions, spending hours reviewing and answering in-depth culture questions that our consultant reviewed before our language check.
It’s good news. We’re both on track to achieve our goal of reaching a “highly capable” language level by the end of our second year of study (a year from now). We feel grateful to our consultant for conducting a thorough check and spending days processing the raw data we’ve provided her into a set of recommendations to help streamline our study time. I can’t imagine doing this alone.
You can help by praying for us as we study this difficult language and learn more about this complex culture. (more…)
Eight months of learning Thai has been a humbling experience. Not only is the tone of your voice crucial for proper pronunciation the length of your vowels will also change the meaning of words. So you if you say “khao” with a high and falling tone it’s a different word than “khao with a scooping tone. If you say the wrong one you’re still communicating… but not what you intended to say.
In layman’s terms that means Thai is really hard to speak naturally. Here are a few of the statements we’ve made accidentally:
I’m wearing a red tiger. (more…)
Where we put things speaks to our character. Think about where you sleep. What do you keep closest to you while you rest and what do you grab first when you wake up? One of your values may be punctuality if your answer to that question is an alarm clock. If it’s a cell phone maybe something you value is connectivity.
Today when I went to a local temple to map the grounds I was looking for patterns, symmetry and organization but I was trying to look deeper than that too, at things below the surface. Outward behavior is a manifestation of our core beliefs, our “worldview”. I saw a lot of evidence of underlying core values while doing this exercise.
Below my crude hand-drawn map I have placed a gallery of images with the Thai name, an English approximate and a brief description of each building’s use. Each photo was taken while walking around the temple grounds in clock-wise order with the central building last. (more…)
Incidentally, we’re in an organization with other people in it. People we like. Unfortunately because we live in very different parts of a large city we rarely have occasion to see each other (Chiang Mai has a metropolitan population of over a million). Thankfully we have problems to bring us together. Saturday our language helper went up a mountain for a week of fasting, prayer, and reading. No language sessions for a week?
My first phone call was to our national culture and language acquisition coordinator Janna. She told me that Kruu Phaylin, who teaches Anthony and Emilie, could probably fit us in. At first we were nervous… but take a look at this face. Who could possibly stay nervous long? (more…)
During the past two weeks we’ve knocked some big jobs off our “to do” lists by using every available minute to study the Thai language and culture. During the month of June we promised each other we’d do no traveling and that we’d focus exclusively on improving our language skills. A few examples of what we’ve been up to include:
Finished reading the 600 page tome “Four Reigns” which covers a critical turning point in Thai history through the eyes of a royal servant growing up in the King’s court. This was the the last of several books on a list we were asked to read in our first year or so here. Next year I’ll have to re-read the entire list in Thai. (more…)
We’re so grateful to live in a country with amazing food. Some dishes tested our resolve but after a few tries our tolerance for spiciness, bitter flavors and different textures have been pushed to the limits and stretched. Eating more rice to cut down on the amount of other food we eat has resulted in some heath benefits as I discussed last week.
This post just covers the food we ate in the last 24 hours but we ate some of our favorite dishes. Just so you know… it will be difficult to find these dishes at your local Thai restaurant unless it specifically sells Northern Thai food. Chiang Mai food is quite different from southern Thailand food for example. Yesterday we had: (more…)
Incredible worldwide advances in technology have reversed many of the rigors of missionary life. By and large missionaries no longer have to raise their own food on farms, spend weeks hacking through dense jungles looking for unreached people groups or hike for days to get into a village. So what are the rigors of modern missionary life?
Seven months ago we embarked on the most ambitious adventure of our married life. But just like every adventure we’ve been on including Alaskan salmon fishing and hiking the Appalachian Trail the adventure sometimes doesn’t feel exciting while you’re going through it. Our biggest challenge is this: there is no end in sight to the work here. (more…)
Several friends in the past year have mentioned they sponsored or are currently sponsoring a child through Compassion International in Thailand. We don’t know all 32,700 children Compassion sponsors are involved in helping but we’ve met a few dozen at least. Yesterday we went to a graduation ceremony for an elite group of Compassion kids: those that went through the grueling five year Leadership Development Program for college students. Pictures (more…)
We have more pictures from the Lawa wedding we attended this week embedded on our website. These ones are from my camera wing-man: our Thai teacher, “older brother” and friend (which is a weird combination here). If you’re a picture fanatic and have to see absolutely every single picture we post you can see them all on Picasa. (more…)
On our website we’ve embedded a YouTube video of a parade passing by our house during Songkran. At first we thought it was the Irish guy who lives down the street playing his bagpipes but as the parade drew closer and louder we realized the wind instrument was a “pbi”, a traditional Thai instrument we recognized from November’s Loi Krathong festival. Upon closer investigation we saw (more…)