Wait, what? What do you mean “welcome home?” Sara, you’re in Thailand!
I know Thailand isn’t what we would generally refer to as “home” yet. But, in order to make this thing we’re doing viable long-term, we need to feel like it is. There’s no sense in feeling like you’re constantly on the move, or just visiting, right? Right. We’re trying to become “at home” with where we are, trusting God to take care of our every day and every need. So, this is where we are.
When moving to another country (sometimes even with a long visit), there are certain stresses a person will experience. There is a certain loss of identity as you are no longer an expert on your surroundings. Everyday tasks from back home seem to take twice as long here, because you either don’t know where you’re going, or you simply don’t have the right words to communicate what you need. Groceries may be sold in baskets on the side of the road rather than in a neat, clean, well-lit supermarket. Or, you may not even be able to find food items that you can either identify or know what to do with! Depending on the country to which you have travelled, your level of language is likely no longer that of an adult, rather you are again like a child learning to speak. Can you even read the letters or characters with which your new language is written? You know that store sells laundry detergent, but does the label on that package say it’s for use on colors or is it bleach? Do you know what a good price is for vegetables, linens, or car parts sold in the open-air market?
That’s a lot to take in all at once. But, we’re doing it. Each day, we become more and more familiar with our surroundings. Each day, we recognize more and more people on the streets, inside shops, and selling in the market stalls. Each day, we gather new words and try our best to use them until they become a part of our natural vocabulary. And, each day, we have both dramatic successes and gross failures. This is what we asked for, and it is what we’ve got… and despite the headaches, the fatigue, and momentary lapses of homesickness, we do love it. Each day we come just a little bit closer to feeling “at home.”
An important part of adjusting to life in a new culture, for me, is having a safe place – a place to call my own. Up until this weekend, Brook and I were living in a one-room temporary setting at a local youth hostel. One room, one bathroom, no kitchen… no other rooms. That was in some ways very hard for me. I could not decorate, I could not fully unpack my bags, I had nowhere to release stress creatively by “nesting.” I had no table even for eating or writing. I also lacked another outlet for frustration, that being a kitchen. I love to cook, bake, create… I wouldn’t say the situation was physically rough, as the room was bright and relatively clean, kept us cool inside and safe from the rain, and we had become friends with some of the workers. No, it wasn’t that bad of a place, but it was mentally and emotionally hard for me to live there. After all, who really wants to go back to living in a dorm, but this time, with your husband as your roommate? (I expect you to laugh here.)
Well, after waiting patiently and making do with what we were given, a house finally opened up. This past weekend, Brook and I moved our belongings over to a small place just down the road from the youth hostel where we were already living. And guess what, it has more than one room! We are now in what could be considered an old-style traditional Thai rowhouse, in a lower-middle class community. We have a unit near the middle of the road, with neighbors all around. The house itself is roughly the size of a one and a half car garage, with an upstairs, but it’s still rather comfortable. We have a small gated patio, a living room area, a kitchen off the back, a bathroom, a laundry room, and 2 bedrooms. What in the world are we going to do with all of this space? Enjoy it. Settle in. Have people over to visit. The possibilities are endless!
So, this is where we’ll be until our year of language study is complete. Then, it will be time to move on and find another place to call home… but for now, this is where we are.
If you’d like to see more photos of our home, including what it’s like inside, please visit my photo album on Facebook.