color by numbers

mindless musings of a semi-creative guy

God of This City

“Greater things are yet to come, and greater things are yet to be done in this city…”

Such is the first line in the chorus of a song you may already be familiar with, or you may not.  You may have even sung the Chris Tomlin version of it in your own church or at a conference in some major city near your home.  The lyrics go something like this.

You’re God of this city, you’re the King of these people,
You’re the Lord of this nation, you are…
You’re the Light in this darkness, you’re the Hope to the hopeless,
You’re the Peace to the restless, you are…
For there is no one like our God, there is no one like You, God!

Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city!
Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done here.

You’re the Lord of creation, The creator of all things,
You’re the King above all kings, you are…
You’re the Strength in the weakness, You are Love to the broken,
You’re the Joy in the sadness, you are…
For there is none like our God, there is none like you, God!

I was first introduced to this song at a conference, I believe.  I don’t remember when, but I knew it was familiar when I listened to it again last October.  A family that we know in PA (from all of our wonderful church travels speaking last year) reintroduced me to this tune via Facebook, as when they heard it, it gave them a reminder of us now living in Thailand.

The band Bluetree, from Northern Ireland, originally wrote this song while travelling through Thailand.  They saw the needs, the desperation, the depravity of so many people in different cities in this country and felt led to write a song about it.  One place in particular, a city named Pattaya, is where this song really came out of.  It’s a place where every form of the sex trade goes down, people are bought and sold for a variety of purposes, and there are streets you don’t want to walk as soon as dusk hits for fear of seeing something that could lead you astray.  There are open-air strip clubs and bars dotting the landscape closest to the beach.  It was a city like this that the song “God of This City” was written for.  Here, one of the members of the band describes how the song came into being.

When you know the back story, the song becomes all the more powerful, I think.  Sure, it can be sung out by crowds in the States, whole-heartedly, and mean something there.  God is surely over every city in the world… and, I’ve been to Pattaya several times.  I’ve seen this sadness with my own eyes.  To think that God still sees a place like Pattaya, to think that greater things can still be done in a city like Pattaya, to think that He can still bring joy in such an area like Pattaya is incredible to me.  It’s a huge task, and there are people working every day to bring that change in Pattaya.

As we look to move to the North side of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city (also known for having large pockets where the flesh trade is alive and thriving), this song moves me even more.  There is so much going wrong in Bangkok today – from trafficking to drugs, extreme poverty to extreme excess and abuse of wealth, and even now the protests and violence related to the nation’s current political status.  Thailand needs your prayers.

Listen to this song.  Sing along if you like.  But please, take some time today to pray for the country of Thailand.

for the people who are trapped in the sex industry.
for the people who die each day from lack of food, clean water, or a roof to live under.
for the Prime Minister, the King, and government officials as they face the current political situation, that they would seek to be honest, fair, and find a resolution that doesn’t require any more bloodshed.
for those who are involved in the protests, on all sides – red shirts, yellow shirts, pink shirts, the multi-colored shirt groups – that they would not resort to more violence, and would be able to peacefully negotiate with the government.  No more fighting, no more bombs, no more unrest.
for those who are not involved in the protests, but their homes and businesses have been affected by the shutting down of key areas of Bangkok, causing loss of money for daily living and loss of safety for their families.
for the soldiers who have been put in place to help deal with the protest situation, willingly or not.
for Thailand and its undercurrent of black magic and spiritism that are even stronger during times of political turmoil, as curses are cast and rituals are performed on every side of the conflict.

Pray that somehow, somewhere, in some way, God’s love and mercy would be revealed to each and every person in this nation.

April 30, 2010 Posted by | Thailand | 7 Comments

Newsletter Time!

Wow, so a lot has been going on!  Click the image below to download our latest newsletter and get all the info you ever wanted on how we’ve been, what we’ve been doing, and what’s next for us here in Thailand!

Sarver-Newsletter-Spring-2010_WEB_Page_1

If you are not currently receiving our newsletters and would like to get them delivered straight to your email inbox, please fill out the online form here.

Thanks for your ongoing prayers and support… Life has been crazy over here and we look forward to sharing more and more about our lives here in Thailand! Enjoy!

April 27, 2010 Posted by | Newsletters, Thailand | Leave a comment

Tasty Tuesday – Pickles!

I love pickles.  Sweet.  Garlicky.  Spicy.  Dill.  You name it, I probably like it.  And, contrary to popular belief, pickles are not limited only to cucumbers.  No, there’s lots of veggies (and even fruits, as I’ve come to learn living in Asia… though I’ve not yet ventured into eating them) that can be subjected to this form of processing and come out quite delicious in the end.  Ever had Italian Giardiniera?  If not, you must go buy some right now.  Seriously.

The trouble is, pickles (in their cucumber form) are quite difficult to find around here.  Sure, you can buy small jars of dill spears, sweet-spiced midgees, or even relish in Bangkok… but not in Lopburi or anywhere else nearby.  This has lead me to my newest adventure in my sad little “kitchen” – making my own pickles!  After all, cucumbers are used a lot in Thai food; if not in the dish, at least served on the side.  They’re cheap, easy to find, and can be brought home after a short 20 minute walk to-and-from the local market.  I mean, come on – I got a bag of 12 small to medium cukes, 7 plum tomatoes for supper, and a giant carrot (also for pickling) for about $1.10US.  I would be nuts not to be making my own preserved veggies.

tall cuke closeupSo, here’s my cucumber pickles.  They’re dill, but with an extra little kick.  Instead of doing a straight dill recipe (containing only onion, garlic, peppercorns, and mustard seed as the seasoning), I chose to use about a teaspoon of this pre-assembled pickling spice that my mom mailed to me last week.  It’s got a unique mix of flavors that I hope will make these tasty delights all the better.  Of course, I put in some minced onion and garlic, with a pinch of dried dill, too.  After all, I did say these were dill pickles.

.

carrot closeupOriginally, I was just going to dice up my giant carrot and throw it right in with the cucumbers, but I guess I picked just the right number of cukes to fit in my jar.  Thus, the carrots were cut into sticks and placed in an old (now very clean) salsa jar.  Again, the amount of sticks fit just right.  I just used the leftover brine to fill this jar up, and added a pinch of dried chili flakes to give the carrots some kick.  Oh, how wonderful everything smelled!

Now, the absolute worst part of this entire project is that fact that now I have to wait.  I don’t like waiting.  Especially when it comes to my food.  Seeing as I am utterly void of will power, I have already snuk a few tastes of my dear little pickled veggies… and they already taste good.  If it’s true that they won’t get their full flavor until they’ve mulled for a few days, then boy am I in for a treat!

pickles togetherHere they are, in all their glory.  Let’s just hope I don’t eat every last one of them before they’re actually ready!

.

.

.

.

.

.

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hey, Dad.

Hey Dad,

Every day I wonder what it’s like where you are now.  If it’s all angels and clouds, with singing all around, like the movies tell us… if you’re sitting in a fishing boat somewhere chatting it up with Moses, drinking root beer, and eating an ice cream bucket full of chocolate chip cookies (yes, I DID see you sneak those growing up)… if you’re simply kneeling before God in complete and utter awe of Him, like they tell us in church.  Who knows.  I guess I won’t know until I get to that point, too, huh.  Can you walk again?  Can you see?  Do you remember us back here, or would that be too painful?  I’m not sure how all that works up there.

It’s incredible to think that just a couple of days ago marked 10 years that you’ve been gone.  A lot has happened since you left, ya know.  I turned 16 and started driving, and I even joined the soccer team at school.  Yeah, me.  Soccer.  Crazy, huh?  I made it to State twice for singing, and I even got to sing the National Anthem at a big basketball game.  Wish you could have been there to hear it.  I worked really hard in school, just like you always told me to do, and I got enough scholarships to help me get into a really good school in Indiana.  I kept playing soccer for my first year there before having to drop it so I could do more volunteer work at church.  You would have come to cheer me on, right?  When I got to HU, I started out in Youth Ministry (yeah, I got the same bug you had… every time there was something to do, or a mission trip to go on, I was right there!), but eventually changed that to Missions, in my second year, after spending some time in West Africa.  (Yeah, I went to Africa!)  After going to another country on my own for a few months, again in West Africa, I decided God was calling me into missions just like you, Dad.  And guess what?  Now, I’m a full-blown missionary in Thailand.  Can you believe it?

At Huntington, I met a guy I think you would like… His name is Brook.  Well, it’s really Michael, but he goes by Brook.  Confusing, I know.  We got married a few weeks after graduation in 2006.  Tim walked me down the aisle, and he held my hand on his arm the whole way.  I know he knew it should have been you holding my arm that day, too… but, we got through it alright.  Tim’s a great big brother.  You know how we used to set traps for each other in the house and argue and all that when we were little?  Well, there’s no more of that now.  We really did grow up to love each other, just like you said we would!  Haha.  He’s married now, too.  And he’s got 2 of the cutest kids in the world.  I’m so glad you got to meet his wife, Marie, before you left… she’s become such a big part of our family, it’s hard to imagine it without her now. I only wish you would have had the chance to meet Brook, too.  It’s hard for me knowing that he’s never met you.  It’s hard to know that you’ll never know our children, that they’ll never really know you.  Heck, I didn’t even really get to know you that well because of that terrible disease… if only I could go back and ask you more…

I wonder what it is that you think of me now.  I wonder if you’d come to visit Brook & I now that we live in Thailand… if you’d enjoy seeing Southeast Asia, if you would throw buckets of water during Songkraan, if you would make mom eat the fried bugs in the open-air market.  I wonder what would be the same and what would be different if you were either still around in the nursing home, or if you hadn’t even gotten so sick in the first place.  I know I was young and didn’t fully understand it all, it was all I’d ever known.  But, if I could go back and do it over again, I would ask you so many more questions, so many more things about who you were and what you were like when you were growing up, I would cherish the time we had in your room at the nursing home instead of wondering when I’d get to go back and do my homework for school.  It makes me sad to know that I’ll never have that chance again, to know you as well as I could have.  I’m sorry I wasted what we had… I didn’t realize how precious it was at the time.

I really miss you, Dad.  There’s days when the ins and outs of living here make me wish I could just crawl up in my Daddy’s lap and cry.  But you’re not here.  Mom’s been there for me, though.  You’d be really proud of her and who she has become.  I know I can’t wish you back into the life of pain and the years of suffering you had to go through again, but if I could have you back for just one day…

Love you, Daddy.

10614950_0dfe6ced81_o

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Personal | 5 Comments

Tasty Tuesday – Basil Pork

Mmmmm… I hear the name basil ( insert name of meat here ) and I become a happy girl.  So does Brook, but he’s a boy, of course.

krapow muu

Here’s a photo of our table at dinner a few nights ago.  This is also what the Mr. eats for lunch just about every day.  A plate full of Basil Pork.  Just about any restaurant or street chef will be able to make this for you, as it is one of the most popular Thai meals.  It really is quite tasty, and is traditionally prepared in a manner so spicy, you just may feel like your throat is going to melt from exposure.  We, however, prefer it to be a step below that.  After all, you don’t want to lose that part of your body, but it isn’t really Thai if it isn’t spicy, ya know?

The nice thing about this dish is that it is not only tasty and cheap, but is super easy to make at home as well!  This is one meal I made frequently back in the States because, as I mentioned before, this happens to be a favorite for Brook.  (We of course would rather let the Thai make it, buy it from them, and eat it out in the market now that we live in Thailand, though.  It’s actually cheaper to do it that way here.)  All you need is a handful of ingredients, a good frying pan or wok, and a plate of rice to serve it with.  You can make it with whatever meat you choose – chicken, pork, beef, seafood – though we seem to prefer the lighter flavors of chicken and pork the best.  Most Thais would say the same.

Starting with a wee bit of oil in a hot pan, toss in some chopped up garlic and minced chilies, then move it around until the garlic begins to brown.  Next, add your meat (finely chopped, bite-sized pieces, or our preference is ground), stirring until almost cooked through.  At this point, some restaurants will also add a good handful of raw green beans, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces.  Drizzle in a bit of fish sauce, sprinkle a pinch of sugar, and make that food dance around the pan.  Yes, you are stir-frying!  The last step is the fun one, or so I seem to think, as you add the seemingly too large quantity of Thai basil to the pan.  Trust me, it’s not too much, as the leaves will shrink significantly in size once they warm up, and it’s sort of neat to watch.  Once the basil is wilted and the meat is cooked through, serve it up on a plate of rice with some sliced cucumbers on the side.  A lot of places will also plate this meal with a crispy-fried egg on top and a squirt of SriRacha or Heinz Thai chili sauce (my favorite) on the side.

Easy and delicious.  If you can’t find Thai or Holy Basil, you may use whatever fresh basil your local supermarket carries.  It will taste slightly different, as the Thai varieties have a slight, yet distinctive, licorice flavor to them when cooked that the others will not have.  I have made it myself with each type, and they are all very good.  The same goes for the fish sauce – if you really can’t find it, try it with soy sauce instead, the lighter, the better.  And, if you’re not too keen on super spicy food, adjust the amount of chilies, or add another type you are already familiar with.  Have fun with it, and adjust it to your liking – after all, that’s how all of the cooks and street vendors do it here!

Here’s a recipe online with some step-by-step photos, as well as some quantities to help guide you through the cooking process.  Really, this is a quick and easy, very authentic Thai meal and I would love for you to try it out at home!

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays, Thailand | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

She had me at hello…

So, today our errand-running didn’t start out the greatest. After a week of either the post office being closed or being completely inaccessible due to the Songkraan holiday, we were ready to pick up whatever had arrived. Among whatever mail may have come, there is certainly at least one package from home, possibly two. You have no idea how anxious I’ve been, waiting to see what’s come, trying to be patient about getting our mail… I absolutely LOVE getting mail. Always have, always will.

But, we had no keys. No post office keys means no mail.

Here’s the deal – I hadn’t bothered to look for our keys over the past several days, because I knew we wouldn’t be able to get to where we would use them. Today, upon looking in their usual keeping-space, I remembered that I loaned them out to a fellow student at our language school (we all share one PO box). I remember exactly where I was sitting, what I was wearing, even the conversation I was having with another person at the time that I so graciously volunteered our keys to a person who needed to run to the post office. The only thing I DON’T remember is who I actually lent them to! Blargh. So, after running around in the hot midday sun, we had no mail, no packages, and no fun.

spd_20080421122931_bNext up was a trip to Big C for a few essentials. We ate lunch at KFC as a treat, and sadly, the fries tasted like they’d been made 2 weeks ago, then put in the refrigerator. Blech. After finishing our lunch, then heading into the store, I realized the a/c must not have been functioning properly, as I began sweating like crazy, along with the other tons of people in the aisles (which was surprising, being the middle of the day on a Monday). But, then it happened. The one thing that made the day all better, despite the tiredness, despite the heat, despite the headache I already had from not sleeping again last night…

A little girl sheepishly said “hello.”

Upon my hearing this and turning to see her, she hid her face and giggled. I turned back away from her, looked only out of the corner of my eye, and out of the side of my mouth whispered back “hello” as I continued to browse the sale bucket of Thai printed fabrics and whatnot. About a minute later, she said it again with more confidence, so I replied and smiled back at her. Again, more giggles. Just before I was about to move on, she came up to me (with 2 other little ones now looking on) and said “my name is” with a huge smile. I figured she was trying to ask my name, but only knew a couple of phrases in English. So, what did I do? I spoke back to her in Thai, told her my name, and then asked hers. She couldn’t believe it. A farang (white-skinned foreigner) not only spoke to her kindly, but spoke in Thai! More giggles of course. I told her I was pleased to meet her, then she went back to the cart to wait for who I assume was her mother.

A few minutes later, I hear a pitter-patter of flip flops coming up behind me in the shoes section where we were looking for flip-flops big enough to fit Brook (Thais generally have tiny feet, so we have trouble finding shoes in this country), as his current ones are nearing the end of their life. I turned around to see the same little girl, this time holding the hand of another girl younger than herself. She told me the other girl wanted to meet me, too. I spoke a few sentences before they giggled again, and ran away. The same scenario happened a few more times as we went through the store, with each time meeting another of the young girl’s friends. One of them was even excited as she was also named Sara. Sweet kids.

The best part was the last time they came and found me, over in the noodle aisle, (there were 5 of them together at this point) and the girl said she had one more person who wanted to nae nam (introduce herself) to me, and find out if I lived in this city or not. After we spoke another minute or two, they all got really shy as the oldest one said naa rak cang lery, which means “I love your face,” and they said they had to go. As they went their way and I went mine, each time they saw me down at the end of another aisle, they all smiled and said,Phii Sara” (phii means older sister in Thai). That was awesome.  I couldn’t help but continue smiling as we finished up and walked out of the store.

This is why learning the language of whatever host culture you live in is so important. Language helps you to connect with the people you are living with. Language helps you to communicate, even if it is only your name and that you do, in fact, live in this city and are not a tourist. I can imagine how excited the girls will be to tell their parents and friends that they spoke to a real, live farang today. (I know how happy I am to tell you guys about this, and I’m an adult!) Being able to understand, and be understood, no matter how difficult it is, is a victory. This same sort of scenario happened a couple of weeks ago, as I met and spoke with another group of curious young girls at a small shop two days in a row.  It’s intimidating for sure, but really fun.  I like meeting new people, but especially kids. And, to now feel like I’m starting to get my ability to connect with them back… well, that’s a really good feeling.

It’s the little things like saying hello that really make my day.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Just for Fun, Personal, Thailand | 2 Comments

Songkran – Part 3

songkran girls

In the picture above, you’ll see a group of fellow students and teachers, with myself, from the language center where Brook and I are currently studying.  Last Saturday, we had a special session all about the celebration of Songkran and the traditions that come along with it in Thai society.  After the session, we were all asked to gather for a group photo out front of the building, since a few students will be leaving soon, and we all happened to be together for once.  Little did we know, as the students were lining up, all teachers snuk out of the group and made their way up to the balcony above… and SPLASH!  They got us all with buckets of cold water from up high, all of us completely unaware!  What a way to kick off the weekend, and kick off the Songkran fun.  No one had any idea, they planned it moments before, and it was a great (and very funny) surprise.  Interestingly enough, I happened to be in the center of the group, and soaked up most of the water by myself.  Happy Songkran, eh?

IMG_1092 sm

Songkran is known around the world mostly for its notorious water-fights that take place throughout the entire country.  Roads are essentially shut down as small gangs with large buckets of water form along the sidewalks, calling for vehicles to stop for an anointing of sorts!  All of the kids are also out on summer break, armed with giant water guns and hoses, ready to douse the next person who passes by.  Side roads all come to a crawl as people sitting in the back of pick-up trucks battle it out in the air, and families come running from their front steps to attack them from behind.  All ages participate, and everybody has fun.  It is no coincidence that this all happens to take place during the hottest week of the entire year.

IMG_1081Another thing that goes on during this staged war of water is the hurling and smearing of powder and a sort of mud-paste.  There is a certain type of talc produced in Lopburi (that is later used to make some types of baby powders) that can be bought in blocks or small chunks.  During Songkran, these blocks and chunks are widely distributed for making a sort of slurry that can be smeared on people.  I honestly have no clue where this part of the fun came from, but it sure gets crazy.  Some people hold the hoses and buckets, and others carry around bowls of this “mud,” ready to paint somebody wherever they like – usually the face.  But, don’t worry, there’s always someone 5 feet away, totally willing to dump a bucket of ice water on you to wash it all right off.

.

IMG_1064We were told ahead of time that dousing and smearing the farangs (foreigners/white-skinned people) in a city like ours (where there really aren’t any farangs other than us) is sort of an accomplishment that can be told of for years to come. A proverbial notch on the belt, you could say.   So… we were prime targets.  As soon as one kid spotted us riding by (at a snail’s pace, of course), the whole group would come running, all eager to have a chance to touch our faces.  Kids, teenagers, even grandmothers made the rush to smear us with paste.  It was quite amusing.  Luckily, we were out for the purpose of Songkran-ing, had nowhere else to go, and were already wearing destroyable clothing.  What fun!

.

IMG_1086 smSomething really incredible about this whole water fight thing, though, is how everyone – literally EVERYONE – comes out to play.  The photo to your left was taken standing at the end of our soi (tiny sidestreet), looking down the main road.  Traffic at a standstill, truck after truck filled with people and their tanks of icy water, splashing from vehicle to vehicle.  It was nuts!  The only thing you could hear was “Sawatdii pii mai (Happy New Year),” “Suk sahn wan Songkran (Happy Songkran),” and insane amounts of laughter… for hours!  And there was not an angry one in the bunch.  Everyone from 5 year old boys to teenagers, moms, and grandfathers were out playing in the water together.

IMG_1096 smI’ve heard many comments about how this would be awesome to do back home, but honestly, it would never fly.  It is understood here that if you are on the road, you are fair game.  Everybody also accepts the fact that you may get a cold, an ear ache, or red eyes after 3 days of water splashing and getting mud in your face.  It just comes with the territory.  If you don’t want to get wet, powdered, or bothered, you don’t go out.  Buy your food a few days ahead and just stay at home, and no one will look down on you.  It’s your choice.  But… if you go out, be ready for action!  Going out = willingness to “len naam” (play water) with your entire community, whether you know them or not!

Seriously, could you imagine a whole city in the States (not to mention the whole country) shutting down, having roads blocked by water wars traffic, splashing in the streets, anybody being fair game… and not having any lawsuits, screaming, people getting in fights, or insane doctor bills over the little side effects?  Nah.  Perhaps we should just keep Songkran in Thailand, and all of you can come visit us sometime in April.  Deal?

Since I can’t seem to fit all of our photos here on this page, here’s a link to my Facebook album.  The link is public, so you will be able to view it even if you’re not a Facebook user.  Click right here!

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Just for Fun, Thailand | Leave a comment

Songkran – Part 2

The second day of water fun has now ended, and I am all the more tired from it.  We went out for another round of riding (slowly) on our motorbike throughout the city, being sure to take side streets the whole way.  After all, that’s where the action is, right?  Absolutely.  There were a LOT more people out today making merry in the streets, taking part in day 2 of the Songkran celebration here in Lopburi.  Lopburi officially celebrates for 3 days, as does much of the country; however, there are regions that will extend the festivities for up to 10 days.  Now, that would surely be crazy.

Even though I know you are ready to see what this whole water war thing is about, we have one more thing to talk about first.  Today, as Brook & I were travelling about, we witnessed another very important ritual for Thai Buddhists during this holiday season.  You’ve probably heard me say it before, but in Thailand there is a saying “to be Thai is to be Buddhist.”  This means that virtually every part of their culture, traditions, and even daily life skills are rooted somehow in long-standing, even ancient, religious practices.  Holidays are certainly no exception to this.

Yesterday, I told you about the pouring of lustral waters over the hands of elders as a way of giving them honor and blessing in the coming year.  People also clean out their homes and bathe any idols or images of the Buddha that they own.  Today, we saw the latter being done in a slightly different context, in a much bigger way.

Early on in the celebration of Songkran, the city’s most precious images of Buddha are paraded through the streets so onlookers may toss or pour clean, scented water over the statues.  This provides one opportunity for Thais to perform a sort of ritual bathing of the Buddha in order to secure good luck and fortune for the coming year.  The photo above is not from our city, rather I found it online, as we were in the midst of the travelling water wars (and riding on the motorbike) when we observed the practice for ourselves.  What we saw was two large, clean pick-up trucks, decorated beautifully, each with a rather large golden Buddha (in the cross-legged seated position) riding in the back.  These trucks were making rounds to each of the neighborhoods where people could come right out of their own homes to make merit and bathe the statue.

Depending on your city, there may also be areas set up similar to the photo above, where one can go to pour water over Buddhas each in a differing position (images of Buddha can be in a number of seated or standing positions, each with distinct meaning).

As I mentioned yesterday, Songkran is a very important time for Thai families.  Songkran is when everyone goes back to where their family originated (or more modernly, wherever the oldest generation is currently living), and spends the holiday celebrating together.  On the first morning of Songkran (April 13), families traditionally will wake early and go to the temple as a group.  They will dress in their best clothing, prepare their best foods, and collect an amount of sand to take along on the trip.  Upon arriving at the temple, each family will present their offerings of food (as well as money or daily items like soap and toothpaste) to the monks in residence as means of making merit to cover any wrongdoings or sins in the past year.  As you can see in the photo above (from a Northern city in Thailand), a large amount of sand is also collected at the temples on this day as well.  Families traditionally bring a bucket, bag, or even just handfuls of sand along and dump it on temple grounds as a way of replacing the sand that they have carried away on their feet from visits during the previous year.  As the amount of sand being returned is quite large all in one day, the mounds are typically gathered together and formed into small pagodas that can then be decorated and honored as well.

As with most people around the world, Songkran – the Thai New Year – comes along with all kinds of new resolutions and pledges for good in the coming year.  People will do all they can to start the next year right.  Making merit, cleaning out the home, making promises of good will, and enjoying one another’s company in celebration are how they do this.

IMG_1098 sm

Just outside our street, this was going on...

Now you know just a little bit more about Songkran…. but, still not everything!  Come back again tomorrow for what I know you’ve all been waiting for….

April 14, 2010 Posted by | Just for Fun, Thailand | Leave a comment

Songkran – Part 1

Sorry for the slack in blogging the last couple of weeks. Boy has it been busy around here! Brook and I have each had language exams and moved on to our new modules, we’ve celebrated the Easter season, and now we’re in the midst of the biggest Thai holiday there is – the biggest, country-wide, world-renowned water fight known as Songkran!

sara with kids SK

Songkran falls on April 13-15 of every year, and it is quite the celebration. There are numerous traditions and rituals – both religious and entertaining – that make up this festival, and I’m going to try and cover as much as I can over the course of these next few days with you here on the blog. Are you ready? Let’s go!

To start off, Songkran is to Thais what Christmas is to most families back in America (and much of the Western world). It’s the time of year where bosses give their employees a few extra days off to go back home and visit with all of their relatives. Everyone gets excited, everybody plans ahead, and every person seems to have that extra bit of cheer to spread around.  Songkran is also considered to be the traditional start of the new year for Thais, according to their ancient calendar.

Though Songkran is best known nowadays by its wide spread war of water, it is traditionally a time when Thais pay respect to their elders, whether it be parents, friends, or older neighbors.  This respect is often shown through a ceremony of pouring scented water over the elder’s shoulder or hands and offering thanks to the one being honored.  The elder may then offer a blessing in return to the younger Thai.  In addition to cleansing one another’s hands, families will also use this time to publicly bathe their idols and other images of Buddha.  Some people will even use these days off from work to completely empty their home and give it a thorough washing.  We saw several of our own neighbors doing this over the past few days.  The New Year offers a fresh start, and most people will do everything they can to start it off right.

As I said before, this is only one part of the Songkran celebration.  Over the next few days, I’ll fill you in on more.  But, for now, I have to get back out and play in the water!  Happy Songkran!

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Just for Fun, Thailand | Leave a comment