Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thailand 2012 - Part 4

Yesterday, the day before and the day before that...and the beginning of today...

We had a couple very rainy days here in Thailand. On the first rainy day we decided to put the day off from the home to good use and went to Tesco. Tesco is kind of like a superstore/walmart kind of idea...except with waaaay less selection of all the things we were looking for.  We went to do all the shopping for the gift bags for the kids at the home. We had so many great ideas for what would be awesome for the kids! Unfortunately, the selection at Tesco had other ideas. We set out in teams of two to find our desired items. It was a really fun "supermarket sweep" moment. After we found our items we got together and showed each other what we found. From there we divided up the shopping by boys and girls and then age ranges. Each team then had the task of putting together enough gift bags for their set group of kids. In total we put together 80 gift bags!!! And these aren't just any bags... The bag itself is either a backpack or a purse, inside are toiletry items like toothpaste and toothbrushes, and there are also toys; perfumes and hair clips for the girls, bubbles and stamps for the boys, pencil cases filled with the goods for school, note books, colouring books, water bottles, candy, and MORE! It was fun taking the time to put it all together. Taking into consideration the kids, what they like (and don't like) and how we want them to cherish the gifts they receive. After ringing through the LARGEST bill I'm sure the Tesco has ever seen, we ate lunch then headed back to the hotel. We packed the bags, labelled them and have them sitting, ready to go, just waiting to get into the hands of the awesome children that are going to be receiving them. I am SO PUMPED to see what their reactions are going to be like!

Shopping at Tesco
Loooong receipt.

5 of the 7 dwarfs. 
The next day gave more rain but we were determined to get to the children's home. We got all ready in the van with rain ponchos and we were going to get there and work! No matter what! The bridge to the children's home was getting pretty washed away...we were slipping and sliding trying to get across and, not going to lie, it was a little scary! Once safely on the other side it was time to work! TEAM PIG was in FULL FORCE!! We went to our work site, put on our rain ponchos and waited for instructions! We were told to dig up some of the hard, wet, clay and use it to pack the ground around giant cement posts. With our instructions and determination we went to work, laughing at our selves for how ridiculous we look. As we were working, our leaders just...walked...away...We wondered what was going on. They came back and told us they decided there was no point, the rain was just going to pack down any more work we did and we would just have to re-do it. After a wonderful photo shoot of us covered in mud, with our ponchos, hoes (and Bianca's pot) looking like the seven dwarfs (minus 2), we made our way inside where we played games with the kids.

We played quite a few really fun and funny games. We did a fun version of rock, paper, scissors, did the balloon stomp game, cowboy and horse, and this strange game where we all divided up and sat in 4 teams. Your team would sit back to back in a circle and link arms. All the teams had names and you would randomly yell a teams name then go and try to steal people from their team! It was hectic but the kids had A LOT of fun! When deciding teams... some of the kids actually knew my name and wanted me on their team! It was so cute and definitely caught me by surprise. I had barely spent any time with these kids but they knew me and wanted me as their fearless leader!...that, or my name is just easy to say...I'll go with the first option.

The day ended and it was time to venture home...more like have an ADventure TRYING to get home! Since it had been raining more, the bridge was basically impassable. The posts had started to all fall away and it was a mucky mess. Most of us walked across leaving us laughing as we attempted to make it across without getting too muddy (hello impossible!). We were SO BLESSED to have a nearby farmer attach himself with a cord to Milk's van and pull it across the bridge and down the path to the paved road. It was quite a comical situation to watch, but we were definitely glad the van made it across safe and we were able to head home.

This evening we went to a new restaurant to eat! A Milk recommendation. IT WAS AMAZING! The view of the Mekong river and the giant golden Buddha was awesome. And the food was incredible. I can honestly say though, my FAVOURITE food has been the food we have eaten at the children's home. It is just so good! It is made 100% with love and you can taste it. That evening we all came home and crashed and had an awesome time sleeping and praying for gorgeous weather.

Yesterday was such a fun day! Due to the rain, JK and the home suggested that we set up 4 stations for the kids to take part in: Yoga, Music, Art & Sports. We were all pumped on the idea as it kept the kids (and us) entertained while it was raining. Again, we walked across the bridge and Milk drove over after. I was at the yoga station and was pumped to be there! I had done my annual Hero Holiday yoga the previous afternoon which left me with ideas and leaders to turn to for direction (as Heather and Christal are both Yogi's). We did had half an hour of yoga which each set of kids and there were 4 sets of about 15 or so kids each. It was so cute to see how the kids followed along and payed such close attention to what we were doing. We were on the stage and the kids were on the main floor as they followed along. It was cute to see their smiling faces and hear them giggling as they tried out the random poses. A lot of them were really good at it! Anytime we would have our hands together they would say Sawadeka (hello) which was too adorable. We also taught them the word "Namaste" which was cute to hear them say.

After the yoga finished and we were waiting for all of the kids to come in for lunch a little girl name Tilapa came and hugged me! She just wanted a hug, that was all. It was actually nice that she didn't want to talk or do anything like run and jump around. Just a hug. I have a hug to give. I have love to give. It's so nice that the easiest most meaningful thing to give is love and that's what we all want and all need.

I met a few of her friends and watched them interact and play with a game together...a little plastic square with the numbers 1 - 15 on little sliders. You have to slide the numbers up and down and to the sides to arrange them in numerical order. It was interesting to see how thoughtful they were in each move they made....how you could tell they had a system worked out for getting it all done. When I tried they wanted to guide my moves to make sure I made it all happen in the correct amount of steps. After some playing we all ate lunch together then it was time for us to say goodbye...but just for a little while.

The sun came out which made for a warm afternoon and we headed out on the Thai long boats for a ride down the Mekong River to Laos to take in a market. I got myself some fRay Bans (Fake Ray Bans) which are definitely coming in handy and I also attempted to find some flip flops since I had busted mine walking down the long boat. It was so interesting to see the kids in the market act. It was a great comparison to how the new kids at the children's home act....hitting, pinching, etc. It was quite an eye opener to how far the kids at the children's home have come and we hear we will notice even more of a difference after we head to Myanmar.

In line for the Bubble Gum drink.
After the long boat adventure, prepped with sun glasses and new flip flops from the market on the Thailand side, we headed to a shallow, secluded area of the Mekong River to swim with the kids! They all showed up by the truck load (literally, a truck with them filled in like sardines in a can in the back) and RAN into the river! It was so cute to see them so free and pumped to be swimming while it was hot outside! We found out from JK that they generally go swimming every Sunday after doing some Community Service. It was a surprise to see them swim in their clothes and it was fun to see how great they all interact with each other :) We came out of the area where we were swimming and enjoyed a green drink that tasted like Bubble Gum (YUMMMM) and some BANGKOK BISCUITS!! They were kind of like an golden Oreo but in a half circle shape....they were SO GOOD! It was fun to see the kids let loose and completely enjoy every little bit of the afternoon.

After the swimming we ventured back to the hotel, exhausted from a full day! It was adorable how the few kids I hung out with that morning and over lunch wanted to also spend time with me at the river. They were  calling my name, holding my hand and then waving goodbye from the truck before they left. It was touching to have made a connection with the kids---even though kids aren't my thing. At the debrief I made mention that it's great how words aren't need to express what needs to be felt. I think that is something I will take with me more so this trip then any of the others. Mostly because of knowing the past these kids have had, or could have had.

TODAY! Ohh today! It's a wonderful yet sad day...It's the last day with the kids which makes it sad but it's also the PARTY DAY which makes it awesome! This morning we did more project work (Which was great because it was sunny outside!). I helped with the library and completed a whole flower, done with the proper technique, which made me excited. Bianca, Ashley and Gabrielle helped prepare lunch and a few others played with the kids. It was wonderful to spend more time with them. For lunch I sat with the same girls I sat with for lunch yesterday. It was a fun time to connect again but we had to leave early.

Now we wait for the party to start...we are heading there at 5.In the meantime, we are all preparing something to say to the kids. Something about them we will never forget, how they have changed us, etc. It has been challenging thinking of what to say as, for me anyways, a lot of the stuff we do doesn't really hit me until I return home.

Well, Christal asked me to write a blog so I am off! I am excited to share about the party!!

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