My head hurts but it has been a great day. History class with Dr Chulee was amazing. She literally talked the whole two hours. Bringing us into the world in which she grew up, became a Christian, her vulnerability in going to America and being totally lost. Her honesty and humility in her reactions towards individuals such as sex workers that she changed and came to realize what true love for you neighbor means. It was extremely refreshing. I’m so happy to have such an amazing professor. She is so inspiring. She is kind. She has a true heart to teach us the ways of her people so that we may interact with them in a truly loving way. Sunday she is taking us to an indigenous village in Burma, monday and wednesday we are going to a temple and having a monk guest lecture us. SO SO EXCITED!

In the afternoon we had class with Dr Krista. We had ALOT of reading and knew there was a quiz. The geographics of the region are quite confusing and I think everyone was pretty stressed. I had a specific indigenous group to research and was glad when after leading my own personal investigation, was able to enlighten the class more on Vietnamese and Laos ethnicities and history. After my short presentation I was pleased and confident. It was a good feeling, reaffirming my position, and the classes ended up being much more chill than expected. I’m excited to realize how intricately I will know this region and its intricacies by december after seeing the change in just a week. 

Another highlight was the ability to go to Chiang Mai university for a screening of “Emerging Women of Burma” put on by the We Women Organization. The atmosphere of the university was welcoming, calling me to take up the cause of education. To use my freedom for the benefit of others. The woman speaker was a cultural anthropologist from the Netherlands that I am hoping to be in contact with further. This is the setting I feel I could thrive in. 

This evening was pleasant. We came back from class and I had some time to myself. I spent most of it in the kitchen watching and minimally talking with our cook Pawnee. She has a very soothing presence. I also enjoyed speaking with Adele, our program director while watching our ducks walk around outside. After dinner all the Go-Ed crew had a great time of sharing. Speaking on issues of poverty, of our fears and hopes. After making popcorn I’m watching three of them play settlers of Catan. It’s pretty chill 🙂 Tomorrow I get to sleep in, I might bike to the temple I can see from the fourth floor of the building which we are staying on. I’m staying in the same room as the three other girls and they all wake up early and head downstairs which gives me the space to roll out of bed and have my quiet yoga time. 

I’m sure there are many more things to say, please ask questions, it’s sometimes hard to think of what to say with the little time I actually want to be spending on my computer when all of this surrounds me. I’m trying to be WAAY more intentional with taking pictures but I still feel awkward and am trying to settle the conflict within me, wondering how to approach it.

Thank you for all your support, prayers and thoughts, I am here for a reason and it is blowing my mind. The fire is kindled in my heart and soul. I know it will burn all there is to find. All will be refined. 

 

As soon as I entered Payap University I felt a gust of rising emotion in my gut. The place got me. The atmosphere was serene. But there was something more than serenetiy, an intensity of emotion was infused within it. Similar to when I first saw the butterfly church in Taiwan. Divinity. Anointing.

Students in front of the chapel. Art work on the walls. Thai cultural depictions of biblical scenes. Stained class and wooden floors in a low ceeling chapel. A faint aroma of incense?

Ajun Chuleeepee was giving us the tour. I felt the similar entrancement I do when I go to museums. The depth of what this art, this setting portrays and encompasses. The stained glass beyond the pulpit: FLAMES. The same swoop of motion in much of the art. Thinking of my visions before coming. Lava. Surrounding flames. Sacré Coeur.

Walk through the library. Glancing titles of books that call my name. We settle in a multimedia room. I want to cry, surrounded by countless classical recordings and textbooks that I am yearning for. A sense of being home.

Ajun Krista arrives. We introduce ourselves shortly, stating why we chose this program. She gives what is truly a testimony of her life. Leah wants to cry. This harvard trained christian lawyer who before having her eyes opened, never had any desire for helping the poor, the marginalized is now heading NGOs and inspiring students… I can’t put into words what I felt, I felt what she felt and even more strongly because I feel it inherently without her. Her expressing her life is a reflection of what I want to live for. minus harvard and years of blindness. We begin class. Emotionally stirred almost to the same extent as my intimate violence class. 

This is what I am called to. And yet, that feeling of inadequacy was slowly creeping up. The repetition of needing business business business was screaming to me NOT YOU. I felt like when I was in politics classes, an undercover. The present missions movement is focused on social justice, on bringing development to these poor countries. Not only saying they care but helping the issues… And the present day answer is ending poverty.

The reality is that these are needs. The OTHER reality is that no matter what, ONE THING, ONE PERSON is not going to be the difference. We need to work together. After feeling a little off after class, I had a really great talk after dinner with another student. I realized she felt similar to me, that she doesn’t have the skills because she doesn’t have the social sciences training whereas I envy her knowledge of sustainable farming and such. 

I felt called to let this pass. But I hope my professors will be more inspiring and engaging than forcing perspectives and approaches to us. I understand the need, but I feel my heart and I know that God will lead. 

That night Sajun (promise) taught us Thai and the time spent was so enjoyable. The reading is extensive and I am getting tired but the time and relationships that are shaping with the Lahu make my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Last night we saw them dressed in their traditional clothes. It was breathtaking.

On the outskirts

sometimes I feel inadequate. Being surrounded by white Christian college students who share a very similar worldview and manner of expression which I cannot make my own is very tiring.It is only once I start to read that I realize that I am not stupid. That I am not going to college for nothing and that I will be able to bring SOMETHING to this world SOMEWHERE.

It’s difficult, this environment. The perpetual feeling of exclusion. I do not imagine it, I do not falsely perceive it. Once I realized how much I had embraced it and rejected other things negatively, I somewhat blamed myself for this. Yet the reality is that I am different and I will never not be different. I can be different and not reject but how to communicate this.

I do want to be a hermit sometimes. But again, even reading these first assignments, I am truly starting to make links with what stirs my soul. I am truly beginning to be able to take ownership of my skills, my worldview, my desires and dreams. The Marginalized. Even writing this makes my heart swell. “rising unemployment among youth, sex and child trafficking, drug abuse and violence against women must be adequately addressed to assure social and economic stability. implementation of prevention and care programs have proved difficult for at risk groups such as squatters, cross-border pop, ethnic minorities due to their social or geographical marginalization”. 

Notes I took from my reading… that I highlighted among all the other important information. Because I recognize that THIS is what I want to do . This is what I have a heart for. And yes, it is DEFINITELY because of my own history, my own story. Maybe my own story shaped itself out of a deeper want to understand this… To reflect exteriorly what I had always felt on the inside.

  • Others
  • different
  • weird
  • obnoxious
  • opinionated
  • sketch

I’ve been called so many of these things and have a deep fear of being them. My brain associates this with something WRONG. something VERY VERY WRONG that needs to be changed, that I need to go get fixed somewhere and that I can’t and need to hide because I know it will never NOT be a part of me and because I really don’t want to not be myself, a Deep Sadness of never feeling like I will ever be accepted.

The times I have felt accepted were probably also misperceptions. I am trying so hard these days not to intentionally check out and be on the outskirts, fading away into a deep hole of darkness. But the reality is that I’m so tired of erring in the midst of others that I feel nothing with. I’ve been told I don’t need to feel anything. And yes, I do appreciate being alone with myself. A LOT. more than anything… or at least that’s what I try to tell myself because I’m tired of being bored and tired of the intensity of my attachment when I do feel something.

I know that out there, somewhere, there are people like me. Sometimes I think that everyone is like me, on the inside. that the part like me is just sleeping and that someday the switch will be flipped… but maybe not.

Maybe We are literally ALL COMPLELTY different. How do you connect then? And how is it so difficult for me to connect? Or am I falsely perceiving connections of others because I assume they feel something if they are talking and yet actually feel nothing.

 

I want to dream. I want to hope. I want to do things with my hands.

 

Jet Lagged First Expression of Impressions

Jet lagged, busy and tired. Still enjoying this place, looking forward to getting into the groove of school. I have been telling myself that I NEED to write something more put together, maybe less offensive? Truth is I’m in double cultural shock and can barely think clearly. Yet I also know that I NEED to write the thoughts that come up especially in these early times. I already feel things fading and I NEED to have the progression in place.

Most of all, the things that keeps getting me is that I truly truly want to be in a setting where I am FULLY IMMERSED in thai culture. We are staying at a center in a Lahu community. The Lahu are a tribal people. They are paradoxically Thai and yet Lahu. Therefore they speak a specific dialect and have specific customs. YET these people are in a biblical training center that takes on seemingly aspects of Thai academic culture but mostly biblical culture that has been learned by these people initially from westerners.

I want to be in a setting that has not been tweaked or influenced by another culture and yet I KNOW that is impossible. Our world today is to overlapping for anything to be “PURE”. And why in the first place am I striving for this ? I feel like I’m yearning for exoticism and that makes me irritated with myself.

Still my main desire is to learn this culture, understand the overlaps and maybe with this view help these come together? I wish we were doing home stays. I want to be in the position of learner. I will strive to put myself into these situations. It will be more of a struggle given the community of white students I’ve been placed in,  because this barrier of western world is established.

I realized that most of my yearnings were also my own urges. I remain a perpetual if not adrenaline-junky, a wanderLUSTER. I say I do not expect anything yet I DO expect the unknown. I want to get that emotional high from being wowed by something I’ve never seen before. I want my mind to be blown. aaaaand yet the reality is that I have travelled and have seen things and it might become harder and harder to get that silent “wow” moment where my chest tightens. Also, I tend to associate and assume even though I actually know nothing.

The first moment I had a one of these here was during the Lahu church service on Sunday. We had a quick visit of the center: exciting seeing the rice patties, the pigs, the chickens. Leah was starting to feel the newness of the place and see how what was to be learned/ observed. First feelings within church service were not negative but perhaps dismissive and accusatory of the culture that was being “forced” onto these people. Me thinking the whole time they would express themselves, be more fully free if they were in the boundaries of their own culture. As soon as they started to sing this changed. I was humbled into thinking of the beauty of cultivating one’s garden. That it is freedom to chose to act in a certain way, there is freedom in structuring one’s self. I am very excited to visit the Lahu village which to my understanding is extremely rustic.

I arrived Saturday evening and it is Monday evening. It seems like I’ve been here for a whole week. Sunday we went to the night market in Chiang-Mai. I was REALLY excited. I WANT EVERYTHING. I am hoping to be able to talk with the artisans and musicians during the time I’m here. Today we went to the Queen’s botanical gardens, hiked(Leah barefoot :p) and swam at beautiful (though brown) waterfalls. With a little Yoga sesh thrown in. THE FOOD IS AWESOME. more details later. My favorite as of now is our desert tonight: MANGO STICKY RICE. YOooooom. (y)

My hope is that I continue in humility and grace. That I accept the situation I am in and yet that I strongly affirm my identity, hopes and beliefs and intentionally act according to these. Please pray for good opportunities to connect and delve into relationship and understanding with the Lahu people specifically, and Thai people in general as well as for grace and peace within the group of American students.

SO THANKFUL FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY.

I aaaaalsoooo want to be continuously filled with more and more and more JOY and spared it . YAAA HAPPY HAPPY LETS ALL LAUGH. heh.