For Anutra's birthday, she wanted to donate items to monks at a local temple. She invited Jane and I to join her and her neighbor this year to donate the items, serve lunch to the monks, and eat afterward. I'm always excited about doing new things, and I am always up for a good cultural experience, so I was happy to go!
When we arrived, Anutra was preparing the lotus blooms, which always seem to play a role in Buddhist worship or making offerings. (Please someone correct me if I'm wrong!) I'd seen this done before, but it was fun to have her teach me how to do it properly, although I was much slower than she was!
She donated bags of hygiene products to the monks; you can kind of see some of the sacks off to the side. The monk you see in this picture performed some kind of ceremony as Anutra lit candles and paid respect to the monk and the shrine. I know I don't get everything, but it was interesting, and I was happy that Jane was in the mood to be respectful.
We served the monks lunch, which is one of two meals they eat each day. As we put the food on the table, because women are not allowed to directly hand things to monks, we put it on an orange cloth, which they then received, and so on and so on. Very interesting.
Before they actually started eating, they all recited something in unison (kind of at the same time that we would have said a blessing on the food). Curious, I asked Anutra what they were saying. She summarized it as reminding themselves not to think of the taste of the food, but just to think of the good it is doing for their body. I thought that was clever. Do you think I could convince my family to think of each meal like that too? My life would be a LOT easier!
What's wrong with Jane's head? Absolutely nothing. She just likes bandaids right there.
Another part of the temple had this big image that Anutra says is quite famous. I thought this was a fun picture of the three of them together. Jane has no idea what she's doing, but in general, she's just a really good sport about everything. I don't know if Jack as a three year old would have been this easy to tow around so much!
Jane and her little friend, Brandon. Even if their older brother and sister don't go to the same school, these two still find a way to be together! It is a little tough now that Brandon is in school each day, but we still really try to find time to get together to let them play.
Jack learned to make pancakes and was SO proud of himself! I guess he likes them BIG.
This is the Tamang family. I really don't know the parents very well, but have fallen in love with their two youngest daughters through working in the primary. Ramita (in the pink plaid) has grown so much since I first met her. She's really started to come out of her shell, and her English has improved immensely. It's fun to be teaching Sharing time because now she can participate because she knows the answers! And she sings more than ever before. It's been amazing to watch her mature so much in such a short amount of time. I'm going to miss her.
There's a big wave of people leaving our ward this month. This is Benjamin. He's smiling because he's on his way to Canada! He's from Sri Lanka. Many of our friends are refugees here because, for one reason or another, it is unsafe for them to return to their home country. They are just waiting for a country to accept them and help them start their life over. Canada is a big one for many of our friends, and we are SO grateful to this wonderful country for giving our friends a new start! Yay, Canada! (The kids were a little bit distracted. Hopefully his picture turned out better than ours!)
Their youngest daughter, Sachina, looks like she doesn't like Jane, but really, they've become great friends. This little girl I've seen grow a lot too. She never used to even crack a smile when I was her nursery leader. She wouldn't speak, or sing, but would just sit quietly and semi-join in on whatever activity we were doing at the time. Now I've seen some life in her! She will run around with Jane, holding hands throughout the building, act like a dog (one of Jane's favorite things to do these days), and laugh and smile. Although she's still reserved, it's been fun to see her personality really begin to show. We are thrilled for the Tamangs to be on their way to Ontario, Canada this week!
Our biggest goodbye will definitely be to our favorite Sri Lankan brothers that we have written so much about. Ashly and Vibushen have become a part of the family, and we will feel a HUGE absence with them gone. These are completely selfish feelings, because we know that them going to Canada will be the BEST thing that has happened to them in a long time. They have been through a lot, and have waited for a long time for this move, so we are extremely happy for them! We know that they will have a good life there, they will be safe, and hopefully they will be able to welcome the rest of their family there soon! These pictures are from a night at their room where they cooked delicious Sri Lankan food for us. Jeff always loves Ashly's fish balls, so I made him let me help this time, so maybe I could repeat the process.
I still cannot comprehend how they can make a more amazing meal with their one little burner, than I can with my big, glorious kitchen! They never fail to amaze me!
Jane and Ashly are such good friends, and he always has taken such good care of her. She always looked forward to seeing him, and he has always spoiled her with love (and treats). We love visiting with these guys. We always learn a lot, laugh even more, and leave feeling uplifted with absolutely full hearts.
We had a great picture of Vibushen playing Jack's violin (which he insisted on bringing for entertainment), but Vibushen specifically told me I wasn't allowed to put it on the blog! So, Vibushen, since we love you, we will just keep that one all to ourselves!
A few things I'll miss about them the most: 1) Ashly calling on the phone and when I say, "hello?", he answers, "HELLO! I am Ashly!". 2) Them calling Jeff and I "Uncle" and "Auntie". 3) Watching them pass the sacrament, then afterward when they excuse them to sit with their families, they sit by us. 4) Knowing I can always plan on Ashly to help me with Jane when Jeff and I have extra meetings. 5) Their HUGE smiles and beautiful teeth.
Before Ashly, Vibushen, Benjamin, and the Tamangs leave Thailand, they are required to spend one week in the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). We have visited IDC quite often to visit a family from the ward who's been there for over a year. We usually go (in a rotation with other members of the ward), visit, and take them water, food, and other items they are in need of. It is always a little hard to leave after visiting this other family, the Dhakals, because we just don't know when they'll get out. It was a completely different experience going to visit Ashly and Vibushen in there. They were still just their usual, glowing selves. They said their room was "good". I said, "did you say your room is GOOD?" (remember this place is like a jail). They laughed and laughed and confirmed I had heard them correctly. (This is all through two gates, with a 3 foot gap between them). They were SO positive, happy, and made sure that we would tell everyone on Sunday that they are happy and fine and not to worry! It was completely different visiting them in that dreary place, because they have so much to look forward to! I will be praying especially hard this week for the Dhakal family for some hope that they will soon be accepted by New Zealand, which will be their last chance.
We are excited to see Ashly, Vibushen, and Benjamin off this Tuesday morning (4am!) at the airport. We'll miss them, but definitely wouldn't have it any other way. We've learned so much from these sweet brothers and hopefully it will be easier to see them off, knowing that we will only be a 12 hour drive away, once we move back to Utah. (First things first though - buying a car!)
We had a really fun visit with a couple from Scotland we met at church, Laura and Stuart. They are touring the world for one year of their lives, and only have a couple of months left! It's probably pretty selfish to invite them over so we can hear about all their adventures, but how could I pass up the opportunity? Will we ever tour the world together? Probably not, but I am a dreamer, and up to this point, it's hard for me to believe how many dreams have actually become a reality! So, you never know!
Yet another couch picture. This week, we had Jeff's friend, Yod, and his wife, Mookie, over for dinner. Jeff has talked a lot about Yod, as they get along really well and Yod's always a great source for asking questions about Thai, since his English is so good! Jack especially warmed right up to Yod when he discovered his watch that turns into a compass. Very cool. Jack rarely left his side after discovering this treasure. He had LOTS of questions! We really enjoyed their company and are hoping to get together near their place next time at a place famous for their Pad Thai, one of my favorites!
Last weekend, we enjoyed a very non-traditional conference weekend. Because of the time difference from Salt Lake City, we watch it one week later, and we specifically made it a point to be in town for this weekend, as we missed it last time traveling to Utah to be with family. Knowing how little time we have left here, I didn't want to miss our last opportunity to watch conference this way, and also to just be with our ward family.
We were amazed at how well the kids did. We enjoyed both Saturday sessions AND both Sunday sessions at the church, which we hardly dared expect! Jeff also was able to stay and watch the Priesthood session with many of the brethren. We were thankful for a nice family who sat by us, who allowed our kids to play together quietly while we tried to get as much out of the meetings as possible! Plus, Ashly was a HUGE help, as always.
Between sessions on Saturday, we were starving, so we rushed off to find a food shop nearby (we only had one hour between sessions), and we were lucky to find one with delicious food! When we first walked up, we were looking for a free table, and everyone just sat staring at us like we were dinosaurs or something. I don't think it's very common for white-folk, all dressed up, to eat at a place like this. One guy finally figured out that we really did want to eat, and pointed to a table in the back. I ordered my favorite thing lately, stir-fried veggies on rice. Simple, but oh, so good. And for some reason, it tasted extra good from this place.
I thought this was a good picture because you can see the "kitchen" in the background. I think that lady had 3 teeth and such a great smile. (I love Thailand). They cooked everything right up in under 10 minutes. Awesome. The guy who was running things kept coming back and trying to talk to Jane. She wasn't in the mood really, but for some reason, he still thought she was so sweet. We asked if they had sticky rice for her, and he pointed across the street to where they had it. Since we were kind of fenced into this shop, we laughed and I just assumed we'd get it on the way back to the church. This guy suddenly set off to go and buy her some from the neighbor shop. What service!
This conference weekend was awesome. I loved being there with everyone, listening to our leaders teach us all together. Between sessions on Sunday, we had a fantastic pot-luck lunch, that was planned very last minute, but it was amazing to see how people contributed! We even had people send food who couldn't make it! Now, that's taking care of each other! I wished I would have gotten pictures of everyone during the lunch, but I was a little busy serving up the chicken and potatoes, which was the best spot since, I got to see everyone come through the line. I love our ward.
As a mother, nothing is more rewarding than seeing my kids together. Jack is reading so much lately, and Jane has shown an incredible interest in books as well. Both of them will randomly wander into their bedrooms at times just to sit and look through books. My favorite is when they do it together.
Jack can just read and read now, and it is music to my ears!
Jack can just read and read now, and it is music to my ears!
This is such a random blog, but has so many good memories included. How could I let even ONE thing go by from our experience here? It's just coming to an end all too fast.