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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

many photographers

I've been letting students borrow my camera and take pictures of each other.  This gives me lots of sorting to do, and finger-prints to wipe off the lens, but it gives lots of good pictures too.  Many of these were specifically taken for Marianne and Jennison.




































Tuesday, March 13, 2012

tons to do

I just want you to know that there is a lot that needs to be done here.  There's a years' worth of work that it would be really beneficial for me to get done in the month I have left here...

Of course we'll get students helping where they can, and try to get local crews in for some things, but there are many things that Western volunteers can be a huge blessing by helping out with here.  The most pressing need is construction.  There are about 2 months before the wet season gives meaning to the word Thaiphoon.  In that time, it would be ideal to complete 4 houses, 2 dorms, and a couple other buildings.  Then there are repairs, sidewalks, electrical, shelves ... ...

There are ways to help with construction aside form the obvious.  For instance, someone caring for toddlers / babies could free Mr. Adams to use his expertise on the many projects.  And don't think that unskilled labor has little value.  Much of what I do here has been learned on the job.  The most important skill that has let me help here is the ability to take instructions in English.

Construction is just the beginning of the job list here.  There's also teaching (English, music, vocations), mechanical work, driving, medical work, gardening, etc.

Helping here at Sunshine Orchard has been a huge blessing to me.  I'm sure it would be a blessing to you also, if you can come.  Life here is not as pampered as life in North America, but discomforts are minor and well worth it.  So - something to pray about...

For more information, visit http://missions.thesteckfamily.com/wp/sunshine-orchard-needs/personnel-needs/


Saturday, March 10, 2012

on Twee Houses and Rule "Duh"

There has been a nice little twee house behind my hut for the past month or so.

It's really nice having a twee house in my back yard.
However, I'm really glad I haven't had to spend any time in it.
I think the twee po are glad too.

three twee po

they started opening their eyes early this week

with twee mo
1)     I have a hard time with Karen numbers.  I had forgotten how to say "one".  When I was told how to, I had a sudden urge to hit my forehead on the base of my hand and yell "duh!"  In Karen, one is like the French "deux" or the Simpson "duh".

10)   The number 10 can cause some confusion.  Some people say "chee", others say "she".  Officially, 10 is "duh chee" or "duh she".  But chee is a ten and she is a ten.

It's amazing how much wisdom for life you can learn from a few Karen words.

Rule 1
(rule duh)
She is a ten.  Even if you don't think so, don't say a word otherwise, because you'll end up in the twee house.  The twee house is not as nice as it sounds.  It's really small and full of fleas.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On fire

The Karen people like fire. I guess I don't blame them: they don't get fireworks shows like I see at home. Anyway, anything dry in the forest is fair game for mini infernos.

I think that yearly forest fires are standard procedure in much of Asia.  The yearly fires keep the forests clear, preventing them from becoming overgrown jungles.  Finding clear air, and keeping lungs clear is another story. I'm blessed to suffer no more than torrents of harmless phlegm a couple times a day. However, other people here really suffer from all the smoke: it almost hurts to hear them cough.

I need to put this in perspective: the air here is usually better than in most of Thailand.  I just am really thankful for the good air we enjoy in Canada.

Many of us have been trying to teach the staff and students here to compost leaves instead of burning them. The gardens would really benefit from this. However, trying to teach a Karen person to not burn leaves is comparable to teaching a North American to like using a squat loo.  It's almost as hard as getting me to do something a better way when I like my way.

Anyway, I keep thinking about how there are so many Karen people who are excellent at hauling stuff from the jungle but are wasting their lives away in refugee camps - almost imprisoned there while they wait for immigration processes or political changes.  If only Thailand could put together a program that would keep the Karen refugees busy, keep both forests and air clear, and support sustainable agriculture...

About a month ago, I had to keep this fire away from my hut.

The Karen like small, controlled fires...until they get bored of them
Looks like someone decided to blaze a trail here. 
It was a better show than the volcano I saw from a distance in Ecuador

I sometimes see ~3" charcoal leafs drifting from the sky - even when there is no fire burning within a kilometer or 2

On Wednesday, just before I was supposed to teach some boys how to square a building, a bunch of guys had to scramble to keep the fire here from threatening the Stecks' house.  There is no warning given before areas are set ablaze.

One benefit of the fires: beautiful orange So-Cal style sunrises

I prefer these flames

I must admit: I've been here long enough to resort to fire.  I couldn't make my drill-bits last long drilling for toe-nails.  But I have to drill, otherwise the wood splits.  I was stumped, but Damlawa had a solution: he hammered a nail to shape, put it in the drill, and showed me how to burn the holes right through.  It works great.