The adventure continues

I’m sitting here in bed, under a mosquito net here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after being warmly welcomed at the airport by a wonderful missionary family. A friend of a friend situation, but great none the less.

I love Cambodia, since the first time I visited, my heart was captured, in such a different way than Thailand. Thailand for me at this point is a take it or leave it place, Cambodia leaves me wanting more of it. Wanting to know, explore and understand.

After being used to sleeping with air con, tonight may be warmer than usual for me. The window is open, no screen, hence being totally under a mosquito net. Friends, you should be here with me.

Today, sitting in the airport I thought to myself, I don’t know anyone else who would do this. Traveling alone in a foreign country, SE Asia no less. And a woman. Am I crazy? No, well maybe a little, but at least I’m living. At least I’m living and feeling alive.

It’s late for me, take care friends. Until next time.

M

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November 11 update

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Friends and family,

Greetings from Thailand, sawatdeeka!  I can’t believe how much time has passed since I last updated you all.  Part of my delay has been because of how busy things have been, but the other part is due to some recent discouragement and just feeling quite burned out.  So to sum up the past few weeks:

On October 18th, we began our two week “October Break”, which marked the end of our first semester, and also now marks the half way point of our time here in Thailand.  I traveled with several friends to Cambodia, and we spent some good time on a deserted Island.. which was much needed!  It was a good time for reflection on the past 5 months, and time to pray about the coming months as well.  After about 10 days in Cambodia, we returned to Thailand, and my housemate Bridget and I traveled up north to Chiang Mai, which is the second largest city in Thailand.  We had a great time on motorbikes, and exploring the city, but I really started missing the kids by the second week of break!

Upon returning to GES, I was hit hard with sickness.  Strangely, it all began back on the day we left for vacation, and I’m STILL in the process of recovering.  Being sick has been part of my discouragement lately, but thankfully I’m now starting to feel better.

Last week, our first week back, we immediately hit the ground running getting ready for “Overnight camp”, which we left for last Thursday, November 6.  I went with the older kids (6th Grade-12th Grade) away to a camp that was about an hour away.  I also was in charge of worship for the weekend, which was also an interesting experience.  Honestly, in the 130 kids that were there, probably 15 are Christians, so I guess I just didn’t know how to approach leading worship for them.  We DO have chapels every week, but I’m involved with the younger kids for that time, so I rarely join the older kids for chapel.  Anyway, all in all, camp went well… minus several kids getting sent home for alcohol and guys/girls in each other’s rooms.  I hope it was an experience that later in life they will look back on and remember, even if it didn’t impact them at the time.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is just morality in general, and what drives people to understand and know right vs. wrong.  I can’t motivate these kids to make good choices based on “doing good because you believe in God and are a Christian”, because they aren’t Christians, and don’t believe in God.  They go to the temple every morning or evening and pray to Buddha.  Some of them could care less about making good choices.  But I do believe in every person, there is an ability for people to know what is right and what is wrong based on basic human instinct.  In most movies, you see good and evil, and when you view these films, it’s easy to see and desire for the characters to choose right over doing what is wrong.  Anyway, it’s definitely had me thinking quite a bit recently.

I know discouragement is a natural part of any job you do, at any time in life, but I know right now it’s an attack on the work we are doing here in Thailand.  We are touching lives here and making a huge difference, and because of that, I know Satan is threatened.  We have 6 weeks until our Christmas Break, and in that time I will plan and put together TWO Christmas Programs, and be busy as ever!  Pray that I won’t continue feeling so stressed, overwhelmed and discouraged.  Other than the stressful, looming programs over my plate of responsibilities, I’m still really enjoying being blessed to teach Music here at GES, and I count it a privilege to teach them about who God is through those songs.

As of right now, I’m really missing American things… and the comfort of being “home”.. as in the States.  I know it’s just a season, so hopefully it will be over soon, as it makes being here more difficult mentally and in other ways.  

 

Here are some things you can be in prayer about for me:

1. Planning and preparation for the Christmas programs
2. Regular teaching/ planning
3. Leading worship for our upcoming Church retreat (November 21-23)
4. Getting through  the holiday season without missing home too much 😦
5. Continue to be a light to all the students at GES through actions and words

Please also be in prayer as I constantly have the future in mind.  God has given me the grace to be here in Thailand for now, but the more time that passes, I have realized the depth of my passion for worship, and to pursue worship ministry.  I will be beginning an online Master’s degree in Teaching starting in January, through Liberty University, which I’m looking forward to, but I’m not quite sure that will determine my future. 

I miss you all, and would love to hear from YOU!

With love from Thailand,
Meridith Rae

https://somehowbeautiful.wordpress.com 
meridith.johnson@gmail.com
1.541.255.2159

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October break

The stress of report cards and grading is over.  This week has been MUCH more relaxed, and right now my Grade 4 Music class and myself are enjoying “The Sound of Music”.  Very educational.  Definitely.

So October break is just a matter of days away, and I can’t wait!  The strange thing is that when we return, it will be November, which is just weird!  Things here are just as warm as ever, though I’ve noticed it’s getting slightly cooler, either that or just the humidity hasn’t been quite as awful as it normally can be.  It’s still a pleasant, and sometimes unbearable, 85-100 degrees F. I still just can’t get over the fact that this has been the “longest summer ever”, since back in the states things are really cooling down.  

I should also mention that once I return from October break, we will be half way done with the school year, which also means half way done with my time here in Thailand!  It’s strange to think… the time has really been going by quickly.  But, just like during any race, the point where you turn around and retrace your steps back to the finish-line are often the most difficult, and mentally the most exhausting.  Keep myself, and all my fellow teachers in your prayers.

So, for our much anticipated break, myself and 3 of my friends will be flying out on Saturday to Cambodia (as I’ve talked about MANY times in my blog!).  We will spend about 10 days relaxing on the beach, going to remote islands, hiking, exploring, singing (I’m bringing my guitar, OF COURSE!), and having a good old time!  We’ll be going to a remote island called “Bamboo Island” where we will have our own bungalows for about $15 USD a night.  We’ll get to go on boat rides around the island to watch the sunset, and during that they catch fish that are then cooked up for dinner at night!  I’m so excited!!!  (Can you tell??).  It’s been a long few weeks, and it will be so nice to relax, sleep, and really think through the last 5 months of my life here in Thailand.  After our trip, a few of us will head up north to Chiang Mai (the second largest city in Thailand).  We’ll do some sight seeing, rent motorbikes, hike around, and CHILL!

Anyway, my lack of sleep is definitely catching up with me this week!  It’s been taking me longer and longer to fall asleep at night which means that I’m definitely dragging now.  Pray that I can get rest over the break!  I really need it!

Anyway, when we come back, I am in full swing to start us on learning songs for the Christmas Programs (yes, I said programS) that I am in charge of.  There is one program for the younger, then one for 4th through 12th.  But anyway, this blog is about VACATION, not stressing about school, which I tend to do WAY too much!

Alright, well I will be out of touch for the next couple weeks, as I’m not going to bring my distraction of facebook and my labtop with me.  Pray for safety during our flights, train rides, bus rides etc… It should be a very restful time that God has given to us!

Blessings and peace,
Meridith Rae

pictures and short update

Tomorrow is the big Talent Show I’ve been organizing.. which is why if you’ve tried to call or email, you may not have gotten a response.  I’ve been so stressed about it, but after our practice today, I’m feeling much better about everything.  Basically I’m the “Director” in charge of EVERYTHING, but the nice things is that the students themselves have prepared the acts, so I don’t have to worry about that!  I’ll post pictures when it’s all said and done!

To get away from the stress, a few of us went to see “Mamma Mia!” last night… it was AWESOME!  Okay, if you hate musicals, you may not enjoy it as much, but by the end of the movie I was ready to DANCE!  It was so cute, and reminded me of all the songs my parents used to sing to us back in the day :).  

OH, and in Nonthaburi, and every other city near the river are preparing for a potential flood! September will be one of the rainiest months in Thailand, as well as into October, and apparently some of the cities north of us have had some flooding, so everyone is gearing up, and stocking up on food.  We all have been buying water, and non-perishable food items to keep in our rooms upstairs, and as soon as it looks like it will flood, we’ll have to move all our furniture upstairs, and then be trapped in our house if it in fact DOES flood.  Of course, if we know in advance, we would evacuate up north to Chiang Mai, but it’s difficult to predict when or if it in fact will flood.  BUT, if we are trapped, I have lots of nuts, small soy milk boxes, peanut butter, and cereal.  Such a great selection, I KNOW!  🙂

Good news, we have 43 days until October break!  I can’t wait!  I’ll be flying to Cambodia, then taking an overnight train to Vietnam with several friends.  Should be a great relaxing break, and I’m excited to sight see around the both countries!  (I’m not sure if I already talked about October break, but it’s quite possible I did, because we are all looking forward to it!!)

Anyway, I’m praying a lot about what the future will bring, even though I know I have plenty of time to decide.  All the schools in Thailand are beginning to expect much more out of foreigners who want to come to teach, so if I do stay, I will for sure need to begin pursuing a teaching certificate, or MAT degree this January.  Decisions, decisions.  

Here’s a video I’ve made with my pictures up until this point.. for your viewing pleasure:

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, letters and emails!  May God bless you all!

apologies

Apologies dear readers for my silence as of late.  The weeks continue to slip by, I still can’t believe it’s AUGUST!  Not only that, but the 18th of August.  Time surely does fly by, that’s for sure.  Schools back in the states are starting up and summer back home is quickly fading.  It’s also weird to think that weather back home will turn to fall in about a months time, and here it may only cool down to the 80’s during November and December.

School, and everything related to school is as busy as ever.  My current project will be the first annual GES Talent Show!  This will be September 5th, and right now I’m in the process of auditioning groups, and working with students on putting some acts together.  I’m nervous about it… I’m just hoping everything will come together for the big day.  

I’m getting more involved with my church, CCC (http://www.cccthailand.org). I’m helping with the youth group, and have enjoyed getting the youth pastors, Paul and Joni.  Yesterday, we had our big youth kick of night, and I along with my friend Jonathan lead worship for the kids.  There were about 60 kids that showed up, and overall the night was a big success.  Most of the students are apart of the International school: ISB (International School of Bangkok) which is one of the top schools in all of Bangkok.  It just so happens to be located right in Nichada, the International community (the church is also located in Nichada).  So, it’s a very interesting mix of students that come to the youth events.  Some aren’t really even Christians, or interested in Christianity, they just like hanging out and having a good time. The families in this community are EXTREMELY wealthy and work for companies like Chevron, Nike, and some work at various Embassies here in Thailand.  And when they say “international” it really is international!  There are people from EVERYWHERE!  Anyway, I’ll be helping out with the Jr. High girls house group beginning next month, so that will be a great way to invest in some of their lives.  I will also be leading worship pretty often now for the main services at CCC.  I’m excited to get to do some teaching about what worship really is.. through action.  The church, as I have described, has an interesting mix of people, and every year there is a huge turn over rate with the dynamic of the church, so starting a fresh new year will be good.

Haaaa.  Another week ahead of us.  Like I said, time has been passing so quickly, and the weekends even quicker!  I’m enjoying my time here still, like I’ve said many of times, to many of you, I’m so blessed to be apart of what God is doing in Thailand now.  It’s a great place to live, seriously!  I’ve been a little homesick, but it’s quite funny to me, because I only get homesick during the weekends (usually) and it’s almost always when we are on our way out to Nichada for church.  I don’t know why… the place only reminds me of Southern California!  Maybe it’s just the west coast I miss, and not really anything in particular.. I don’t know!

Physically I’m doing great.  I’ve had few issues at all with my stomach, and I’m just feeling great!  I’ve been training to run a half-marathon, which I’m not sure I will actually be ready for, or able to run since it’s not here in Bangkok. Either way, I’ll be running a race at some point during my time in Thailand, I just don’t know when yet!  I joined a gym not too far from here in one of the bigger malls.  It’s nice to get away several evenings each week to work up a good sweat… My friend Heidi and I take a class called “Body Jam” and it’s the highlight of my week!  Learning dances.. and all they speak is Thai, so you kind of stand in the back and try to follow what they are doing.  It’s great.. good music, and the moves are so “sexeeey” -as they say!  (Everything that ends in an “i” or “y” is automatically pronounced “eeee”.. FYI).  

Spiritually, the LORD has been doing so much in my heart, it’s hard to even put it into words.  I know this experience will go with me whatever comes after my time here, and I feel so blessed to be experiencing everything I’ve been able to so far.  I’m still learning to trust him fully.  I’m still learning to follow in faith.

On a closing note, in about two months we have our long awaited “October Break” which marks the end of our first semester.  I’ve already purchased a plane ticket to Cambodia, and I will be traveling with several other teachers around Cambodia and Vietnam for about 8 days, then returning to Bangkok and heading down south (not too far) to a few beaches here in Thailand.  All of us are looking forward to the break.. even if it is two months away!  Should be exciting.. another group is headed to Nepal to hike some of the trails beneath Everest!  CRAZY!

Hope you all are doing well, please do email me when you get the chance!  I love hearing from you all.  And of course you can phone me anytime as well (local 541 number!).

Blessings and His Grace to you all,
Meridith Rae 

meridith.johnson@gmail.com
541.255.2159 

Here are a few pictures from our holiday last week (the Queen’s Birthday/Mother’s Day).  We went shopping downtown at MBK, then to a small, quaint French place for dinner; “Le Cafe Siam”.