Good news. I now have some Christian friends in Thailand outside of our mission agency and CCD. Real people to go out with socially with, and have normal non-work-related conversations with, and everything. And it only took six months…
This past weekend, I went on the ECB women’s retreat. ECB is our church in Bangkok, and the retreat was held at a very nice hotel in Hua Hin, which is a 3½-hour drive south from Bangkok, on the east coast. (Map here.) There were about 100 of us, and it was great.
I was the ‘leader’ of minibus number five (of ten) for both outward and return journeys. This entailed finding all the right people and issuing them with goody bags, water, and the very-important-must-be-worn-at-all-times name badges, releasing said people at a lunch stop, rounding them up again, all that sort of thing, and keeping the retreat leaders posted on the bus’s whereabouts. Ever the control freak organiser, I quite enjoyed it, and it meant that I got to know some people very quickly.
People like Margarita-from-Mexico, who introduced herself as ‘a drama queen and a troublemaker’. She owns a Mexican restaurant, you know. Here she is in a rare quiet moment.
Later on Friday evening, I met my roommate, Dani. Dani’s from Australia and is studying module three of a Thai course almost identical to the one we did (because, so the rumour goes, some teachers from school A absconded and started school B, using the same teaching materials). We were able to compare notes of despair about the placement of vowels and I shared a delight Dani was about to encounter – the fact that tone markers change, depending on the class of the consonant they’re on. Nice.
Anyway. We got on very well, finding that we shared a common outlook on life and sense of humour. This is Dani. She hopes to do nursing either in Thailand or a neighbouring country.
And another new friend, Melanie.
Meanwhile, the retreat content itself was about ‘valleys’ (challenges, disappointments, fed-upnesses, etc) of varying magnitudes and how to deal with/’climb out of’ them, referring to Samson, David, and others. The speaker was Janell Rardon (three adjectives: American, loud, hilarious). To be honest, it was all delivered at such a breakneck pace (and with so many random anecdotal diversions) that I still need time to sit down and process it all, but it was good. One highlight was learning about a type of prayer-journalling with words and pictures that was particularly inspiring for a certain writer/scrapbooker.
The food was also Very Pleasing. The advantage of having become re-vegetarian in recent weeks was the vast array of food that was provided at a special table… in addition to having the pick of whatever else on the buffet happened to be vegetarian. Oh yes.
So. Lots of interesting conversations had. Several friends made. And a small group of us who got on particularly well have plans to form a group to get together regularly… starting with a gathering at the Mexican restaurant. Result.