Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Few Last Images of Laos

All photos taken by Arthur.
More Endings....

We are finding all these farewells bittersweet.

We take joy in reviewing and remembering:
  • spending good times together
  • overcoming hard times
  • building great friendships
  • having adventures at work and play
  • watching changes in families (how all the kids have grown!)

But on the other hand we are saying good bye and that makes us sad.

In the photo above, Arthur is giving a farewell speech with Bounchan translating. This was for the health project that started before we came and has been on-going ever since. Sometimes MCC and the project had a rocky relationship so it hasn't always been easy but that has made the reward of working together and accomplishing better health care for the district that much sweeter.

After the speeches, lunch was held in tents on the hospital grounds. There are many memorable faces in the crowd and many people whom we will miss a lot.

Four of us posing (below) at a center for disabled women where I was involved for all of the 6 years we were here. These women are a constant inspiration to me. Their friendship and example means a lot to me. When I hurt my foot and was on crutches and in pain for months, I often thought of them and how hard working and determined they are despite the obstacles in their way!

Here is the director of the center getting a baci string tied on her wrist as a blessing from me. She has blessed me a lot and I wish her health, happiness and sucess.

Erik and Conrad got their black belts in Tae Kwon Do on Friday!

Here is Erik getting his and also the Tae Kwon Do master doing a fancy move!

At one party, you can see how great the food looked when it arrived at the table, and how it looked about a half hour later. This meal was our last one on a boat floating down the Nam Ngum.

We were happy to get our shipment packed and on the way a few weeks ago because our house became emptier and we had those decisions behind us. Now we have been able to focus more on people. (This picture doesn't do the shipment justice -- it only shows part of it!)


Monday, June 16, 2008

Farewell Season

This past weekend we've had a few farewells and done a few things for the last time. Here are some high-lights.

We toured the new Vientiane International School on Saturday. VIS is moving to a new campus in September and we took a look around the new place on Saturday with a student tour guide. We've been paying for this school for the past 6 years through the capital fund and it's sad that we won't get to benefit from it. Another big change for the school in September is that it will officially be an IB school offering the International Baccalaureate program. (For some reason I wasn't able to post the photo I took at the school.)

Here we are at a farewell brunch for 6 families who are leaving the international community. It's been bittersweet to attend these gatherings because we're going to miss each other!

Monday, June 09, 2008


I've collected a few t-shirt slogans in the past two trips to Thailand. Some of them with a sort of Biblical theme. Here they are (in no particular order):

Lamb of God

Zero (picture of a skull)

I want to live forever
- so far, so good

Stop pretending you don't want me.
(worn by a not-so-good-looking guy)

Don't Worry Be Happy

Don't Play Stupid With Me
- I'm Better At It

Try Burning This One!

Cabbages and Condoms

While in Bangkok last week Arthur, Rita and I went to Cabbages and Condoms for lunch. This restaurant was started by a Thai NGO concerned with HIV/AIDS, population and family size.
The restaurant was so named because the originators dreamed that one day, condoms would be as easy to buy as cabbages. Here’s what some of the literature says:

Cabbages are a common food in Northeast Thailand, in fact they are a staple part of the diet, they are grown in all villages, there are everywhere and everybody uses them. Now, if condoms could be as common and used as often, then some of the population and health problems facing Thailand could be overcome!

The artwork features condoms and birth control pills. Arthur is posing by Santa who is made of condoms. The restaurant houses [t]he world's largest collection of national brand condoms is displayed around the walls and the carpet up the stairs has cartoons of typical condoms for various trades and professions woven into the fabric.

Our lunch was great and instead of after-dinner-mints, we got some condoms.

Children's Day

Last week Laos celebrated children's day and so we visited a few events to help mark the day.
We went to a book festival and watched the crowd as some children read some poems they had written. (Photo above.)

This boy found a good book and was reading in the library at the book festival.

I also visited Erik and Conrad's school at lunch time and found Erik in the library (red shirt, facing away) and Conrad on the soccor field (blue shirt with the ball).

PVG had some fun and games planned. While we visited there was a messy relay going on that involved flour, straws and passing rubber bands.

Nita school hosted a dance competition and I was able to see a fashion show where the kids were wearing costumes they had made out of recycled items. This was similar to the one at PVG earlier so I'm wondering if this is the latest thing for schools to do as part of their after school activities.