Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

We have settled into a regular routine here at Promise Home and our days pass uneventfully. My one girl has recovered from her urinary tract infection. As I continued to make her take the prescribed antibiotics, she would look at me each time I handed her a pill and then point to her stomach area. While pointing, she gave me the universal sign for okay to indicate to me that she was feeling better. She did and does not like to take pills and that is why she continued to question me as to why she needed to take them when she was feeling better. I explained as best I could that she needed to take all of the one pill and we then began a count down to mark the days until the very last pill. To say she was excited on that day is an understatement. All is well and she is back to her normal self.

Monday night we were lucky enough to have some visitors from Boulder and then Australia come to spend some time with us at the home. The couple from Boulder and their two children are on a 10 month vacation, traveling all over. They spent a couple of days here in Chiang Rai and then came for a visit. They met the couple from Australia at their hotel through their children. Soon after meeting, they started doing many activities together.

We spent some time just talking about the world and letting the children play with each other and then enjoyed a marvelous meal that Mauruethai prepared for us. She planned and cooked everything with the assistance of the girls here at the home. When I went in to help, I was sent packing as I often am. I really have to stand my ground with Ms. Mauruethai if I want to help in any way. She is such a wonderful young lady and she really takes wonderful care of the children, Max and me. She is a dear..

After dinner we enjoyed some songs that my kids sang for our visitors and then they sang some for us. It was a delightful evening and I look forward to many other visitors to the home. It is always nice to meet other travelers and let the children get to know people from all over the world.

Playing with Legos

Playing a matching game

Singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Enjoying a wonderful dinner 

Although we will not be celebrating the traditional Thanksgiving here at the home, we can still give thanks for all the blessings we have received over the past few months. The home would not be possible without the monetary donations of so many of you and your overwhelming love and support that we feel everyday. We are truly thankful for all of you.


Until next time...

God Bless,


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Loi/Loy Krathong or the Festival of Lights.

Good morning~

This past weekend was the celebration of Loi Krathong here in Northern Thailand and we had a great time Sunday night celebrating with people from all over. Here is some information about the origin and history of the celebration. 

History of Loy Krathong

It is believed that Loy Krathong is an ancient Brahmanic or Indic festival. Originally it was a ceremony where people paid their respects to three different gods known as Phra I-Suan (Shiva), Phra Narai (Vishnu) and Phra Phrom (Brahma). People would make lanterns using candles and paper, which would then be displayed in the homes of royalty, rich people or high-ranking officials. One hundred and fifty years ago, at the urging of King Mongkut (Rama IV), it was later adopted by Buddhists as a ceremony to honor the Buddha.
In this new version people would make various kinds of lanterns, which would then be donated to the temples. At this time people would say prayers to ask that their wishes and hopes for the future be fulfilled. Of course, many of the former beliefs are still retained by some Thai people. The lights that are floated down the rivers are meant to symbolise the drifting away of bad luck and misfortune, but for many Thai people it is also an opportunity to honor the goddess of water, Phra Mae Kong Ka (พระแม่คงคา). Kong Ka is the Thai form of Ganga, the Hindu goddess of the sacred Ganges river in India.

Sky Lanterns – Khom Loy / Khom Fai

The Khom Loy, also known as Khom Fai, is a cylinder of paper about one meter high, braced with wire circles. Suspended from the bottom of the cylinder is a tray containing cotton soaked in kerosene. Fireworks and firecrackers are also often attached to the tray. These catch fire and explode after the balloon is launched. Once the cotton is lit it takes about a minute for the air inside the cylinder to heat up enough to lift the balloon into the air.
It is believed that launching one of these balloons can send a person’s bad luck and misfortune away into the air, especially if it disappears from view before the fire goes out. Often people will say a short prayer before launching the balloon. Sometimes they will also place their address in the balloon, or write it on the outside. Anyone who later finds the balloon can then claim money from the sender. In this way the good fortune is shared.
The people in Northern Thailand also venerate Pra Ged Kaew Ju La Manee (the Crystal Chedi in heaven in which the Buddha’s hair is kept), and worship this by sending air ballooned lantern into the high sky. The Chiang Mai area has been the scene of massed balloon launches for a thousand or more.

Origin of Loy Krathong

The origin of Loy Krathong involves at least 7 legends. Most of them stem from Buddhism. The most popular ones are to show respect to the footprint of the Lord Buddha on the sandy beach of the Narmaha River in India, as well as to the great Serpent and dwellers of the underwater world, after the Lord Buddha’s visit to their watery realm. Others believe that the floral krathong is offered to the pagoda (Phra Ged Kaew Ju La Mane) containing the Lord Buddha’s topknot, which was cut off at his self-ordination and is now in heaven.
Another explanation is that it is a way to pay respect to one’s ancestors. It is also possible that this is derived from a Hindu festival that pays tribute to the god Vishnu, who meditates at the center of the ocean. Therefore the origin of the festival remains still obscure and is varied by region.
The former Lanna kingdom and the former kingdom of Siam have different purpose in celebrating Loy Krathong. The Central part of Thailand celebration is derrived from a royal Brahmin rite. They only changed it to Buddhism during the reign of King Mongut. On the other hand, Lanna already has had its own Yee Peng celebration. In Northern Thailand it has been always about Buddha’s stories, especially as it is the time for the Lanna people to listen to the Vessantara Jataka sermon.
We enjoyed our own celebration on Sunday evening, November 17th, the night of the full moon. It was overcast at the very beginning but while we were there, the moon came out from behind the clouds sending wonderful light over the celebrants. We sent off our Krathongs down the river and then our lanterns to the heavens. Max and I each had a Krathong and we had one for the four kids and then one for our friend's family. We had a similar number of lanterns. We all sent wishes for a great year and good luck for all of us. It was a wonderful celebration even if there was a lot of people, the candles on the Krathongs wouldn't stay lit because of a breeze,  and the fireworks went on until the very wee hours of the morning which did not allow me to sleep very well for three nights. All is well now- slept the sleep of the dead last night. :)
Here are just a few pictures of the night. 
On our way to the festival

Nitiya with my Krathong 

Our Krathongs floating down the river 

Launching my Krathong 

The lantern for all of us

Kids posing for me

Full moon peeking out 

Getting ready to send off a lantern 

Our Krathongs 

Lanterns light the sky

Getting ready to light our Krathongs

Until next time.... 

God Bless,


I recently returned from a 9 day trip to the United States for my oldest sister's wedding. It was a surprise trip for most of the family because only my oldest niece knew about it. I wanted to surprise Vannessa but I forgot that my laptop was "sync'd" with the desktop that she has and all of the flight information I added to the calendar to be efficient showed up on hers. I arrived in Bangkok and had a message from her asking me if I was trying to be sneaky. I simply asked her what she meant by that question and boarded the plane to Tokyo knowing she wouldn't see my message for hours. I did not respond back to her reply to me so I try to maintain the surprise factor. I learned from her that she tracked all of the flights from Bangkok that day to see if she could determine when I would be arriving. I arrived at her office around 1:00 pm on the 6th and was greeted enthusiastically by my daughter.

We both left for Las Vegas on the 8th to surprise my sister and the rest of the family that would be coming for the wedding. My sister told me she knew I was coming because of her sister's intuition which kind of burst my bubble but it really didn't matter after all. It wasn't about me. It was her weekend. I surprised my mother and my nephew and his wife when they arrived so I considered the trip a success. It was a quick trip to Vegas but it was a wonderful wedding and celebration. My sister lives in Vegas and the ceremony and dinner was at her favorite Italian restaurant on the south end of town. The staff at the restaurant were all wondering who the sister was who came from Thailand and they thought it was amazing that I was there.

Me and Vannessa in the back row, my sister, Nicki and her soon to be husband, Dick
I was able to see most of my family and some of my friends.. It was just too short a trip to be able to see everyone so I will make sure that the next time I am back in the states it will longer and I will have an opportunity to see more of you. I was able to surprise a lot of the folks I did see and that was fun.

I have to admit that I was cold on several days while I was there. I had gotten rid of my heavier coats and only had a fleece jacket so I didn't spend much time outside on a couple of the colder days. The day I arrived was quite windy with a chill in the air and I about froze to death. Funny how your body changes so quickly. I am now back here in Thailand where it is cool but rainy which means higher humidity than I am used to, so now I sweat. Maybe one day I will get used to this place....

I returned back here on Saturday, November 16th to discover one of the girls was not feeling well with fairly significant abdominal pains. It was about 3:30 pm when I arrived and we went to the hospital shortly after that. What an experience that was.

Unlike the trip to the hospital with our friend who traveled here in October, we went to the regional hospital which is the one that most of the Thai citizens use. It is supported by the government health care ministry so it doesn't cost much money. As a matter of fact, our trip was only 30 Baht/$1.00 USD. But I am afraid to say that is the only good thing about the experience. The building is old, dark and gloomy and short staffed. We arrived around 5:30 pm and didn't get done until around 11:30 pm with an unsuccessful diagnosis. They did the usual blood and urine tests but unfortunately I believe we had a student doctor who couldn't figure out what was wrong. So after a while of waiting another doctor came and said he didn't think it was her appendix so he was going to have an Ultra sound done on her abdominal area. He thought perhaps it was a cyst on her ovaries or something like this. So off we went to get that done. Waited about 30 minutes for her to be wheeled back there and then we sat and sat and sat some more. When I asked why it was taking so long, I was told it was because they were waiting for the doctor to come to do the test. Evidently they didn't have a tech who could do it. Soon a woman came in carrying a purse like she had just come in from outside.

So she did the test or so I am led to believe...... and then my girl is wheeled into the room where the CT scanner is. They close the door and the red light above the door comes on. I think they did a CT scan however no one told me. Once that was done, we went back to the first area to sit in the hallway waiting for a doctor. The nurse comes to us and tells us that there is only one doctor on duty and he is in surgery so it will be a while. So we wait and wait and wait some more. Finally a man with several young "students" following closely behind him shows up. He tells me he is the surgeon and he believes it is her appendix. He believed it was her appendix even though the person who did the Ultra sound couldn't see her appendix?????? They can't see an angry appendix? The options where to take it out or have her stay for observation. He said the bad thing about observation was that there was only one doctor and if she got worse, she might be taken care of in time.  Comforting thought.

Two different doctors, two different opinions..... After talking it over with the group and her mother who was there with her older sister, we decided to go home. By this time, I was beyond exhausted and only wanted to go to sleep. Well this was the weekend for Loi Krathong and the park just south of the house was full of celebrants armed with very large and loud fireworks. Fireworks going off until all hours of the morning do not make for a good night's sleep even when exhausted. Finally slept for a bit and when I woke on Sunday, she was feeling somewhat better. However that did not last. This time we went to the other hospital and what a difference that was. She was seen and an hour later we were on our way back to the house with medicine for a urinary tract infection. This time I got a doctor who could speak both English and Thai and took the time to show me the results of her tests. No angry appendix, just a normal sized one. No elevated white blood cells in her blood, just her urine. No surgery.

I learned a valuable lesson this weekend about the status of medical care here. I do not fault the Thai people who have to use the regional hospital and completely understand why. I just am concerned at the level of care they receive. My experience was not a good one and I wonder how many others get wrongly diagnosed and have unnecessary procedures done because they cannot afford to go to what is considered a private hospital. As I explained to our friend, I know that $90.00 is a lot of money to many Thai people but is "chicken feed" to us. $90.00 was all it cost at the second hospital for the doctor, blood and urine tests, ultra sound and all the medicines. Quite the eye-opener.... And I will be taking the children to the second hospital from now on even if I have to be the one who pays for it.

She is home and doing much better even though she is not fond of taking her pills. She took them to her room on Sunday night and I discovered yesterday that she hadn't taken any of them. So I have them now and I give them to her and watch while she takes them. Last night she snuck into her room and into bed before she took them so I had to go in and give them to her. But after each time, she says "Thank you Mom." I am sure she will be just fine by the end of the week.

Next blog... Loi Krathong.

Until next time..

God Bless,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wonderful weekend

Wow! What a great weekend I had here in sunny Chiang Rai. Yes friends, the sun finally decided to come out to stay for a while last Thursday (the day the last of the October travelers left) and it has been beautiful.

On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of meeting Shirley from Australia and accompany here on her day trip. I have been in communication with Shirley via email and the blog but had never officially met her, however she was gracious enough to let Max and I go with her on her trip up north to Doi Tung, the border road and then Mae Sai. While I have been to the border road and Mae Sai, I have never been to Doi Tung and the Royal Villa or the Mae Fah Luang Gardens and I have wanted to go for some time now. Shirley was kind enough to allow me to join her and what a wonderful day it was. We met for the first time when we picked her up at her hotel and then soon became acquainted with each other. Max joined us and we were off.

The Royal Villa at Doi Tung is stunning and has a breathtaking view of the valley below. The inside is a combination of teak wood, pine and and other elements with a Swiss look and feel to many rooms. It is still used by the Royal family and when they are in residence, tours are not permitted. The villa was built in 1988 by the King Mother because the area in the hills reminded her of Switzerland, which she loved. During WWII, the royal family went to Switzerland because it was the only neutral country where they would be safe. This is how the King Mother became so fond of the country. Once she returned to Thailand, she not only built the Villa, but she focused on a sustainable way of life for many of the hill tribe people in the are of Doi Tung. Most of them were opium farmers and they had almost destroyed the rain forest by removing all the trees so the poppies would grow. the King Mother reforested the land, gave the farmers jobs growing flowers for the gardens instead of opium, had many of them on the staff around the villa and then managing the magnificent garden below her villa. The King Mother loved to garden herself and she had spectacular gardens around the villa. Please enjoy some of the many pictures I took of our travels that day.
Shirley putting on long pants to enter

Trees and garden on the walk to the villa

Orchids on the trees 

View of Burma from the balcony

The Villa 

Wood carvings on balcony

The zodiac signs for me and my daughter, side by side

The view of Thailand 

Main entrance to the Villa 
Once we finished the tour of the Villa, we headed down to the Mae Fah Luang Garden. This is another site to behold. Orchids are the flower of Thailand and there were many kinds. One area had many different colors and varieties of Lady Slipper orchids. They are delicate and beautiful.

Canopy of orchids

Max enjoying the water feature

View of the villa from the garden below

Birds eating Papaya

Continuity statue 

Sunday Shirley came to Promise Home and we all went to church together. When I got into the van, she told me that a friend of hers called and she was in Chiang Rai as well and that she wanted to visit. At church, the girls always get up to sing before the service starts. Children of all ages join in the signing. From big to small, they sing their hearts out. When Shirley's friend was ready to picked up, she called and we all went back to the home for lunch and to spend time with the children. We had wonderful conversations, a great lunch and then songs afterwards. Yvonne taught the children two songs in English and they really enjoyed learning them. The afternoon went quickly and soon Yvonne needed to leave. We said a prayer before leaving and sent Yvonne on her way. Shirley came back after dropping Yvonne off and spent the rest of the afternoon with us. The children had chores they needed to do and Shirley and I spent time just talking. Shirley joined me for dinner and before she left, she gave each child a small bear that some members of a church in Australia had knitted. Each child received their own, unique bear. They hugged Shirley good bye and sent her off with waves and smiles.

I had a most enjoyable time with Shirley during her visit. She is a lovely lady and I look forward to her coming back to Chiang Rai to visit us once again.

Singing his heart out- Loud and clear

The girls singing in church 

Shirley and Yvonne praying with the children 

Shirley and the children with their bears

Until next time......

God Bless,


5 Year Anniversary and Still Going Strong!!!

Good morning~ I woke up this morning and realized that five years ago today, I began the first leg of a journey that would forever change ...