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Update from Thailand :: June 19

From June 19

Today was intended as a time to relax and to process what we have experienced over the past several days. After breakfast, we boarded a van for a trip to Maesa Elephant Camp where Asian elephants are trained beginning at age 2-3. As we entered the park, we purchased bananas and sugarcane for feeding the elephants. Several elephants and their trainers were lined up for feeding. We held out the food in our hands, and the animals used their trunks to grasp the food and put it into their mouths. As we fed the elephants, their trainers called us over to pose with the elephants for pictures. The elephants  wrapped their trunks around our shoulders to give us gentle hugs. A little overzealous one made a mark on Sabra's neck. Tracy also experienced a little too much PDA. Oh, no! After feeding the elephants, trainers led the elephants into the water for baths, and we took more pictures.

Next, we went into an arena where the elephants played several games including soccer, basketball, and darts. They even painted pictures. The trainers dipped different brushes into the paint buckets and then allowed the elephants to grasp the brush handles with their trunks. The elephants then used very steady strokes to paint flowers or other natural scenes. Once we left the elephant camp, we made a stop at an orchid and butterfly park and another stop at a rug shop. After returning to our hotels, several of us went exploring in Chiang Mai. Five of us ate lunch at Duke's, a restaurant with plenty of Western food.

That evening we had our final meal as a combined group at The Riverside Restaurant in Chiang Mai. We enjoyed outdoor seating for 10 close the water. The temperature was pleasant with partial shade from the sun. We shared several dishes and had fun talking and laughing about our experiences.


Posted by Terri Soper at Wednesday, July 2, 2014
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Update from Thailand :: June 18

From June 18

Today we departed the village of Hoi Pong to travel back to Chiang Mai. Along the way, we ate breakfast at a place that served American food. After many days of eating rice and soup for breakfast, several of us were delighted to eat fried or scrambled eggs or omelets. We made a sight-seeing stop at The Phra Non Cave for a guided tour. Within the cave were live bats, various Buddhist shrines, and many natural features resembling animals. A few "gates" within the cave required crawling on hands and knees for a few meters.

We arrived at our hotel (Galare Guesthouse) about 1:00 PM local time. We enjoyed a final meal with our host Tui before saying farewell for now. I believe that I speak for all in saying that Tui is being used by God in powerful ways. As mentioned before, Tui and those at UHDP are doing a wonderful job of developing and teaching sustainable agricultural techniques that help restore and sustain the Earth. They teach local, hill tribe farmers, pastors from various regions, and others interested in either using these techniques or learning to care for the Earth. Through UHDP's Creation Care Ministry, Tui and others have begun to talk about Christianity in non-threatening ways. We have committed to pray for them and to be advocates for what they are doing. We would like to encourage others to pray for them, too.

After lunch several of us went to Mengrai Kilns, a place that sells numerous ceramic pieces including vases, tableware, figurines, and nativity sets. We enjoyed this time to shop and to reflect on our time in Thailand. For a little taste of home, several of us ate pizza for dinner that evening.


Posted by Terri Soper at Friday, June 20, 2014
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Update from Thailand :: June 17

After breakfast we loaded our luggage into vehicles and traveled to the Palaung village of Pang Dang Nai, arriving in time for lunch. We enjoyed a traditional Palaung meal and then went on a walking tour of the farm fields. In this region the farmers are using terracing and composting techniques to make the hillsides productive with corn and beans and various fruits including mango. The contrast between the land being managed using practices learned at UHDP and traditional practices is evident here. Traditional practices involve burning so that the land is more barren with plants and trees growing farther apart, whereas UHDP practices promote growing a larger variety of plants and trees together to more fully cover the ground. These techniques make the hillsides greener and the soil richer. Before leaving this village, Bryan engaged in some friendly bartering with one of the local ladies.

We then traveled to the village of Hoi Pong, located in hills near the mountains called Mae Jawn. We hiked up to the highest point in the village to the community guest house where we later slept. From our magnificent view, we could see one of the highest peaks in Thailand called Doi Luang. Before dinner our host Tui took the guys on a search to find machetes. We found two men who were willing to sell their personal machetes. Benjamin bought a machete with a long, thin blade and sharpened flat end for 1000 baht. Luke bought one with a shorter, wider blade with sharpened curved end for 800 baht. Before our evening readings and reflection, we presented Tui with a copy of Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours. He then participated with us in our evening devotion time. Later, we enjoyed the stories and seung (three-stringed instrument) playing of Mr. Kaeng, the owner of the guest house in which we slept and a local farmer. We fell asleep under mosquito nets with rain falling on the tin roof.

Two quotes for the day:

"Anything worth anything is worth the risk to do it."  -Sabra

"American toilets--a gift from God!"  -Benjamin


Posted by Kelsey Adams at Thursday, June 19, 2014
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