Saturday, June 30, 2007


This morning as I stood alongside the off-white kitchen counter at my new in-laws I glanced over at the refrigerator and began scanning what was posted, shared, written and appointmented. A minute into scanning I realized that I could read what was around me. I could understand what was being communicated. On this large white cold container, I could read what was being said! It has been so long since this was the case! I could understand the form of communication running back and forth between what was written, what my eyes were reading and what my mind was able to understand and comprehend.

Although it may seem that what impacted me the most through these few moments of realization was that I was not in a different country and could understand the language, what really impacted me the most during those moments was the realization that I was standing in front of arefrigerator, full of food, in a house, with a beautiful yard surrounded by blackberry bushes and green grass. Although like millions of Americans, a modest home full of love - I can't help but continue to struggle with the necessity of it all and how different this is from the reat of the world.

You see, this is a struggle I have been wrestling with for some time now. What is a "home"? What is necessary for a "home"? What makes a "home" comfortable? Why are "our" homes so much different than what a majority of the world considers a "home"?

Some may call these "cultural shock" questions I'm sure. But I must share with you, these are questions I have had for a number of years now. Through my transitions of sharing and outfitting an apartment in Fairfax to my time in Mission Year Chicago, up into this year of nothingness but the backpack on our backs; questions of what make a
"home" have continued to linger in our minds. All the while, hoping that God will remain faithful in teaching us and sharing with us what type of "home" He desires.

Does God desire a home with all the amenities that contribute to commercial convenience or would He rather live in a mud hut with only rugs to sit on and one gas stove burner to cook on like the nuns of Tattiwin, Morocco? Would He prefer a home filled with clothes and toys, furniture and space or would He rather "have" (if Jesus "had") three sets of clothing to wear like Mother Theresa, old boxes and tall trees to play in like the kids living on the streets of Delhi, dirt floors with worn in carpets to sit on like the tribal families of Northern Thailand, and a small space to share in the lives of others with like most comunities we have been fotunate enough to share time with?

I'm really struggling with this, because truly - I enjoy soft beds, comfortable couches to stretch out on, pools to swim in, computers to write on, ovens to bake
in, pantries to store food in, cold soy milk to drink each morning and green yards to dance in. And to be honest, I must confess, I am a bit nervous about posting this struggle of mine with fear of alienating and/or hurting those who have offered us thier home and these same very things each time we step into their homes. We are beyond grateful for what you have given, and continue to give to us all in the name of love. my intention is not to hurt you or sound ungrateful, but to ask of your forgiveness if I have offended you as I work and struggle with you through these questions and confusions of life.

I am sorry because I understand, I am here with you. I enjoy these same things, but a sense of "different" conviction is slowly making it's way into the core of my being and making me feel more uncomfortable as time progresses. So maybe it is cultural shock, but right now it feels like cultural conviction. Conviction of what is truly necessary in life to loving others and serving God.

Until I figure this out (yeah, right...)then I will continue practicing intentional thanks to God for being able to read what is posted, shared, written and appointmented on the refrigerator that holds and keeps cool the soy milk we drink each morning. Simply because it delights me and I believe this gratitude and joy pleases God as well.
For all of you who are faithful in checking our blog, we're sorry. We know, we have been quite lame in our attempts to up-date on a regular basis over the last month or so, we're sorry.

On that note though: because we now have the luxury of unlimited internet, we will be up-dating throughout this month on a regular basis. Updating you on how we're doing; sharing with you about places we went, people we met, etc. that we have not yet shared with you; amongst other things I'm sure + some additional photos.

For now, we're doing laundry, sorting through photos, accumulated junk and debris, and enjoying our time with friends and family. We're so grateful for this opportunity to do so.

In the meantime, we ask that you continue to think of us as we attempt to make more clear decisions and find a more concrete direction to head in after our time here in the States. Ugh - such changes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sorry we have been out of touch. Just no time to update, but no worries, we will be in the US soon... the land of unlimited internet and expensive mass-transit.

Tonight we take off from Bangkok to go enjoy a nice 12 hour lay-over in Korea. From Korea we hop the Pacific to LA where we have less time than we probably need to make the transition to a Southwest flight to Chicago.

Hope everyone is doing well, and we will post some pictures and further stories in a few days.

USA-bound Jake and Jess

Sunday, June 17, 2007

shaping rice patties.
pruning orange trees.
picking weeds from ginger fields.
enduring the giggles of Burmese women.
drinking gallons of soy milk.
itching bug bites.
cussing at biting red ants.
laughing with each other without a common language.
delighting in the tastes of Lisu foods.
aching knees.
swollen fingers.
evenings in the hammock.
resting with one another.

jake calls it the farmers life.
i call it delight.

we forgot our camera today.
will up-date later with pictures.

tomorrow we are heading up to Nan.
the 26th we coming back to the States for 1 month.

with much love, gratitude and blessings of peace - thank you.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Burma, VISA, and Phantoms

Just by virtue of being and American citizen (and any one of 36 other nations) and walking through immigration in Thailand, you are granted, for free, a 30 day stay in Thailand. After that period of time you must either 1) leave the country 2) pay a ton of money and renew your VISA in the country or 3) make a run to a border, cross into another nation, and come back to receive a fresh, new 30 day VISA.

Well, option one was not going to work because Jess and I were not willing to leave yet. We still have a lot to do here. Second option was out because what is the point of paying a lot money to stay in a country when there is a third option to cross international borders for hours of fun? Obviously Jess and I chose to border hop, option number three.

But again, we are faced with a decision. There are many ways to border hop. Some take a bus to the border, some pay for a border-run service to drive them in a nice air conditioned van all the way to the border to do all of this without hassles. Well, Jess and I thought, what's the point of doing all that and not having some fun along the way.

Meet Mr. Phantom. Although the Honda Phantom is one of the biggest bikes Honda sells here, it is absolutely tiny by comparison to a typical Harley Davidson or other bike of similar design. The engine is only 200 c.c., which is about 1/8 the size of my car engine, and 1/4 the size of most "cruiser" style bikes today. But you know what? After 10 months of not driving or driving only 100 c.c. scooters, it felt pretty dang nice to drive something a little bigger.

So Jess and I suited up in helmets, goggles, long sleeve shirts, and lots of sunscreen for a 260 km (161 mile) one-way drive up North to the Golden Triangle to cross into Myanmar (Burma) for an afternoon and a new VISA upon our return to Thailand.

Well, we are alive and it worked, but not without the hitches that normally make average trips into giant-fish-stories. The way up we took the highway and it was uneventful, but the way back we took a long detour to go through the mountain roads and get off the main drags. There was one rain storm that drenched us, 5 or 6 sections of the high way had been covered in land slides or had washed away, we ran out of gas once (I had to switch to the emergency reserve in the tank), we drove through a dry lightening storm, and witnessed an amazing sunset.

  • 563 km total (349 miles)
  • 17.5 liters of petrol (4.6 gallons)
  • 32 km/liter (75.6 mpg)
  • 14 hours total time
  • 6 cartons of soy milk
  • 2 sore butts
  • 4 burned legs
  • 1 case of reverse-motion sickness

All in all, it was pretty awesome, and we, though in pain today, consider our trip very worthwhile, and would contemplate doing it again... given a week or so off of our numb lower halves.

We are not certain of the existence of an internet connection where we are spending the next 2 weeks working on a farm. If you don't hear from us for a while, don't worry, we will be dirty and happy working in the fields.

Jess is kissing my neck, so I think it is time to go.