Take from this world. There is so much that it offers you.
Learn from others. Sit at the feet of the wise. Learn their ways.
Humble yourself to God's direction and wisdom.
Be willing. Give back. Love.
These are my goals.
Join us.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Look up.

I coach soccer at a local high school. This evening we had an extra Sunday practice because some players need to get the required 10 practices in before the games this week. The field still hasn't been marked fully and we need to work on positioning tomorrow so I stayed afterwards and started marking the goalie box. I was measuring and stringing lines and driving stakes and spraying paint. I have started wearing a hat more recently because those who care about me don't want me to get skin cancer and I agree with them. My head was down and my hat was covering my eyes. On the last run of paint, I glanced up to see the clouds full of pink light and half of the moon reflecting white against the blue sky in the East. I smiled and turned my hat around. Light. I need to let the light in. I need to look up. I need to turn my hat around as the sun sets and soak it in. I turned around and watched the orange sky turn fuchsia as I finished up. These moments when I am absorbed in my work, those blades of grass and paint, is when I need to recognize there is a bigger picture to take in. I need to look up and turn my hat around more.

Of course better in person and taken after a few minutes of thinking.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Dump People.

Short and sweet. And foul smelling and filled with plastic bags. The dump is an interesting place. No one would want to work there. And then there's Fred. Fred has been working with them for 8 years. The "dump people" they are called. "It takes time and a relationship and trust. You can't just relocated 500 families from a place they've been for 30 years." These are Burmese people who have fled their military government. Many people's perspective when they visit the dump is to get these people out right away. Outsiders say also that the reason the people stay there is because they are heavily supported by NGO's because the phrase, "the dump people", pulls on heart strings more than "relocated and integrated" does. Plus that's already a thing, they called it, "refugee camps" and their situations are sometimes just as bad. It's not an easy situation to be in. Fred has seen many things there. He told me that he has taken many dead babies out of there and older people too.

Before I pulled out my phone, I asked Fred if the people minded me taking a picture. He paused and said, "You know, I appreciate you asking that cause no one ever does, they just pull out their camera and snap pictures so they can post 'em everywhere and they miss the real people who are actually here in front of them. Right here, there are real people but we distance ourselves from them. Yes, go for it. Here, I'll slow down." I snapped this picture as we bounced down the road to pick up the children for school. As many mornings go, a sick older lady, being carried by her relative, hitched a ride to be seen at Mae Tao Clinic. There were about 25 of us all piled in the back of the truck with a bike and other goods under foot.

Many of the kids who are born there have never been into town. They have no idea what the outside of the dump looks like let along the beautiful beaches just a few hours south of there. Fred has worked hard to build a trusting relationship with the people and gradually they have built up a few structures where they do some teaching of basic subjects. Fred points out a few of the really bright kids and brags on them a little. "This girl is brilliant. She is learning so much and teaching the other children. Her mind is... Oh and this boy, he is so sharp. So sharp." If given the opportunity, what would some of these kids create to better the world. Or simply, their world. What if? In most cases we won't know. They will never have the chance to blossom.

Mae Sot Thailand, July 2015

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Educate From Within.

(If nothing else, read the last paragraph.)

In Mae Sot, dinner with friends usually turns into dinner with more friends and new friends. I met several students from University of Cincinnati on Saturday night. They are here to check on a project they have been working with for several years. It's deeper than just checking up on people though. This is making and maintaining a face-to-face relationship and mutual respect. Their University's ongoing project is involved with SAW, Social Action for Women. It was started by a Burmese doctor who worked very hard to receive his education and now educates community leaders to educate their communities. Most of the communities SAW works with are Burmese farm workers in Thailand. It was founded originally for women but has now become a more family and relationship based workshop where communities come together to talk about abuse, rights, and empowerment. These workshops engage those topics in the home and in the field. The workshops include a meal, a couple hygiene products, and 100 baht in place of a day's pay (less than $3).

Sunday morning, I tagged along with their group to one of the workshops. Along with the students there were several of the local leaders of SAW whom the students have been communicating with on a weekly basis from the States. We got into a truck taxi and traveled about an hour South of Mae Sot. The road opened up and fields of corn and hemp were rolling by. It rained off and on and the air was fresh. We stopped at someone's home on the way to pick up the food prepared for the attendees' lunch. We then drove into a small village surrounded by tall corn stalks. We unloaded the truck, helped set up the posters and then passed out a few supplies as people began to arrive. One of the main topics throughout was abuse in the home and on the farm. The attendees got into small groups and drew out pictures of what that looked like, then presented their story to everyone. They also did a few ice breakers and games.

While the groups were busy discussing their topics, the lead corespondent to the students took us to visit another village close. The head of the village told us that the water supply was poisoned by the chemicals used on the corn crops. This means that they have to purchased their own bottled water which comes out of their personal paychecks. The owner of the farm will not pay for a well to be drilled to solve this problem. The head of the village said that at this time they did not want to push the issue either because their relationship with the farmer was in pretty good standing. The bathroom, seen in the center right with green doors of the picture below, are in bad shape. They were put in by sponsorship from the University of Cincinnati but are now almost nearly full and unusable. Their homes are built out of bamboo because they are not supposed to be permanent. The land on which they live does not belong to them and they actually have to rent the land from the farmer/owner. So just to recap, they buy their own water, don't have anywhere to poop, don't have permanent home, pay rent on land, work hard on the farm, and get $2.80 a day.

Friday, August 7, 2015


I arrived in Seattle yesterday evening and Julian's dear parents picked me up and gave me popcorn, grapes, and my car key. I drove back here to Walla Walla and was greeted by two very happy dogs and two hungry cats, as always. I did laundry and took a shower and it's 5am and I need to sleep but my body still thinks it's 7pm. So I'm winding down now. It's been a long day.

So, I'm safely home.
(Blurry pre-sunrise from my roof.)

Please note that I have quite a few good posts coming up but I haven't had a chance to type them out yet. These last 5 days I have had some bad food poisoning (I'm guessing)/stomach issues, so my energy level has been approximately negative 1,000. I look forward to sharing more stories with you soon though!
... Caves, ocean and communities. Patients who can get better but just need some hope and ones who probably won't get better but have so much positive vibe to go around for days. Students with so much potential and are beginning to see it. And great friends made and who I hope to see again soon.

So, stay tuned. For now, good... Morning!

Saturday, August 1, 2015


These past seven days have been so wonderful. So so good. This post is the beginning.

Last Saturday I went out to Agape (the orphanage) like I do everyday. Everyone was busy doing things and I heard the older boys were playing soccer over at the church. I went over and joined in. They play on a cement "pitch" maybe a little bigger than a basketball court. It was raining off and on and the court was slippery. They are so good at keeping their balance and ball control though. They take smaller steps and usually keep it chill. Kinda. We played four vs four, with the loser after one goal trading out for a team on the sidelines. It was fun. Our team played for quite awhile and finally with no score went to shoot outs. We rotated through a few games. The other two teams were playing when it started raining a bit harder. The game seemed to be naturally ending. I was sitting down talking to Myo Aung Oo when he pointed to across the court. I looked over and a group of guys were in a huddle. Someone was on the ground. They were holding him down. I jumped up. One of them hit his chest a couple times. I walked quickly over. The group was talking loudly. I nelt down outside the group. They took off his shoes and pulled on his big toes. The one on the ground was shaking, barely. I realized he was having a seizure and told Myo to tell them to stop holding him. They partially understood and partially released. The grounded guy shook even more now for a couple seconds longer and stopped. While he was ending his seizure I checked his radial pulse and I watched him start breathing again. I told everyone to back up a bit and ask Myo to ask them what happened. "Did he fall? Slip? Did he hit his head?" I quickly did a blood sweep and made sure there was no major head trauma or any trauma. He started to wake up while everyone was yelling at him. Before I could do much they sat him up. I looked at his head quickly and upper back which both had slight abrasions. No external trauma. Everyone encouraged him to stand quickly and started making him walk. He was clearly weak, dragging his feet and rolling his head. I got on one side and grabbed someone on the other. They wanted to get him out of the rain. They wanted him to walk. It was hard to communicate. Several others now helped him over to the other side of the court and sat him down. I explained a concussion to Myo and Solomon. Several days later I explained seizures to them as well. They other players, his friends, wanted him to walk and seemed to think they could snap him out of it like they did by holding him down to stop the seizure. While he was sitting against the chain link fence, I had him squeeze my fingers and push his feet against my hands. There was a delay with translation but once he understood the delay continued. It started pouring down rain at this point and his friends got him up and moved him to a building close by. He was still dragging his feet and too weak to stand unsupported. They only had bicycles to get home by. I suggested maybe he should go to Mae Tao Clinic. I wasn't sure of the Clinic's protocol but at least we could give it a shot. Myo said, "So should he go the clinic?" I answered with a sort of, it would be best and if he wants to. Myo said, "Ok so we go get the truck." We rain the fifty meters to Agape. The caretaker/driver was sleeping. Myo said, "Can you drive?" I said with a little laugh, "Sure! Let's go." He ran and got the key, hopped in the drivers seat and said, "I drive to the church, finish, you drive to the clinic." Deal. We loaded the guy and a couple friends into the back and I got in the drivers seat. First things first, brake. It went all the way to the floor. Next, emergency break. It seemed to have some resistance. The shifter. It wobbled around with no indication where the gears might be. Just the picture on top and my hand to feel it out. I felt like I was doing a laparoscopic surgery on the transmission with the monitors turned off and a general knowledge of its anatomy. Some how I made it out of the gate and onto the road which started out down hill. The brake went to the floor and, with a half an inch to spare, slowed down the truck enough. Down shifting wasn't easy because surgery and driving a car is hard and should not be done. We made it to the clinic about 4 km away. And of course, I was on the left side of the road and the right side the car. It was a brain teaser for sure.
I explained what happened to a medic in the trauma unit. They got him onto a table and briefly asked him/his friends a few questions. The responses from the injured were maybe three words total. The medic told me that he remembered everything that happened and this means he probably didn't have a concussion. I highly doubted that but that's the way it goes. They gave him pain medication because he said his head hurt. I explained to the medic about concussions and the need to make sure he is woken up every two hours. I don't know how he translated it but I think the message got across. They said he would be fine.
We got back in the truck and one of the friends joined me in the front seat. He showed me the way to their home. We arrived and help the injuried out of the truck. He was still weak. We walked him inside. I greeted the people there and explained to one women who spoke some English about concussion procedure. She understood. At that point I could do very little. I drove back up to Agape and parked the truck. I biked into town, and met some friends for dinner. The food is amazing.
The next evening, I stopped by to see how he was doing. I slowly walked into the gate and called out, "Main ghala ba" several times. I was met with the same and one of the friends from the day before came out. We greeted each other and then he called the injuried. He was walking okay but still with weakness. I asked him how he was and he said good. He told about his arms and legs were tingly and his shoulders and neck were sore. I told him to drink lots of water and stretch, meditate, and relax. I gave him some encouragement and they thanked me. We said our goodbyes and I was off.
After speaking with a couple people, I soon found out that treatment for seizures is always done this way here. They hold down the whole body in an attempt to stop the convulsions. They hit the chest and pull on the big toe to wake them out it. I came to realization that what I know to be common knowledge, some people have no idea. I want to change that. Education is the key. And there is nothing special about me being from where I'm from. I want to educate people to educate people. Community leaders learning to then teaching their community. The ripple effect of education is so powerful. The potential is great.