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Teacher gives update on earthquake, Thai army day
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Teacher gives update on
earthquake, Thai army day

In this issue The Journal publishes reports from Jessica Wilson of Tyler, Texas, a 21-year-old student at the University of Chicago. Miss Wilson helps out at the International Leadership Training Center, operated by Legacy Institute in Chiang Mai, Thailand, serving there with the aid of a scholarship from the Church of God Big Sandy. See also "Congregation Decides to Send More Teachers," The Journal, May 31, 2004.

By Jessica Wilson

CHIANG MAI, Thailand--Friday, Jan. 7: First of all, thanks for all of the concern for my well-being after the recent disaster. Legacy is in northern Thailand, which has been completely unaffected by the disaster. I felt the earthquake a tiny, tiny bit, but other than that I wouldn't have known anything major had happened if so many people hadn't E-mailed me and called my house!

Despite its diminutive appearance on the world map, Thailand is a good-sized country. Phuket is far away from Chiang Mai. I did go to Phuket and some islands in the area over the Thanksgiving break, but I had to take two 12-hour bus rides to get there. I appreciate the E-mails and the phone calls to my parents and am happy to report that everyone here is doing just fine.

Last week the other teachers and I went to Laos to get our visas renewed. We had a fun trip.

First we went to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. We saw lots of sights there and ate some great food.

James Hostetter and I went to a traditional Lao dancing show, which was a lot of fun too.

Next we headed to Luang Prabang. We didn't stay there long. We got there in the evening and left early the next morning. But we did have time to visit the night market and eat some yummy Laotian food there, all you could eat for 5,000 kip, which is about 50 cents.

The next morning we took off on a boat trip up the Mekong River. The trip lasted two days total, and the scenery was gorgeous. After the first day the boat stopped in a small village called Pakbeng. We spent the night there and also spent the next day (Sabbath) and night there.

Sunday morning we took off for the second day of the boat trip, which was full of more beautiful scenery.

Thousands of hill-tribe people live throughout the mountains of Laos, so we could often see bamboo houses along the slopes. We also saw people washing clothes in the river and fishing or collecting their nets.

We arrived in Huayxai Sunday evening and crossed to Chiangkhong, Thailand, the next morning. Then we took a bus back to Chiang Mai.

We arrived home Monday afternoon, and classes started up again the next day.

Burmese singing

Friday, Jan. 14: For special music this Sabbath a group of students is singing a Burmese song, and I am going to try to sing with them.

Singing in Burmese is pretty hard. All of the special-music songs I have sung with my students in the past have been in Kachin, Chin or Karen, which are much, much easier.

For me to sing a song with them, the students have to tell me the words one by one, and I write down a phonetic spelling in English.

Learning the tune isn't difficult for me, but sometimes the words I have written down don't sound like what I actually hear; a sung word sounds a lot different from a spoken one, especially, it seems, in Burmese.

After I practice a few times I usually catch on, and it turns out pretty well.

For this particular song I am having to practice a lot, but I hope all of this practice means it will go well.

Fun trying

Friday, Jan. 21: Along with English and all of the other subjects, our students also take Thai-language classes here at Legacy. We have only two students from Thailand. The rest are from Burma, so they don't know how to speak Thai.

Lawan is our Thai teacher. She graduated from Legacy last year and is spending her year of service teaching here at the school.

I started going to her Thai Listening and Speaking class at the beginning of the new semester. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the students since they took Thai for the whole first semester too (when I wasn't here yet), but thankfully I'm quite able to keep up.

We had an oral test on Friday, so Thursday night I was reviewing with some of the students in the class. They were asking me questions about Thai. I could answer them, though, which was good practice for me.

I think I did well on the test. We had to make sentences using certain words, and I'm pretty sure I got all of the words right and in the right order.

My tones are terrible, so it's probably unlikely that a Thai person could understand me, but I sure have fun trying.

Thai army day

Friday, Jan. 28: This past week was pretty good. On Monday I went to the supermarket, and ice cream was on sale. So of course I had to get a whole bunch for the students. That made Monday night especially enjoyable. Everyone loved having a nice treat (who wouldn't?).

Tuesday was Thai army day. All week there were lots of paratroopers in the sky, which was fun to see. Also, an election is coming up, so there are tons of posters around and trucks with loudspeakers blaring Thai political ads and music.

Something funny happened to me. Friday afternoon I went for a walk. I was walking along the road and all of the sudden this black bird crossed the street and walked right up to me.

It was weird because I've never seen a wild bird that was that friendly and unafraid of humans.

It was pretty, and it puffed up its feathers and made a lot of noise. I got a long piece of grass to see if it would take it, but I had no luck. After looking at it for a little bit, I threw down the piece of grass and started to walk away.

The bird chased me and started pecking my shoes! I started running, and it still chased me and tried to eat my feet.

Finally I got away. It's a good thing I was wearing tennis shoes or it would have been really painful. I don't know if I disturbed its territory or what, but it wasn't too happy with me.

Over here people wear mostly flip-flops, so maybe it had just never seen tennis shoes before.

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