|Me on Christmas Day at Bang Wad|
December 26 began our break, since our team never got one (straight after DTS we came here) and we went to the beach. But since we really don't know our way around we settled for going to a beach that was further down from Patong Beach....that was a mistake. Usually when I go to the beach I feel refreshed and energized but the fact that I had to walk down Bangla Rd to get to the beach and then when I get to the beach I'm confronted with topless women and big men in tiny speedos.....yeah wasn't my favorite beach day. But the water was amazing and I got to finally sample some of the amazing street vendors I've been hearing so much about. I first got a delicious banana smoothie which cooled me right off, then for lunch I got a slab of chicken hot off the spit with some sticky rice for about $2. Plus I got a bit burned which I know will turn into a tan so great day at the beach!
Today we went on a tour of Phuket that cost us about $20 and if you were in any other place, a tour of this caliber would have been in the hundreds at least. We went all over the island!!! First stop was a pineapple/ rubber tree farm. Then we went to a viewpoint near the southern tip of Phuket, Karon. Absolutely stunning view. Then after that we went to the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket. I've never heard the commandments "You shall have no other gods before Me" and "You shall not make for yourself a carved image" so loudly before in all my life. The only way I know to describe the contrast is like hearing a song on the radio and then hearing that same song live in concert.
You can know all there is to know about idol worship; you know it's there; you know it happens, but then you see it in person and you're blasted by its reality. The contrast between knowing in my head that people worship idols and seeing someone bow down before one is strikingly different. I found myself singing the chorus, "Glorify, glorify. Let Your Name be lifted up and glorified. Let the earth tremble at Your Name. Let Your Name be lifted up and glorified." as I walked around the temple courtyard. I also found myself saying, "Lord I'm so, so sorry." over and over again; not because of anything I had done but because of what man had done; they'd taken their God-given talents and given them to a false god. It's like when you're friend's relative dies and you apologize; you had nothing to do with it and you may not even know the person but you're sorry because you know it hurts your friend; that's the way I felt today. And although, yes these idols are lifeless, that was in no way a spiritually dead place- there was a definite presence of the enemy in that place.
After the temple we went to some random hotel where we were treated to free coffee. I'm sure the place assumed we would help ourselves to a glass, maybe two...I had 5 glasses of iced coffee and 2 glasses of iced tea. After we flooded our bodies with coffee and Thai tea we went to a cashew factory and I now know why cashews are so expensive: because for every one cashew fruit there is one cashew nut. Then we went KAYAKING!It was so picturesque of what I imagine Thailand to be like. So I sat in the front of the kayak and a nice Thai man named Lao took me all through the mangroves, sang in Thai while he paddled and asked me all kinds a questions about where I'm from, family and how I like Thailand. He was totally on my good side till we came up to a bamboo walkway in the mangroves and I asked him what that was for; he said it was for anacondas. I asked if you could walk on it and his reply was, "No not you, you too big; you make it go BOOM!" and then he proceeded to laugh and giggle like a little school boy.
After our monkey escapade we went to a waterfall. We had a beautiful trek through the jungle and when we got there I saw some Thai boys climbing up beside the waterfall and jumping into the pool below.....how could I resist? I didn't even try I made sure everyone got their cameras out, climbed up there with the boys and jumped in! I knew that if I passed it up I would regret it and I'm so glad that I seized that chance because it made my trip. I ended up jumping in 3xs just overflowing with adrenaline and joy! I kept thinking about all the times my dad told me stories of times where he did similar things and how dumb he was; the only part was I couldn't remember whether the intended moral of the story was insinuated or stated haha. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIKtUJI5jV4 Here's the video of me jumping in
And that was our day trip! We got back to find the other half of the room vacant because the world race team left today and tomorrow there's talk of us going to the beach. Friday we start ministry again; at first it was hard to switch from ministry to vacation but today was really good for us all to just laugh, have fun, goof off and just enjoy the day. So I hope we can really suck all the possible joy out of these next two days and just bathe in it because New Years Eve in the bars is going to be a toughy.
Here are the links to view the rest of the photos from Thailand; there are two albums: