May Day

Hey all, May Day is here and it has been more than a month since you have really heard from us here. The Strouds have been very busy with all sorts of fun. Here are a few of the highlights that we have seen over the past month:

Grandma and Grandpa Stroud came through for a visit and stayed about 10 days getting familiarized with the city. The had a great time and alas, Charlie got a good dose of spoiling. We hope to have them as regular visitors. Charlie hopes that Aunties and Uncles and cousins will come and visit someday too.

We had a great time celebrating Easter and all that went with it. Charlie was happy to explore the Easter basket full of goodies and still cherishes the soft bunny that lives with us now, though the candy from his basket mysteriously disappeared. We blame Grandpa.

We had a couple of great opportunities to get to the beaches just south of the city and they provided much needed relief and rest…once we got there! We decided to experience the train to get there and were thankful that Mom and Dad were with us to help keep Charlie busy. The trip that was supposed to take 3-3 1/2 hours clocked in at about 5 hours. This was not a serene, air-conditioned high-speed train you might be imagining. This was more like old west, clickety-clacking, windows open, 95F temps, standing room only, and sellers pushing through every 2 minutes with ‘cold’ drinks, hot soups, rice plates and desserts for sale. But what do you expect when a 250km train ride costs $5 US?

Once we arrived we found a peaceful seaside awaiting. Between the sound of the waves, the beauty of the hillsides around us and the general slow pace of life, we had many opportunities to relax and refocus.  It was wonderful.

The past couple of weeks have found us very busy with work and play. Charlie got his first haircut and has been babbling up a storm. He hit 15 months this week and has begun to ‘assert’ himself a little bit, throwing lots of little fits and frustrations at not getting his way, but he is learning. At this point, he understands Thai better than we do and we expect he will start speaking words very soon. He listens and responds to many directions in both Thai and English.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. We continue to face regular battles in language and illness yet we walk on, watching for the opportunities that God shows us to draw near to and depend on Him and to share His love with those around us.

Jay

Thankfulness – Skype and FaceTime

Breakfast Chat with Uncle Kevin and cousin Noah

Face to face time is wonderful.  We do not take for granted being able to communicate so easily with friends and family who are elsewhere.  Of course, we would prefer that they all just take a vacation and come and visit us (we have an extra bed waiting to be used), but for now, it is great.  By the way, our Skype account is Jay & Mel Stroud, if you want to chat.  Keep in mind we are 12 hours ahead of CST.  So if it is 9pm here on Sunday night then it is 9am there on Sunday morning.  Just do the math and then try calling us if you see we’re on.

Thankfulness – Water

AH - Clean Water

Something I realized back in 2000 after spending a summer in Senegal, West Africa is that being able to satisfy my thirst with a glass of water from the tap or a bottle should not be taken for granted or under appreciated.  Seriously, enjoy your next big gulp because so many in the world will never experience something so “simple”.  Around one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water!  While we can’t drink from the tap here, we do have access to clean water.  So, as we buy each drop of water off the shelf I am somehow even more thankful for a big gulp, especially on a hot, humid day (everyday).

Thankfulness – Daycare

Charlie loves Ajarn A!

Daycare is going so well – Yes, it’s official, Charlie loves daycare!  Last week I went to pick him up and he was walking around and playing with his friends when he saw me.  Every other day he would come running to me and give me a big hug, but on this special day he continued walking around and playing with friends until the phone started ringing.  That’s when he got excited and went to find the phone.   All the while I was standing there.  Finally his teacher, A, brought him over to me and I got a hug.  So then just this morning as we dropped him off, he jumped out of stroller and ran straight to the play mat.  Before we left we said “bye Charlie” and he waved back.

There are still many days when I want to just be at home playing with him and watching him grow by the minute.  Then I remind myself of the special time and place to which God has guided our family and I see his daycare as a blessing in our lives and God’s provision as we continue to transition into life here.

Being so social, he is loving it.  He loves the people, the routine, the music, dance, yoga, art, lessons, bubbles!  Isn’t it amazing how adjustable and flexible kids are!  I am learning that it is important to not project all of my personal challenges/biases/desires/frustrations on Charlie’s little life.  He is in God’s hands day and night!

Thankfulness – Jay and Charlie

Jay and Charlie

A few weeks back I mentioned the following:

As one can imagine, life in Bangkok so far has been a roller-coaster of thankfulness and relief, challenge and frustration, discovery and adventure, and most of all dependence.  Those are the best words I can think of right now to help define this past month.  That said, I’ll work hard in the coming weeks to help illustrate what those words have meant to me on a day-to-day basis.

I find it most natural to begin with thoughts on thankfulness.  I was pleasantly surprised that my “thankfulness” list came easier than my “frustrations” list.  Funny how those things that are most annoying and cause the most worry are often so small in comparison to the greater context of the day.  I encourage you to make a quick list of “thanks” too.  So, here is the first post on thankfulness with more to come later.

Jay and Charlie – These guys make my day – everyday.  Seriously, who knew working with your spouse 5 days a week could be so much fun!  Our offices are right next to each other.  I’m not sure this would work for everyone, but it has been great for us and so I am more than thankful!  Jay offers support throughout the day, we truly share one another’s burdens (since they are usually very similar), and of course he’s a great lunch date when our schedules fit.  This semester we teach the same two courses (Level 1 and 2 – Everyday English).  Jay has 11 different groups of students and I have 10.  Together we interact with about 300 students each week.

And what is sweeter than ending each day with a great big hug from a very little guy.  Charlie keeps us smiling and helps keep daily life in perspective.  He has no fear about interacting and socializing with others even though his language ability is still limited (but might be more advanced than ours).  What better distraction is there from an hour-long bus ride home in traffic than a cute smiling, giggling, jabbering baby who dances to the music on the radio, waves at people as they exit the bus, and plays peek-a-boo with whoever is looking???   : )

(Of course, at times he has been known to offer another sort of distraction by way of screaming and throwing tantrums most of the ride home too…but I really try to focus on the positives.)

How do I begin?

We have arrived! A month ago.

It’s true.  My main focus has been on Charlie, which means I haven’t allowed my mind much time to think about much else!  That little guy changes everything about how one goes about settling into life in a new culture.  You know this is true whether you’ve relocated across town or on the other side of the world.

All in all, our family has had a wonderful first month of living here in Bangkok.  Each day we have to encourage one another and push each other to be “present” and focused on who we are and what in the world we are doing.  For example:

Charlie – let’s learn to keep our shoes on and not eat them.

Jay – let’s be excited about taking one step at a time of settling into home.

Melissa – let’s stay positive after a long day and focus on where we can find some dinner.

Seriously, most days, it is the small things that count.  Charlie ate something new for dinner and loved it, or Jay fixed the shower head  so only a small river runs over the edge of the tub and into the drain, or we finally got the entire floor scrubbed down (because Mel shattered a glass and plate in one blow).

As one can imagine, life in Bangkok so far has been a roller-coaster of thankfulness and relief, challenge and frustration, discovery and adventure, and most of all dependence.  Those are the best words I can think of right now to help define this past month.  That said, I’ll work hard in the coming weeks to help illustrate what those words have meant to me on a day to day basis.

I leave you with the scripture that has carried me through at work and is applicable to all of life.  It is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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