For my church friends…

We found an Anglican Church here, not too far away, about 1/2 hour by boat then Sky Train. It is an English- speaking congregation (fortunately) with a very pleasant English vicar. The congregation, on the other hand is very international. It’s a big congregation of anywhere between 200-300 people so it’s very vibrant and lively.

Being abroad and having to serve such a rich complexity of people means that the approach is probably more evangelical than I am used to back in Blighty. We have lots of ‘worship songs’ for instance many of which are unfamiliar but which are quickly learned and after the service little groups huddle together with their hands on each other’s heads for Prayer Ministry.

Given that there are so many people processing communion can take a while and services often last 1.5 hours. One even stretched to 1.45hrs, which in my opinion was TOO long for the hordes of children seated around us. It felt more like sitting in a noisy playgroup by the end!!!

What is nice though is that they serve lunch in the Hall after the service for a donation. It’s usually packed!!! So lots of opportunities to for fellowship and to chat to people who are not part of the ‘school’ crowd. Many are tourists and just passing through but we are starting to recognise some familiar friendly faces.

In the autumn when we were in the rainy season the church was badly flooded and we had to use the hall.

We are not going to be here for Christmas but it does seem strange seeing a nativity outside in the church grounds but in the shade of the tree!

On another religious matter we often go past the Erawan Shrine, a very busy Hindu shrine in the City Centre which was the site of a bomb in 2015 where 12 lost their lives and 120 were injured

It seems appropriate to see a sign in the entrance to a mall…

Winter Stories

Off to the Neilson Hayes library again this weekend. The interior refurbishment of the building is complete and you can see what a beautiful neo-colonial setting it is.

The library was founded in the 1920s by the wife of one of the Doctors at the Naval Hospital. It was and remains a women-run organisation providing a wide range of English language materials to its members who come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

For my library friends, you may be interested in the glass fronted book cases and also the card catalogue which to my amazement is fully functional! It is the first time I have seen a card catalogue in use for 30 years. The last time I saw a set of catalogue drawers it was in an antique shop and being used as a quirky bottle holder (each drawer is just the right size for a bottle of wine! A good use for ex-library furniture I thought.

Anyway, my session was well attended and I told winter/snow themed stories. The children loved the tactile snow bear story and we all had lots of ‘strokes’ of the fur.

It was slightly incongruous though trying to explain cold and ice and snow to little children who have no frame of reference other than relentless heat! ‘Frog is fffffreezing’ meant little to them…

We cut out paper snowflakes and stuck cotton wool onto snowmen thanks to Meaw the talented assistant there. Only a very few had any concept of what snow was.

It was about 33 degrees outside so I put on my sun shades to leave. This is my strangest Christmas season to date. It is so hot that it doesn’t feel ‘Christmassy’. There are decorations in the malls but they all seem to be stylised trees or bears in Santa outfits. Not an angel, shepherd or nativity in sight.

One blessing though, we are not assaulted by tacky Christmas music wherever we go.

Window clings and other things

It is very weird to be preparing for Christmas in a hot country. It doesn’t feel Christmassy at all. Technically it is winter here and when I asked a member of my team what the weather forecast was for last weekend she said not raining just cold. Cold!!!’ It was about 32 degrees so not what I would call cold. In fact on occasion we can experience a wave of heat in the evenings. Last night around 8pm even though we had the fan on we came over all hot and sweaty. It’s so unusual for us as we mentally expect the temperature to drop once the sun goes down but it doesn’t here. That sort of thing takes us by surprise. So we do our Christmas shopping in short sleeves. The malls are decorated as you can see but finding actual Christmas stuff is hard. I wanted to make a decoration using holly but couldn’t find any anywhere. In the end I managed to get one scraggly little bit of artificial holly and constructed the wreath below.

So our decs are up – minimal as we won’t be here for actual Christmas and we didn’t bring much. The silicone star window clings are the most effective and small to bring! No tree for us this year.

As yet I haven’t heard a single bit of Christmas music or had sight (never mind taste) of a mince pie! In someways the lack of blatant commercialism is quite refreshing. Today we have a day off work which is brilliant- some public holiday but I can’t remember what for. We had guests for the weekend, Omar is the boys’ half uncle (its complicated & I can explain if you have the time) and his girlfriend Halima who are having a December break in Thailand. It was absolutely wonderful to see folks from home & to show someone around our new life. We took them on the tourist trail and packed loads into two days. We did temples and palaces and markets. We even fitted in a Thai foot massage (which we needed after pounding the streets in the heat all day)We ate sumptuously and I thought you all might like to see this fish stall we found in the market. And treated ourselves to delicious coconut ice cream which they served with interesting toppings such as red beans, pumpkin or sweet corn! We had peanuts on ours. All served in a coconut shell so no waste!We break up for our three week Christmas break on Friday 15th so not long now. It’s been a long and very busy term. I have had so much to absorb and learn, so many different cultural mores to negotiate and so many different approaches to get used to. I am ready for a rest. Might nip down to the pool now…