Christy and his wife Piyanart
Before you say, “Jim is going crazy,” let me explain. Of course, I heard wind blowing before but not like this! It spoke to me! No, I’m not drinking again. It’s just another exciting life experience I had in Thailand. I spent the day with my friend’s Christy and his wife Piyanart. Every day I am learning something new about this culture and myself. Today was different!
Before I get started a little update on my today stuff! The kids are on vacation most of them going back to their villages to spend time with their friends or families. So we have five kids and Bally and me. Fernando (the other director) just left on a two-week vacation. I had to teach him how to drive a car with an atomic transmission. It was hilarious. He thought he still had to shift it and kept looking for the clutch.
Today we invited some friends over, and I’m doing the cooking about 13 of us, and yes I am cooking a semi- American meal. My friend Nancy’s favorite, she loves my “world famous” American potato salad. It is my dad’s…secret recipe. I also made my “never the same” coleslaw and my grandpa’s receipt of polish spaghetti. So good even the Thai kids liked it!
I started cooking this meal yesterday. The kids just could not comprehend why someone would cook and not eat it right away. It was beyond their understanding why anyone would do this. My idea about life is to live for today but plan for tomorrow.
I don’t know who is right?
Shopping yesterday was another experience. You might remember my last trip when I was trying to buy some new sheets for my bed and after an hour of trying to explain what I wanted the manager walked me through the whole store from the bedding department to the meat section and showed me the sheep for sale.
Well, the shopping adventure continues… I needed some pepper for my dinner. I explained it by shaking my hand up and down as if to put it on food and then blew with my hand as if it was something hot. Ahh … he said, and took me to the fire extinguishers. It was another funny learning moment! The language difference can be a huge problem but, at times it’s fun! Even the people who speak “good English”… DON’T!
The Thai language is extremely difficult. The same word could have several different meanings depending on the tone. So that’s why I get in trouble when I order chicken with noodles and get shrimp and rice.
This store is like a Wal-Mart, but they have no paper plates or paper cups. So we had to share cups at my dinner. You know, learning to live without… really it isn’t all that bad! OK, on to my other new lessons I learned from Christy and his little village.
Christy’s original home is Cork, Ireland and his wife Piyanart is from Thailand. How they got together is another story. He was visiting Pluncket, Thailand and noticed this lady distressed and in tears. He could tell she felt hopeless and helpless. He did what he could, and they became friends. After learning she was coming out of a broken marriage and felt she had no chance at life. The rest is history! They have been married for six years.
This story is not about how to mend a bad relationship but what they did to change other people’s lives. Their life goal is to help others in need. That is how we meet. He heard about what I am doing with the International Humanity Foundation and wanted to know more about the orphanage. I told him about the problem we have with no water some of the time. He said, “Let me come out and take a look.”
Christy is retired but has a wealth of knowledge on plumbing and electrical work. Just what we needed! He took me to the plumbing store to get an estimate on what we might need to solve our problem. This started when we were going to put in a shower for our 16 kids and volunteers. We have been using a big garbage can of cold water to take our shower. I have a good friend back in the US who offered to pay for that. Little did I know this is only a small part of our problem, and it’s turning into to a big project. This is just another challenge for us while operating this orphanage on a very low-budget.
OK now get this… Christy introduced me to the owner of the hardware store. We told him what our needs were to put in a new well. He helped up pick out what we would need. He then gave me a statement on the total cost. He said he could deliver everything in the next few days. I told him we didn’t have the money yet. He said, don’t worry, and pay me when you can! I didn’t even know him, and he trusted me! This policy is not unusual; people regularly take things on credit. What is amazing are they invariably paying their bills! Trust is a huge part of this culture. If you do something wrong, it will always come back to you. They live by this model. It is the Buddha principle of life. I don’t think Home Depot would go along with this style of business.
Christy’s water tanks. We are hoping for the same!
We are trying to get tanks like this and a new well. Ours is drying up. To complete this project the total cost is about $900 plus $60 labor.
OK… now on to my life lesson of the day. Christy said, “I want to take you to see my village…the “Real” Thailand.” I said I thought I was in the “real” Thailand? He just smiled! Christy is not a wealthy person, but his heart is worth millions. We traveled about 10 miles from Chiang Rai through winding roads and hills of beautiful Terrain.
He said this is our village never using the words “my” village. Immediately, I saw everyone waving at him with a smile and respect. He has done a lot for the 300 people who live here by building a community lake for a village fish farm and sharing he and his wife’s knowledge of guarding and living off the land. You could tell everyone loves them.
Have you ever wondered “How” you make charcoal? Well, you burn wood down (not to ashes) wet it down and let it sit for a week or two. Some people make their living by doing this. Piyanart does this for when she has a cookout with chicken or other meats.
They really do “Live” off the land. They grow pineapples, bananas, onions and everything else you can think of. They also have eight chickens and get seven eggs a day. There is one lazy one. It took Christy four years to build his home as his budget allowed.
Today it’s a showpiece. They waste nothing, even the rainwater is put to use it runs into his water tanks, and the overflow feeds the gardens. Giving back to nature and people is their life quest.
The people in the community do the same. If someone needs a home everyone, pitches in and builds it. They expect nothing in return. This village is one big family of 300. Everyone is happy. Even though they have been so little…they have so much. They proved to me that money does not buy happiness.
Many of you who read this I know personally. The rest now know me from the inside-out. I hide nothing I tell you like it is! Not necessarily what you want to hear. However, the way it really is for me today. My past life was filled with success and failure. I no longer punish myself for my mistakes of my past. Nevertheless, I do take a lesson from them. Who would even think going to jail in Belize was the best thing that ever happened to me? And… This is only the beginning! JIM … “The Idea Man”
Below are some links to some of my YouTube videos and links from my friend Jerry who is doing his part in saving the elephants in Thailand. He has quite a challenge ahead of him. Check it out, you may be able to help!
March 11, 2012 6:50 AM