What it takes

While I’ve been in Thailand, these few (achingly long!) weeks, I’ve often thought about the determination required to lead this life. For me, for those working with me, for those who grew up here, and for those I’ve left behind. Sometimes example of this are very humorous…

Such as when I learned that my host mother can, actually, speak English. I had been there a week, and never heard so much as a “Good Morning” out of her, when she found me packing my lunch, which I had cooked in her kitchen the night before. Suddenly, it was too much – and Mai Dang just HAD to communicate with me. In (slightly broken) English, she asked me if I had cooked Spaghetti last night.

 Kindly and graciously, I loudly responded, “English? You speak english? Why didn’t you tell me this before!?!?”

She ignored this outburst and proceeded to tell me I should also pack some fruit and salad. Once again, I responded with every bit of cultural sensitivity I could muster, “BUT!! ENGLISH!? You can speak with me!? You speak ENGLISH!?”

She simply wandered out of the room, shaking her head at me and muttering, “Just a little, just a little”, in Thai.

Determination – because it’s her kitchen after all, and this American girl wasn’t making sense.

Sometimes being here just requires a desperate will to survive, survive the 3.5 hours of commute, survive the silent lunches and the food I don’t recognize. Survive the tens of facebook messages back and forth, just to have a short conversation with someone on the other side of the world. Survive the lack of lazy comforts, because in the end…I am Determined to understand Thai Culture.

Determination. On the part of my church family, interpreting every message, announcement, testimony, prayer request and dinner invitation.

Determination. That this is the right place, even when I haven’t found a gym and I wonder just how much pollution my lungs can endure. Determination to make it work, and laugh through the angst.

Determination on the part of my coworkers to find an interpreter if they don’t now the words to explain my assignment, whereas they might just give me easier work. Determination that learning the English language is worth the effort, even if their jobs are slowed down this year.

Determination, on the part of the mototaxi driver to make a living, even if it means offering help to an oversized Farang who can’t pronounce her address with the correct inflections.

Determination, that no matter the humor or the frustrations, I am here….and my life will grow and improve through these convoluted situations.

Sometimes the determination can turn to arrogance, in the case of knowing how many people would never dream of doing this. And yet, here I am – just fine. Tired, but fine and also exhilerated. I want to be sympathetic to people who don’t have the stamina to do this, but I don’t know if I have that in me anymore. It’s simply determination, and a love for the unknown – in me and those around me – that spurs and enables me. I am not overly strong, in fact I am emotional and whiny many times, but I know and I am determined that this will turn into a great experience – so I am Determined.

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