"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Laos (again)

Posted in Good Causes, Travel by matt on Saturday, October 11, 2008

So Cayla and I left Bangkok last Sunday night on an overnight bus bound for Pakse, Laos. The trip actually went really well right up until we stepped off the bus. We immediately realized that my phone’s service doesn’t extend beyond Thai boarders (duh!), which meant we couldn’t contact our ride, which meant we were stranded in some random Lao city with almost no money and absolutely no idea what to do.

We wandered around the city for awhile (5 hours) and finally found an Internet cafe, grabbed the guy’s number off my flash drive, and used a hotel lobby phone to make contact. Harold (the studly ole fella in charge of our transportation) arrived in time to cart us out to the farm (if you don’t know which farm I’m speaking of click here).

We quickly realized that there wasn’t much to do on the farm, so we tried to enjoy a little relaxation along with some good (and spicy!) Lao food. The people could understand most of my ghetto-Thai, but there was still an obvious language barrier between us. This didn’t really stop the kids from warming up to us, though, and we enjoyed watching them splash around in the river. The kids were raggedy, but happy. By the end of our two days there we were also pretty raggedy, actually.

We got antsy when our ride out of the farm didn’t show, so we decided to hitch-hike back to Pakse. After taking the ridiculously long way to town we arrived in time for some Lao noodles and a couple bus tickets to Ubon and then Bangkok.

Now we’re just trying to catch up on sleep and the to-do list before my family arrives in Bangkok on Sunday.

Please continue to pray over the opportunity with Bolaven Farms as Cayla and I consider how we could be involved with what God’s doing there. Thanks for reading, I love you all, lemme hear from you.

-matt

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Laos

Posted in Friends, Good Causes, Travel by matt on Monday, August 4, 2008

Last weekend was easily the best weekend I’ve had since I arrived in Southeast Asia. It started when I realized my eminent need to leave the country to renew my visa. I have a class ‘B’ multiple-reentry visa that requires me to leave and reenter every few months.

In lay terms that’s basically just an excuse for me to go somewhere random and then tell you about it.

Well, it just so happens that my friend Sam has a non-profit farming operation outside of Pakse, Laos and he invited me to come check it out. So I met Sam and a few others from Hong Kong (amazing people!) at the airport, flew to Ubon Ratchatani, bussed across the boarder, and finally made it to Pakse for the best Asian noodles I’ve ever had.

After breakfast on Saturday we piled into Sam’s truck and made the semi-perilous journey out to Bolaven Farms. The rainy season washed the road out and we had to hike the last 3 kilometers across all kinds of fun. The women kept stopping for pictures and Sam was busy playing tour guide so, being young, spry and impatient, I was the first to arrive at the village. Fortunately Lao and Thai are sister languages and basic conversation was possible. Though, that didn’t really keep the situation from feeling really awkward; most of the villagers who weren’t out in the fields decided to pass the time by staring at the strange, mud-speckled foreign man who kept smiling and trying to communicate.

We spent the rest of the day touring the farm with Sam. He explained the workings of the farm and its location on the Bolaven plateau‘s uber-rich soil. The local government has partnered with Sam’s group to educate poor farmers in organic, sustainable agriculture. The farmers live at Bolaven Farms for two years and, after graduating, they can apply to the government for land of their own. But the operation is still in its infancy stages and the need is pretty huge. External support from businesses and churches is a must if the farm is going to persist. I was amazed to see that the kids aren’t receiving any semblance of an education and that there are only a handful of workers handling the entire endeavor.

I am currently thinking and praying about how I might help Sam with the stuff he’s doing and I’d like you – if you’re willing – to also pray for me in this way. Suffice it to say, I have obvious obligations here in Bangkok, but life after March (apart from a few weddings to attend) is pretty wide open.

I’ve also posted pictures of the recent Laos excursion. Oh and sorry I haven’t been on Skype lately. I plan to spend the next few evenings catching up on all that as best I can.

Love you all,

matt

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