Friday was the farewell dinner for the American and East Asian teams, for which we were asked to make dinner. After surveying Food Land (yes, that’s an actual store), our team settled on making chicken alfredo. We bought enough food for about 60 people, then headed back home. The East Asian team had decided to make dumplings, so we let them use the kitchen first, and Natalie and I got to help them! I don’t think I’ll really be able to replicate it, but watching them do it made it seem really easy. Either way, I had so much fun being part of the process, and growing closer to Natalie.
Once the dumplings were on their way to being made, the American team moved in and began preparations for our dish. We found what was probably one of the biggest pots in the world to boil the noodles, and had to get REALLY creative to drain it, but we had so much fun bonding with each other over the process, and the food ended up tasting delicious!
The party was a mixture of emotions.It was fun getting to hang out with everyone and reflect over what had happened over the week, but it was sad knowing that my time in Thailand was coming to an end. The food was a success (well loved by all Thai people!), and after eating we exchanged gifts with our secret buddies we had been assigned at the beginning of the week , took a million pictures with everyone we could find, and tried really hard not to cry. I know I have said this a million times so far, but I have never felt so incredibly loved. I will truly miss everyone I came in contact with in Thailand, and I hope I will get to see them all again soon.
Saturday morning we arose early to pray for our East Asian friends before they headed off to their conference. It was a wonderful time of blessing and being blessed, and it all ended in very tearful good-byes and gift-giving between both parties.
With tears still in our eyes, we waved good-bye as our van headed off and we headed off on our next adventure: The Old City! It was a beautiful place, with ancient, crumbling ruins that were colorful and architecturally appealing, and we took about about a thousand pictures each before heading down the street to the floating market where- SURPRISE! – there was an elephant!!! We decided not to go for a ride, and the owners were very stingy and wouldn’t let us touch them, but we took lots of pictures, and enjoyed each others excitement. After tearing ourselves away from the animals, we spent a couple of hours shopping and got tons of souvenirs- including a free bamboo cup that came with and order of coconut milk!!
Bags and bamboo cups in hand, we began our wonderful (not really) 90 minute ride home to meet with one of Robert’s mentors. We took them to Coffee Cats, a cute little outdoor cafe that – yes, really – had pet cats roaming around. The adults all sat at one table and probably had a very deep discussion about the meaning of life and what not, but the rest of us at the “kids table” ate ice cream and played hangman.
After our guests left to catch their plane, the rest of us went into downtown to take the train (which is above ground, a new experience for me) to go shopping at a glamorous mall in the more upscale area of the city. We ate our most expensive meal of the week – a whopping four dollars!! – and set off to the stores. We got there pretty late in the day and most of the stores were closing, but we somehow managed to run around really quickly and buy everything we wanted.
The next and final morning of our trip we went back to all of our favorite breakfast places and feasted on bubble tea, raisin waffles, coconut cakes, and dragon ball z fruit. We sat at our usual spot, and revealed our secret buddy that we had been praying for all week and gave them the present we got them. It was amazing, because somehow we all managed to get each other exactly what we wanted, but hadn’t bought for ourselves!
After eating and packing, the boys made a decision to get their haircut Thai-style, so Rachel and I accompanied Michael and Tyler to the barber shop for hair advice and moral support. Despite the fact that getting your haircut in a foreign country sounds kind of sketchy, their hair actually ended up looking fabulous and everyone loved it!
We went to church with CCC for the last time that afternoon, and got to sit with some Thai friends who showered us with even more gifts! It was great fellowship with everyone, and it was fun seeing them all one last time over dinner.Everyone has such sweet personalities, and I really, really hope I can go back one day to see them all again.
After a rushed, but delicious last dessert of all our favorites- rhoti, marshmallow tacos, and mango sticky rice – our Thai friends escorted us to the airport where they once again prayed over all of us, took a million pictures, and said tearful good-byes.
I have no words that can fully describe how incredibly amazing this week was with these wonderful people. It is an experience that I will most definitely never forget and that, quite possible, has changed my view and future in the mission field. I pray that God continues to grow and mold me from my experiences on this trip, now, and in the coming semesters. I pray that this trip will truly change me for good.