March 3, 2009
Today was our last day at Mercy.
We began the day doing an interview with a journalist for The Jerusalem Post (as Jewish volunteers, he felt we were an “intriguing angle,” as part of his story about Mercy-run by a Catholic priest), and we ended the day with a farewell lunch at Father Joe’s house as the guests of honor. What a privilege. Words escape me. Me? Yes. So I will leave you with some pictures…
One of my friends at Mercy ~ Nitaya with her darling daughter
Tom ~ one of Mike's closest friends at Mercy ~hanging out in the office together: two warriors saying goodbye for a little while
Khun Ratana with Mike at our farewell luncheon at Father Joe's home
"Eat," the young woman standing up, is sweet. She makes me smile. Father Joe is on the far right. It was great having this down time with some of the senior staff, talking and laughing. The Thai food was fresh, hearty, and prepared lovingly by the Mercy cooks. Mike and I brought mini-cheesecake desserts and everyone seemed to love them! What a gift to spend some time with these lovely folks.
March 1, 2009
Deborah and I met Father Joe, Tom C, and Ratana at Bourbon Street, a Cajun-style restaurant for dinner Friday night. The owner of Bourbon Street is a supporter of Father Joe, and he puts on a golf tournament every year with the proceeds going to Mercy. It is always fun to get Father away from the hustle bustle of the Mercy campus and have him to ourselves over a beer. He grew up in the Northwest, so he and Deborah talked about clams and other Washingtonian memories. Tom grew up in Milwaulkee, so he and I compared notes about growing up in the Midwest. We talked about how the financial crisis is going to affect Mercy in the coming year. This one-on-one time gives me a chance to ask Father Joe questions about his philosophy on life. He never ceases to amaze me. We ended the evening with a couple of servings of pecan pie and ice cream. And on the walk home, Deborah and I, once again, talked about how lucky we are to be allowed to be part of the Mercy family.
March 1, 2009
This final week I was asked to work with two boys from the Korczak School. [The school was named after a Polish Jew whose heroism during WWII in attempting to save children under his care is legendary.] The children who attend Korczak are kids whose educations have been interrupted due to their impoverished circumstances. My two new students are twelve years old, live at the Mercy Centre, and have discipline problems. I put them right to work with me in the woodshop. We were building the last of the storage units for the boys’ house. They jumped right in, and after a basic safety lecture, I had them using all the tools.
It is getting really hot in Thailand now. The woodshop has a tin roof, so even though the boys are only there from 10 a.m. – 12 pm., it gets cooking. After the fourth day of work, I cut them loose early, was locking up to go to lunch, and when I turned around, one of the boys, Bird, was standing there with a cold Pepsi. He handed it to me, and I was knocked off my feet. These boys have nothing. And yet, he took the small amount of money he had to buy me a Pepsi as a thank-you for being his teacher. That Pepsi meant more to me than a Gold Rolex.
March 1, 2009
Eating in the Mercy canteen in the middle of the slaughterhouse slums, I casually glance out the window and notice a huge cruise ship docked in the port. I can only imagine that the 3,000 or so passengers will be herded onto land, run through a Wat or two, and hustled back on the ship. When they return home, they will tell their friends they “saw” Bangkok.
Sitting in the Mercy Canteen, I spot a huge cruise ship in the port. Weird.
February 25, 2009
We are creatures of habit, and as such, I form daily habits while here at Mercy too~ the New Normal. So it is that every day after I eat lunch in the Canteen upstairs, I wander into the Mercy house where Mr. Big, age five months, currently lives. He is usually hanging out with his caregiver, the housemom, on the open-air deck outside the dorm. She clearly adores him.
His name is laughable. I know because I bought him a newborn-sized kimono shirt and newborn diapers, and he swims in them. I sit quietly by his housemom’s side and talk to him for a few minutes each day. Today I sang Itsy Bitsy Spider to him and he tracked my hand movements: round, dark eyes staring up at this farang who speaks to him in a language he hasn’t heard before. He seemed to like the song.
Is he sick? I dunno. I haven’t asked. Maybe.