Taking New Friends to Special Places

ELCA YAGM Visitors at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

ELCA YAGM Visitors at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

When friends come to visit, one of the joys of my life is to take them to places where I have been and show them some of the things that have captured my heart.  When a small group of ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) people connected with the YAGM (Young Adults in Global Mission) program visited Thailand in May, I found time to take them to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Because the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is considered to be the holiest site in Thailand and because the Grand Palace is one of the “must see’s” of Thailand (The top tourist destination by far), it is kept in immaculate order and is always a breathtaking sight (site) to see! But it is always jammed with tourist from all over the world. On this day, we spent three hours all told – one hour traveling to and from the Grand Palace and two hours wandering, looking and taking photographs of the stunning beauty of the place.

The Ramp for the Garuda

The Ramp for the Garuda Image

One of the sights that is rarely seen during a tour of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace is the effort to restore parts of these magnificent building as they age. Months ago, I noticed that they were changing the roof tiles on one of the buildings at the Grand Palace.  To do so, they had to remove a large Garuda image that hung from the corner of the roof.  In two subsequent visits, even though the roof tiles had been replaced, I noticed that the Garuda image was still missing. However, during this visit in May, I saw that the wonderfully restored Garuda image was being prepared to be lifted back into place.  To understand the challenge of that, please refer to the photograph to the right. In this case, the picture is definitely worth a thousand words.

Bangkok Morning Traffic the Day After the Coup

Bangkok Traffic the Day After the Coup

A trip to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace is not an easy undertaking. Getting to the Grand Palace is a challenge because Bangkok traffic is always horrendous. During the hot season when temperatures easily top 100 degrees Fahrenheit, there are no air-conditioned areas to enter to escape the heat.  The only hope is for a slight breeze or a spot with some shade.  I always encourage people to bring an umbrella – not for the rain, but to escape the glare of the sun – and a bottle of water to restore the liquid that your body loses naturally on a hot, humid day. During the rainy season, there are precious few places to escape Thailand’s tropical rain, which pours down in sheets.  That umbrella, once again, becomes a life saver. The cool season – October to February – seems to be the best time, but several million other people have also figured that out and the two places are jammed with tourists all looking for the same view. With this group of new friends, I discovered that the day after a coup d’état is the best day of all. The streets in Bangkok were virtually empty and so was the Grand Palace.  Of course, planning that might be a little difficult!

More photos:

At the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Detail of the Wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Detail of the Wall of the Temple

The Balcony of the Grand Palace

The Balcony of the Grand Palace

Looking across the front lawn of the Grand Palace

Looking across the Grand Palace

The Royal Guest House at the Grand Palace

Royal Guest House at the Grand Palace

The Emerald Buddha

The Emerald Buddha

Seen in a Bangkok Skytrain Station

Seen in a Bangkok Skytrain Station

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Getting Away to Rest and to Learn – Part II

Walking the Labyrinth at the Senior CVT Retreat

Ben, Caren, Trinh and Lou Walking the Labyrinth at the Senior CVT Retreat

The book chosen as the theme for our Senior CVT Spring Retreat was Barbara Brown Taylor’s “An Altar in the World”, which was highly recommended by International Site Coordinators at our meeting in March.  Most CVTs purchased the book through Amazon and read it on their Kindles. Then, we took turns sharing what we had learned in the various chapters we read and guiding the group through activities suggested by the reading.  Some were interesting.  Some were hilarious. Some were outrageous. And some were contemplative.  If you have read the book, you can probably figure out which chapters fit into which categories.  Everyone enjoyed the book.

Making Welcoming Houses

James, Ben and Sarah Making a Welcoming House

In addition to discussing the book, our Senior CVTs spent time getting to know our new volunteers and sharing ‘words of wisdom’ from their experiences in Thailand. They also share in some team-building experiences. One team-building activity they shared was the process of creating ‘welcoming houses’ out of styrofoam, crepe paper, toothpicks, popsicle sticks and glue. It was interesting to observe what special talent emerged during this process. It was also interesting to watch how decisions were made and objectives realized.

Sarah Cullen Shares Where She Is From

Sarah Shares Where She Is From While Sandra Listens In

Each new CVT volunteer is asked to write a poem based upon a template provided in their orientation packet.  The poem is called “Where I’m From” and it takes includes special people, special places, special foods and other important things from a person’s life to tell the story of what made them who they are today.  A special time during our orientation is when our new CVT volunteers share their poems with the Senior CVTs. It is always amazing to hear the diversity of experiences and backgrounds among our new volunteers, as well as the depth of understanding that can be gained through what they choose to share through their poetry. It was a special time for all of us once again.  Our next time together is in August and plans are already being made. A special word of thanks goes out to our friends at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. They have given the Christian Volunteers in Thailand program a special grant of $5,000 to support these retreat programs that are so important to our volunteers.  THANK YOU!!

Photos:

More Work on Welcoming Houses

Caren and Trinh Work on Their Welcoming House

Nicole and Lindsey Enjoying Their Work on a Welcoming House

Nicole and Lindsey Enjoying Their Work on a Welcoming House

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting Away to Rest and to Learn – Part I

Nicole Betteridge Arrives in Thailand

Nicole Betteridge Arrives – Minus her Suitcase which Arrived Later

The month of May brought new volunteers to Thailand to join the twelve who are already here.  We welcomed Nicole Betteridge (seen here at the airport when she arrived) from the USA, Sarah Cullen from England and Otoli Tuccu from India. We were delighted to be able to spend two weeks with them, getting to know them and teaching them a little about Thailand before they went off to their placement sites to begin their ministry in Thailand. In addition to welcoming new volunteers to Thailand, the CVT Orientation program also welcomes back our Senior CVTs who join us for one week. During that week, they have the opportunity to get to know the new volunteers and to begin to build that strong network of support that our new volunteers need in those first months as they adjust to living and working in Thailand. The Senior CVTs serve as counselors, mentors, and even spiritual guides to keep the new volunteers as eager and excited about their ministry as they are when they first arrive.

Senior CVTs at a Oil Well in Fang

Senior CVTs at an Oil Well in Fang

But life is not all work and drudgery for our Senior CVTs! They have their own time to recharge their batteries, to share their experiences and solve problems together, and to do something special together that is not open to the new volunteers. This time, we traveled north to Fang together as a group to explore a place in Thailand where the Senior CVTs have never been.  First stop: The Oil Fields of Fang.  Who would believe that Fang has 25 or more oil wells – or that there are more oil fields scattered throughout Thailand that provide a significant portion of the petroleum needs of Thailand? Well, there – in the middle of a rice paddy – we found an oil well and several more, pumping oil for Thailand’s use.

Senior CVTs Testing a Hinoki Bed and Mattress

Senior CVTs Testing a Hinoki Bed and Mattress

Next stop: Hinoki House. A wealthy Thai man of Chinese extraction who lived in Japan for 19 years has built a beautiful mansion of cedar and teak in the city of Fang. This man made his fortune making and selling products made from cedar, including cedar oil, cosmetics, cedar chip pillows and mattresses, furniture and so on. The house is amazing – filled with art and all the comforts money can buy, including a large Jacuzzi and sauna. The Senior CVTs had to test one of the beds and mattresses (with permission, of course).

Senior CVTs Boiling Eggs at the Fang Hot Springs

Senior CVTs Boiling Eggs at the Fang Hot Springs

Next stop: Fang Hot Springs.  Yes, Fang has hot springs and even a geyser that shots a stream of hot water into the air every fifteen minutes or so.  Unfortunately, the geyser was not shooting any water on the day that we visited because they were doing some construction work in the area.  But we still got to enjoy the hot springs. On the way to the hot springs, we picked up some birds’ eggs and were able to boil the eggs in the hot water provided by the springs. It did not take more than five minutes for those eggs to be hard-boiled. From there, we went to an area where private pools could be rented so that those who were interested could sit in the warm water. Yes, our Senior CVTs were interested and they spent some time together (men in one pool and women in another) enjoying the warm water from the hot springs. (See photo below) While it was a crazy busy day, it was a special day and one with a lot of memories captured on film.

CVT Ladies Enjoying the Hot Springs

CVT Ladies Enjoying the Hot Springs

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Postscript

My brother, Ken, and his wife Susie with my sister Carol and I.

My brother, Ken, and his wife, Susie, with my sister Carol and me on Easter Sunday.

The week before Christmas 2013, the doctors discovered a tumor in my brother’s brain that had, in three days, destroyed his ability to use his right arm and his right leg, and had taken away his speech.  As pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, Illinois, he was unable to preach the Christmas sermon or participate in many Christmas activities at the church.  The week after Christmas, the doctors in St. Louis operated and removed the tumor. Since then, he has been on an aggressive treatment plan with chemotherapy and radiation therapy to destroy any residual cancer and physical therapy to restore his ability to use his arm, his leg and his speech.

Rev. Kenneth R. Bryant Delivers the Resurrection Message on Easter Sunday

Rev. Kenneth R. Bryant Delivers the Resurrection Message on Easter Sunday

.

.

.

.

My last day in the USA this year was Easter Sunday. My sister and I flew to Greenville and spent two days with my brother and his wife. On Easter Sunday morning, we rejoiced to see and hear him deliver the resurrection message to his congregation. Oh, God is so good!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Finding Ways to Praise God

Ferncliff Campground in the Spring

Ferncliff Campground in the Spring of 2014

I flew back to the United States in March to attend the International Site Coordinators Meeting of the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Program of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at Ferncliff Campground outside Little Rock, Arkansas. Perhaps, it was trying to schedule things too tightly together or, perhaps, it was my body telling me it was time to rest, but I came down with acute bronchitis during the YAV Site Coordinators Meeting – with a deep chest cough, fever and chills. My trip to an Urgent Care Center in Little Rock resulted in a prescription for Augmentin. Augmentin contains a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium. I have never had a bad reaction to penicillin or amoxicillin before, but I developed dizziness, severe diarrhea, weakness and loss of appetite on top of the fever, chills and cough of my bronchitis. Long story short: I was in no condition to interview YAV candidates for Thailand that week and, as a consequence, we lost the opportunity to open the YAV site in Thailand this year. I was devastated.

Beautiful Sunny Seattle

Beautiful Sunny Seattle

I had a lot of questions for God that next week as I stayed in my sister’s home in Seattle, recovering from my illness and the side effects of the medication. Why this? Why now? Why the loss of an entire year because I was ill for a few days? I spend some long, beautiful, sunny (rare for Seattle) days, sitting in the living room of my sister’s house, looking out over Puget Sound toward the Olympic Mountains wondering what it all meant – for me, for the YAV Program in Thailand, for our relationship with our Thai church partner. I spent quiet time alone in prayer, time reading over the objectives of the YAV Program, time thinking about our Thai church partner, and time wondering what God had in mind – for this ministry, for the young people who apply to be YAVs, and for the relationship between the PC(USA) and the church in Thailand.

Julian and Beau Playing Together

Julian and Beau Playing Together

There was no blinding insight that came from this time of quiet reflection, but there was a wonderful peace and calm that took the sharp sense of disappointment away.  In that next week, my son flew up from San Diego and spent a few days with me, sharing news of what was new in his life and talking about his plans for the future. It was a real joy to see him and be with him – and to watch him playing with my sister’s dog, Beau. Beau loves to chase lime-green tennis balls down the hill and bring them back to be thrown again. Julian obliged him during those times when he wasn’t tied to his computer fixing code problems with the mobile applications that he designs. Somehow, in this day and age, our work follows us wherever we go, despite our own desires for time apart and a time of Sabbath rest.  It was still good to see his face and hear a little about his busy life as a code slinger.

Seattle Rainbow

Seattle Rainbow

On Julian’s final day in Seattle, God gave us both a gift – a sign of his presence and his promises for our lives. Through the mist of a gentle rain, this brilliant and lovely arching rainbow appeared and stayed for the longest time.  Not only did we see this section of it as we gazed out of the windows, but a perfect reflection of it appeared in the window opposite.  It was like we were covered by the arc of the rainbow – covered by God’s love and grace.  The peace that filled me in that moment was indescribable.  I knew – once again – that God was in charge and that all would be as God has willed.  I am God’s servant and I wait to see what God will do in my life, in my son’s life, in the ministry here in Thailand, and for all of the young people who will come to Thailand through the YAV Program in the years to come.  God is good!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Introducing the YAV House

Young Adult Volunteer Program

Young Adult Volunteer Program

In 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Church of Christ in Thailand (our partner in mission here) will open a new site for Young Adult Volunteers in Thailand.  We’ve been planning this for over a year and are so excited that it will finally happen!  The Young Adult Volunteer program of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is a one-year adventure in Christian service and servant leadership for college graduates between the ages of 21 and 30.  It has several objectives:

  • To experience living in intentional Christian community — Whether or not the young adults live under the same roof, they explore what it means to be a Christian community.
  • To focus on spiritual formation — Through the mentorship of site coordinators and fellow interns, young adults reflect on their experiences and ex­plore their relationship to the church and their ministry in a broken world.
  • To engage young adults in the church’s mission — The church seeks to provide opportunities for young adults to serve the church and their communities. Young adults experience and develop leadership within communities of faith. With training and support, they can provide leadership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in the ecumenical church.
  • To assist YAVs in vocational discernment.
  • To be present in communities of need and to facilitate young adults’ engagement in communities of need.
The Bangkok YAV House

The Bangkok YAV House

In Thailand, the YAV program will have some unique characteristics.  In the first place, all the Young Adult Volunteers who serve in Thailand will live together in one of three sites.  In 2014, the first YAV House that will opened will be in Bangkok.  It will house four volunteers who will serve in four different ministries of the church. The Bangkok YAV House is the house that I moved into just before Christmas.  It is a tiny three-story building, nestled among towering condominium complexes, on a small lane between two major streets in Bangkok. Its best feature is its proximity to the best rapid transit system in the city: the Bangkok Skytrain.  It is only a ten-minute walk away!  The walled “yard” is barely larger than the footprint of the house and is entire made of poured concrete. There are four-and-one-half bedrooms (I don’t think the last room really qualifies as a bedroom, but we are putting a bed in there anyway!) and four baths, a kitchen, a living room, and a third-floor terrace that stares out onto monoliths of Bangkok skyscrapers. You can hear traffic and sirens all night long and the glow from the lights of the condominium parking areas keeps the building well-lit at all hours of the day and night.

The Living Room Today!

The Living Room Today!

But inside, it is a whole new adventure.  Last night, at 10 PM, we unloaded the truck from Chiang Mai that delivered all of my worldly possessions to Bangkok.  Five delightful young men (including a new neighbor and the night watchman from the condominium complex on the opposite side of the lane) helped us unload the truck and get everything inside and out of sight.  Boxes, a mattress, chairs, and more boxes block the view of everything in the living room except the front door (on the right).  There are more boxes on the second floor and even more on the third floor. And I have company coming tomorrow :)!  The four CVT volunteers from Nagaland will be spending the weekend with me because, on Thursday, 2 January, they have to be on hand to go to the Ministry of Labor to pick up their work permits and then travel to Thai Immigration to get their visas extended.  It will be fun to see whether we can a) find and put together a bed so that no one has to sleep on the floor and b) find more washcloths and towels so that none of them will repeat my experience of last Sunday!  If all goes well, I should have some idea of what it will be like to have four YAVs in the house.  Don’t stop praying for us!  Happy New Year!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Christmas Caroling: Have You Ever Really Done It?

The Caroling Group 2013

The Caroling Group 2013

One of the things that I forgot in the years that I was away from Thailand was the tradition of Christmas caroling the way that Thai Christians do it.  You haven’t really done it until you have done it here and, once you have earned your stripes, they never forget… and neither do you!  The beginning is innocuous enough: A group people pile into a car or van and drive to someone’s home.  Once there, they pile out of the car, gather around the front door, hit a few chords on the guitar, and beginning singing familiar Christmas songs.  Having sung a few songs, the group sings “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to end the concert. The lights in the house come on and the “carolees” (as opposed to “carolers”) come out to greet the group and invite them in for refreshments.

One Dessert Among Many

One Dessert Among Many

That’s where all similarity to any caroling I have done in the USA ends.  It is not just the last house that invites the carolers in – it is EVERY house.  It is not just the last house that offers “refreshments” – it is EVERY house. And, in Thailand, “refreshments” do not consist of a sweet and a hot cup of something – it is a FULL MEAL, sitting down at a table and chowing down on rice and curry, noodles and soup, fresh fruit and dessert.  Thus, a caroling stop can take from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half. And carols are not just sung to households of one church in a small geographic area – they are sung to ANYONE identified as being important to someone and they might live as far away as 120 kilometers (a 90-minute drive).

Dawn Breaking Over Rice Fields near Ratchburi

Dawn Breaking Over Rice Fields near Ratchburi

The end result is that a Christmas caroling adventure with a list of 13 households to visit turns into an all-night blowout.  We left the office at 6 PM on Friday to drive to the first house and we had breakfast on the patio of the last house as dawn broke over the rice fields of Ratchburi 120 kilometers from Bangkok.  I lost count of the number of times we got lost and had to call for instructions.  I lost count of the times we sang “Joy to the World” and other Christmas favorites. I staggered into my house at 10:30 AM on Saturday, hoarse, bleary-eyed and stumbling.  I managed to stay awake until 5 PM, when I finally gave up the ghost and went to bed, sleeping without any problems until dawn on Sunday.  But I would not trade those 16 hours of singing, laughing, sharing stories and eating goodies beyond full for anything. That group from work will be my buddies forever! Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Christmas Story

Rev. Kenneth R. Bryant

Rev. Kenneth R. Bryant

This Christmas has not been as filled with as much joy as Christmases in former years.  Just the week before Christmas, we learned that my older brother, Ken (who serves as pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Greenville, Illinois) has a mass in his brain and that he will have to undergo surgery before the New Year. He has lost some motor function, but doctors assure us that it is not a stroke.  It may be malignant, but an MRI has shown us that it has not metastasized to other areas of his body. With a wife, two children, three grandchildren and an entire congregation in Greenville waiting for news, I ask for your prayers for him and the doctors as they proceed with surgery.  He has always been a role model and great older brother and I am selfish enough to want to keep him here on this earth awhile longer.

Nellie and Friend at Home

Nellie and Friend at Home

And I almost lost Nellie, my miniature pinscher, a second time after Thanksgiving this year. She was bitten by a tick and infected with a blood disorder that took her platelets down dangerously low before I realized that she was so ill. When she lost all interest in food, playing, or even getting out of her bed, I knew she was seriously ill. Her liver function was very bad, but the doctors responded very quickly and, with antibiotics and some liver support medication, she has turned around rather quickly. I have been warned that, since she has already been infected once, it will be much more severe if she is ever infected again.  So, we are to avoid grassy areas that have not been treated. (Fortunately, Bangkok does not have many grassy areas.) The doctors have said that she should be her “normal self” in about six weeks.

Bangkok at Night

Bangkok at Night

Finally, I made the move to Bangkok from Chiang Mai, in order to begin working at the headquarters of our partner church, assisting with ecumenical relations. My new responsibilities dovetail quite well with my role as Coordinator of Christian Volunteers. In this new role, I am responsible for all Christian missionaries working in Thailand who have visas issued under the auspices of our partner church. That is a total of 117 people (together with their families). Many of the things I already do for our 14 volunteers, I will also be doing for these 117 others (visiting them, counseling them, providing opportunities for them to gather together to learn about each other and work together, and offering opportunities for rest, retreat, and spiritual growth).  What was difficult was moving at Christmastime and not really experiencing the joy of Christmas with special friends and family at this wonderful, miraculous time of year.

The CCT Headquarters as Seen from an Elevated Train Stop

The CCT Headquarters as Seen from an Elevated Train Stop

But there was one thing that happened to show me with crystal clarity that my God loves me and, in all this, cares for me – even in the little things.  I moved into my Bangkok house with just the things in my one suitcase on the Saturday before Christmas. I had arrived in Bangkok from Chiang Mai on Friday afternoon, in time to join the Christmas party at the CCT office and join them caroling on Friday night.  The caroling group left the office at 6 PM Friday night and returned at 10:30 AM Saturday morning, having driven all the way to Nakhon Pathom and then Ratchburi to sing at someone’s home. Exhausted, but afraid I would not sleep that night if I went to bed at 10:30 AM, I got on the BTS Skytrain and went to the grocery store, picking up things I needed for the house. Still, I was in bed by 5 PM, totally worn out. I am not as young as I used to be!

The Gift

The Gift

Sunday morning, I got up and took a shower and washed my hair.  I always travel with a bar of soap and washcloth, so that was not a problem. The problem arose when I was done and looked around for a towel to dry off.  Ha! Ha! That was NOT in my suitcase. However, two blankets of Nellie’s were and they were clean, so I used them. Dog blankets are not known for their absorbency, but it was better than dripping dry. I made it to church at Suebsampanthawong Church (4th Thai Church close to Bangkok Christian College) where my landlord and Mr. Kusak, a Thai friend of my parents, both worship.  After the early service, I sat in the fellowship hall and drank some tea. Several people came and introduced themselves.  Mr. Kusak came by, handing out some red and green bags to various people, saying “Merry Christmas”.  He greeted me and handed me a red bag and said “Merry Christmas”. I took the bag home after church and, when I got home, I opened up the bag.  There was only one thing inside: a bath towel. God is taking care of me.  God will take care of you, too.  Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Still Beautiful, But Facing a New Challenge

At the Confluence of Rivers in Sangklaburi

At the Confluence of Rivers in Sangklaburi

I have blogged about the beauty of Sangklaburi before – sharing photos of the mountains and the rivers close to Thailand’s border with Myanmar.  I had the chance to visit that area again last week as I took our new CVT volunteer, Lindsey Monroe, up to the village where she will be working. Sangklaburi is still beautiful, as this photo – taken in the light of dawn – will attest. The morning mist hovers over the water and hides the mountains from view. Still, it is a place that draws many visitors, especially after the rains have stopped and the air turns crisp and cool. The first breath of coolness came through as we visited, lifting the dampness and making each day comfortable to be outside.

The Battered Remnant of the Wooden Bridge

The Battered Remnant of the Wooden Bridge

Many people visit this area in the Cool Season, traveling though the mountains to this border area in order to visit Three Pagodas Pass, the beautiful Mon Temple, or to see the longest wooden bridge in the world.  Unfortunately, the longest wooden bridge in the world is no long something that visitors can walk across.  As you can see in this photo, the center section has been destroyed.  As the story goes, some enterprising loggers had taken several loads of uncut teak logs and dumped them in the river to float them downstream to the mill. A violent storm came through with heavy rains. The resulting flood of water pushed the logs into the bridge broadside and the sheer weight of the logs, driven by the storm waters, caused the center section of the bridge to collapse. As you can see, a temporary pontoon bridge, made of bamboo, has been built to handle necessary traffic across the water until the main bridge can be repaired.

Another View of the Broken Bridge

Another View of the Broken Bridge

Many of the families living in houseboats on the river also had their homes destroyed or damaged in the same storm and subsequent flood.  They are all working to rebuild their lives. Please pray for them as these families of fishermen are not wealthy, but often struggling to survive. This disaster has just added to their already weighty burden. It does not help that one of their tourist attractions has been taken out of commission. The money from tourism helps to sustain the economy in this area.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Close Call

Nellie with a Neighbor in Seattle This Summer

Nellie with my Sister’s Neighbor in Seattle This Summer

While I was in Bangkok, my little Miniature Pinscher, Nellie, stayed with Mr. Sawai Chinnawong, my artist friend, and his family. Nellie is not a young thing any more with at least twelve years of living under her belt.  That makes her a senior citizen in the dog world – about 84 years old in human years. Still, she is a feisty little dog who loves to run and play and can jump straight up in the air about waist-high. She adores Mr. Sawai, mostly because he lavishes affection on her and spoils her with treats that she does not get at home.

Nellie with a Chew Toy

Nellie with a Chew Stick

As the story goes, Mr. Sawai was out in his yard with Nellie, watering his garden.  She had wandered off into another part of the yard when two stray dogs discovered her. These much-larger dogs attacked her. Mr. Sawai heard her cries and came running, chasing the two larger dogs off. He then carried her bleeding body with one arm while he drove her to the animal hospital by Chiang Mai University with his other hand. (Thank heavens, he has automatic transmission!)  Nellie was treated for her wounds and admitted to the hospital for observation.  The doctor said that they would have to operate as some of her wounds were extensive.  They gave her intravenous fluids and made her comfortable for the night.  The next morning, they operated.  They told me that they would call if she was failing, but I did not receive any calls. Mr. Sawai went to visit her later that day and reported that she seemed to be OK.

Nellie with Mr. Sawai at the Hospital

Nellie with Mr. Sawai at the Hospital

It was several days before I got back to Chiang Mai and could see her myself.  When I went to the hospital to visit her, she was wrapped with bandages from her neck to her knees.  The worst of the damage was to her chest on the right side and to her left hind leg.  The doctor had operated on both to repair the damage. She still had a drainage tube in her chest (held on top of her back by the pink bandages), but she was glad to see me and spent some time telling me just how dissatisfied she was with my care of her. After a while, she calmed down and I just held her and petted her until it was time to go.

Nellie at Home Two Weeks After the Incident

Nellie at Home Two Weeks After the Incident

About a week after she first went into the hospital, she came home to my room on the third floor of the Education Ministry Building. They had removed all the stitches and her chest tube. Needless to say, I had to carry her up and down the stairs for the first week and she was weak a feverish for a few days. But I was surprised at how quickly she bounced back and was willing to try the stairs herself. Of course, that was more “game” than ability, for her left rear leg was still weak and collapsed under her if she tried to do too much.  Mostly, she ate and slept and forgot what it meant to be “housebroken.”

Nellie - Waiting for Hair to Grow Again!

Nellie – Waiting for Hair to Grow Again!

This week, she is a different animal!  She runs up the stairs (four flights) without any problem.  She wolfs down her food as she did before all this happened.  I have changed her food from mostly dry to mostly wet as she lost some teeth in her battle with the larger dogs. Her wounds have healed and, while she spooks easily and sticks close to my side outdoors, she is mostly her old, feisty self. She has also remembered what it means to be “housebroken” – thank heavens!  She wears some doggie clothes now that her bandages are gone, for the rains have stopped and the weather has turned cooler. She has very little hair on her body – just battle scars – but I am glad she is alive and back to her old ways!

Blog Postscript (2 November 2013): Mr. Sawai told me only today that, when he took Nellie to the Animal Hospital after the attack, the doctor gave her only a 50/50 chance of survival.  I am so thankful that she did survive and so grateful for the skill of the surgeon on that day! God is good.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment