Great moments

On Monday I wrote a post about a bad day – a day when fatigue and noise came together in a perfect storm. These days happen. They would happen anywhere, but when you’re living overseas it’s particularly easy to externalize bad days and begin to dwell on all the things about your new home that grate on you.

Living in Laos (as anywhere) is a mixed bag, and I write about the bad days along with the rest because I am striving to be honest with myself and with you about my experiences – those that are fun, and those that aren’t. I do this because I think there are almost always important lessons buried somewhere in honesty – for me, if not for you. And I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but it bears repeating. The bad days are not the full story. They are one chapter in a whole book.

There are far more days – especially at the moment when the weather is deliciously cool – when I find myself awestruck by the thick, lush, beauty of this place. Or startled and delighted by a glimpse into a life lived so differently than mine. Or I wonder about something, and feel my capacity for empathy stretching in ways that are undoubtedly good for me.

Often, very often, I am moved to gratitude.

Last night Mike and I waited in front of our favorite fruit shake lady’s stall to place an order. In front of us were two men, laborers, who were also placing an order. We were intrigued to see the locals handing over the same amount of money as the tourists for their drink – five thousand kip, about 70 cents.

Mike and I both found ourselves thinking about them as we walked home. How much hard work and time did that money represent to them? How would that compare to us buying a coffee from Starbucks or a Coldstone ice cream?

There is just so much to be curious about here, to marvel at, to thrill to.

Today, here’s a look at just a few of the really good moments and scenes that have moved me in the last four months – moments I would never willingly trade even on the bad days.

Mike and I at our housewarming:

The view from our front porch:

The Mekong at sunset:

Mike buying pineapple:

Dragon boat racing:

Spices drying outside a temple:

Luang Prabang orchids:

A Saturday at Tad Sae waterfall:

Children playing in the river:

Inside an older village school:

Kids watching balloons rise into the air at the official opening ceremony of their new school:

Women washing dishes in clean running water at their new gravity-fed water system tap.

Being blessed by village elders:

Rice fields at sunset:

Sharing meals with Mike’s coworkers:

Sharing a moment together:

The vast majority of the time, Mike and I feel very lucky to spend a portion of our lives here. We are daily being granted the opportunities of experience that novelty and beauty afford. We are thankful for the chance to invest in work that we hope and pray will yield a crop of choices for the children in the villages. And we are grateful indeed for all the wonderful moments we’ve tasted during along the way.

9 responses to “Great moments

  1. Ooohh! I like good days. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  2. You have a gift to balance your blog. And those who appreciate your honesty also understand the bits and pieces, since there is no way you can write EVERYTHING down. So thank you for completing the balance of the last months with this post 🙂

    I am curious: How fast are the news in Laos? About the mass panic in Cambodia or the new start of war in Korea?

    • Now, don’t blow it out of proportion. 🙂 The Koreans are not at war….yet. Right now it would be considered an escalation of hostilities I think 🙂

    • Good question. You know, I’m not sure. I can’t read the newspapers as they’re in Lao. I get my news from online so I know what’s going on, but I have no idea what is filtering in here given all the newspapers are controlled by the govt.

  3. I want you to know I ADORE your blog!! Sometimes I wish I had the guts to take my family and do something like that. Only sometimes though.

    I saw you used the word “grateful” in this post, and I just posted something about the difference between gratefulness and thankfulness. I was trying to determine the difference between the two and found this:

    Grateful indicates a warm or deep appreciation of personal kindness as shown to one: grateful for favors; grateful to one’s neighbors for help in time of trouble.

    Thankful indicates a disposition to express gratitude by giving thanks, as to a benefactor or to a merciful Providence; there is often a sense of deliverance as well as of appreciation: thankful that one’s life was spared in an accident; thankful for the comfort of one’s general situation.

    That’s a subtle difference but profound I think (for me anyway). I just wanted to share and say “Keep up the good work!”

    • Hmmm… thanks for that. I’ll be pondering that one teasing it apart for a while. I love nuance :). Thanks for reading and I hope all five of you had a wonderful thanksgiving – full of fun, gratitude, and thankfulness.

  4. wow…. beautiful beautiful pictures.

  5. Erm, I don’t know how your history classes were in life, but they were never not at war … they never claimed peace! So no, they are not at war as in fighting right now. I was mostly curious, how Laos would tell this event to its residence. Germany does blow it out of proportion in the news to avoid telling stories about our own problems…

    • My history classes were woefully inadequate and involved one year of American history focusing on the period about 1803-1805 (that’s what it felt like, anyway) and six months of nothing but World War II history (which was fascinating in that grim, dark, kind of way that I am usually drawn too). Sandra, I did this long paper on the education systems set up for German kids in the 15 years prior to the outbreak of WWII and was amazed at the processes that were in place. That was it, seriously. History, along with algebra and English grammar fell through the cracks in all that international travel.

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