Itsara

April 5, 2012

Education

Filed under: Our Work,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 2:17 PM

Just today, Isaac told us it was 1:35. Sam read “jet fighter” on the fridge without even blinking. They’re doing math flashcards and adding two-digit numbers together (without carrying, but still).

This is 1st-grade stuff, even though Sam and Joel won’t start 1st grade for another month. Agewise, Isaac isn’t even close. Cindy is doing such a fantastic job of teaching these kids. They consistently blow my mind with what they know.

And yet the Thai Ministry of Education says we’re not allowed to homeschool our foster children. I think we need to talk to someone about that.

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March 29, 2012

My Clothes Smell Like Smoke

Filed under: Pictures,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 1:35 PM

There are a lot of things I love about Chiang Mai, but the pollution during the hot season is not one of them.

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It happens every year (and seems to be getting worse). It’s a combination of slash-and-burn techniques in the forests of Northern Thailand and Burma, the fact that Chiang Mai is in a big bowl, and the lack of wind and rain during the hot season to clean the air.

This air wreaks havoc on breathing. We’ve had colds and coughs in the house pretty much since it started. I wear a mask when I go out on the motorbike, and I can’t sing for more than a few minutes without hacking a lung.

We don’t let the boys go outside as much, which makes them a little crazy (which, in turn, makes us a little crazy). But they’re handling it all right. They’ve been playing a lot of indoor hopscotch.

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And Asia! There was a time the children’s home kept an oxygen tank around for her asthma. When we got her, we were given some inhalers and told that her asthma might act up during the dry season.

Well, she hasn’t used her inhaler for months, and while she did catch the same cold as everyone else, she’s been breathing just fine this whole season. So praise God for strengthening this little girl’s body!

And while you’re at it, pray for rain!

February 9, 2012

Excitement is a Heavy Duty Road Grader

Filed under: Personal,Pictures,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 2:12 PM

The last couple of weeks, they’ve been preparing the land behind our house for something (another housing complex, we hear). We’ll miss the jungle back there (and possibly the quiet), but we won’t miss the critters that lived there. And watching the construction vehicles clear and grade the land has been pretty cool. It’s the most exciting thing we’ve seen in months.

Yes, I know how sad that is.

Before/after shots behind our house:


And it was pretty cool when the water truck got stuck in a ditch, and they had to use the road grader to push it out.

September 6, 2011

Help the Charis Project, Win an iPod

Filed under: Other,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 7:28 PM

Some friends of ours, Aaron and Carrien Blue, have been helping an orphanage in Northern Thailand for a few years now. But they don’t just want to collect money and have to keep collecting money for all time. They plan to make the orphanage self-sustainable.

But they are in need of money at the moment. The Charis home has invested a significant amount into buying land for a proper home. Now they need the rest of it — some $8,000 — by October or they will default on their contract and lose their initial investment.

Why do they need land and a building? Carrien talks about that here. She also talks about an all-too common reason kids end up in homes, and what they’re trying to do about it:

Do you know what happens to a child in South East Asia when her parents separate?

Take the worst step parent story in a fairy tale and multiply it by at least 100 and you will get an idea of what happens to kids in these situations.Stepparents don’t care for stepchildren at all. Children are treated like servants, sent out to beg, or sell flowers, or cigarettes, or their bodies to earn the family money. They are beaten, abused and abandoned.

Read about their plan. Make a donation (everything helps). And maybe even win something cool, like an iPod nano. Go on, it’s worth it.

April 26, 2011

Family Pic (now with Lemurs!)

Filed under: Our Work,Pictures,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 7:30 PM

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We went to the Chiang Mai Night Safari a couple weeks ago. It’s just like the zoo, but with animals you can touch, less walking time, and they charge foreigners 10x the Thai price (so my ticket costs more than the rest of my family combined–gotta love Thailand).

The boys go nuts, running from pen to pen asking what the next animal is. Lutiya likes talking to the Cockatoo (it speaks Thai). Nathan and Isaac imitate the peacocks that are EVERYWHERE. And despite my admonitions otherwise, Joel insists he needs a hippo.

We’re working on that.

In other news:

  • Cindy and I have been visiting Pancake every Friday (we had stopped for a long while after Anica was born). Last week, she responded to our arrival and led us by the hand around her home. It was pretty awesome.
  • Sean has been busy collecting and selling the harvest from his various crops. There have been a couple hiccups, but from what I hear it’s going well overall.
  • Pan came back yesterday from 3 weeks in her village. We all missed her a lot, especially Anica who is currently clinging to her and won’t let go.
  • The girl’s start school again in the next couple of weeks. That means Pan will be in college. Away from us. I think I’m gonna cry.

April 19, 2011

Prang’s Village: Pictures

Filed under: Pictures,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 7:42 PM

As promised, here are some pictures we took of the village, with captions. Click that link or either of the pictures below to see them all.

Prang's mother (or grandmother? I forget) chewing on the beetle nut. Cindy, Lu, Sam, Anica, and an owl clock I thought we'd lost.

April 23, 2010

This Side of the World

Filed under: Our Work,Personal,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 6:31 PM

In case that last post and the subsequent silence worried you, we’re fine. We went to city hall for Anica’s Thai passport and had no problems (though they had a lot of barbed wire and barricades up). I got some documents certified at the US Consulate with no problems too. Now to turn in the adoption papers in Bangkok…

We’re planning on visiting the US at the end of May. Mostly we’ll be in OC with Cindy’s family, but we plan on visiting SD and Coast Vineyard the weekend of May 23rd. Honestly I think we’re a little torn about this. We love visiting friends and family in the States, but (a) we’ve got 2 little kids to cart around now and (b) we have to leave 3 more kids back in Thailand. This might be the last trip we do together. We’ll see (although we said the same thing a couple years ago, but didn’t change a thing).

Lastly, you may recall I sold a short story recently — my first professional sale. Well the story’s published now. You can read it here for free.

April 12, 2010

More Protests

Filed under: News,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 6:04 PM

It seems like every two years, I have to post about problems in Thai politics.

If you haven’t heard, there have been some violent protests in Bangkok, with some smaller repercussions throughout the provinces and even here in Chiang Mai.

Really, it’s the same problems as what caused the coup years ago, and the further protests a couple years back. Very, very generally, there are those that support the old prime minister, Thaksin, and those that believe he was corrupt. Thaksin’s supporters, the red shirts, have protested against every opposition government put in power since. Likewise, Thaksin’s detractors (who often characterize themselves with yellow shirts), protest against every government seen to be related to the long-ousted prime minister.

This year, the red shirts want the current prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to dissolve parliament (or part of parliament; I don’t know all the details), step down, and call for new elections. A few days ago the protests became violent. About 20 people died, and hundreds were hurt.

We’re fine here. The US Embassy has issued warnings, but basically they say, “It’s safe to travel, just be careful.” This week is Songkran, which just makes tensions run higher, but we don’t plan on going anywhere near the city. Hopefully things will quiet down soon, but God only knows.

Anyway, just pray for safety for us, and peace for the country. This mess isn’t doing any good for an already shaky economy dependent on tourism.

March 31, 2010

Burma and Bonus Anica Pics

Filed under: Pictures,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 10:09 PM

March 14 was the day of prayer for Burma. Just before Anica was born, I sent out a few status updates with stats on just how bad things are in Burma. Some folks wanted to read all of them at once, so I’m reposting them here.

Today is a day of prayer for Burma. Burma’s in a bad way. Watch this space for examples of how.

Burma has had 1 election in 48 years. The results were declared invalid and the victors (e.g. Aung San Suu Kyi) arrested.

Most of Burma is off-limits to tourists, and Burmese citizens who discuss politics with foreigners can be sent to prison.

In 2008, a cyclone killed 146,000 people and left millions homeless, but Burma didn’t allow int’l aid workers into the country.

For 3 weeks, Burma only allowed aid in the form of food, supplies, and money. A lot of which didn’t make it past gov’t hands.

Burma has over 350,000 soldiers, and 20% of them are children. You do the math.

The Burmese regime targets certain ethnic minorities for extermination. Among these are some 7,000,000 Karen–14% of Burma’s population.

Burma’s problems probably won’t be solved with money. All we’ve got left is prayer and our voice: http://www.voicesforburma.org/help

And there are a couple new pictures of Anica up, taken by our professional photographer friend.

November 14, 2009

A Parking Ticket Story

Filed under: Personal,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 6:13 PM

I had Thursday all planned out. Leave at 8:30 am, arrive at the Finnish consulate when they open at 9,* grab a big brunch at Burger King, then meet some friends at 10 to play some Left 4 Dead.

Everything was going great. I didn’t get lost anywhere and my timing was perfect. Until I walked back to my car after Burger King and found a lock on the wheel.

“The police came by twice already looking for you,” said the owner of the nearest shop. “We didn’t know whose car it was, so they locked it.”

“What?!” It was ten minutes until 10. My friends would be at the game shop soon. “What am I supposed to do?”

Ever-helpful, the Thai man pointed at the sign on my car and said, “Take it to the police. Or maybe there’s a phone number. Here.” (There was no phone number).

“Where are the police?”

He pointed down the street. I didn’t see anything. At this point, I was remembering my experiences with Thai bureaucracy and thinking I wasn’t going to make it to the game shop. Maybe when I was done some 2 hours later, I could pick my friends up and take them home, like we agreed.

Even more frustrating: there were no signs on the street. I made sure of it when I parked there. There was not a single parking sign anywhere, yet everyone was parked on the left side of the street and none on the right. I thought it was because the left side was shaded in the morning. Apparently I didn’t get the memo.

I told the shop owner this, though not very calmly. I was mad. Again, in true helpful Thai fashion, he tried to say something about signs, but soon stopped when he realized I was right. There weren’t any. Not knowing what else to do, he left. Maybe he went to look for the cop who locked my car, maybe he just wanted to get away from the angry farang. I don’t know.

Two other shop owners watched this exchange. They watched as I carefully read the ticket and the notice taped to my car. No phone number. No instructions other than to take the ticket to the police station. How was I supposed to do that without a car?

I asked one of the other shop owners what I should do. I was still very angry, but I realized I had to do something. He pointed down the street. From an earlier parking ticket, I knew there was a police station in that direction, maybe a mile or two down the road. He couldn’t mean there, could he?

He suggested I take a songthaew, but I was in no mood, and my raging brain couldn’t be bothered to find the words for police station anyway. I walked, half hoping I’d run into the cop who locked my car and could take care of it right there.

It was a long, angry walk. I swore a lot (I do that when I’m alone sometimes). I looked for No Parking signs, but didn’t find any. By the time I realized the owner had meant the police station, I was more than halfway there and saw no reason to stop.

The last time I had to pay a parking ticket, there were 30 or 40 people at the police station, and it took me an hour. There was nobody there that morning so I walked right up to the desk and handed them my ticket. They were perfectly nice about it, even when I complained about the signs and how I had no way of knowing I couldn’t park there — realizing, even as the words came out of my mouth, that they wouldn’t care. Why should they?

I went to another desk to pay the fine, and was about to ask about the wheel lock, when the man said, “The policeman has already taken it off.”

Really? I asked him to repeat it. Had they contacted him? I hadn’t seen them do so. Did he do it when he’d seen the ticket gone? I wondered if I couldn’t have just walked back after removing the ticket and found the lock gone, without having to go all the way to the police station.

And yet, for all my anger and swearing and frustration, I got to my car at 10:15 and the game shop at 10:30. My friends were a little late anyway, and I only missed 15 minutes of zombie-killing. Had all that really only taken half an hour? What was I so mad about? And what did I expect to accomplish with my anger?

I was still mad at the injustice of it, but in the end, who cares? Not the shop owners. Not the police. Not the hundred other people who had parked on the correct side of the street. Just me, and my trouble was over.

There’s no point to this story except that anger is stupid. I’m ashamed at how angry I got. What makes it worse is the only reason I knew where the police station was, and what to do there, was because of a parking ticket I’d gotten previously — which I was also unreasonably angry about at the time. At least I didn’t do anything stupider, I guess.

* Trying to find Nathan’s legal father so we can adopt him. Turns out we’ll have to try the Finnish Embassy in Bangkok instead. Also, I don’t think the consulate in Chiang Mai employs a single Finnish person.

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