the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Tag: daily life

Village Life: Sharpening the machete

Paul & Abi sharpening the machete. We've had a bit of a blogging dry spell recently (and by that I mean "I've had a bit of a blogging dry spell." Thank goodness my husband has the motivation to post every once in a while!). Any how, I'm trying to get back into the blogging groove, so I just thought I'd share this cute picture of Paul & Abi sharpening the machete in front of our village home (hut). Not only is it a super cute picture, but I think it's a good representation of our life in the village. People are always asking us what we do in the village, and well, sometimes it's just this: doing life, village style.

Above Jewels

Proverbs 31:10 (NASB)

Description of a Worthy Woman 10An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

Maybe it's the weddings I've been going to. Maybe spring comes early in Thailand. But I have found today, that even after 9.5 years of marriage, I am head-over-heels *in love* with Lori.

She's seen her life get more and more difficult as pregnancy turned into an infant and now a two-year-old, and yet she continues to shine in ministry, as a mother and as a wife.

Right now she's in the bathtub with our energetic daughter, after working most of the afternoon on her computer with Abigail nestled in-between her body and her mouse-operating right hand. We're working on getting Abi to go to sleep with me and she's becoming more and more independent as she grows up, but there's no substitute for mom when things are hectic - which is more often than not in our world.

Sometimes as a father, I feel pretty helpless - I just can't comfort Abi like Lori can - and, therefore, more often than ever I am being called off in one direction to work and to serve while Lori continues our services of ministry locally, while continuing her role as a mom.

Through it all, she's been incredible, and is a priceless addition to my life.

Last month, when the Ruggles' were with us, they captured some of the many roles that Lori plays in our life - and I wanted to share them with you.  (make sure you hover over the pictures for the insider descriptions of each role)

Wife and MotherCounselorSurrogate MotherFriendHostessSeamstressCamp CoordinatorMinister

...and all of this doesn't even cover the professor / nurse / teacher roles that fall in her actual job description.

I love you, Lori. You are simply incredible.

Rice, Bamboo and the Akha

The Akha way of life is centered around rice. It encompasses every aspect of their lives.  Preparing the fields, planting, harvesting.

every meal every day every month every year

It's no wonder that rice is the center of religion, culture and celebration in the Akha world. But, if there is a secondary symbol of importance in the Akha community, it is bamboo.

Bamboo provides tools and toys. Secular and sacred objects.

If rice is the focus of the Akha way of life, bamboo is the function of that life.

In our village the children learn at a very young age how to turn scraps of bamboo into functional creations. Boys of three and four years old create woven masterpieces to complete the homes and tools of their minor kingdoms. Their education in the vegetation and animalia around them is extensive, any Akha child of age can easily forage a meal while walking through the jungle.

This interaction with the world around them builds a community and identity among the Akha people, and will continue to be important to them wherever the evolution of their culture leads in the years to come.

Eggplant Stir-Fry

I just thought I'd give you a “taste” of our life here. Lately, this is one of our family's favorite dishes. And it's one of the rare recipes that can be easily replicated in the United States. So, if your family is ready for something new on the dinner table, you can try it out and think of us! Ingredients: * ½ pound of ground meat (we use pork) * 3 large-ish eggplants * 1 small onion (I used yellow here, but we prefer purple) * 2 Eggs * Green Onion * Cilantro * 3 cloves of garlic * Thai Chili pepper (or similar) * Salt * Oil

Instructions & Notes: 1. This dish is served with rice. So it's best to start your rice first, because it will take 15-20 minutes. (In other words... DO NOT use Minute Rice! Learn how to cook rice here.) 2. Cut the eggplant into large pieces. Boil with the eggs for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. When finished, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. *Note: For some reason we like green eggplant best. Purple seems to be more watery and have less flavor, but I don't even know if green eggplant is available in the U.S. 3. Chop the onion, green onion and cilantro. Set aside. 4. Prepare garlic & chili peppers. We use a mortar and pestle, but a garlic press or any number of kitchen gadgets would work fine, I'm sure! *Note: Add chili peppers to suit your family's taste. We use about 3 to achieve “medium” spicyness... but it's all subjective, so start slow. 5. Get your wok (a.k.a. “pan”) nice and hot. Add oil, garlic, peppers, meat and onion. Stir-fry until meat is browned. 6. Usually, by this time, my boiled eggplant has cooled off enough to handle. So, remove the meat from the heat for a moment and chop the boiled eggplant. 7. Now, add your chopped eggplant to the meat mixture in the wok and stir-fry. It should get a little mushier and a little browner when it's done. Add salt to taste (approximately ½ to 1 teaspoon should be about right.) 8. Reserve a small handful of the chopped green onions & cilantro. Add the rest of the onions & cilantro to the wok and stir-fry for another minute or so. 9.Transfer to your serving plate, and garnish with sliced boiled eggs and remaining green onions and cilantro. Serve with rice.

Green EggplantCut into large piecesBoil with 2 EggsYellow Onion, Cilantro & Green OnionChop onion, cilantro & green onion. Set aside3 cloves of garlic & 3 Thai chillisPrepare garlic & chillisStir-fry meat, garlic, chillis & onion.Chopped eggplant.Finished product!Yum!

Khao Mok Gai

khaomokgaiIt seems to be somewhat of a trend for mommies to post weekly meal plans, recipies and the like on their blogs. And, since my blog has been suffering of late, I thought I'd get on the bandwagon and start posting about some of our favorite meals here in the Vernon household. (Although, honestly, don't expect meal plans... that level of planning is way beyond my wildest dreams at this point!) Since there are so many inexpensive by-the-road style restaurants here in Thailand, we almost always eat lunch out. (Actually, let me clarify, when we're in the city we almost always eat lunch out. However, when we're in the village, we rarely eat out.) Anyway... where was I? Oh yes, inexpensive restaurants! A standard lunch in Thailand will cost you about 25 baht or 70 cents. The lunch pictured here, is actually a bit more expensive and runs 35 baht or 97cents. But it is so delicious that we don't mind "splurging"!

We eat Khao Mok Gai about once a week. It is an halal dish in which the rice and the chicken are all cooked together with many spices like coriander, cinnamon, tumeric and cumin. These spices combined with the fat from the chicken make the rice so rich and tasty. The main dish of rice and chicken is usually accompanied by a cucumber, onion and chili pepper salad with a sweet vinegar sauce. Also, a broth soup is usually included. Mmmmm so good! I'm so lucky to live in Thailand and eat this great food!

The Dye Man

The Dye Man on his bicycle

Well, this week marks the end of a busy season in the Vernon household. In fact, this is the first real down-time we've had since Christmas (which is why the blogs have been so quiet recently!) The past couple of months have many worthy stories of family, ministry and travel and hopefully I'll have time to tell a few of them this week. (So stay tuned!) But before I get to those, I was going through my photos today and just had to tell you about this one.

I've been trying to share glimpses of some of the unusual things that we find in everyday life here in Thailand. And this certainly counts as "unusual" in my book! Allow me to introduce The Dye Man. He rides through our neighborhood once every few months. As he rides, he plays a Chinese hand drum (as seen in his right hand) to let his potential customers know that he's approaching. He has a metal bucket hanging from a rack on the back of his bike which contains black dye as well as a fire to keep it hot. If people need something dyed they can flag him down and he will dip it in dye right there on the street in front of the house.

For months, I wondered what this guy's trade was. I thought it was SO wierd that he rode around with a black bucket of fire dangling from his bike! Finally, I flagged him down and asked him. Now I know, but I still have a hard time getting my brain around it! Why would people need to dye their clothes black? Maybe something has gotten stained? Maybe they have a funeral to go to? But are there really enough people wanting to dye things black for this guy to make an living of it? Apparently so...

Cows and Guava

Abi watching the cows go by

When we are in the city (as opposed to the Akha village) we live in a house in a little Thai neighborhood. The neighborhood has quite a few vacant lots (due to the Market Crash of '97) and so a herd of cows regularly saunters by to munch on the vegetation in the lot across from our house. In America, we just don't get much exposure to farm animals, so it's still a bit odd to see them roaming about.

Pretty guava on our tree

Another fun part about our "city home" are the numerous fruit trees that we have in our yard. (However, I have to confess that we are fairly ignorant about most agricultural matters and it actually took us about two years and several scoldings from our Akha friends to finally become aware of all the fruit bearing trees in our yard!) We have a green mango tree, a guava tree, several tamarind trees and banana trees. Right now is guava season. Abi has learned that yummy fruit comes from that tree and so she reminds us to check for ripe fruit daily by wildly pointing to the tree and saying "mam mam" (which means "food" or "eat")!

Click here to view more photos

Click the icon to the left to see the rest of the photos from the afternoon with the cows and guava.

Side by Side

We're in the city this week catching up on computer work before heading back up to the village for three weeks or so. In my efforts to share a little more about everyday life, I thought I would share this picture of Paul and our Akha friend working side by side on their computers. Paul has been teaching this young man how to edit video off and on for several months now, but because the video editing program is in English, he's still not completely confident with it. So, he's set up camp in Paul's office this week (Thank goodness we purchased a new larger desk a couple weeks back!) and can ask Paul questions if he get's stuck. This is one of the best things about living here... the spontaneity of life! We had no idea that we would get to spend so much time with this young man this week, but he had time and we had time, so here we are. We're so excited about this young man and the powerful work he is doing as he reaches out to his Akha brothers and sisters in Laos. We are honored to be even a tiny part of what he and his co-workers are doing! Join us in prayer for them and the nation of Laos!

The Ladder Man

Having lived in Thailand for three years, we've become pretty accustomed to some of the odd sights that overseas living has to offer. However, some things still surprise me. Take, for instance, The Ladder Man. We occasionally see these guys around town, but this one happened to be selling his wares in our neighborhood recently, so I took the opportunity to snap a picture for you! I often wonder how he can actually make a living as a mobile ladder salesman. Although, I confesss, I'm probably looking at it from an overly American perspective....The Icecream Man is one thing, but the Ladder Man just wouldn't fly in America! On the other hand, I guess it does make sense here; most Thai families have a scooter instead of a car or truck, so they can't simply run to the local store and bring a ladder home... the ladder has to come to them!

Akha Fishing

The reason we haven't been updating The Vernon Shutter recently is because we've had troubles with our Olympus Camedia C-60 camera these past few months. For a while we had Card Error messages popping up, then our pictures would only show up halfway, now the camera says it can only take one picture (on an empty 512MB card). All this to say we are a little frustrated with our camera situation right now so we haven't been updating this page.

However, after yesterday, we had to show you some pictures - even though they were taken from our phone. They aren't the best pictures we've ever taken, but they are from one of the funnest days we have ever had.

Since it is summer break for all the Thai schools. About fourteen of our Akha friends came to visit our village. They showed up without food, but rather than burden the village with feeding them they decided to go catch their meals. You can read more about our adventure fishing with the Akha from Lori's article in our Journey Notes blog. (The first picture is from our broom-making days which Lori also wrote about.)

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Akha BroomsAkha FishingAkha Fishing in Mae SalongAkha Thailand FishingFishing like the AkhaFishing in Thailand with the AkhaCooking Fish in Bamboo - Akha StyleCooking Fish in Bamboo - Akha StyleHoneycomb brought to us by an Akha Friend while Fishing

A Little of What We Do

Here's a little peek into our activities. Kids are a big part of our lives, and much of our ministry has been to them. The school semester just started in Thailand and we have specifically helped two Akha kids with their education. The first was a girl named Bu-Deu who has three years of school left who we are sponsoring. The second is our little friend A-Ju from our village. A pastor friend of ours got him accepted into a school for the deaf in Chiang Mai and we took him to his school. He was a big hit, showing up with Americans, and we think he will do very well in the school (see the picture below). Please keep him and his family in your prayers as they make this life adjustment.

Our village life has changed lately as the intern pastor has come to live with us. He is a tremendous blessing and the answer to prayer for a language helper. He also knows when our minds are full and we need to just work... the other day Pastor ATu and Paul went to cut down bamboo and build a new table for our home while Lori did the laundry and dishes for the day (no small task when everything is done by hand and you have to walk to water).

Finally we have a picture of our Lo or truck. Many have asked so here it is. It is old and rusty but climbs mountains well and gets us where we need to go. It's really quite a blessing.

Enjoy!

Akha PictureA Wa :: Akha Boy at Deaf SchoolMaking an Akha table out of BambooOur Akha Ambulance :: Suzuki Caribbean

Hut Sweet Home

Through an amazing series of events we are moving up to Doi Mae Salong (a Chinese town about 90 km from Chiang Rai) on March 22nd. We first went to Mae Salong early in March and when the villagers heard we were looking for a place to learn Akha they all skipped work in the tea fields and built us a beautiful home. We will first be up there for two weeks at which point we will return to Chiang Rai for a kids camp. We are likely to be traveling between Chiang Rai and Mae Salong frequently, but we willbe doing most of our language learning, therefore spending much of our first year, in Mae Salong. You can read more of our updates on our online journal journey notes.

Akha HutAkha HutAkha HutAkha VillageAkha VillageAkha Village

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