Sunday, December 31, 2006

end of 2006

so many definitions have changed. i find myself saying the exact same things i used to say but now meaning something entirely different. here are some of the words i have redefined in 2006...


let's just pick one... 'faith'

old definition of faith: believing that the bible is true; believing certain sentences in my brain such as 'jesus is the son of God and he takes away the sins of the world'; believing that God would answer my prayers; attending church; knowing how to get into heaven and roughly knowing who would and wouldn't make the cut;

my new definition is much harder to put into words. it's more of an awareness than a logical sentence. i'll use some of michael yaconelli's title chapters to help me.

new definition of faith: dangerous wonder; risky curiosity; wild abandon; daring playfulness; wide-eyed listening; irresponsible passion for Christ.

my old definition of faith felt much safer. and i must confess that it was my insecurities, ironically my lack of faith, that kept me believing it.

i tried to believe so many things.. i really did. but i suppose if your trying to believe something then you don't really believe it at all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

preggas :)

i am pregnant


i am a walking miracle.
God is moving inside me...
forming, moving, creating
right now as i sit at this computer.

i have never been so aware of how miraculous i am. my body takes bits of carrot and spinach and turns them into retinas and brain cells. i am smarter than einstien's conscious knowledge. i am more creative than van gogh. i have never felt so amazing, so proud, so clever, so powerful.

but at the same time...
i have absolutley no idea what's going on. i feel completely out of control. my body is doing the wierdest things with no consultation of my conscious brain what so ever. there's an alien living inside me leeching me of vitamins, minerals, calcium, and if i don't sleep enough it feels like it's leeching the living day lights out of me. the pain of labour looms like a time bomb. i have never felt so lost, so out of control, so completely powerless.

and somehow in the paradox of power and surrender is the most beautiful thing we have ever done.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

so many times i come to this page wanting to blog, but of late it seems non of my experiences worth noting have fitted english words.

i want to blog because i know it's good for me. it brings some mental order, some cognitive equilibrium, it helps me make sense, or at least helps me believe i've made sense.

but somehow the words i use are never very accurate and they never really describe the way connect with the world. the order of my life seems better described through the cellular structure of a sprouting seed than these funny little lines and shapes called letters.

i try to write about God but somehow He is always on the other side of the next sentence and never quite summed up in the last.

Monday, October 23, 2006

beautiful spring morning.
hubby at work.
all is well, except for the massive 9 legged huntsman that's asleep in the hallway.

'it's ok' i tell myself in my best reassuring voice, 'i'm a mature adult, it's one thousandth my size, it's asleep and the poor thing is disabled (9 legs)'. i've even named it 'Herman' because naming your fears makes them less scary.

so far the mornings going well. i'm feeling proud that i'm not being ruled by fear. i've even done a little relaxed reading.

but the tensions rising. i need to pee and Herman's blocking my way to the loo...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

albert einstein

the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. it is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. a knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. in this sense, and only this sense, i am a deeply religious man... i am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvellous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.
the opposite of love is not hate...
it is indifference.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

albert einstein

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

every blog i have posted since we've come home i've deleted. maybe this is why?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Home Now

After being home for a couple of weeks now we are readjusting to this life again. We have been left moved by our journey over the past six months and seem to have more questions than answers at this stage. We want to work in development or but are unsure how to go about it. Part of us wants to just wade in somewhere and get stuck in, while another part wants to further study and get a job in the development field. Either way it seems exciting.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

'i'm leaving on a jet plane...'

26 hours and counting
can't wait to see you beautiful perth
beautiful friends
beautiful family
beautiful home.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


it's early saturday morning. the house is silent. the little welsh town i grew up in seems to still be asleep. i look out the window at a view almost the same as the view of my childhood bedroom window - small mountain to the right, little town below and beyond that the sea. the sea is grey and the sky is grey and they blend into one another, but i'm nice and warm.

saw my grandma and grandad yesterday. love them so much. when we were staying in the orphanage in Kenya i thought about grandma alot. when she was 2 her and her brother were put in an orphange in London. they lived together until they were 11 when they were separated and no longer allowed to see one another. grandma said that broke her and from then on she was a naughty girl. one of her jobs in the orphanage was feeding the babies. they weren't allowed to show any love or affection to the babies, but she didn't care about the rules any more and would sneak them off and cuddle them.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


sitting in the hostel, using the free internet!! casey's watching germany verses costa rica in the first game of the world cup. the score's germany - 3, costa rica - 1. our next stop is munich (back in germany). apparently the whole city is completely booked out with soccer nuts and there's no way we'll be able to find accomodation - except for our trusty camping gear which is going to come in very handy.

the last 2 weeks have been a whirl of partying, site seeing and bus trips. quite a change in life style after staying in the children's home. we've met loads of fantastic aussie's that we've become good mates with virtually over night.

we're loving this type of travelling but it's become really obvious that people are kidding themselves if they think travelling around western europe is going to open their mind to what's going on in the world.

perhaps i'm being to harsh? if we actually listen to the history of some of these places we might manage to stir ourselves from our consummerisitic money mindset. education is truth, and traveling is definitely education. i quess it just depends which bits of truth you want to learn. some are much easier to swallow than others.

Friday, May 26, 2006


a thought hit me many years ago that at lot of rich people live with the illusion that they are very clever and self-sufficient, certainly (and this bit is probably unconscious) more so than poor people. but of course rich people are far more dependent on 'the system' (trade) than their poor counterparts, generally speaking.

how long do you reckon you'd survive if money suddenly became unusable?

since i was about 11 it's always kindoff bothered me that we all so dependent on people we've never met to provide ourselves with basic things like clean water, food and electricity. looking back these thoughts were probably inspired by strange rumours i'd heard about the second coming and the tribulation and christians not being able to use money.

at MCF the children wash in the river, the grow 95% of their own food and cook it using fire wood they collect. they do have electricity but it goes of so often you could hardly become dependent on it. there are no fridges so the chickens go from running around their pen to being served for dinner within 2 hours, and yes i learnt the whole process! (and i feel like i've taken my first steps to independence.)

step 1. place chicken between your feet, one foot on it's legs and the other on it's wings.
step 2. gently bend it's neck back, and cut of head with a sharp knife.
step 3. try and recatch chicken which is now running around with no head on (no joke).
step 4. hold chicken above hot water up-side-down to drain. submerge neck into water which will cause chicken to 'drown' and stop running around.
step 5. submerge whole chicken in hot water and then pluck the feathers.
(chicken will now look like it came from supa-value)
step 6. remove intestines taking special care not to puncture the little blue one (the guy i was helping only new it's name in swahili, so i'm not exactly sure which bit it is. they eat every other bit of the chicken except for that.)
step 7. COOK!

Monday, May 22, 2006

debriefing the MCF experience

The school in MCF (Mully's children's family) is one of the best in Kenya according to national examination results. i asked the headmaster what factors he thought contributed to the students success. he gave the following;

- the children get three meals a day so they don't have to worry about finding food and can focus on their studies.
- there is a doctor on site so they don't fret about getting sick.
- they get plenty of 'spiritual nourishment' which calms and inspires them.
- they know what it's like to be a 'destitute' and they are determined not to be one any more.
- they have more lessons per day and less holidays per year than other schools.
- if a child does muck up in class they are sent to visit the school councilor (an ex student and beneficiary of MCF) to work out the underlying issues. he makes sure the child feels heard.
- the teachers are really committed (even though they are not all trained) and because they live with the students they know them really well.
- they have a dad (Mr Mully) who says to them 'work hard and make me proud'.

african animals

spent the last three days on the Maasai Mara. We saw elephants, giraffes, lions, warthogs (which have the same attitude to live as our dog Jarra), hyenas, vultures.........

we were expecting our accommodation to be really budget camping, so we only took old grotty clothes and our sleeping bags. the 'camp site' turned out to be a luxury resort, which rivaled where we stayed in Bali for our honeymoon. the 'tent' had polished floorboards, a huge comfy double bed and gorgeous private bathroom. we ate a delicious buffet three times a day and drank 'tuskers' with rich Indians around the indoor log fire in the evenings.

it was quite strange being unexpectedly emerged in such luxury. We both loved it, but concluded we loved the MCF (children's home) experience more.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

back to civilization and the (relatively) easy internet access of Nairobi.

Africa has been none short of an incredible experience. We have a sense that we've learnt far more than we even realise.

can't even begin to some up all that is swirling in my head.

leave for London on Wednesday.

Love to you all x

Thursday, May 11, 2006


currently living on a little slice of heaven right down here on earth.
m.c.f ndalani children's home.
we spend our days planting beans, eating ugali, teaching english and attending daily devotions.
the children are remarkably polite and disciplined.
they hardly whisper a word in classes, which i (charlie) sometimes find a little frustrating.

the devotions are a highlight of the day. the singing is incredible. most of the songs are in swahili, so it's taking us a while to cotton on. casey's been getting into the african dancing too. we've snuck in the mp3 player to record the acapella singing a few times, coz i know i'll miss their singing.

we're writing this from the post office in Matuu - the nearest town with internet... it has 2 computers. Matuu is about 15kms from Ndalani.

one cool thing about Kenya is that Christianity is huge. As i'm writing this the post office radio is playing This is the air i breath by the parachute band. radios are always playing worship songs and belting out american sermons. most of the businesses seem to have some sort of biblical reference in their name.

bought some hair extensions today ($3) one of the girls is going to put them in for me on friday and saturday (it takes 2 days).

one of our favourite past times here (at the orphanage)is just wandering around and finding a little cute kid to pass time with. they find our hairy arms and freckles fascinating and seems to be able to make a 15 minute game out of bending our funny white fingers.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

caught up with one of our sudanese friends big brother last night which was great. neither of us have met our nieces, both born in perth.

we are currently at Ndalani Orphanage. There's about 400 kids aged 7 to 23, a school, a farm and the home where they all live. case and i will be both teaching and helping out on the farm. there's no phone or internet here.

so we'll catch you all later.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


this morning we went to the church that sheltered mary, joseph and Jesus when they arrived in egypt as refugees.

i can not quite put words how this felt... other than i felt very close to Jesus.

tonight we fly out to Kenya.

Friday, April 21, 2006


just spent 3 days in Alexandria, on the Afican side of the Mediterranean coast. this is the place where it was decided which 27 books would make up the new testament. the bishop of Alexandria (i think his name was Athansius) had the final word in about 260AD (i can't remember exactly but it was about 65 years before Constantine made Christianity the official religion in Rome).

i wonder how he decided which books to pick?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

the perfect ending...

last day in thailand (or so we thought)

downloaded all out photos onto our mp3 player and had a good reminise of our time in thailand - the people we'd met, the places we'd been.

ate a cheap yummy thai curry.

went to the slum where the barkers live and was immersed in the songkran festival in all it's glory. (on the way in the taxi had to stop in the middle of the road, blocked by groups of people soaking wet, dancing and covered in powder. the taxi driver locked the doors and made sure the windows were up. we slowly etched forward through the dancing crowd, who drew love hearts on the window and begged us to open them. the taxi driver let them down just a little and in came the arms, covering our faces in powder.)

ate yummy sweet sticky rice and mango with the barkers - truly gorgeous people.

went back to the hotel, packed neatly.

left for the airport at 12.30am, got there at one. our ticket said our plane left at 4.45 - heaps of time. casey looked at the departure board..... 1.00am ?????????????

we had missed our plane.........
so i am writing this from bangkok, not africa.

Friday, April 14, 2006

good friday

2nd day of songkran

good friday

so far we haven't found a christian church, i don't think there are many in bangkok.

how do we make today meaningful?
meaningful to us that is. good friday is meaningful whether i acknowledge it or not.

i feel like i need to attach some ritual to today to help me realise in the physical world what has happened in the spiritual.
i wonder what happened at my old church this morning. no doubt there would have been a service, which i would love to have attended.

my thoughts come to the cross.
to suffering.
i think of our burmese friends, who suffer.
my mind wonders to all those who face torture today.
my Jesus, please show your face to them.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

in bangkok again. leave for africa on sunday.

today is the first day of 'sonkran' the thai/burmese new year. basically everyone just throws water at everyone else everywhere for three days (at least). i've been hit twice today already. they also rub coloured powder on your face. 'farangs' seem to be high on the hit list.

the elderly go to buddist temples and the monks pour water on them in a more refined manner than whats's happening on the streets. the water is believed to wash away sins and brings good luck.

it's a pretty fun time as most people are on holidays and it's really hot. they put ice cubes in their water guns to make it extra chilli.

we've been on holiday for 2 weeks now... and we've done nothing but consume... accomodation, food, motor bike rides, movies, bus trips... it has become a bit meaningless and i can't wait to get to Africa where we can hopefully contribute something.


Thursday, April 06, 2006


just spent a week back packing in laos. great fun. heaps of english speakers to make friends with.

we caught a slow boat from the Thai Loas border to Lang Probang. It was a 2 day trip and we were suppose to stop over night at a guest house on the side of the Mekong. The boat was about 2 metres wide and 40 metres long, all wooden and covered in colourful flacky paint. There were about 70 'falangs' and 15 or so locals. the seats were small and hard, but the scenery was stunning.

it's coming to the end of the dry season so the rivers are low, and at one point we ran aground. our boat came to a grinding halt and then tipped to the right (i was sitting on window sill on the left and prepared to launch myself out) everyone else spontaneously jumped to the left... and the boat tipped to the left - too far. so everyone spontaneously jumped to the right, and the boat tipped to the right - too far. a Lao woman at the back screamed something in Loa and everyone sat down. the boat righted itself and we continued on, hearts beating a little faster.

later that evening we stopped on the side of the river. there were rapids ahead and the river was too low to cross. we were all instructed to get out and walk a km or so down river. hopefully with out the weight of the passangers our boat would be able to pass though. so we trouped off and waited down river, looking expectantly up the rapids, waiting for our boat. it didn't come.

their was only one man on the boat who could speak both Lao and English and he was a buddist monk. He gathered everyone around. "We have a problem" he began. "Firstly i would just like to say that i am a passenger and this is my problem too." clever man. "The boat is not able to pass through. we must walk back to the boat and sleep on the side of the river."

no worries.

we walked back and set up camp. it was a beautiful warm night and there was some nice white soft sand to sleep on. we set up three camp fires and they even managed to find us some fried rice and drinking water from a nearby village. it was actually turning out to be a perfect night... and i wish that's where the story ended.

first we ignored the lightning, then we ignored the thunder (except the Laos, they all climbed back on the boat to get the best sleeping spots) we could not ignore the rain. each drop felt like half a cup of water.

and by 9pm we were all huddled back on the boat. it was cramped. it was damp. the floor was hard and not quite flat. it was completely pitch black.

not the best night sleep we ever had...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Baanchivitmai Bakery

We are currently sitting in an internet cafe/bakery/restaurant in Chiang Rai called Baanchivitmai Bakery. It's sole reason for existence is to provide job opportunities for the local hill tribe young people so they aren't forced into prostitution or the drug trade. So simple and so effective. Why does it seem all so complicated when we are at home?

Charlie likes the marzipan!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

leaving MaeSot

got up at 5.00am.
dark, moist, warm.
my bag digs into my shoulders.
we walk past the monks receiving their arms.
we walk past the cage of 'illegal' refugees.
we hop on the bus and drive away.

we drive away.

Friday, March 24, 2006


last day in maesot today.

said a sad good-buy to class one this morning
said a sad good-buy to class two last night
the teachers from the refugee migrant school are throwing a birthday party for case tonight, which will end in another sad good-bye.
the people here are amazing.
we leave tomorrow to continue our travels of the great free world.
they stay in maesot, waiting..............

how can the world which is so wonderful to me be the same world which is so devastating to them?

Friday, March 17, 2006

teacher training

did a storybook session with teachers from the migrant school this morning (the kids are now on holidays for 2 months) it was great fun, very relaxed. (see photo bucket for pics)

they have never had any training before (no uni, no college, no PD) and they were really greatful. we sat around on the floor laughing a children's books together. they are such beautiful people.

heart full of love.
ego nicely plumped.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

walk on

the last elections in burma were in 1990. The Nation League for Demorcracy (NLD) won over 80% of the votes in a landslide victory. The ruling government responded by shooting or arresting many NLD party members. (Today their are around 150 of them in prison). Their leader is called Aung San Suu Kyi. She has become a national hero and icon and she inspired the U2 song Walk On She has been in and out of house arrest since the election. The burmese government army (ironicaly called State Peace and Development Council - SPDC) will allow her to leave Burma, but everyone knows if she did that she could never return, and so she chooses to stay.

a singing bird in an open cage...
the boy we prayed for yesterday was at school today... smiling :)

Monday, March 13, 2006


went to the boarder markets in the morning. bought some funkie hippie pants. caught the bus home. on the way we passed the famous Dr Cynthia clinic (the only place all the illegal burmese immigrants who aren't in the refugee camps can get medical care). a brand new mother hopped on the bus, 2 day old baby in arms. the mother looked at me beaming, and gave me one of the most beautiful smiles i've ever been given. a few kms down the road we were stopped by police who wanted to check everyone had their id. everone who had their little blue books pulled them out and nervously opened them for the police. those that didn't put their eyes to the floor... including the brand new mum. i held my breath, thinking surely noone is mean enough to arrest a brand new mum.

and, thank the Lord, today they weren't. after glancing at a few of the id papers the police waved us on. brand new mum resumed her beautiful smile. baby slept unknowingly in her arms.

in the afternoon we went to burmese church. they have it in a thai church, who very kindly allow the burmese to use their facilities. it's pretty obviously that there's a fairly major difference in class between the two groups -thai rish, burmese poor. the first service is in thai. then they all have lunch together, paid for by the church offererings. the burmese quietly walk around the eating thais and take their place in the pews. the burmese get to give a tithe (which goes to the thai pastor) but they don't get to eat lunch.

for once i could understand the sermon because it was given by casey! (with the aid of both a burmese and karen interpreters). he preached up a storm on james 2 (faith with out works is dead). quote: everyone's 'works' will look different. it is important we don't make too many rules on what works should look like. each of us must make sure our works look like jesus, and he looks a little bit different to everyone.

later in the afternoon we went to visit one of the school kids (from casey's soccer team) who was sick and hasn't been to school for 2 weeks. again it was a bamboo shack amoungst fields, no electricity and a little stream for water. chicks scurried about underneath. while we were praying for the 10 year old boy a couple of chicks jumped into the 'kitchen' and then into a cold saucepan full of potatos and onion. they hopped in and out of the pan having a good feed. eventually a man came along and kicked them out and put the lid back on the pan.

Friday, March 10, 2006

interesting things

in thailand "the West" and christianity are considered almost the same thing.

when it is someones birthday at the little christian church we have been visiting, the birthday person must stand up the front and everyone 'prays' the Happy Birthday song at them, eyes closed, hands raised, eye brows furrowed in seriousness. casey finds this very amusing.

'tooting' does not mean 'get out of my frickin' way' or 'you're hot' as it does in perth. it seems to mean something like, 'just letting you know i'm coming'. everytime a car overtakes us on our bikes they toot before hand.

pointing your feet at people is very rude (which is more of an issue than it sounds because most people sit on the floor, not on chairs).

putting a fork in your mouth is considered very rude.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


went to the burma border this morning to renew our visas.

went to the 'house' (bamboo barn-yard shack) of one of the kids from the migrant school this evening. his mum had invited all the teachers over for a thank-you dinner. the shack (one room. 3 1/2 walls) was in the middle of about 50 acres of veggie plants (owned by thais. worked, as usual, by burmese). we could see puppies and chicks scurring about through the cracks in the bamboo floor as we ate our banana flower curry.

they told us that their 12 yo son and his 15 yo friend (both who attend our school) will be moving to Bangkok tomorrow to work - they think in an orchard, but no one seemed quite sure. Bangkok is about an 8 hour bus drive away.
we've heard horror stories of girls being sent to bangkok to work.

as the sun set the candles came out (no electricty or running water at this place). the 2 boys sat in the middle and all the teachers prayed for them. the principal offered a few finals words of advise, 'don't take drugs, don't steal from or lie to your boss. Jesus loves you where ever you are, call on His name if you ever get into trouble.'

the familily is buddist but seemed happy for us to be there. the 12 year boy old had his little 3 year old sister on his back. i wondered what she is thinking this evening.


went to mae la refugee camp. bamboo city. 45 000 people nestled into the side of a tropical mountain... waiting. the 35 000 registered refugees get weekly meagre rations of rice, oil and salt. the family we visited were unregistered. they live (like everyone at Mae La) in their homemade bamboo house.

we were blown away by the impressive lunch they put on for us, which meant they would have (once again) gone with out.

we dropped of some beads and showed them how to make braclets. we're hoping to be able to sell them in australia to provide this family with a small income.

in many ways they refugee camps are quite incredible communties - people with nothing sharing everything they have. sadly though, there is alot of mistrust. people are scared of burmese military spies, who go into the camps pretending to be refugees. the result is a fragmented suspicious community who fear strangers - heart breaking.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

new story books from oz arrived today !! (thanks mum) so exciting. the kids loved them, and the teachers seemed pretty happy to. the first thing most of the kids did was just flick through the pictures and point to anything they could say in english... 'bird!' 'cat!' 'snake!' ...great day :)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

freedom of speech

been going through the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights with one of our adult english classes. this morning we did number 18.

'you have the right to think what you want and say what you like, and nobody should forbid you from doing so. you should be able to share your ideas also with people from any other country' (plain language version).

my mind is a bubbling pot of soup rather than a neatly organised speider's web. i can't seem to string a paragraph together so here's a few dot points.

  • mohammed cartoons (i assume they've been big news in perth)
  • thais openly critising their prime minister and demanding he resign.
  • our friends fear the police because they critise a government who shoots people at rallies and imprisons their family members without trial.
  • google censorship in china
  • 50 000 new bloggers a day in china (according to Time - we managed to find it in English YIPPEE)
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Luther (movie)
  • Constantine (not the movie - the actual man)
  • That 'crazy' guy who denied the Holocaust
  • who writes the history books?...... the winners.

it seems like in years gone by there was a certain elite who controlled what infornmation was recorded, kept and read. and of course there are still people trying to be the ones who control 'what gets out'.

i have heard this current age referred to as the 'information age' . far more people now participate in the writing and sharing of information. (including bloggers!)

hmmm. i would like to end this blog with a snappy oneliner that sums what i'm trying to say up.

any suggestions?


Sunday, February 26, 2006


cost of a bunch of bananas in maesot: 20 baht
cost of an xtc tablet in maesot: 20 baht
number of baht in an aussie dollar: 30 baht

so what do you do when the street kids ask you for money?

my mind flies into a whirl wind of motion with this issue. searching...searching for a train of thought which will give me cognitive equilibrium.


option 1. don't look them in the eye, focus on how annoying they are and walk right on past.
PROBLEM - i can't live with myself. i can't deny that they are human beings. the divinty in me dies if i do not respect the divinity in them.

option 2. give them a few spare change to appease my conscience.
PROBLEM - they might by xtc, and i've just made their life worse, but probably a kinder option than option 1.

option 3. sell everything we have, move to maesot and take them all in.
PROBLEM - maesot is 100's km away from the nearest beach, and (as corny, hippy, selfish as this is) it is effecting our spirits. also as far as we know these kids might have good mums already. remember we share not one word of common language with them.

option 4. while we're here carry a bag of bananas with us and hand them out to anyone who asks.
PROBLEM - it doesn't save the world and feels hopelessly inadequate. what happens when we leave? but maybe that's not a problem? i don't know?

whilst option 4 does not exactly strike me as a solution it does bring some small cognitive equilibrum to my mind. at least i can live with myself and sleep soundly at night.


our mate the monk


our mate who hadn't been sober for three days! we rocked up to english lesson on thursday 9am as usually to find everyone ready to celebrate! a ute came and picked us all up and of we went to the monastry.

our friend was already there. he'd spent the night there sleeping on the mountain. by the time we arrrived at about 10am he had new hair cut (shaved) new clothes (orange robe) and a new name.

monk rules include:
no harming animals
no eating meat
no drinking alcohol (praise the Lord!)
no eating anything after midday
no touching women (not even to shake hands)
no owning anything

he can be a monk for as long as he wants. the ute we went in was piled high with vegies (a donation to the monastry). and they cooked us all a big lunch to celebrate.

it was quite an incredible day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

22 february

it's 8.43pm.

it has just rained for the first time in 7 months in maesot... and it poured.
this morning seems a long time ago.

9:00 am
our friend (who is supposed to be at the monastry sobbering up) came to the english lesson, smelling of alcohol. through his broken, drunken english we managed to decipher that his dad has been arrested in burma. He's been beaten up and he's lost his two front teeth. our drunken friend said he's either going to become a monk or join the evil burmese army and shoot everyone. all he's consumed for three days is whiskey, no food or water, just whiskey. he told us that he is the one who should be in jail for stealing, not his dad.

he is very fortunate to have a good mates who are doing their best to look after him. he is such a beautiful, funny guy and he is breaking our hearts.

2:15 pm
there is a little girl at the school where casey coaches soccer with cerebral palsy called 'mimie' (fake name). i will never forget the first time i made eye contact with her. this afternoon i read her an obscure english grammar textbook. she's heaps smarter than i thought. the book was crap though. can't wait until the storybooks from mum and lj arrive.

played pictionary with our evening english class (the oldies who we watched madagascar with). they laughed from their guts. it was priceless.

the rain started and we were effectively trapped at our english class. it's a concrete 'office' where 7 people live. the walls are concrete, the floor is concrete. the only furniture is 4 plastic chairs and three coffee tables. during english class they sit on 2 straw mats on the floor and write on the coffee tables. i wouldn't be surprised if the 2 mats are 2 beds.

going to bed now
good night x

Monday, February 20, 2006


just had a fascinating conversation with a burmese monk.

we met him because we ride home one of the guys in our english class cos he's scared of the thai police, and the monk is staying with him.

he grew up in Burma when the country was still under colonial rule, so he learnt english at school (lots of the burmese people who are 50 plus speak quite good english).

he told us that buddha was not a god and never claimed to be, he only asked that people follow his teachings. he was keen to talk about jesus with us and encouraged us to follow his teachings.

the monastries seem to be wonderful places. all the monks live there and people can go to them if they are in trouble. they also provide free education to the burmese children.

one of the guys in one of our classes (late twenties) is going to stay at a monastry for a couple of weeks. the poor guy was in one of the famous burmese masacres in Rangoon. he was injured but survived by pretending to be dead. he is a really funny guy and had quite good english so we have become friends. unfortunately he smells of alcohol most mornings - which is why he's going to stay in the monastry - to sobber up. i'm pretty sure he also said he's going to sell everything he's owns and be poor so he'll have no money so he can't buy alcohol. or maybe it was sell everything he owns so he can buy more alcohol?? not sure... the language barrier sux.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

made our debut on Maesot radio tonight - 105.5 fm.

valentine's day is pretty big in thailand. it's the theme for the radio station for the entire month.
we got to talk about valentine's day in aus.

they love the fluent english!

one of those moments in time that seemed fairly unrelated to the rest of our lives, but got a good few laughs out of it!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

movie night

in the evenings we teach a small group of people english in their home (which is also their office). the average age would be forty something. all highly educated and quite an incredible group of people. all illegal immigrants. some off not seen members of their family for years.

last night for our english lesson we watched madegasgar... and they laughed their heads off!!! like it was the funniest thing they had ever seen in their lives. i doubt that they understood much of the language but most of the pranks were very visual. we all sat on the 'pyar' (mat) - except casey, they made him sit on a chair at the back (?!).

half way through the movie i had one of those moments when you stop and suddenly become aware of where you are and what it must look like from above. there's something very special (and i wonder spiritual) about laughter - especially when people can find it in the middle of oppression.

i hope when am in my forties i will remember last night.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


since i was a kiddie i had always imagined traveling the world to help other kiddies who, for some reason or another had no home and no mummy or daddy.

i assumed that in the world there were about 300 children in need of this sort of help and they all lived together in one little village that had no toilet. i imagined that i would buy them a field and teach to read and then they would all live happily ever after.

To this day I am not quite sure if it was love or my personal need to be significant that inspired this fantasy. Probably both. And it’s probably both that brought us to Mae Sot, Thailand.

So far we haven’t taught any kids. Which has been both positive an negative.

Why Positive?
I’ve been reading a few books on community development and NGO’s. One of the big problems is the amount of ‘3 month fly ins’. Volunteers who come in, give their heart and soul for a few months then bail, leaving behind a bunch of heart broken kids. The volunteers get to go home and show all their friends the cute pictures. The kids are left thinking that white people are heros. This thought kind of makes me squirm in my seat.

Why negative?
Adults simply do no laugh enough… and I am going mad! I never realized how much I needed my school kiddies to keep me sane. Spending day after day with solely adult company is squishing the life out of me. It’s like some sort of weird solitary confinement.

The Good News!
On Friday we wondered into a Christian book shop in the hope we might find anything (and I mean anything) written in English. Turned out the shop was closing down and it was their last day. I figured the girl working there was likely a Christian (she was) and asked her if she new of any English speaking churches (we tried thai, and sadly, for us it was a failure). She drew us a map and this morning we were there!

Great message on serving the poor (was in thai but quietly interpreted for us by the bloke sitting next to us). Turns out they have a school for migrant children (illegal refugees from Burma) attached to the church.

One woman literally jumped out of her seat when I told her casey was a sports teacher. “We have pray for a man to coach football team!” she yelled in her broken English at Casey. “Hallelujah!”

So tomorrow we go there. My kiddie fix. Can’t wait.

Monday, February 06, 2006


had to go to burma to renew our visa. was a bit like stepping into cambodia. got followed/lead around the whole time by a guy from the immigration department to make sure we didn't do anything dodge or even mention the word 'democracy'. also had to leave our passports with them for the day, just to make sure we left before dark.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Mr Tan

last week we were approached and asked if we wanted to go an a weekend english camp with 180 thai children. at first i was a bit nervous at the prospect of being picked up by a stranger and taken to an unknown place for the weekend. what if this was some strange scam? but my fears were complete laid to rest when i met Mr Tan.

with in 10 seconds of meeting mr tan (a Thai man with fairly broken english) he was so completely stressed out and excited about the english activites we would be leading, we knew there was no possible way he was secretly planning our kidnapping. he turned out to be quite a character. he introduced casey to the 200 plus crowd as 'Mr Crazy' and a doctor called Jerry as 'Dr Jelly' (both names stuck for the entire camp. the humour was of course lost on the thai kids but i found it hilarious). and he kept asking the children 'are you boring?' which we later figured out he meant 'are you bored?' !

anyway, great weekend. tomorrow we go to Burma for the day.
luv to you all (who ever you may be)
Miss Chocolate (as the kids called me!)

Monday, January 30, 2006

life mantra

so what has God been saying to charlotte... ?
i've really only ever felt a definable word from God 3 times in my life.

The first was in a moment of great crisis when i thought the weight of the world rested on my shoulders and i was desperate to get some guidance. and after many tears and solemn searching i could swear i heard God whisper, "Be friendly" - that was it, be friendly. Now that, my friends i can do. Be Friendly. If there's one thing i can do it's probably that. big sigh of relief. 'be friendly' that almost sounds like fun.

The next time, when i was again feeling overwhelmed by all the evils and meaness that goes on everyday i again cried out to God in desparation (having forgotten what i'd heard months earlier, luckily i'd written it down.) and what did i hear ... "Be childlike". Be childlike...? I brainstormed everything in my mind that i assosiated with 'childlike'. i reflected on my list and it actually looked bloody fun! not only could i do each of those things on the list, they actually described the person i want to be.

And now here i am in Thailand, again imagining that the weight of the world rests on my shoulders. My heart breaks with the stories i hear. My anger rages at how evil men can be and i wonder what on earth i am suppose to do... and the whisper... "Be kind". and again i realise that being kind is actually something i can do. i don't have to save the world i just have to be kind to people.

so there we have it.
my life mantra.

be friendly
be childlike
be kind

Sunday, January 29, 2006

picture this..

me and casey singing blink 182 all the small things (karaoke style) to 180 screaming and dancing Thai 11year olds.

half way though the second verse i had the thought, "if only mum could see me now..."

love you mum, mmwwwa

Friday, January 27, 2006

beautiful day

spent the afternoon arranging a new indoor orchid garden with the Thai lady who manages the guest house we are staying at.

case and i walked in to the guest house, back from our morning english lesson and found the entrance 'hall' full of plastic bags and old newspaper. at first i wondered why the place was such a mess until i realised that the 50 of so pieces of rubbish each cacooned a beautiful orchid plant.

the manager saw my delight and within a few minutes i was bare foot kneeling on the floor beside her, fingers covered in soil. she gave me my own corner of the garden to design and there i made my creation!

i even got a free coke for my efforts.
i have discovered that life is a river. it will inevitably flow toward the ocean, but for some people the river is very wide and choices can take one a good deal to the left or right. and for some people the river is very narrow, perhaps only a skinny stream. but regradless of the power an privilege a person thinks they have, they can not actually choose their destination.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


just found out jodi has had their baby. tears still in my eyes. what an incredible moment in time. i'm sure something must happen in the heavens every time a new human life enters this world.

the perfect clean slate.
the endless possibilities.

Hayley Camille Ingham is breaking my heart (though my smile is from ear to ear) and she's only 22 hours old. I love her sooo much.... and i wish like mad i could give her daddy a hug like the one he gave me on his wedding day.

to my beautiful family, i love you all so much.

aunty charlie x

Sunday, January 15, 2006

english lessons start tomorrow!

Friday, January 13, 2006


OK. We've been here a few days and we're slowly getting our heads around how this place works.

Because of the war in Burma (now Myanmar) thousands of Burmese have fled their homes in fear of the evil Burmese military government, and we've heard some pretty horrific stories that give us clues to the nature of this military. There is a small river between Burma and Thailand that's easy to cross. There are offical checkpoints, but people cross everyday all over the place - mainly for trade.

But the Burmese are not legally allowed in Thailand (or any where else until they manage to get their hands on the ellusive refugee papers). Which is kind of wierd because around 80% of this town are illegal Burmese immigrants. So everyday the police round up truck fulls of Burmese people and arrest them for simply being Burmese and put them in a cage. When the cage is full (only takes a day or two) a truck takes them to the other side of the border where they go to prison for a few more days. The migrant workers generally get released and often end up back in MaeSot within in a few days. If you're involved in anything political (such as promoting democracy of trying to tell the world about the evils of the Burmese military) the danger of being in a Burmese prison escalates dramatically.

So my question to the Thai police (and to the world) is "Well where the heck are the Burmese people suppose to go?" and the answer - the refugee camps. But of course these are full. And they're not free - you have to buy a spot in them. But you have to be living in one to get refugee status which might allow you relocation in another country (say Australia). So if you' re lucky and you know the right people (and you have the cash) you might hear of some poor soul who has given up waiting in
the refugee camps after ten years and you can buy his spot.

well, there's the history lesson. why did i use that word. it's happening right now.

re-reading all that is does sound like a bit of a text book.

what i really want to say is that today just after hubby and i had been planning another part of our 'world tour' i was talking to an 18 yo girl who is a politcal activist fighting for democracy in her counrty. she's scared to leave the house because of where the Thai police might take her. The rest of her family is 'somewhere' in Burma.

we walked past the cage today on the way back to our guest house. i hope none of them are politcal activitists.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

now surrounded by rice paddies and mountains of Mae Sot instead of the pollution and high rise buildings of Bangkok.

the dogs here are having a ball. (not like the ones in Bangkok that just laid around sleeping all day). but yes, they will get eaten, but not by the guys we're staying with - they're all vegetarian.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

great day today. hung out with Ash and Anji Barker at their home in the slum. quite an incredible little community (well actually massive -80 000 people). was actually surprised at how nice and clean the inside of their home was. the outside was more what i had imagined a slum to be... dogs, cats, children running all over the place, open sewers. but it didn't stink (today) and the countless smiling faces gave a cheerful vibe.
listened to a 1hour 20 minute sermon in Thai.
Anji showed me some jewellery that's destined for purchase in australian churches and possibly schools. i inquired to who made it - different groups of people; druggies, refugees, mentally disabled, widows, bar girls... i start to imagine the life implications of this little jewellery business for this motley crew if people in australia will buy it. but is it pretty enough? is it cheap enough? do people in australia actually give a tiniest s*** about some homeless girl they've never met...?
i actually have great faith in the australian consumer. especially the church going australian consumer.
i think of the australian purchasing power like a giant river. capable of smashing, crushing and drowning but also capable of bringing life and sustenance.
just depends if we can steer it in the right direction. can it be steered? i don't know. maybe one drop at a time.
i wonder what paragraph is suppose to come under that heading?

Friday, January 06, 2006

watched the sun rise over lake joondalup this morning. watched it set over Bangkok airport. was somehow very reassuring.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


it's a beautiful day
last day
feed the animals
drinking a beer
steams of golden light fly in threw the windows
casey's gone to the shop for those last few supplies
alone in my beautful home for the last time
i put my face against the wall and breath
and run my fingers across the dirty window (sorry hanning and jed, haven't got to that one) then run my hands over everywall in the house
i cry with joy
the sun is setting

Sunday, January 01, 2006