Friday, May 31, 2013

Dear next adventure (day 25),

Random roommates turned best friends. Two married. One engaged. One finishing out her life dream/career. One in the MTC. Two going to the MTC the same day. I still can't really believe that I'm leaving them. They are my entire social life, my everyday loves, my constant friends.

We've have an ongoing quote wall in our apartment for almost two years now. I'm not really sure what's happened to the physical quote wall butcher paper sheets from each year we lives together. I think our funny lines were typed up and saved somewhere. But it doesn't really matter. What matters is the hundreds and hundreds of giggles that have come out of them. 

The first quote was a good one. We hadn't known each other that long. All of us were from Utah except Katie. After many, many introductions to those housed around us, Katie finally shorted the story. "I'm from Iowa. I'm the foreigner."

Maybe it was one of those things that you had to be there for. Or perhaps it was only funny because it was US and we all laugh at the same random things.....but it was great. It still is, actually. 

We'd always ask her "Katie, what's even IN Iowa. I know nothing about that state."
Her response: "Nothing." But we always talked of road tripping there anyway. 

She's from a smallish town. Near the Mississippi River. She likes it. Not much going on, though, she says. 

 Her family is pretty close with the missionaries. She said she had them over all the time growing up. But when they added another set of missionaries to her home town, she was a little stunned. She hoped they would have enough to do. We all laughed. 

One word. One word changed my next 22 months. My whole life. I probably should have been thinking of a million other things. But as that one state's name floated over the FaceTime connection, my only thought was KATIE!!!


I can picture Rachel's reaction when she gets my letter. "NO STINKIN WAY," she's going I say. Her mouth will drop all huge and she'll scream in the way that only Rachel screams. I'd pay big money to see it in person though. I wonder if she'll think I'm kidding.

Des Moines Iowa. 

Gosh. I can't even spell it. Thank you, Autocorrect. 

I've been so busying telling all my loved ones that would want to know, that I haven't even told myself yet. I'm going. For reals. 

English speaking. 

Half of my heart wants the perfected language curriculum that re MTC brings. Half of my heart keeps remember how frustrated I was this week without communication. Half of my heart remembers that I still don't speak my own language very well. All of my heart is relieved. 

September 25. 

So two months here. Two months home.

The letter that changed my world. Opened over Facetime. 20 minutes before the coffee shop opened. I love technology. And that coffee shop is my new favorite place ever. And I loved my daddy's voice bring me the news.

Heck yeah, baby.
-(almost) Sister Sumsion

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Querida no comprendo (dia 23),

I've never really noticed this before, but I picture symbols in my head. Like when someone says "I'll meet you at four o'clock," I draw out a 4 followed by two dots and two zeros in my mind's slate board. I'm really slow at learning Thai, because I have to translate unfamiliar combinations of sounds into Romanized letters and then memorize what that black word looks like against the white background I create on the projection screen produced onto my frontal lobes. It's very tedious. 

I remember back when I was applying to be here, I thought: "Do I ACTUALLY want to work in an orphanage in another country? I won't be able to communicate with the children." I spoke to Keara, who worked in my "orphanage Plan A" last summer. She said "Oh yes. You will learn a lot about non-verbal communication." It was kind of the sentence that made me officially decide to come to Thailand. I can't believe I didn't see it before. Contact comfort: the exact thing I wanted to "see in action" through all my studies in Psychology. Thailand was the culmination of everything I ever wanted out of my degree.

But sometimes, that's hard to remember.

I've heard it said that "the definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing twice and expecting different results." So I was sitting there on the mat, on the grass, with a little girl that wouldn't speak or smile at me, having "one-by-one time," and the older group came outside with their bikes all noisy. I guess I was silly to think they'd leave us alone. 

Over and over and over again, the swarm of six 4-year-olds reached into her basket to take one of her toys.
"Mai. Mai. Mai."
It means no.
Over and over and over again. 
They'd reach in and I wouldn't let them take anything.
I thought my nerves would lash out and I'd start going off at them in English….but I tried desperately to keep my mind cool.
"Isn't ANYONE watching after you?"
No comprehension.
A teacher finally came and shoo-ed a bunch of them away. But still some lingered. I think I ended up just taking the little girl for a walk and bringing the basket with me so the other ones would forget about us and continue riding their bikes. I don't remember. My mind is hazy since then. But the girl ended up wanting to walk around for our whole hour-together-time anyway, so I stashed the toys and let her wander under my watchful eye.
Still no smile. 

So I leave desperate to speak their language, and hope with all my heart that if I'm supposed to spend my life's career helping children in a foreign country: then I will be called to learn a language on my mission.

24 more hours and I should know.

Dear catching-up,

Be disappointed already: photos inside Thai orphanages are strictly prohibited.

So you won't see the kids…..or me for that matter……

Just let the disappointment sink in for a bit.

Now let me tell you that I may be getting a few from my friend (who works at "Plan B" orphanage) because they trust her…..but it has been made clear to me that they will NOT go on my blog and are simply for my personal record when I arrive back in America.

Also: the three girls I play with at lunch snuck inside my backpack and found my camera yesterday and wanted to get their picture taken……..could I refuse them?

So you may see a few. But not here. 


So sorry I've been off the radar again for the last two weeks or so……but not really. I've liked being HERE. 

So I am now at orphanage #3. Plan A orphanage was called "Joy's House" and that one fell though before I left America.
So I interviewed at a government-run organization called Baan KingKaew. They are a "branch" off the main orphanage in Chiangmai called Baan Viengping, which I am currently volunteering at. Baan Viengping ("Plan C") has about 200 kids that stay until they are 18. Baan Kingkaew has about 40 kids from ages 0-6 years that they receive from Baan Viengping. Obviously, Viengping needs more help since they have more kids, so I am there. And it is good. :)

I fell in love with two little ones at Plan B (Kingkaew) and miss them so much that I often dread going to Plan C orphanage because it doesn't feel like home. Wuudii and Nat-a-pone. Holy rainbows. I can still picture their smiles perfectly.

I now leave at about 8:30 for Viengping. 
Play with 10 kids ages 1-2ish for about 2 hours. Usually blocks or balls.
Play with 3 girls ages 8/10ish that are "slow learners" and I think attend another school that's not public. 3.5 hours doing random things with them. 
Play with one kid from the first group for 1.5 hours. The nannies choose one for me. We can go for a walk or play with toys outside or play on the playground. 
1 hour trip home.
DINNER!!!! (My Thai mom is a cook and so this is always a glorious part of the day.)

Yeah! Adventures in Thailand!

LOVES. -chloemichelle

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dear me,

I have like a billion and one blog posts started. and then I go live life and I get more ideas and I never get time in my hyper-active mind to sit down and finish them cuz I'm kind of a perfectionist and I'm ok with that cuz this is my blog and I can do whatever I want.

But I love it here.

And that counts for something.

Also: I get the best internet connection when I'm lying in bed. BAD NEWS.

monk orange. i'm beginning to love this color.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dear Soul (Day 7),

I was stooped down a bit. I didn't realize it til long after. I think subconsciously i wanted to be at the same level as him. We are very much different, he and I. And yet very much the same. 

I felt uncomfortable at first. There was NO way I was allowed to be here. Alone. In a Buddhist temple. With a monk. 

It also took me awhile to realize that this was one of my life goals. To learn with monks. I never really knew how I could do it, seeing that I'm a girl. And a Mormon. But today, I did it. 

It was God-sent. Yes, I think Buddhists can be sent by God. :) Honestly, this morning had me a little depressed. What was I doing? Three months? In a completely foreign world? The sparkly-magic of tourism had already been punctured. My friend Nathan told me to find a temple. I was overwhelmed. 

So I took one street. One road. One building at a time. This was my second temple of the day. It was white. Unlike the other ones. I stopped in, and was about to head out. But this one captivated my attention more than usual. 

A monk was watering. He asked where I was from, in beautiful English. I was shy at first. Am I allowed to talk to monks? Turns out I was. 

I asked him to tell me where he slept. He showed me instead. 

He grabbed the keys to the locked temple. His room. The best bedroom a Buddhist could ask for, I think, inside a temple. He explained a bit, then showed me the spot of ground he slept on, encompassed by mosquito net. 4 hours a night, he said. He has enough energy. More time for meditation. 

He talked to me about stuff. How we don't need stuff. I agreed. I thought the conversation pleasant, to both agree on the need to live like a minimalist. I thought I'd be on my way. 

I was wrong. The conversation lasted until we were friends. 

He talked a lot. I wonder if its a Thai thing. In that case I think I want to live here forever. He told me about Buddhist holidays. And his tattoos. And about taking care of the people. And about taking care of your things, especially your body. That's why his clothes and his body looked good, he said, though they were 5 years and 41 years old, respectively. 

There was more. He told me about architecture.  I saw where the other 12 slept. Where they studied. Where they meditated. He told me I could see.

He told me to choose good. And choose happiness, instead of their opposites.  That your mind can only think one at a time. Everyone dies, he said. So choose happy to fill your mind. 

I asked where he learned English. He said one hour of language study a day. From songs. He pulled out his iPhone. Showed me how he learned about the past tense. "Wonderful Tonight." I laughed at the irony of it all, Nathan's company filling my heart. Jazz music filling the grounds of the Buddhist temple. Bliss.

As I rode away I almost cried. I told him I would see him again. I don't even know his name. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dear nerd power,

Ok so today was a great day in Thailand.

Blah blah blah.


ok not literally but go see it. It was beyond good.

Also: Thai popcorn is super fancy.

Just so you know.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear #thailandproblems (Day 4),

Problem #1: I'm not sure whether to put my paper inside a plastic bag or leave it out. There seems to be wetness everywhere. My poor journal. 4 days in and it's already got some serious character.

Problem #2: To explore or not to explore. I mean, this is my own home....but the last thing on earth I want to do is offend them. The first thing on earth being sleep. Sooooooooo tired. I take a crack at the pictures on the wall, the book shelf, and the Buddha statues. Awesome.

Breakfast is fried rice, miso soup, and sweetened milk. (Take THAT, roommates! No more making fun of me eating savory items for breakfast! Thais understand me.) I sat in the courtyard with silence except the birds. No one was up yet except for mom. She's a cook. Naturally, the food tastes like heaven. The cat bothered me for some food. I think I'm really going to like it here.

Problem #3: I think of the kids starting summer semester in Jerusalem. A small part of me wishes I could be there once more: but so much more of me wants to be here. The start of adventures are my favorite.

Problem #4: I WANT TO SEE EVERYTHING. Ong (my brother) took me on a tour of the city today. I kept wanting to just get out and walk so I could take everything in better. We went to the market and the supermarket (aka local venders vs. grocery store) and both were cultural experiences. I can't say which is better. Same goes for the mall. It was just like the US only the food is better and the people are cooler. I swear, I'm intrigued by everything here. Everything.

Problem #5: I don't know which one I want to be at more: BYU or Chiang Mai University. The campus is a few cement building in the middle of greenery that could be the jungle. Gorgeous. And yet the buildings are so totally Thai. Oh and it's like 4 times the size.

Problem #6: I ordered roti (pronounced row-tie) for lunch. Turns out its dessert. :) oh well.
dough with sweetened-condescened milk and sugar
please note the position of spoon and fork. how Thais eat. always.
Problem #7: I looked up roti on the Internet to learn more about it. I forgot it was an O instead of an A. Rati is the Hindu goddess of carnal desire. Haha. Bad news.

Problem #8: to explore or not to explore. I've been out all morning and I feel like I need a few hours to soak everything in. But there is much to see. I keep having flash backs to the first day I met Hannah and Alicia (my closest friends from Jerusalem) and it makes me want to get out the door. But sitting, reading, and writing on my bed is also wonderful.

Problem #9 that turned out to be more of a blessing then a problem....but that's basically the theme of my entire experience here so far....ANYWAY: the third orphanage fell through. I was upset, and turned to my brother (who was translating) for some kind of answer. He said they thought I was too qualified. That I needed to do more than play with young babies and teach them how to say animal names in Thai. They sent me to their other school: where I could actually help the kindergarten kids with developmental skills. 600 kids, but i could choose what i wanted to. I was beyond thrilled. I walked around, wanting to cry from happiness. I go in on Tuesday for an interview. I swear, if God didn't want me to be here, this would not all be falling into place so perfectly. I can hardly ask for anything. My life is so wonderful here.

And it's only day 4.

In other words, there AREN'T any problems here yet. Everything is calm and slow and absolutely perfect for me. I'm scared I'll never want to leave.


the view from my window. mosquito screen and all.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dear.....I dunno....cultural experiences? (Day 3)

My first instinct was to roll down the window. Let down my hair and allow the wind to rush, just like my heart is. Four months preparation. A long day (two days without a night) of airports. Now, I was here. Driving through Bangkok. Bangkok! Did I ever imagine I'd be here? And yet here I was. Somewhere REALLY foreign. Not like Europe. Or even Israel. I had a few flash backs of where i was a year ago this time. But those memories didn't feel foreign. That feels like home now. But this was it. This was Thailand. I rethought my thought. I expect the breeze to be warm now.

The drive today was just what I wanted. 10 hours of nothing but an introduction to my new home. I tried to decide if I would leave here in 3 months with the same emotional connection I had to Jerusalem. That was a place I had emotional ties to before I even knew I had them. Stories from my childhood. Friends I didn't know I needed. But this was....I dunno. Nothing I've ever heard about. Who goes to Thailand? So I sat there, trying to take everything in, happy that it's impossible to get overwhelmed because there are so many wonderful to see each moment that you can hardly focus on the previous one.

I love that the processed banana bread I bought for my first breakfast at Seven Eleven tasted the same as home, but that it cost about 30¢. And that the inflection of the radio actors' voices are recognizable as advertisements, even though the only things I understand are "thank you", "ka", and telephone numbers. I'm sure the girl next to me is laughing at my attempt to study the alphabet. 3 months to learn this complicated tonal language? As if.


Total time: 45.5 hours
Total cost: a few thousand Thai Baht and generous parents
Total result: No complications. 3 happy girls. A whole lotta culture and calmness.
Happiness: priceless

God is very merciful.

Love, Thailand Chloé.....or should I say โคลอี

waiting for the bus...from the eyes of three jet lagged girls

me, genevieve, kristen

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dear Embarking (Day 1.5),

Dear Jerusalem,
     I've been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end (--T-Swift). For awhile after I left you, I was depressed. I knew I couldn't return, but I didn't want to be anywhere else. It was painful even to think of you.
     For awhile after I found Thailand, I felt like I was replacing you. You were the best adventure anyone could have ever dreamed of. Of course, I had to move on with life….but….another foreign adventure? It seemed like mockery. Ungrateful. 
     I'm acting entirely on hope. Hope of something wonderful. I have absolutely no idea what I'm getting myself into. I miss my friends and family more already then I did half way through my last study abroad. It hurts to leave this time, knowing things will never ever be the same. This is a new phase in my life. A new start. And it's entirely thrilling. And by thrilling I mean I'm sick to my stomach. But sometimes we just have to do the best we can with what life has given us.
     There is nothing to do but live this day, today. Nothing to fear but……i don't know……disappointment. That it won't be as good as I want it to be. But that's the thing about relationships, you never know what will happen. That's the thing about adventure: you never really know what you are getting yourself into.
     And coming from someone who loves to control and predict, that's a very big deal.
     Here's to you, my new love. Here's to something insane and wonderful. Here's to risk. Here's to trying.
     Even if it fails.
     You will always be with me, Jerusalem. I love you more than words. But: Jerusalem Chloe, meet Thailand Chloe. She's here to take on the world.

said goodbye to this boy for 2 years and 3 months

and this girl for 1 year and 10 months 
(Aust--I'll see you soon)
(p.s. this was "make a smile like you really love each other" picture)

Everything is alright. Just different.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Dear calm, family got new grass like a few weeks ago or something. It's still trying desperately to grow in. Poor thing. It's struggling: major dry spots all over the lawn.

My dad was going to mow it today so it could "get started" on it's growing process and he asked if I would.

I had nothing pressing to do, and was SO happy to help him out. He's so good to me and it was the least I could do.

The grass didn't particularly need mowing. I think I cut like a half a centimeter off. But it wasn't important.

I was happy, doing what my dad wanted.

My puppy stared at me with those curious eyes and seemed to ask, "You know that you're just going around in circles with that contraption, right?" I could tell he thought I was a silly human. I tried to explain to him what I was doing, but to no avail. He didn't understand.


I am a girl who believes in a God that wants me to progress. Sometimes things happen. Not everyone will understand. And you may begin to wonder if you are going in circles. But I believe in a God who knows me. And who looks at my lawn with pride.


Some complications came up with Thailand. I'm pretty sure I'm still going. I don't really want to talk about it. I've been having to do a bunch of re-arranging and am kinda off the radar for a few days (sorry if you have been at the receiving end of that this week). But the point I'm trying to make is that everything's ok. I'm pushing forward, the best I can. And I am being taken care of. I feel calm about everything. Which is kinda new. Ask my friend Joshua, he can tell you how much I stress. :)

-Thailand Chloe

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dear Grandpa,

Thank you. For being awesome.
My life goal is literally to be where you are.

A member of the church at 79 years old.
Happily married after 60.
Owner of the best library known to man.
A farmer.
Absolutely and fantastically brilliant...which includes world travel and lots of experience.

Thank you for inspiring me. Moving pipe on your cattle ranch today was like breathing life into the nature-needing part of my soul again. I want to feel like that forever.

I love you.
-your third oldest granddaughter

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dear independence,

This is the face that grabbed my attention two seconds longer than normal today. Two brief second where I thought, "I'm so glad he's my best friend." And then enjoyed that moment for the rest of the day.

I can theorize all I want about what makes people bond together and why people are rude and what makes people happy and why people do the things they do. But it's nice once in awhile to be happy without a reason in the world. Or maybe there is a reason. But I'm too distracted to think if it.

Today was just a good day. Spent with my bestest friend. Knowing, at each moment, that we both wanted to be there. And sometimes that's all you need.

'nuff said. And yet, this post doesn't even do it justice. And I have a feeling it never will.

Love, Clo