So why do we want to go to Thailand? I’m glad you asked. I really like telling this story, but it takes a while, so you might want to sit down.
We had been considering moving to another country already. Visiting our friends in Thailand in the summer of 2015 sounded like a lot of fun and a good way to get our feet wet in the whole international-travel-with-small-kids-arena. We let a close friend of ours, Patti, know about this and that I hoped to see one of her sons, Sean, while in Chiang Mai and possibly help out in his fields (because I thought he still had his own farming project). She informed us that he no longer farmed but was basically operating an organic CSA by distributing for 5 privately owned farms. However, she did say that her other son, Aaron, was looking for a farm manager for their non-profit, the Charis Project. I had heard a lot about the Charis Project but didn’t really know anything about it. So my wife and I looked at their website together. You should check out their youtube video: it’s embedded below.
Shannon realized before I did that this was pretty much everything that our family wanted. There was agriculture, the opportunity to help kids, adventure and challenges. That all happened back in August of this year, 2014. We both came up with the idea independently of each other that I should go to Thailand by myself, spend that time with our friends there, and see if Thailand was where we might find the good life for our family. I purchased a ticket and went there in mid-October.
I arrived in Chiang Mai and spent 4 days with our friends, the Heines with their many children (most of which are fostered because that’s why they are in Thailand: to love kids) and Sean and his family. I had a few adventures, went to a waterfall and saw some truly amazing organic farms. One of the farms was on the edge of a forest where tiger tracks had been seen.
I then went to Mae Sot where Aaron and his family live. You can learn more about them at www.shelaughsatthedays.net. I spent 4 days with them and Aaron showed me what the Charis Project is all about. We went to their learning farm where I got to actually farm with him. We made organic pesticide out of rice whiskey and plants. We helped to further their worm bin project which I will write about soon in another post. I met the current farm manager, Sak-Chai, who is a very wise and hardworking young man with similar goals and visions as me. We also toured the Charis orphanage and the farm that they cultivate in order to make the orphanage self-sustaining (see the youtube video). We went to a Karen and Burmese village where Charis Project has been teaching English and offering prenatal classes. I was asked to teach the children about why hand-washing is so important. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of what can be done in Thailand.
Oh, and I didn’t mention the food, did I? It really is as good as everyone says it is. But the most memorable experience was when I rode by myself into Chiang Mai on a mo-ped with only a mental map of where I was going and absolutely no form of communication. I ran out of gas about half a mile away from the house. I had to walk the mo-ped another half mile to the gas station. If it was the old me, I would have just gone back to the house. But this was an adventure. So I went into the city, toured the moat that goes around the old city, and went into a huge indoor market. On the way home I made a wrong turn and fell into a police trap. I didn’t have a license on me and was charged 400 Baht. I only had 300 Baht ($10) so I paid that and got back on the rode. I made it home and it was at that moment that I knew it: we can do this. We can move to Thailand and we’re not going to starve to death or be left out in the cold (well, actually, it’s rarely ever cold in Thailand but you get the idea).
And so here we are, preparing for the move of our life. But when I say move, I’m not referring to the physical move. What I mean is a spiritual movement. The letter to the Hebrews, in refererence to the forefathers of the Christian faith, says:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
We want to find that city. It may be a state of being, some celestial resting place or a literal and physical place on this earth. But we want to find it, because we know that that is where we will find the good life. We’ll still have tears and pain, but we’ll be home, and we’ll be satisfied. And I think Thailand, amongst Burmese refugees and our friends at the Charis Project, is that place.