Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chiang Mai Photo Exhibit


I have entered my first Photo Exhibition which starts on Nov 14th and runs until the 29th. Let me back up though and tell you that I'm not a professional photographer and I joined a photography group in Chiang Mai to hone my skills. This is the 2nd year the Chiang Mai Photographic Group (CMPG) has put on an exhibition. I feel very lucky to have 7 photos represented in the exhibition. The theme of the exhibition is Chiang Mai and Asia in general. I have 3 pictures from my Mission trip in India and 4 pictures from around Chiang Mai. I originally had 19 pictures entered, but we all had to vote on other photographers pics and I ended up with the final 7 in the show. This announcement is showing 2 of my pictures in the exhibition. The small picture on the left was not voted in. It is actually a picture of Acacia running in the rain during the monsoon season here in Chiang Mai.
I'll post the other pictures that made the cut in another blog post. For those of you living here in Chiang Mai come on out and check out the show. There are some fantastic photos of Chiang Mai and Asia.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Work with Mai




In a previous post I told about my work with Hope Home, the Christian residential home for orphans with disabilities. I was matched with Mai, a 13-year-old boy who was neglected and spent his first 11 years in a bamboo cage in a remote village. Mai was progressing very well with physical therapy and receiving lots of love and attention. I looked forward to our twice-weekly visits. However, one day I went to see Mai and he was gone. The staff said that his legal guardian came without notice and took him away. I was devastated. He had spent a year with us and the staff, and he was loved by everyone. Acacia and I had a special bond with Mai and didn’t understand how something like this could happen when things were going so well.

It turns out that the reason Mai’s guardian withdrew him was due to a dispute amongst adults about something that had nothing to do with Mai. I vowed to track down Mai and make sure he was OK. About three weeks later, I saw an ad pinned on an expat news board seeking a volunteer to work with a neglected boy named Mai. I was interviewed by the guardian, who made it clear he wasn’t thrilled with Christians, but I was readily accepted since no one else had volunteered!


I visited Mai at his new “home” and was sad to see his new living conditions. Although his caregiver was very caring, she was also running a daycare out of her home and was taking care of 13 other small children. I know how hard it is to take care of my own two children, let alone a special needs child and 13 others! And this was her first experience with a disabled child. Her home was a very simple, rustic home with a concrete slab for a floor. This is where I first found Mai, lying on the concrete by himself, being taken care of physically, but he was again being emotionally neglected. I continued visiting him twice a week and constantly informed the guardian about Mai’s dismal living situation. After two months, Mai was moved to a new, permanent residential home which was better able to care for him. I am happy to say that Mai has a good home he shares with two other boys and is receiving quality care. I still go out and visit him when possible.



Surprisingly, a few months later I received a phone call from Mai’s guardian. He asked if I could help with finding a Christian assistant at the new home. He said that the Thai caregivers he had hired kept leaving and were not committed to working with the children. The main caregiver said that he should hire a Christian because they had good hearts and would be loving and faithful to the children. Oh, how God does work in mysterious ways!

I am so happy that I was able to be a part of God’s plan for Mai. I was able to act as a neutral party between Hope Home and Mai’s guardian and help assist in his new placement and assure that he was being well take care of. Also, God was beginning to open Mai’s guardian’s eyes to Christianity. Although the staff of Hope Home and I dearly miss Mai, I trust that I was used for His wishes.

Please keep the children of Thailand, especially the orphans and ones with special needs, in your prayers.

Shelly Faucett

Anna's 6th Birthday


"Happy 6th Birthday Honey" Once again tradition states that a pancake in the shape of the birthday persons age has to be produced. The girls love this tradition and love Daddy's pancake making ability. I am quite the pancake maker if I do say so myself.

After the Birthday breakfast Anna was hard at it opening presents from the family. Anna is actually a slow present opener. Sometimes it can take days for her to open presents. We wonder sometimes whose kid she is??????

Anna had invited several friends from school to join in her Birthday party. There were lots of fun games and activities like this quick change relay race.

Poor Anna took forever to blow out these relighting candles. It was sure fun to watch.

Anna and all her friends hamming it up for the camera! Happy Birthday Sweetheart!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Acacia's 8th Birthday


First of all, sorry it has taken me so long to update the blog. Second of all, Happy Birthday Acacia!!!!!!!!! 8years old!!!! Where did all the time go? This has become sort of a birthday tradition of making a pancake in the shape of the number of how old the girls are. I put in lots of chocolate chips and sprinkles. The girls love em!!

We couldn't find a candle in the house, but did find a sparkler. She didn't try to blow the sparkler out.

One of the many gifts that Acacia received. Acacia loves animals and loves to help Mommy and Daddy with all our injuries. I think she will make and great Nurse, Doctor or Vet someday.

Acacia had her birthday party at Laguna Homes pool (the girls favorite pool). They love it here so much because they have the slide. That is Acacia catching some air at the end of the line.

I swear the girls did this train about a thousand times that day. They had a blast!!!

Acacia and her friends making the big leap into the pool together! You go girls!

Acacia on a solo flight down the slide. Nice superman pose honey!

All that swimming makes you hungry and what better to eat than a ice cream sundae.

No party is complete without a game of twister.
Happy 8th Birthday Acacia WE LOVE YOU!!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gone before their time

I was at the CAM office last week doing my usual thing. Working on the computer, sending emails and organizing photos for our new youth peer photo project. I went to go get a cup of coffee and I saw my office director Jaruwan going through old photos of kids that CAM took care of back 10 years ago. I stopped to look at photos with her while she described the kids lives. All the kids looked so happy and Jaruwan had a big smile on her face as she was telling stories of these kids. Like the kids in the swimming pool. That was the first time any of them had ever been in a swimming pool. After she tells me the story, she has kind of a sad expression when she points to the young boy on the left of the swimming picture because he passed away shortly after that due to HIV/AIDS.


She said the boy was around 8 or 9 at the time of his death. All I could think about was that my oldest daughter was almost 8. I couldn't fathom losing her at such a young age.
She went on to describe the other kids in the pictures. Each one had her smiling as she reminisced about the laughs they shared and how they touched her life. During all of this she kept pointing at kid after kid and said he's passed away and she's passed away. I could feel the tears start to well up in my eyes. I felt so helpless. These kids didn't do anything wrong, yet they are the ones paying the price with their lives. In America these kids could have been saved with Anti-Retro-Viral medications. Over here it was a different story back then. Fortunately, the situation is better in Thailand now although we still have a long way to go. There are many kids that fall through the cracks and don't receive any treatment. CAM tries desperately to reach all the kids affected and infected by HIV. Please pray for all the forgotten children that are suffering with HIV/AIDS.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hope Home

I thought my work in Thailand would be primarily related to HIV/AIDS education due to my background as an ESL teacher and having been an HIV/AIDS instructor for the American Red Cross. While I have been assisting Brett with grant-writing and proposals for the Church of Christ in Thailand’s AIDS Ministry (CAM), I have also found my own calling.

I heard about a place called Hope Home, which is a residential home for kids with special needs that opened up seven months ago. I visited and met the lady running the home and the seven kids living there. All of the kids have cognitive impairment, cerebral palsy, brain damage, or fetal alcohol syndrome. They’re either orphans or have been abandoned.

The kids are now getting proper medical care and nutrition and physical therapy. I saw that the caregivers were busy taking care of the children’s physical and emotional needs, but could use some direction playing and interacting with the kids. I immediately knew where my gifts could be used!


I have now started “play therapy” at Hope Home. I visit the home and bring differently themed play to the children. I received some generous donations of cognitive toys from friends in the United States and now have different baskets of activities and toys for different themes. For example, Tuesday is music day. I bring in basic musical instruments, and we sing songs and play music. Friday is texture day when I bring in different textures and things for the kids to feel. Last month I brought in chunky crayons and it was the very first time that six of the kids had ever held a crayon. They needed assistance, but they were coloring! The great thing is that the caretakers are getting involved and are playing and interacting with the kids more.


Mai, who spent 11 years in a bamboo cage, now receives phyical therapy and the attention he needs.


One boy, Mai, touched me very deeply. When I first saw him I fell in love with his smile and bright eyes. I inquired if there was a child who needed extra one-on-one attention and was matched with Mai. I learned that Mai was rescued from a poor village and spent the first 11 years of his life in a cage underneath a bamboo hut. Luckily, he has found a home at Hope Home. In the past six months Mai has put on weight, received medical care, and is now getting the physical therapy and attention he needs.

In addition to play therapy, I am almost finished painting murals on the walls in the physical therapy room! When I began, the walls were plain white. I have painted Noah’s Ark, baby Moses floating in the reeds and Miriam, and a boat with “fishers” of men. I still need to finish Joseph and his coat of many colors, but should be done soon.



I never imagined myself working with special needs kids, but when I visited the Hope Home it just felt right. It shows you that God has his own purpose for us and leads us to where we are supposed to be.

Friday, July 17, 2009

4th of July in Chiang Mai


The sweet taste of fresh watermelon shared among good friends. Ahhhh...... this is the life. Of course we have to eat it as fast as we can because it is a watermelon eating contest thank you very much. Every year during the 4th of July the U.S. Embassy puts on a celebration. It is great to see all these Americans get together and show their patriotism. Makes me glad to be an American. The 4th of July is one of our favorite holidays and we all miss going to the parade in downtown Huntington Beach. It was a yearly tradition that the girls loved.

Anna enjoying her Thai friends and Farang friends. They ran around all day/night playing. It was great to see them have so much fun.

Acacia doing her best at the tug-o-war. Look at that determination on her face. Wow!!!! Keep going honey!

There were lots of kids games like the egg race. Steady........ don't drop it honey! Acacia got to see a lot of her friends that she hasn't seen during the summer.

Happy 4th of July everybody. We miss and love you all. Maybe we will be home sometime during the 4th one of these years.
Love the Faucett Family
Brett,Shelly,Acacia and Annapurna

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Typical day in Chiang Mai


I was taking Keith and Shelly, who are friends visiting from Albania, to get a Thai massage. Shelly and Keith were in Peace Corps with us in Moldova and now Shelly is the Admin Officer for Peace Corps Albania. On the way out, while we were driving in the Moobaan (neighborhood), we spotted an elephant walking along the street. Which, surprisingly, in not an uncommon occurance. Just a typical day in Chiang Mai. These pictures are taken while sitting in the car at the gate exit of the moobaan. It still amazes me sometimes to see an elephant just walking along the street. What a trip!

The mahout (elephant handler)always has food that you can buy to feed the elephant, which this case is was bag of sugarcane. The elephant reached into the car with its trunk and was practically in my lap while I fished a 20 baht bill out of my pocket. The elephant immediately took the 20 to give to the mahout. They have quite the system going.

The money changes hand and the transaction is complete. Now I can feed elephant his well earned sugarcane. I'm also trying to take pictures during all this with Shelly's camera. Shelly is sitting in the back seat and enjoying the show of me getting acosted by the elephant.

Here we go again for another round of "grab the sugarcane from Brett's hand". Man, elephants are strong in case you didn't know. Especially their trunks. At one time I thought he might take my finger with the other sticks of sugarcane.

Wow!!!!! what an experience! Bye Mr. Elephant and we hope to see you soon!

Wave bye-bye Keith and Shelly and welcome to another typical day in Chiang Mai. I wonder if they will have a chance to see an elephant walking the streets of Albania? I doubt it! It was great having Keith and Shelly visit. I'm also glad they got to have a surreal experience like this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby Sparta and Lucky Charms



Here we go again! We adopted 2 new kitties, teenagers really. Baby Sparta the tabby and Lucky Charms. We got these lovable little purr boxes from a guest house/restaurant here in Chiang Mai. They had about 10-12 cats hanging around the place and all up for adoption. We actually just happened to stop by the place not realizing it was a kitty sanctuary.

I hope that there won't be any sad stories to report in the near future with these ones. They seem really healthy and are very lovable. Acacia and Anna are in love with them. I think they are Ok too. They are quite comical with all their running around the house attacking each other. Let's pray that these guys are keepers!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Blurry

When Shelly and I joined Peace Corps we had to go through a lengthy physical exam. During our eye exam the opthamologist performed the vision test where you had to say which way the "E" was facing going from larger letters to smaller letters. Shelly and I were surprized that we both scored 20/15 vision. That is better than the standard perfect vision score of 20/20. That was 10 years ago when I was 34 and still had the remnants of a 6pack too. At least a 2 pack for sure, or was that Toopak Shakur. I don't know, anyway.....Where was I? I think I'm losing brain cells too!
Oh yeah, ever since coming to Thailand I've noticed that I have trouble reading books in the 12in to 16in range. But, how could that be I have 20/15 vision. The Doc even said so. I am falling apart. Instead of the 6 pack I now have a pony keg and I feel like I'm going blind. I have to hold reading materials at arms length to read anything.

I would keep rubbing my eyes, maybe I just had sleep in them. No, it was old age. I came to a realization that I'm an old fart. At least I have my hair!!
Shelly got me these reading glasses and now it is like I can see again. Wow!!!! vision neat! Brett like read book. Thanks Honey for kickin it with your old man for all these years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chiang Mai Challenge 2009


My good friend Andy says "Hey Brett do you want to be my team mate for the Chiang Mai Challenge this year". Shelly and the girls were off to the States for a month so this would be the perfect time to train for it. So, I said yes with some reservations because we only had 5 weeks to train. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I hope Andy knows CPR? I'm not in the best shape anymore and this sounded like a serious race. Andy assured me it would be FUN!!!!! Really a laugh riot! So, we started our training regimen by doing multiple disciplines a day. For example, we might do a bike and swim one day and the next would be a run,bike and swim. Every once in a while we would throw in a kayak after a bike ride. It turned out to be a lot of fun training and it was great to be outside getting some much needed exercise too. The big day was coming up and we were trying to squeeze in training sessions here and there as much as we could. The girls arrived back in Thailand on May 7th and the big race was on the 9th.

Unfortunately, these are the only pictures of us during the race. I wasn't about to lug a camera around the course. Shelly took these pictures as we were about to begin the race. Look at how oblivious and happy I look. The night before the race the sponsors put on a dinner and explained the rules of the race. I asked during the Q/A session what the distances of the different legs of the race were and received the response " If I tell you it wouldn't be an adventure". I still don't know what the distances are today. The race was a combination of mountain biking, trail running, kayaking and swimming. We started the race off with a run around the stadium and made our way to the mountains and began a very steep ascent. Our running turned into mountain climbing. Andy and I decided before the race to start off very slowly so that we would not burn out in the middle of the race. It turned out to be a good strategy because we were passing people left and right along the steep ascent. A lot of the racers were jetting off fast in the beginning. We just kept going slow and steady. The end of the first run we had to climb a rope wall and then start the mountain biking stage. Our time for the first run was 1hr 33min 58sec. Everybody was racing in teams of two. Andy and I were in the Masters category which meant our combined age was over 80yrs. They also seperated participants in categories of Extreme and Adventure. We were in the Adventure category. We decided to fuel up on power bars and rehydrate ourselves. We seemed to be the only people in the water station area eating and drinking. Everybody else was racing to get on their bikes to start their next leg of the race. We also started passing people on the trail that left immediately after the run without drinking or eating. They started to burn out too quickly.

At the end of the first bike leg we ended at the edge of a resevoir. Our 1st bike time was 1hr 11min 28sec. Fortunately, Andy and I trained on the same mountain trails that were in the race so it was very familiar to us. After each leg of the race Andy had to scan the wrist band with a chip in it at a computer for our times.
The swim section was actually kind of a joke. We had to put on a life vest and wade across the resevoir to the other side. Half of the swim was walking through the thigh deep water. 1st swim time was 11min 41sec. Next stage was the kayaking. Each team was given a map to reach 3 points around the resevoir and collect 3 tokens to take back to the race staff to prove you went to all these spots. My shoulders were killing me at this point. My right hip and right knee were throbbing too. The time for the kayaking portion was 34min 11sec. In between all these legs of the race was spent at the water stations guzzling water and gatorade and sponging off with ice water. The temperature was in the high 90's low 100's with very high humidity. The temperature was the killer because it would sap all your strength. After the kayaking we started the 2nd run leg which was by far the hardest. There was no running involved, it was all mountain climbing up the steepest trails known to man. We had sections that had ropes set up to climb up parts of the mountain and bamboo ladders set up because it was too steep to climb without this help. The descent was steep and dangerous too. The trails were very narrow in parts with sharp drop offs on the sides and leaves covering the trails. Very precarious! The end of the 2nd run seemed to last forever which followed a long canal and had no shade whatsoever. This was a point in the race that I thought what in the H&!! am I doing here.

We finally made it to the water station and I squeezed ice water from the sponges in the ice water buckets all over me with great relief. The 2nd run time was 1hr 42min 40sec. The scenery was beautiful and the second run followed along a spectacular waterfall. Too bad I couldn't enjoy it!

We had a second swim/walk across the resevoir to pick up our bikes for the final leg of the race. Our 2nd swim time was 15min 37sec. The final bike leg was great because we were so familiar with the route it was liking being at home. We ended up passing two teams during this portion and were actually racing to the finish. Before the race I was joking with Shelly that she could visit me in the hospital after the race. I thought for sure I would be in room 215 at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital. Our 2nd bike time was 37min 59sec and our overall time was 6hrs 7min and 11sec. Andy and I placed 15th out of 29 teams. Not too bad for our first time and only 5 weeks of training.

This is a typical day in the life of a Mission worker here in Chiang Mai. Hey, Andy we better start getting ready for next years Challenge! I say that now after the soreness has worn off. I hurt in places I never knew I had.
It was great fun and I'm glad I did it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

SONGKRAN


Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year. It marks the time when the Sun passes from the zodiac sign of Aries into that of Taurus and is celebrated every year on April 13 or 14. In fact, Songkran, which once was not only the traditional but also the official Thai New Year, spreads from over 3 days from the thirteenth to the fifteenth. But in reality it is over 5 days.
In the provinces, it remains an occasion for young men and girls to meet. The season is just right for leisurely courtship, with the rice harvesting finished and the planting of the new crop not yet begun. In the North, around Chiang Mai, sand is taken into temple compounds at this time. It is believed that this will bring good health and prosperity, and that the more sand one takes into the compound, the better. The sand is built into miniature chedi, or pagodas, which are then garlanded with flowers- another good chance for boys and girls to meet.
It is also one of the BIGGEST WATER FIGHTS' you'll ever see in your life! If you don't want to get wet you better not leave your house for three days.


Most of the action is centered around the moat which also serves the purpose of becoming an endless water source to be hurled at anyone and everyone. There are tons of trucks circling the moat with its bed filled with people. They usually have a large trash can filled with water and often the water is cooled down with big blocks of ice. Fortunately, Songkran coincides with the hottest time of the year. The country wide water fight becomes a welcome relief to the scorching heat.

It is a family affair with everybody getting into the action. Unfortunately, the girls are back in the states and I am by myself here. I know next year they will not want to miss it. I felt like a 7 year old boy during Songkran. What an amazing feeling to have a water fight for 3 days in the middle of town. Think of that happening in the States. Surreal!!!!1


This is our friend Melody throwing water on a little kid and vice versa. Melody was Acacia's first grade teacher last year.

The streets are filled with families on motorcycles. Can you imagine get a bucketful of ice water thrown on you as you try to navigate a motorcycle. I don't know how they do it.

This little girl was so cute! I insisted that she throw some water on me and she was kind enough to oblige.

Melody helping fellow Chiang Mai residents beat the heat. Keep up the good work Melody.

This is a view of the moat. The water is quite dirty, but after a while of bucket after bucket thrown in your face you forget to care.

People dress up and wear silly hats like this guy wearing an appropriate watermelon hat.

I don't believe that is their real hair, but I'm not sure.

Oh, man! She got them good! When you are in the back of a truck you are a sitting duck.

Nice throw. I think they were a little wet after that.

There are bands playing and parades going on throughout town. It was such a fun and festive atmosphere. It was like the whole country was a huge Chuck- E- Cheese "where a kid could be a kid". It was AWESOME!!!


It is hard to tell in this picture but I am soaked to the bone. GOOD TIMES!!!!!!
So many of the expats and missionaries living here in Chiang Mai talk about how they hate Songkran because they can't get anything done around town for 3 days. I found it to be the funnest time I've ever had in Thailand. I love it. I know my girls will love it too. Are you kidding me a country wide water fight for 3 days. They won't be able to get enough of it.