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Category Archives: AJ’s Adventures

So Much To Say

Finally, I am able to get on to my blog! I’m not sure if I am more excited about having access to the blog or actually having time to write something.  I could literally write for the next hour and still not cover everything that has gone on since we got here.  Let’s just say that it’s been so busy that I am taking my first day off since we got here, on the 27th.  And even still I feel like I need to work because there is just so much to do.  But even in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle, it is beyond cool to be able to walk 12 steps and see the girls. 

Speaking of which, they are having the time of their life here.  Our friend just accepted a job here as well and she has a little boy that the girls love playing with.  That plus another little boy and two other little girls, and they are in playmate heaven. 

Despite not having any furniture yet, we are settling in quite nicely.  It is amazing how much more comfortable the carpet feels than the mats in Thailand.  555 (that’s lol in thai) (actually, you pronounce 5 as ha, so 555 would be hahaha) Though there are many other things that I do miss about Thailand.  Strawberry drinks for one, but I digress.

Some of you might be wondering, like I was, what exactly a dean does.  It took me several days to come up with a good analogy but the best example I can give you is that of a pastor.  Many of you who are Christian and grew up in the church, probably at one time or another have wondered to yourself, “What does my pastor do besides preach? What else could he possibly have to do?”  I know people around here have asked me pretty much those same questions.  “What exactly does the dean do?” And all I can tell you is, you have no idea.  The funny part is that the guy that hired me, my boss, described the job as much less detailed and complex than what it is.  In fact, his exact words were, “mornings and nights are your busy time, but during the day there isn’t much to do.” 555555555 

Overall, things are going very well though.  Tennessee is a very beautiful place and we are enjoying the peace and serenity here.  A few cool things to tell you about before I go and try and get a decent nights sleep for the first time in a few days.  I basically haven’t slept more than a few hours since Thursday night. This past weekend the boys kept me up late all weekend out at the lodge for Purity Weekend.  Good times though.

So one of the cool things about this place is that I live about a mile from a different time zone.  Since the property is so big, some of the staff stay in a completely different time zone.  So they have to set their watches and clocks accordingly.  The Bible teacher here lives in a house that if he is on one side of the house it is one time zone, if he is on the other side then it is a different time zone.  To top it all off, he works here but also does Bible classes at a different church in the other time zone.  So he has to leave here at 4 to be there by 6 and leaves there at 7 and gets home at 9.  Thankfully that’s not my life.  I all ready have a hard enough time getting place on time.

Because I live on top of mountain, I assumed some things that just weren’t true. One of them being that at up on a mountain the flying pests would be less.  Nooo, not so.  I’ve seen horse flies in Arkansas but the ones here are massive.  They look like huge bees almost.  It’s crazy.  The gnats and mosquitoes have literally left small mounds on my arms.  They are vicious.   Additionally, you would think that the higher you are the better reception you get.  Nooo, not so.  Up on the mountain we get hardly any reception.  Ok, that’s being a bit liberal, I actually get no reception on the mountain…none.  Go figure. 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in AJ's Adventures

 

Almost There

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days.  Actually, it’s been a crazy past few weeks, but we have survived and made it through 2 of the 4 steps of our trip.  Perhaps flying into LAX and staying a night in LA wasn’t the best idea after being out of the country for over 14 months.  Kind of a slight culture shock.  People honking horns and driving recklessly, tons of people on the road at midnight…wait, that’s not all so different than Bangkok. 🙂

All joking aside, it does feel a bit strange being back state side.  No familiar surroundings, no phone to call anyone, no one you really know…it’s all a bit strange. And I won’t even mention the time change.

Through it all, God has been good, and we been blessed.  When you do what we have decided to do, you really have to depend on God  to provide for you.  There aren’t any illusions as to believing that “your job” is your security.  When that “security” is gone, it’s just God.

The past year, many have allowed God to use them and have helped us out immensely.  Family members, church members, friends, and facebook connections, have all been involved in helping make this past year possible.  And a big thank you goes out to all of you.  I won’t even begin to name names for fear that I will leave someone off the list and to protect your anonymity.  But you know who you are, I know who you are, and we (Raena and I) greatly appreciate your support.

There are a few of you who have warned me that my culture shock is not yet complete.  That rural Tennessee has a few surprises still yet waiting for us.  If they are correct, perhaps the blog will continue on after all.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in AJ's Adventures

 

The End of My Blog?!?! Say It Ain’t So!

So if you keep up with the blog, you know that a move has been in the works for a few months.  Though we will miss this place in many regards, circumstances dictated that we move on.  My search had taken me to looking at jobs on the International circuit.  Just another note to my many teacher friends out there.  If you are ready for a change, would like free housing, and great benefits, you really need to check out the International teaching scene.

So my options were Kazakhstan, more recently Guatamala, and Tennessee.  I know, I know, for those of you that love to travel and love adventure you are wondering why in the world we chose Tennessee over those other spots.

Many reasons actually.  But the main reason is and will continue to be time with my family.  The opportunity in Tennessee came out of nowhere really.  Yet again, my wife met someone on Facebook that directed us to this opportunity. lol I guess Facebook isn’t all bad after all. 🙂  Initially, when she mentioned it I was hesitant.  I really wasn’t looking to go back to the states right now.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized it fits what we are looking for as a family.  A chance to stay in ministry time with my family, and away from the big city life with lots of outdoors things to do.  It was just in the “wrong” place.  Of course, we began to pray about it and felt as if God was leading us in that direction.  I thought I would know sooner if I had the job or not, but let’s just say the wheels of progress in rural Tennessee move ever so slowly.

So where is this place?  It is located in Dayton, Tennessee on 2000 acres in the mountains.

What is this place?  It is a self supporting Christian school.  It trains students vocationally and academically.

What will you be doing? I will be the Boy’s Dean. 🙂  During my interview it was stated that what they were really looking for is a spirtual person to help lead the boys.  I can do that.  As the Dean I can still do my job and take the girls with me a lot of the time.  Sweet…win-win.

When will you be leaving? School starts on the 19th.  Not sure we will make it by then.  Ticket prices don’t go down till the following week. Sorry everyone from across the country, we won’t be making any stops in between to see you. I’m scraping pennies together just get us there. 🙂  But we should be there by the end of the month.  If you would like to help out with ticket costs, email me and I’ll let you know how.

What happens to the blog?! I’m not sure exactly.  People like to read about our adventures in thailand, not so sure they want to hear about my adventures in tennessee.  Doesn’t really roll off the tongue. lol

So there you have it. If you I left anything out, let me know and I’ll address it.

By the way, have you noticed that I like places with the letter T? Texas, Thailand, Tennessee…weird huh?

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in AJ's Adventures

 

Time or Money?

Per the last post, you know that I have been looking to become gainfully employed again.  Truthfully, I didn’t like any of the options presented to me. The ones I did like, well, they weren’t being presented to me. lol

The fact of the matter is that I wish I could continue to work here in an environment that allows me to spend massive amounts of time with my family.  But those types of jobs don’t really exist…or do they?

In my search, I actually had several choices.

1. I can teach English in many countries, Japan, S. Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey, or China.

2. I can get a job back in the States.

3. I can find a job at an International school.

Each of these choices I wasn’t exactly thrilled with.  For starters, truth be told, I’m a little burned out on teaching.  There I said it.  Secondly, I’ve thoroughly been enjoying my time with the girls this past year.  Make no mistake, there has been lots of hard work this past year. But the ability to bring the girls with me or to take a break and go and see them, or spend an hour or two just hanging out with them in the middle of the day, has been better than great.

Saying all of that, this particular project is totally volunteer.  We had hoped to be able to stay here for a couple of years, but the finances say otherwise.  lol  (Don’t they always?)

I have had about 4 job offers for jobs here in Thailand that I haven’t even applied for. That’s how badly they need/want English speaking teachers here.

I really haven’t been pressing hard to go back to the States right now.  There’s no place like home, but it just wasn’t something I was really thinking about doing at this time.

International schools are great…if you can get in.  There are a ton of International schools.  A ton.  There can be anywhere from 1 to 20 in most countries. About 40 percent of them are UK schools.  They only want UK teachers.  About 20 percent are IB schools.  You need IB experience to get in.  The rest are American schools.  Some of the schools are a combination of all three curriculums.

Most schools start filling their positions for August in January.  Seeing that I didn’t start applying until May, you could say I got in the game a little late.  Also, I don’t have any international experience.  So that’s strike 2.

Making my situation harder is that I don’t want to move to a major city.  I’m all about the country.  The problem is that 80 percent of the schools are located, yep, you guessed it, in the city.  Strike 3.  lol

So where does that leave me?  Well, as I said, I’ve gotten offers from Thailand which I turned down.  I also have had a few offers from Poland and India, which I also passed on.  Amazingly, I still have two job offers in front of me.

One of them pays a lot of money, gives free housing, pays for electric, water and internet, pays for my flight there, offers small classes, and an opportunity to teach a really cool subject. (Global Perspectives and Research).

The other doesn’t pay much at all.  But it also offers free housing and utilities.  But what it also offers is the opportunity to continue to spend a large amount of time with my family.  Right now, that’s priceless.  Additionally, it allows me to still work in the ministry setting.

Time or money?

I think you know which one I am going to choose.

As soon as I get the final ok, I’ll let you in on where we are going next.  🙂

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in AJ's Adventures

 

Time Flies When You’re Killing Snakes

Unbeknownst to me, our 1 year anniversary of being here came and went with no fanfare.  I hadn’t even realized until my wife said something to me.  It really doesn’t seem as if it’s been a year all ready.  They say time flies when you’re having fun, but I guess I can amend that to “Time flies when you’re living without, electricity, water, a fast internet connection, and living with snakes, scorpions, and other crazy creatures.”  Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue though.  I’ll have to think of something better later on.

Speaking of snakes and scoropions and other stuff, this week has been a little crazy.  Alayna got stung by a bee on her face (bees would classify as “other stuff”), I got stung by a scorpion on my foot (my wife says I screamed like a little girl, I deny that accusation), and today a snake got into the house.  Our resident animal spotter (Aubrey) saw it in the kitchen.  It actually wasn’t a poisonous one this time, but I had to exterminate it with extreme prejudice anyway.

Though we have enjoyed our time here this past year, it does look as if we will be moving on in the next few months.  Sorry for the 2 of you who are holding out hope that we will be moving back to the states, that doesn’t look like it is going to be happening this year. Maybe next year.  🙂

I’m sure some of you are wondering about a few things…like…why are we moving on? Where are we going?  What will we be doing?  Those are all valid questions and the truth of the matter is we aren’t where we are going right now. Which in turn doesn’t allow me to answer the what we will be doing question.

What I do know is that I have discovered what it is I’d like to do for a mission project.  I don’t know if it will be successful or not, but I do know I need money for it.  Of course, I’ll need a lot of help too. (hint, hint)  Seeing as though I don’t make a whole lot of money here, okay, okay…I don’t make any money here, lol, I need to become gainfully employed.  Hence the reason we will be moving on.

I think I’ve said before, but it’s worth repeating, the lessons and things I’ve learned here have been and will continue to be invaluable.  I realize now that I didn’t just want to leave the States, I needed to leave.  I’ve always been a dreamer, a big thinker, a wishful wonderer so to speak, but if I never would have left, I never would have been confident enough or determined enough to try and undertake what I have in mind.  It will take me a year or so to lay the ground work for everything, but when it’s finished, it should be something special.

Time flies when you’re working for God.  (Hey that rolls off the tongue a whole lot better)

As soon as I know something, I’ll let you know, after I let my mom know of course.  lol

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in AJ's Adventures

 

Taking a Small Break

It’s been a while since we have been able to take a break.  We haven’t really been anywhere since we got back from our border run in Laos.  We have been here about a year and we still haven’t been to many of the different parts of Thailand.  I guess I always felt there was no need to rush since we would be here for a while.  Plus, it never seems like a good time to get away for an extended break.  There’s always something to do.  From teaching English classes, to killing snakes, to being Interim Director (inside joke), there is always something to keep you busy.  So since the calvary has come back, we’ve decided to take a well needed time away.  We are headed up north to check out Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.  (Yes, I know they rhyme)

Decided to stay the night in Bangkok before we head up the rest of the way.  When you have small kids it seems to work out much better like that .  On the way to Bangkok though, I found myself laughing about all the the things that are so different from back home.  Figured, I’d share just a couple with you.

1.  Back in the states all the white people (sorry, that sounds so crude, yet you’d know it wasn’t me writing it if I said Caucasian people, but I digress)  are trying to get darker.  Here, all the Thai’s are trying to get lighter.  They think pasty white is the point of perfection.  So much so that they sell whitening creams and ointments just so you can get lighter. So this one time I went looking to buy some lotion and got back only to have my wife laugh at me and ask, why did you buy whitening cream?  Then it all made sense why the lady at the counter was giving me such a crazy look when I bought it!  She must have been thinking, I’m sorry bro, this stuffs not going to work for you! lol

2. No matter how long I’ll live out of the states, I was born and raised American.  As such, I have no patience.  This is in direct opposition to the Thai way of life.  Everything is “Sabai Sabai”.  So for instance, if you take your car to the mechanic, don’t be surprised if you don’t get it back that week.  In fact you should probably expect not to get it back for at least two.

So a few weeks ago we were in town and needed to get a songtao.  It’s like a a small pickup with seats in the back that operates like a taxi.  Well, the guy asked us where we wanted to go and we agreed on the price (always ask the price first).  We get in but the driver doesn’t.  He’s hanging out like he’s waiting for more people. So we ask him what was going on.  He says, that he is going to wait for more people.  We ask him, how long does he plan on waiting.  He replies, “Well normally, I’ll leave around noon.”  REALLY!  DUDE!   IT’S 10 AM!!! YOU REALLY EXPECT ME TO SIT IN THE BACK OF THIS PICKUP FOR 2 HOURS!!!

Only in Thailand.  lol  Until next time.

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in AJ's Adventures

 

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

I find it quite funny that many of the people who wish to keep up with our travels aren’t on Facebook.  Even funnier is that a few of them, got off off of Facebook around the same time that I back on.  So while those that are on Facebook know that I haven’t been kidnapped by rebels, tortured, and held for ransom, those that aren’t on FB begin to send me emails wondering if all is well.  Lol

Rest easy, all is well.  I generally tend to blog mostly for my mother so she can keep up with our activities.  Truth be told, I think most people, especially my mother, don’t really care about me and Raena as much as they are wanting to know if how the girls are doing.  One of my former coworkers last parting words to me were “you make sure you take care of those two beautiful babies or you will have to answer to me”, or something like that.

And so I’ll reword my previous statement…rest easy, all is well, the girls are fine, and we are two if you were wondering.  J

There hasn’t been too much going on around here really.  Just business as usual, most of which would bore you so I don’t bother telling you about it.  Of course we are still fighting the usual snakes, scorpions, centipedes, bees, stink bugs, mosquitoes, millions of flies, and basically anything else you can imagine.

English classes are in full swing.  However, our student count is down quite a bit from the previous enrollment.  I was curious as to why that was obviously, am I a horrible teacher?  Are the students scared of the tall skinny black guy?  Really, what’s going on here!  Well, as it turns out, it doesn’t have anything to do with me at all.  Lol  It’s the rainy season.  What I mean is the rainy season is almost here.  Where we are located, when the rain starts it makes it very difficult to reach us.  Students would have to travel down a muddy, partially flooded, dark road, on a scooter.  And depending on your class, you might have to do all of that in the dark.  Yeah, I guess I can see why our numbers fell.

Speaking of FB, I had an interesting conversation with an old student on FB last week.  She had mentioned something about her deodorant.  (Don’t ask)  It got me thinking about my own deodorant situation.   I brought a year’s worth of deodorant and razors with me before I came over.  I knew that they wouldn’t carry my brand.  If you are like me, you like to buy the same brands that you know and love.  Well, I’m down to my last deodorant and my last pack of razors.   L  The chances of me going without deodorant or without shaving are about as high as me gaining 5lbs next month.  What in the world am I going to do?!

My wife is trying to talk me into stop wearing deodorant and try some natural methods that people suggest online like baking soda or coconut oil.  She doesn’t like deodorant because it has aluminum in it and it has been suggested that that lead to cancer amongst other things.  Her solution?  She washes up like 50 times a day!  Oh, and she steals my deodorant on occasion in her weak moments.  Lol

I would have my mom ship me some deodorant but that’s kind of a waste of money.  It takes like $100 to send a 20lb package over here.  As it turns out, we found some natural deodorant in the store yesterday.  I am reluctant to try it until I have no other choice. But hopefully it works.  If not…well lets just hope my students don’t have good noses.

The razor situation is much more difficult.  I use a special kind of razor that doesn’t actually cut to the scalp.  So it gives the illusion that I am totally bald, when in fact there is the faintest layer of hair.  This is crucial because it drastically reduces the amount of razor bumps that I end up getting.  (Sorry, this post just turned into a segment about my personal hygiene.  I promise I’ll be done in a minute)

So now what do I do?  I haven’t quite figured out the answer to this one just yet?  If you have any solutions, feel free to let me know in the comments.  AND NO PHIL, I WILL NOT BE GROWING DREADS! J

Like I said, not to much going on here.  When the other family returns and I am no longer the man, we will be taking a small trip up to the north of Thailand. This trip will serve a couple of purposes, but I’ll let you know about that at a later time.

Keep us in prayer, we’ll do the same for you.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in AJ's Adventures