Sunday, October 9, 2011

Part way back

Here I am sitting in the Tokyo Narita airport while Michael explores a bit. We are waiting for our connection to San Francisco in about 2 hours. So far so good.

Yesterday Cherry picked us up from the airport and off we went to Siam Paragon, the premier shopping mall in Bangkok. Michael wanted to see it and it is one of the wonders of the modern world. We had lunch in the food court which was impressively busy but extraordinarily organized as well. Then we got to visit one of my favorite stores, Jim Thompson to shop for silk and fine cloth. Michael seemed to think it was all worth it when we saw the Lotus, Porsche and Lamborghini dealerships on the 5th floor of the mall (8 floors all together). We drooled over (but did not touch) some of the cars for sale. They really do look like works of art.

Then we had a lovely dinner at the Eugenia Hotel with Cherry. It was a meal full of laughter and elegant dishes. A great way to end our trip.

See you soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On the road again

Hi everyone!

We are hitting the road today, flying down to Bangkok. We get to spend a little more time with Cherry and then head home early on Monday. It has been a great trip. The places we have seen and the food we have eaten has been amazing. But far and away the best thing has been the time we have spent with wonderful friends both new and old. Here in C. Mai we spent precious time with Rocha and Ratch and so enjoyed getting to know them better. Of course I have already talked about the great time we had with Cherry and Dew in Bangkok and the fun in Phuket with Stan and Beth. We have also met some lovely people with the conference, like Rick and Ellen Burnette who did a herculean job putting everything together. We loved getting to chat with the interns and new friends like Jitu from Delhi.

Still we are ready to head home so will see you all soon.



Friday, October 7, 2011

Market in Chiang Mai

While I was in conference workshops over the last few days Michael was exploring the city markets. I am going to let his photos do the talking for this post. In the shot of the butcher's stall note the hogshead in the corner. The fish are catfish. Again it seems I am just sending photos of food. This time it isn't cooked.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

ECHO Asia Conference

I realized that I haven't told you about the meat of the ECHO conference. That is just wrong. This has been an amazing three days.The mornings are filled with worship and devotions followed by plenary sessions that have been fascinating. This morning we heard from a medical missionary who has been working in the rural areas of Papua New Guinea for decades. She shared with us some of the efforts she has been involved with to increase the protein and energy consumption in the village diets particularly for women and children. It was illuminating how difficult development can be and yet how important the work is.

Tuesday we heard from a fellow who has been working on returning trees into impacted landscapes around the world. He started working in Niger (Sahel zone) where trees had been eliminated for decades. Standard forestry practices didn't make a dent in returning the trees. Then he realized the trees were still there just as shrubs because they had been cut down and were suckering from the roots. When the suckers were trimmed to either one or a few leaders and protected from livestock browsing the trees were able to grow. That allowed for wind breaks and shading of the ground to allow for more moisture content and it improved the crop production. Just from pruning and protecting areas that had been wastelands now look park like.

There are about a 150 delegates attending this conference many working in difficult areas or countries and yet doing amazing things with great faith. It is truly humbling.

Please pray for the attendees as they return to the places and peoples where they work, that the networking and ideas exchanged at this conference will help them as they work to assist and learn from the world's poor.


you can learn more about the conference at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Banana Rotee

Last night we had the great pleasure of dining with Rocha in Chiang Mai. It was a wonderful meal of northern thai dishes that Michael and I really enjoyed. My favorite at dinner was the pomelo salad. Then later on the way back to the hotel Rocha stopped and bought us banana rotee to try. Think bananas foster without the ice cream, YUM!
I am adding pictures from the best rotee cart in C. Mai.

Blessings to all,


Monday, October 3, 2011

Where to start? Well yesterday, Sunday, we met Ratch, one of the International Representatives at Disney's Animal Kingdom last year and his sister and brother in law and spent the day touring around Chiang Mai and eating of course. First we went to an area of traditional wood carvers. Saw some beautiful wood furniture. Oh for a cargo container to send some of this stuff home! We walked around this area where there were a number of other artisans as well, potters and musicians.

After a yummy lunch of fish balls in clear soup with fish skin crackers, see the pic, and I did enjoy it very much, we headed up to the Mae Rim area and went to an orchid farm, this green orchid with the funny black fringe was my favorite. We returned to the C. Mai to go to the old walled part of the city to have some refreshment and wait for the Sunday walking market to get set up. You could pretty much find anything there. There were also street performers and I am including a shot of a young girl from the hill tribes who was dancing.

We left the market and went back up into the hills to a restaurant with a beautiful view overlooking the city lights. It was situated right next to a waterfall. Ratch and his sister ordered for us an absolute feast. My favorite was the deep fried shrimp with taro salad in a basket of deep fried noodles. Oh and the fried mushrooms!

So now to today, we moved up to the ECHO conference hotel The Empress Chiang Mai. Everyone is coming in today so we were able to greet Stan and Beth again and a bunch of the interns from ECHO in Ft. Myers. It is always a joy to get to chat with these young and passionate individuals. Those of you at Southwest Church who have met Katie Johnson know what I am saying. The rest of the day Michael and I have been walking through Chiang Mai and he wants to point out that I shop every where I go. Well they wouldn't set up all these markets if you weren't supposed to shop, right?

Hope all is well with all of you,


Sunday and Monday

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday morning livestock market

This morning Michael and I walked into Sanpatong to the Saturday morning livestock market. It is reputed to be the largest cattle and water buffalo market in northern Thailand. We just set out in the morning and after about a 5 K walk found the market. Actually the walk itself was pretty cool as we got to see more of the area. It only took a single wrong turn before we found what we were looking for and along the way we found a white water buffalo grazing beside the road. The market was big. All kinds of cattle, buffalo, chickens and fighting cocks, geese and these big beetles on a string. Not sure what they do with the beetles. I will have to ask tomorrow when we see Ratch and Rocha.

And of course it wasn't just for livestock it was a huge flea market. I liked the fishing gear that included some hand made cast nets and little fish trap baskets. And near the livestock there were halters and things for the cattle. I can never resist a good cow bell! We wandered around for a while and then headed back to the main road where there was more market. We have seen lots of durian and I have to give Michael credit for trying it. I can never get past the smell.

So about noon we headed back to our resort, thinking we could get a taxi along the way. A good number of them past us but never stopped even when Michael waved. It worked out okay though because right about lunch time we were at this great little noodle shop near the Kaomai Lanna. So we had noodles with chicken and pigs blood in curry soup. It was very good although I didn't finish my pigs blood.

This afternoon I went for a swim in the big and beautiful pool here at the resort and then spoiled myself with a foot massage at the spa. An hour foot massage for about $15, you just can't beat it.

Hope you are all well and enjoying the blog. I can't tell because no one ever leaves comments. If you want more information about items I have mentioned or just more photos or food descriptions let me know.

Blessings to all,


Friday, September 30, 2011

The Hongs

Yesterday Stan, Beth, Michael and I went on an excursion to the islands known as the Hongs. A hong is basically a hollow island of old limestone cliffs with a lagoon inside. It took an hour and a half to get there and then we got to swim a little while we waited for the tide to be right. Swimming was challenging with the current but Michael and I tried it so we can now say that we have been in the Andaman Sea. When the water had dropped a little we got in the canoes and paddled into the first sea cave. We saw a little monitor lizard right off but it was the stone structures that were jaw dropping. I am posting a few photos here but the connection speed at our resort is slow so not too many. Anyway the second cave that we went into went on through to the interior lagoon. You had to lay back in the canoe to get through without hitting your head. But spectacular just doesn't even describe how awesome it was when we came into the lagoon.

The boat relocated to another island and off we went again in the canoes, into a long, dark cave filled with little bats. When we emerged into the inside lagoon there were other big fruit bats flying from the trees at the top of the wall. It was a very special place. Later back on the boat we made krathongs, a type of offering to respect the water is how our guides described it. Usually this is part of the Loy Krathong festival which happens in the first week of November. We had a great dinner while we waited for it to get dark for the floating of the krathongs. It included chicken curry, prawns, two grilled fishes, and kebabs. I guarantee that we have been eating very well. Just before it got dark we could see monkeys on the shore. A troop of about a dozen or more. We had also seen sea eagles and brahminy kites earlier. Finally at dark we got back into the canoes and released our decorated krathongs. Just beautiful!

So that was yesterday. Today we parted ways with Stan and Beth for a little while. They went to Bangkok to meet up with the interns and we flew up to Chiang Mai to a small resort, Kao Mai Lanna, south of the city. This is a very peaceful spot where they have furnished old tobacco barns as guest rooms. Quite a bit nicer than it sounds. Looking forward to a little more R&R before the ECHO conference gets rolling on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Phuket Fun

Well we have had plenty of fun so far here in Phuket. The weather hasn't been the best but we have worked around it. I am including a photo of Stan and Beth on our walk into town. Yesterday we took a walk on the flats after the tide went out and saw lots of cool creatures from a giant clam to a puffer fish who was stuck in a small pool (we rescued him, see pic) to brittle stars to a small moray eel. I am looking forward to a similar walk this afternoon.

Today we had scheduled to go diving but had to cancel as the weather wasn't going to make for enjoyable boating to get to the dive sites. Instead we headed to the Aquarium where we saw lots of interesting fish and invertebrates. The displays were really well done.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go kayaking in a protected area called the Hongs. Look for more pics later.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday with Cherry in Bangkok

Hi ya'll

Michael and I spent Sunday after church with our sweet friend Cherry. We covered a lot of ground. First we enjoyed a bowl of noodles from a vendor on the street (see pics)and then we met Mr. Wiboon Tungyuenyong an optometrist who as a hobby makes bamboo saxophones. Michael had seen an article about him on the internet and we mentioned it to Cherry who before we even arrived had an appointment with him so that we could see the process and his instruments. I really enjoyed meeting him and learning how he makes the saxophones. Very cool.

Next we visited Loh Prasat the Metal Temple, so called because of the metal rather than tile roof (see pics). We visited a Thai cultural museum and learned all sorts of interesting stuff about Thai dance and the Royal Family and Thai history. Then at Michael's request we went to a supermarket, Tesco Lotus in this case, and learned much more by walking around looking at groceries and produce, meats and fish! It was great but made me want to be able to cook with those ingredients. Finally we went on a boat for a dinner cruise along the river (see pic of bridge at night). The dinner was wonderful. We had sea bass and river prawns along with Thai vegetable soup which was spicy and yummy, a kale,carrot and pork dish and then mango and sticky rice for dessert. Love the food. After dinner we went up on the upper deck to see the temples and palaces all lighted up along the riverfront. It was lovely.

Today we shifted south to Phuket to meet up with friends Stan and Beth from ECHO. We will be here until Friday enjoying the sea and kayaking and diving. Stay tuned for more updates.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bangkok September 23 & 24

We got in last night to the Eugenia Hotel right about midnight. Settled in after a nice shower and tried to sleep. That didn't work so well with the jet lag. Still we were up early and had a lovely breakfast before meeting Cherry and Dew, two of the International Reps from Disney's Animal Kingdom, for a day at the floating market outside of Bangkok. We had a great time trying lots of different and pretty spicy food for lunch while we sat alongside the canal and watched the vendors in boats ply their wares.

On the way back we stopped at a temple that has been covered by a large banyan fig tree. It was amazing to see how the tree has taken over the structure. What a fun first day in Thailand!

Blessings to all of you,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This time it will be Michael and Wendy's Adventure!

Michael and I are headed to Thailand in a couple of weeks to travel around and attend the ECHO Asia conference in Chiang Mai. Stay tuned for updates from Thailand as I will of course be blogging while we are there.

We ask for your prayers for safe travel and good interactions with folks along the way. We love you all.

Wendy and Michael

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Here is a start for some photos

I promised photos so here is a start. The photos of Beth and the seed sorter are from the World Vegetable Center and the photo of me with two gentlemen,Sylvester and Stephen who took a two day bus ride to get to the Conference in Arusha from southern Tanzania. There is a photo of one of the workshops at the GSC garden.

The hyena and lions are from the Ngorongoro day trip. And the photo of the two cheetah tells the story. The cheetahs lost their kill to the hyena in the photo.

Monday, February 14, 2011

On the way home now

Hi there,

I am about halfway home at this point, sitting in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. I started out on Saturday morning from Vicki's house in Uganda and flew back to Tanzania. After some quality time in the Kilimanjaro Airport I flew KLM to here. Now I get to explore this airport before my flight this afternoon to Atlanta. I will get into Orlando about 10 or 11 pm tonight.

Uganda was a great time reconnecting with Vicki and other friends like Hilda, Jolly and Patrick. Patrick is standing for member of parliment in the election this Friday. Please pray that the elections go smoothly and for protection for all during the process. Kampala has grown up a lot since I was there 7 years ago! I am sure that the increased business is good but it has made the traffic the worst I have seen. Cherry it is even worse than Bangkok! And all the cars have really impacted the air quality. I guess that is the price of progress.

Vicki's flats are beautiful. Only hers is nearly completed but you can see how lovely they will be. The compound is not landscaped yet so I got to give some suggestions. I will be fascinated to see how she goes on with it. It was just such a blessing to spend time with her. And the flats are outside of Kampala and back up to a slice of jungle so in the evening and mornings we were serenaded by turacos and plaintain eaters (birds) and a chorus of frogs and crickets. Very cool!!!

Thanks for coming with me on this trip and when I get home I will get photos posted, promise.

Love you all,


Thursday, February 10, 2011

What a great day!

Hi there everybody,

Yesterday Stan Doerr from ECHO mentioned that he was thinking of going out to see the Ngorongoro Crater today. Another board member Ron Tschetter and I decided to go with him. So this morning at 5 am we headed out in the dark to see the crater. The drive there was interesting once the sun came up. We passed a number of Maasai communities and some ancient baobab trees before we ever got to the Ngorongoro park. Once there we dropped down 600 meters (1800 feet) into the floor of the crater and started seeing herds of animals immediately. When I can post photos I will but here is the list of what we saw today: zebra, cape buffalo, elephant, lions, cheetahs who had just killed a baby wildebeast, hyena, hartebeast, Grant's gazelle, Thompson's gazelle, hippo, jackal, flamingos, martial eagle, marabou, ostrich, abdim storks, crowned cranes, weavers, swifts, and some amazing plants too. The wildebeast and zebras all had babies in the herds too. And yes Marissa I got some photos for you but I can't bring one back home for you.

tomorrow I leave Tanzania and head to Uganda for a quick visit with my dear friend Vicki. Love to you all.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vegetables and ugalli

Yesterday a group of us went to the World Vegetable Center. Who knew that was in Arusha? But it is a research center and we learned about their efforts to breed and preserve important african vegetables. Many that we in the west would not know. I found it very interesting and took lots of photos. Youmay have to wait until I get home for the photo essay though. The internet cafe I am using can't handle the photo card. Anyway we traveled to the Center in local transportation called Dalla-Dallas. Picture a 12 passenger van with 20 people and a chicken. I got t sit next to the woman with the chicken!

Another new experience for me was lunch yesterday. We ate at a local cafe near the hotel and had the local fare, ugalli. Which is wheat porridge (think paste) served with stewed meat and vegetables, some of which I had just learned were vegetables. The ugalli I could leave but the rest of it was pretty good. However we chose togo back to the great Indian restaurant that we ate at on Sunday for dinner last night. A good choice and I was amazed that they could deliver great food as the power had been off there all day. But it was delicious.

I have seen Maasai men in town but no pictures it seems rude to take a photo without their permission and I haven't had a chance to speak with any of them.

The conference began this morning and is going well. There were 150 registered although I am not sure that they all came the first day. It runs through thursday and then I head to Uganda on Friday to visit my dear friend Vicki.

That is it for now. Love to you all,


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Arusha Tanzania

Hi there everyone

I arrived last night very late so couldn't see much of the town (although I did see a mongoose cross the road in front of us on the way from Kilimanjaro Airport). this morning I saw that the hotel is right in the shadow of Mount Meru. Pretty cool.

This morning I went to church with some of the other folks from ECHO. We attended the Arusha Community Church, an interdenominational church and it was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. Not much else to report just wanted to check in so you all know where I am.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

The next big adventure!

Welcome back everyone,

Since I last blogged I have joined the Board of Directors for ECHO-Educational Concerns for the Hungry Organization. Please check out the website at

In February ECHO will host a conference on agriculture and development in Arusha Tanzania and I will be joining them. I am very excited about ECHO and their mission to equip people with resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor. So I hope that you will be interested as I blog about and from the conference.

Love to you all,