Thailand: A Birthday I’ll Never Forget

Tim and me at a McDonald’s in Bangkok

So yesterday was my birthday! I love birthdays, even if I’m getting older.
I’ve had a great birthday week. We took the kiddos to Red Robin one night, I got a new laptop, woohoo! And my daughter cheered, because I cleaned hers off and gave it back. 
My son “took” me to Office Depot to buy me a new office chair and my daughter gave me a Dunkin Donuts and an iTunes gift card!
Tomorrow, Tim’s taking me out to one of my favorite places in Downtown Memphis for dinner. So I’m excited!

I’ve had many memorable birthdays, but  I’d have to say my best birthday was in 2008, when my husband and I went on a missions trip to Chiang Rai. 

We flew into Bangkok, a place that has smells I cannot describe, even as a writer. The heat was like a wet blanket, roasted over a fire then draped over you and we were there in their winter season! If you have bouts of frizzy hair, forgeddaboutit. 

A Buddhist temple, one of many we saw
and visited. 

We spent a day seeing the sights of Bangkok. Amazing, frightening, sobering. Overwhelming. 
We spent most of our time at a Children’s home, helping with some building projects and spending time with the children there. You can’t adopt the children,but we wished we could have.

After a day in Bangkok, we flew six hours into hill country, to Chiang Rai. A vast difference from the loud, crowded streets of Bangkok. 

It was full of rice fields, flowers I’d never imagined, roaming anorexic cattle and the Chiang Rai children’s home. A place where children are kept safe when their parents have to go to prison, or an alternative for children who might otherwise be sold into sexual slavery.

One of the hill tribes. There are so many
and one night they dressed in their costumes, that
represent their tribe and sang to us. It was

We fell in love with these children the moment we stepped off the rickety bus. I especially loved the babies and preschool age children. They couldn’t speak a lick of English (some of the older ones could) but a smile goes a long way in any language.

I’ve never seen children as grateful as these. They slept on beds that had ply wood for mattresses, their toys were strings, and their home, compared to what we see over here, made ghettos look good, but they’re safe. And loved. And fed. And taught about Jesus Christ.

Me holding Chom Po!

Our church has been partnering with them and have built some new accommodations. Tim and I fell in love with a little girl who was fairly new at the time; her name was Chom Po. If we could have packed her up and brought her home, we would have. She liked Tim better. Figures. At church he’s called the Baby Whisperer. 

We spent heated days working, painting concrete fences, dining halls, laying groundwork for a tiling project and loving on the children, showing the they are not only loved by Jesus and the children’s home, but clear across the world. 

Tim actually gets a smile out of her.
Baby Whisperer. I don’t know
what this powder is, but they all get it
smeared all over for bed time. She’s
in her P.J’s. 
Tim and I about to go for a ride. No seat belts.
Just a rickety old board with a paper thin cushion
and a rope. See how I’m grabbing at Tim’s
leg? I’m smiling, but I’m scared!

One day, we took a trip into Burma (Myanmar) and did some shopping. It was sad how many young children under the age of 8 tried to sell us pornography and Viagra.  Broke my  heart. Later that afternoon we rode elephants in a small Burmese village. I’m scared of animals, so to get to the platform I had Tim feed them bananas and then I ran. They kept wanting to “trunk” us. Eew, huh?

I mean these are wild elephants! I was glad Tim and I made a will out before our trip. No really. We did.

The elephant we rode. I guess it worked up
a thirst after lugging us around 30 minutes. 

Later, when we got back to the orphanage, Tim bought me a hand made quilt by the girls for my birthday. It’s on my bed! A reminder to pray for them every morning and every night.

My birthday gift on a bed in Thailand
Tim and me with the Governor, yeah
I’m saying that all British. We’re wearing
matching shirts because our pastor made us. It
was not by choice. lol

On my actual birthday, we were invited (which NEVER happens) to meet with the Governor of Chiang Rai and then to her personal home for dinner. It was A-mazing. Tons of food that terrified me, a home that blew me away and a woman who didn’t know Jesus, but her son is studying in America and lives with a pastor! Yes, that’s right. The governor is a woman. 

After lunch, we flew back to  Bangkok and we walked a billion miles through funky smells and crowded streets to eat at The Hard Rock Cafe. Real burgers! I hope.
The servers sang me happy birthday in Thai, gave me a rockin Hard rock shirt, took my picture and framed it and gave me a Bangkok, Hard Rock glass. It was awesome.  Later that night, I got a stomach bug and spent the whole night feeling like I might die. The next day I stayed in bed while they did more touring.  But it was still the most amazing wonderful experience I’ve ever had so far and the best birthday, yet! 

My rockin Tshirt, my picture on my
bed, with the quilt. My glass…I don’t
know where it was! I have it somewhere.

Tim leaves in a couple of weeks to go back to Thailand. I won’t be going this time, but I’ll be praying for him. This chance for him to go back is worth me not getting to go to the ACFW conference. 

This is my new laptop and my
new office chair! It’s brown, but
looks black! I love it!

What’s your best birthday memory?

28 thoughts on “Thailand: A Birthday I’ll Never Forget

  1. What an incredible story, Jess! Such love in those pictures. Thank you for sharing those. Your husband is blessed by you, for sure!!

    And congrats on the new laptop. YOu've got you a cozy little place to write there.

    My birthday is in a few weeks! Love October birthdays, but I'm not talking about this one.

  2. What a beautiful sacrifice. Thanks for showing the pictures and telling the story.

    Glad you had a great birthday!
    ~ Wendy

  3. A sacrifice and a privilege wrapped together. What a beautiful way that God used you – physically in going and now in giving so your hubby could go to those kids.

    Glad you had a beautiful birthday – I LOVE that chair, looks cushy…much needed for a writer. Makes me have chair envy-I won't even tell you what I'm currently sitting on!

    Blessings Jessica. And belated Happy Birthday:)

  4. Oh wow, I really enjoyed hearing about your time in Thailand. Sounds like an amazing experience and birthday.

  5. All three of my daughters have visited Thailand (and other parts of Asia) so I enjoyed reading this post. maybe someday I'll get there myself. Isn't it funny how Ronald shows up everywhere … ?
    I awarded you the 'One Lovely blog' Award. check it out if you like:

  6. Whoa, what a cool birthday story! (Although, being of the frizzy hair sort, possibly I should avoid Bangkok!)But yeah, a-ma-zing way to spend a birthday. Had to have been hard to say goodbye to the kids at the children's home!

    I hope your husband's return trip is fabulous!

    I'm not sure which is my favorite bday memory, but my senior year in college, friends I'd made in London the previous semester called me to say happy birthday. Pretty sure I squealed…and teared up…and subsequently purchased a plane ticket for a spring break return trip!

  7. I love this story, and the pictures are incredible! A trip to Thailand sounds like something to add to my wish list:)

  8. My 21st birthday, when Jason flew from Augusta to Memphis to surprise me and propose.

    Yes, yes he did!

    I'm sure Anna Marie would think it's a stupid story now, but the whole day was just hilarious and sweet!

  9. To celebrate a certain "milestone" birthday,I requested no major celebrations … no "surprises," no balloons, no parties … Instead, my husband took me away for a nice relaxing weekend in the mountains, which I so, so needed.
    And then our kiddos (young adult + the caboose kiddo) showed up for dinner one night — a complete surprise! That one I didn't mind at all.
    It was all about being low-key and being with family.

  10. What an unbelievable experience! Thank you for sharing it with us and Happy Birthday!

  11. Very cool story! Thanks for sharing it with us. Wonderful pictures too, and congrats on the new laptop:)

  12. What a wonderful, cool birthday! I've wanted to go on a missions trip for almost as long as I've been saved. God willing, it WILL happen. Glad your birthday yesterday was good too 🙂

  13. Jennifer Shirk sent me over and I'm glad she did 🙂

  14. What a beautiful story. And an awesome birthday! It looks like you had an amazing day! 😀 And that little girl is a doll. I'd want to take her home too! 🙂

  15. I'd love to go to Thailand someday. Thanks for sharing your amazing experiences!

  16. What an amazing experience and a cool way to spend your birthday – in Thailand! Sounds like the one this year was great too. Happy Birthday yesterday!

  17. Good morning, everyone! Thanks for coming by and experiencing Thailand with me! I'll have to post some more pics another time. I have about 1000. Seriously. 1000.

    Heather: We did fall in love. With the people and the children. Not the elephants. 🙂

    Wendy: Thanks and for the warm wishes yesterday.

    Susan: My old chair was insane and before that it was my bed or a overstuffed chair. My neck and back ached like crazy. So far I'm lovin the chair. So now you have to dish: What do you sit on?

    Jennifer: It was amazing. I'll have to share some more stories at another time. Thanks for the blog love today, btw! YOU ROCK!

    Tracy: Those Golden Arches cross time, I think! 🙂 Thanks for your blog love and award today. VERY COOL!

    Melissa: It was a tear-jerker goodbye to say the very least. I'd love to go to London. I think we should hop a plane together and just go both places1

    Tamika: Everyone should go at least once! Okay maybe not everyone, but I think you would love it.

    Melissa: I think that's so romantic. I love romantic surprises!

    Beth: Thanks for coming by and hanging out! I think a peaceful time in the mountains sounds dreamy! 🙂

    Maggie: Thanks for the birthday wishes. Yay! Your blog was great today, unthanks on the cliffhanger LOL

    Stacy: Thanks! I sooo needed a new one! 🙂

    Joanne: I'm praying God will send you at the perfect time to the perfect place for you to share your gifts and minister!

    Shelly Brown: I love Small town Shelly Brown. I'm from a small town myself. Thanks for coming by. Feel welcome anytime! 🙂

    Chantele: We were plotting how to get her in our suitcase and through security!

    Jaime: One more thing we share in common. Shocker. Really. LOL I hate pineapples, but the pineapple juice over there was killer!

    Lydia: Thanks for coming by and hanging out. It really was a great experience.

    Stacy H: Thanks for the birthday wishes. I had a good day. I really did.

  18. Wow what an awesome story! Thank you for sharing that with us. I enjoyed reading and seeing all your pics. What beautiful memories you and your family are creating. May God keep blessing you.

    And congrats on ur new laptop and chair!! That makes a differnce I bet:)


  19. Happy Birthday! Yay! I share the birthday month with you.

    What a wonderful memory you shared. Awesome story.

    Last year was a memorable birthday. Hubby and I drove to Gettysburg and spent a long weekend with some good friends from NY, and in a beautiful B & B there.

    Have a great weekend!

  20. Wow! Quite the birthday, never had one like that. Riding the Elephant would be neat.

  21. Sounds like an amazing birthday! Thanks for sharing your story. My son was in my lap as I read this, and he was super impressed with the picture of the elephant 🙂

  22. Happy Birthday Jessica! What a great story, and fascinating pictures!

  23. New laptop! YES!!! I love, love, love the quilt. That's so wonderful. And I've had so many great birthdays (I'm big on birthdays!). Our anniversary is six days before my birthday, so… they get combined a lot.

  24. What a never-to-be-forgotten birthday. And you told the story beautifully. I love that you got a quilt made by the girls and that you can remember them every day.

  25. Being Asian, I normally hear the stories and adventures of Asians coming to America for a visit. Quite honestly, it is refreshing to hear stories from Americans traveling abroad to Asia. Again, nice post! Thanks for sharing 🙂 GB

  26. What an amazing memory!! SO cool. I enjoyed reading about it. I'd love to do mission work but I never really considered Asia (our church partners with a small village in Peru) until I started doing research on Cambodia for my new novel. What a fascinating region of the world! Thanks for sharing your story!

  27. I have a job waiting for me in Myanmar teaching in a seminary there. However, I was told I could not bring any children, so I have to wait for them to grow up and move out before I can go. My contact is Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    I love all of Southeast Asia.

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