Tag Archives: culture

Why do you wai?

In Thailand, handshakes are not the norm in first acquaintances or greetings.

To greet someone in Thailand, you do it with a wai. This is the polite and culturally acceptable way to say hello and goodbye.

How do you wai you ask?

Place your palms together with fingers pointed up toward heaven. The age and status of the person you’re greeting determines how high you raise your hands for a wai. If it’s a child, you don’t wai them, but you nod your head in acceptance of the wai. If it’s someone your age you wai with palms at chest level. If they are older than you or more important you raise your hands up to your nose.

When you wai, you bow/dip your head so that your nose either touches your fingers or is pointed down to your fingers. Also, you bow your upper body as you say hello, Sawadee kah.

This also applies when saying goodbye.

If you are greeting royalty or a monk the wai is different. I won’t go into that though.

You are now ready to greet someone in Thailand!

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Boiled eggs and blind turtles

They kneel, bow and rock back on their knees. They chant earnestly with eyes tightly closed and brows knit. Left palm glued to right palm.They are praying to an emerald Buddha perched atop a throne.

Countless Thais visit Wat Phra Kaew each year to pay homage to the Emerald Buddha. For every bad deed a Buddhist commits, for each of the five laws they break, they must do good deeds to make up for the bad deed.

It’s never ending.

Long ago, Buddha’s disciples asked them when their sins and bad karma would be gone. Buddha told them they’d be free of karma if they placed an egg into a river and after three years they put a blind turtle in the same river and when the blind turtle finds the egg, that’s when they’d be free of their sin.

That’s impossible, they remarked.

Well, of course it is.

It was even impossible for Buddha to break free from karma. Buddha told his disciples that he’d kept the five laws most people try to adhere to, furthermore, he’d kept the 227 laws and the 100,000 laws of Buddhism. He’d logged so many good deeds in his life. But, Buddha said that if he lived his life 10 times over, he wouldn’t make it within sprinting distance of the gates of heaven.

What are we to do? His disciples asked.

Wait for the One who’s coming. He’s like a golden ship, Buddha said, one who’d carry people to heaven. This One Buddha prophesied about would have no bad karma. He’d be recognized by the holes in his hands and the scar on his side.

This One, will be able to break karma’s curse.

This is the message we are sharing with Thais. The One Buddha foretold of has already come. Karma doesn’t have to rule.

–These stories are part of a training we’ve taken and stories are taken from the book,  “From Buddha to Jesus, An Insider’s View of Buddhism and Christianity.”

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Upchuck and Uplift

The trash can never saw it coming.

I upchucked into a yellow public trash can in front of a pool table in a street night market tonight. It was mortifying and humiliating. But after the spew, I made an instantaneous recovery and could continue on with my North Face backpack purchase and relationship building with Thais.

Let’s back up. Why did I upchuck in a trash can? Is this normally part of my ministry? Well, not really.

I pushed myself hard tonight in my work out at the gym tonight. I ran for 40 minutes, did an ab workout and squatted. After showering, my roommate Holly and I headed over to a nearby night market that we’ve started ministering in. Last week was our first week to go and we made two new friends. Our goal for tonight was to visit our new friends and buy a backpack for our upcoming beach jaunt this weekend (more to come on that later).

I ordered a spicy noodle dish for Holly and I in the market. It was spicier than I’ve ever had it. We stomached all of it though. I really wasn’t hungry but out of pride and stubbornness I made myself eat more than I really should have. I also guzzled an Oishi green tea.

Almost immediately after eating nausea set in. I ate too soon, too much spicy and too much for a post-hard-work-out tummy.

“Gotta, get, home,” I grumbled and mumbled. There goes ministry for the night, I thought.

I managed to upchuck in a trash can and not in front of a store, thank you Jesus. I didn’t want to be remembered as the “foreigner girl who threw up on the doorstep of a stall.” Now, I’ll only be known as the “foreigner girl who threw up in front of the bar.” Hopefully no one will believe the guys playing pool at the bar–blame it on the alcohol–people will just say they were intoxicated. (At least this is what I am hoping. I really think they were sober, but for the sake of my pride let’s say they weren’t).

“You OK?” Holly asked.

Yep, all good. All better.

I made my backpack buy. We got to pray for our friend Niw* who’s been having a rough week. We also got invited to listen to traditional Thai music at our friend Lan’s* second workplace. We are forging a relationship with the spicy noodle restaurant staff.

All in all, tonight proved productive. Despite my unfortunate upchuck, Holly and I were able to uplift two Thai friends.

If you’re ever feeling woozy I’d advise the following:

1. Don’t throw up on the storefronts of those you’re trying to tell about Jesus

2. Don’t let unfortunate circumstances distract you from what God’s called you to do

3. Roll with the punches. Life’s an adventure

3. Count it all joy

*names changed


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