Wow! Time flies and swoops and sinks and soars and doesn’t really exist at all, does it!? A fortnight comes and goes before we know it and of the experiences we shared, there’s no way to choose just one that stands out among them all. The relationships built, service contributed, temples seen, lessons learned, markets visited, people met and culture discovered both within and outside of ourselves – without it all, we would not be where we are now.
From the moment we picked you up at the airport on arrival day, the memories began to build like a baby elephant grows, slowly but surely & larger than life!
We all knew we’d love the elephants before we even arrived and our time spent with these majestic creatures bloomed along with our understanding of just how complex their worlds are these days. Coming to learn of the challenging issues upon us drove us to dive deeper to find meaning in the work we’re doing here and to think more critically about everything from elephants to the everyday products we use and the food we eat.
The service was tough, but who would have thought building dams and cutting grass could be so much fun! When we work together it’s amazing how much we can accomplish and how good it feels to witness the fruits of our labor. While the dams may not last forever, nothing in life really does and the reminder that everything is temporary is truly humbling.
And as much as we may have wished we could stay in Thailand forever, saying goodbye was inevitable & certainly no easy task! The tears shed & embraces shared were bittersweet, as we watched you head back home to spread the word & share your stories.
Our greatest hope is that you will cherish the memories of this trip and apply the lessons learned and knowledge gained. So that maybe you can make a difference in not just the lives of people you know and meet along the way, but of these magnificent elephants we came to know and love, as well as future generations of their species.
Some of our fondest recollections of our time in Thailand are below. We certainly couldn’t record them all, but we tried to capture something for everyone.
- Epic games in the rain! I haven’t laughed so hard all year like I did when we played Ships & Sailors!
- When Duke bought frogs at the local market & the kitchen fried them up for us to all share! Yummmmm 🙂
- Sunday running Marianna over in the river & knocking her over – all caught on video! And to think she almost didn’t get in!
- Seeing our elephants every day, taking care of them, going for walks & building relationships with them & the mahouts.
- The five Thai students (5-6 years old) we saw on our way to cut grass one morning playing in the water, skipping school! When Joon ran to let the teachers know (we didn’t want them to get hurt or drown!) they all grabbed their bags and ran from them into the rice fields. We got that on video too!
- Epic rafting trip! Oh My Buddha! Lance pulled almost everyone out of their raft at some point, including the rest of the staff! Lol!
- Long talks on the car rides & on home base, building relationships with one another, forming bonds that will last a lifetime.
- All the amazing Thai food!!!
- Our last night at the elephant home, sharing stories, dancing & performing for the mahouts.
-Kelly Urch, Mentor
Elephant Village Initiative, Thailand