Debbie was one of my close friends in college, and then after college we got even closer when five couples started a supper club–and those people became our main support group. Now the couples are a little bit scattered around southern and central California–but one couple, Debbie and Les, traveled way to Thailand. Debbie and her husband Les are raising their kiddos in a very different culture. It was wonderful to visit with them a few weeks ago and see how it works for them abroad. I interviewed her so you can get an inside peek into their family life as well!
Q. How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
A. Misha: our ten year old super reader. Sydney: our seven year old budding artist. Lillie Belle: our four year old affectionate firecracker. Eva: two and a half, so hide the nail polish, permanent markers and breakables!
Q. What are your three favorite things about Thailand?
A. 1) Taking a shower. During hot season I take three or four a day!
2) Mango & sticky rice. If you’ve ever tasted it, you’ll understand.
3) All my worlds touch here. I was born in New Zealand, raised in Colombia, and spent my adult life in both California and Russia. In Thailand I am surrounded by memories of my tropical upbringing in Colombia with the plant-life, fruits and weather, am working with Americans, send my kids to a bilingual school run and taught by New Zealanders and enjoy visits from our old Russian friends frequently, as Thailand is the number one tourist destination for Russia.
Q. What are a couple unique experiences your kids are getting by living in a different country?
A. Having a chance to experience life as an outsider is a gift. I believe it will give them a heart of compassion and understanding for those they encounter in the future that may not fit in. I hope that sacrificing ease and comfort for the sake of bringing justice and dignity to the marginalized and impoverished will grow a selfless worldview in them.
Q. As a mom, is there anything you feel guilty about?
A. I feel guilty when I realize I am more worried about people thinking I am a perfect mom with kids who behave exactly how I want them to, than I am actually concerned with loving my kids well and raising them in this messy world to hope in Jesus.
Q. Are there any new foods you’ve tried since moving to Thailand?
A. Yes! And everything new I have tried has been delicious. (I have to confess, I haven’t tried fried bugs, but I do firmly believe that if and when I do, I will think they were pretty good, considering they were…fried bugs.) My favorite new dish that I have grown to love here is Som Tam. A salad made primarily from shredded unripe payaya, with tomatoes, lime juice, garlic, chilli peppers, fish sauce, and nuts – it is a perfect combination of spicy, sour, sweet, and salty.
Q. What has been the hardest thing about living in Thailand?
A. Learning another language. The actual language is fascinating and unlike any I’ve ever studied, but with a full life as mom of four I feel like I never have enough time or energy to devote to it. Not being understood never feels good.
Q. What do you and your husband do for date night?
A. I throw on a helmet, hop on the back of his motorcycle and we head off to try out a new restaurant, walk the night market, or sit in a quiet café to talk over coffee.
Q. Anything else we should know about you?
A. I will be traveling to visit my thirtieth country this month: China. With our parents in California (and mine retiring to New Zealand next year), a sister in Colombia and a brother in London, I am grooming one of my children to grow up and become a commercial airline pilot, because all this travel is killing our budget!
Is there an adventure or experience you desire for yourself or your family? Please share!