Sitting… I seem to do a lot of it these days. Sit in the car as we drive 40 minutes to class. Sit for three-and-a-half hours of language tuition. Sit for the 40 minute drive home. I’ll then likely sit for the afternoon either doing homework or preparing a lesson to teach. In order to handle these largely sedentary days I find it necessary for body, soul and spirit to get out of bed around 6am each day and go for a good walk before the heat of the day sets in. We live right opposite a small public park – it has a walking track of just over a kilometre around a small, murky lake with large trees lining most of the track. In the mornings and evenings this park is a popular exercise spot for the locals… and me.
My exercise time has also proven to be a fantastic time to meet new people and make some friends in our neighbourhood. If I have questions about where I should buy such and such, or what the meaning of an imminent Buddhist festival or event I have recently witnessed is, my friends are happy to answer my questions. My schedule for the day or the depth of conversations I get into, determine how many laps of the lake I do each day. I’ve had several opportunities to share my faith. One of my friends recently had a cancer op on her tongue. She is undergoing further treatment in the neighbouring province, Ilkka and I have been to visit her twice and I try text her each week. I then pass her news onto our other mutual walking friends.
I recently celebrated my birthday and I discovered one of my walking companions has her birthday just two days before mine. On her birthday I baked her some bread, then on my big day she presented me with two bunches of the biggest bananas I have ever seen. (She knows we like bananas as sometimes I take a detour from the lake track in the morning to go get some bananas for breakfast at a nearby stall.) I’ve also been given organic red rice, mangoes and been treated to several dinners out.
My morning walks are also a great opportunity to use the local language as I chat with my friends as we walk. They are happy to explain words to me that I don’t understand. I often come home having learned of a new word or two.
So being an extrovert I am very grateful to have this opportunity to get out each morning, stretch the legs, chat with people, pray and get energised for the day ahead!
Maree (South East Asia)