So, a few folks have realized that I've been back in Bangkok for a few weeks. I suppose I should explain why, so that the three people who read my blog know.
As most people who know us already know, our family spent two years in Thailand while I was working at the US Embassy in Bangkok. Last July we returned to the United States, and we're happily settled back into life in America with it's wicked good potable tap water, variable seasons, and Five Guys hamburgers.
Now a series of events beginning in November conspired to pull me back to Thailand for a temporary assignment. Unfortunately, the woman who took my place at the Embassy required medical attention in the United States, and as the doctors helped her get better, it took longer than they had expected. It led to the Embassy asking if my office could spare me for 6-10 weeks to cover my old position while my colleague got all squared away.
I suppose at some point I should question the security of my position back home if they were willing to let me come here for over a month...
Anywho, before my office and the Embassy squared everything away I made sure I had Mali's permission to come out, and bada-bing-bada-boom! Here I am. I've been here now for five weeks, and this is actually my final week in Bangkok. My replacement is back in country, all healed up and actually ready to jump right back into the thick of it and do the job she was brought here to do.
It's been good being here. Since I was asked to do my old job, I was able to step right in and contribute immediately. Two days after getting here I went back to Thailand's southernmost provinces to talk with folks about the long-running insurgency there, just like I used to. I've been to two political rallies, just like I used to do. And I've had plenty of meetings with lots of folks to gather information for the Ambassador and other Department folks back in Washington. It's also been fun to get people's reactions when they see me--a lot of, "Hey, I thought you left!" comments from both Americans and Thais at the Embassy. Good times.
The best part is that I've lost weight (about 15 pounds so far) and I feel more fit than when I left America. Part of that has been due to the CrossFit program the Embassy Marines are running on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons--there's a lot to be said for sharing the (temporary) misery of pushing your physical limits with a bunch of other folks. I've also been getting some miles of running in, including a wonderful seven-mile run in Vientiane, Laos. I've also been able to catch up on movies and explore downtown Bangkok a little more than I was able when we lived here--we lived about 17 miles north of the Embassy, so I didn't hang out downtown very much.
All that said, I'm ready to go home and hug my kids and kiss my wife again. I've missed them terribly. And under extreme duress, I might even confess that I've missed my seminary students. But don't tell them that. Besides, it's ridiculously hot here, still.