BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Many business people and lawmakers in Hawaii know Ron Boyer as the recently retired head of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
With the transition from Gov. Linda Lingle to Gov. Neil Abercrombie this Demember, Ron, a cabinet appointee, was replaced.
He took the opportunity to move his family from Makakilo on Oahu to Chiang Mai in Thailand. There he and his wife Cissy work on the staff of Zoe International (www.gozoe.org), a Christian group founded in part by Hawaii residents, which rescues kids from human trafficking.
Ron and Cissy, members of the Hope Chapel Kapolei, brought along their son Drake Boyer, a 16-year old junior, and daughter Elli Boyer, a 14-year-old freshman, who have been home schooled until now. The kids are attending traditional school in Thailand and will help out the mission with their parents.
“We visited in 2006 on a short-term mission and fell in love with the mission, the staff, and especially the kids. Just got here on December 30th and will be here, Lord willing, for at least a year. But in our hearts we think it will be longer,” Ron told Hawaii Reporter via email from Thailand.
Ron notes there have been many changes from Hawaii. ” Yesterday was the kids’ first day in ‘traditional’ school. Elli came home and said “Do I have to go back?” Drake came home, got a drink and a snack, and grabbed his basketball and went back to shoot hoops with the guys.”
Today, Elli writes in her online journal: “Ever since that first nerve-racking day at Grace International School I have made many friends and am starting to enjoy my classes. Going to school at Grace will be a good experience for Drake and me as we make friends from around the world (did I mention the awesome accents?) and grow in Christ.”
Cultural changes are major too, Ron says. “Everything here takes two to three times as long as it does in America. Took us 3 hours to open a bank account. And you really have to shop around. My watch broke (the stem pulled all the way out when I went to reset the time). Took it to one guy and he said “No can fix.” Took it to a second guy and he wanted to charge me 700 baht (about $23) and said it would take 3 days. Took it to another guy about 3 stores down from guy number 2 and the third guy fixed it for me in 45 minutes and charged me $3,” Ron says.
Besides shopping and school challenges, Ron says driving in Thailand is, well, a bit scary.
“That is the one thing that is going to freak me out a bit. Haven’t driven yet but just riding along gives me the willies. And, of course, if you get into an accident: it’s your fault if you’re a farong (foreigner).”
Riding Thai elephants, however, not as scary, according to the photo they sent above.
The Boyers will be keeping an online journal of their adventures in Thailand. Keep in touch with them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or see their journal entries here: http://withlovefromthailand.wordpress.com/