Brundidge Rotarians learn more about ‘The Land of Smiles’

Published 11:34 pm Wednesday, March 26, 2014

If not a familiar face to the Brundidge Rotarians, Grace LaSuwaratana is a familiar voice.
She co-hosts WTBF’s Morning Show with Ralph Black and was among friends at the Rotary Club’s Wednesday meeting where she was the program guest of Rotarian Cot Wallace.
LaSuwaratana, a senior special education major at Troy University, is from Thailand where her parents are missionaries and also own a radio station. She started working at WTBF under the “care” of her brother, Beaver, who hosted The Beaver Show at that time.
LaSuwaratana presented an overview of the country she calls home and exposed the Rotarians to the Thai language, which she said is “like a song.”
“Like a song we can’t sing,” the Rotarians laughed.
The Thai language has 40 consonants, 30 vowels and five tones.  Although seemingly difficult, the language does have a sign-song quality with which the Rotarians kept time.
LaSuwaratana said, at 95 percent, Buddhism is the primary religion of Thailand with Christianity making up only 1 to 2 percent. There are about 41,000 active Buddhist temples in Thailand.
“Buddhism plays a large part in the lives of the people of Thailand,” she said. “Every day, they make merit so they will go to heaven.”
Making merit includes giving food to the Buddhist monks who live simple lives.
“In return for food, the monks giving blessings,” LaSuwaratana said.
Tourism plays a major role in the economy of Thailand along with exports and agriculture.
“Thailand has many beautiful beaches and mountains,” LaSuwaratana said. “Tourists like to ride the elephants and visit the floating markets and the street markets. At the street markets, you can find anything from food, to shoes and to car parts.”
LaSuwaratana’s parents own about 70 acres of inland property that features a large pond and a rice field.
“My dad spent about 20 years in America but the Lord called him back to Thailand to help our people,” LaSuwaratana said. “My mom has been a missionary all over the world.
“On our land, my parents have a free Bible school for the mountain people who have no theological or educational training. They also have camps for children at the place we call Camp Moriah. My mother has a ladies’ ministries where they learn many things.”
LaSuwaratana said Thailand is a beautiful and interesting place and it has changed to the modern western ways.
“Thailand means ‘land of the free’ and it also means ‘Land of Smiles’ and a smile can mean many things,” said LaSuwaratana, whose smile is obviously contagious, for all the Brundidge Rotarians left the meeting smiling.
“It was a great program and we enjoyed having Grace,” Wallace said. “It was an informative and happy time.”

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