Natalie Cataldo
Natalie Cataldo
Thailand 2018 - 2019
Sawadee Ka! My name is Natalie Cataldo, and I am in Thailand serving as a grant writer for the Wildflower Home in Chiang Mai and the Good Shepherd Youth Center in Chiang Rai. The sister organizations provide free long-term housing, education, recovery programs, and legal assistance for young women and single mothers who have sought help from dishonorable treatment (i.e. racial discrimination, domestic violence, etc.). I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to work with these organizations! Read More About Natalie →

Prayers

Hi friends and fam!

The other day, something unexpected happened. I was sitting at lunch with everyone at the home eating and talking with the women. One of them asked if I liked the beach since I had just visited Phuket with my friends. I told her I did, and the beaches in Thailand look very different from the beaches in the US. The women smiled around her, and I realized that they were all squirming and sharing stake in the same secret . One of the women (who has the strongest English skills) finally pushed the request out despite her nervousness. “Many of us have never seen the beach. Will you write a grant so that we could all go together?” 

I was caught off guard more than one would expect. As my time dwindles at the home (under 10 weeks), my days and my initiatives feel less structured. My goals are still the same; to love, be present, and be honest. I’ve dropped the end of rope concerning the work my skills could bring. I now try to focus solely on the work that God is doing, through me and without me. And I’m spending more time thinking about the ways this experience has shaped me. A trip to the beach is not going to happen while I am at the home, but now it’s something that I can pray about for for these women. My Dad (I love you Paj!) has engrained into my brain that wherever we are, we are there to pray. And so much can happen through our prayers. 

The mothers, children, Sisters, donors, and volunteers...

Their hopes, needs, and health...

All these things are worthy of my time and prayer. 

I’ve been trying to process this trip by journaling often, and specifically by looking back on every month that I have been here. Thinking about August brings me a feeling of bewilderment. “If you only knew..” I say to myself. But also, how sweet it is now to just know now. 

If I only knew...

How absurd it is that my parents were able to call me every night and every morning during the first couple of weeks. No service reached the house I lived in while I stayed on the property. Yet, in moments of sadness or fear, my parents calls came through. Their voice always interceded. Glory be to God! It made no sense, but I am so grateful for that communication during that hard transitional period. Looking back, it’s been one of the strongest ways I have seen God’s provision during my time at the home. 

If I only knew...

The women and children who were so shy and hardly speaking to me would share their thoughts, needs, and hopes through both English and Thai. That our language barrier would not keep love and protection from growing. That the women would care for me and bring me so much joy. I constantly felt the need to show them that I cared for them the same, but it never felt like it matched up. Ultimately, I feel so undeserving of their kindness.

If I only knew...

That the Sisters were wrong when they said I would be the only foreign volunteer for a long time! August was a quiet month at the home in comparison to the packed months that followed. I’ve kept a map and highlighted the countries of people I’ve met since being at the home. I can’t wait to see the final version. 

If I only knew....

That rolling over a pencil on a motorbike will send me into a scary-looking body roll.  People be thankful for your shock absorbers! Driving a motorbike is so fun, but I understand why Thai people get massages all the time. 

My time at this home has transformed my views on many things. In the first month, I felt the need and importance of prayer. Month 1 was far different than the rest of the months at the home. It was the start of new friendships, new lessons, a new vocabulary and a new home. Although the newness wears off, the importance and significance has remained. Recently, I’ve thought about looking into programs for single mothers or single fathers in the US. I think I have a lot more to learn from people like the women at the Wildflower Home. Maybe I can help in some way. To those reading this, do you know of anything?

Here are some photos from the past few weeks! Thanks for reading and for caring. 

 

 

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My dear friends Maty and Kyle!! I love them, and I am so grateful they came to see me!

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Picture from a Wat Doi Suthep – a well known temple.

My focus these days has been on helping Constanza, a volunteer educator, improve the daycare for the children at the home.

My focus these days has been on helping Constanza, a volunteer educator, improve the daycare for the children at the home.

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Photo from a day at the hot springs nearby with the mothers.

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Photo from Wat Arun – a temple in Bangkok.

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One of the mothers preparing somtam (my favorite!!) and eggs for us all.

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