From Thighland to Thailand

February 21, 2010

Thailand 3.1

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 2:05 pm

Thailand 3.1 (1st day of 3rd Thailand trip)

From Thighland to Thailand: a plastic surgeon’s perspective on overseas missions.

Dear faithful followers of Team Fresno or MTI (Medical Team International) as we are now officially known,

This year you have two Internet choices to follow the mission team and two different perspectives so it will be interesting to compare notes. I direct your attention to for Jennifer’s blog or go to and search for the blog site link for a young invigorating accurate view from the mission newbie Jennifer chin. You will find a more expanded version of the journey of the mission team through the mountains of Thailand, Myanmar-formally known as Burma, and China through the eyes and fingers of yours truly, Mark Chin through my ejournal or emails. Incidentally Jen’s a great blogger having blogged for a year in Paris. I will be corresponding through my own blog and email to my loyal readership (Lena, mom, and dad) and give a more verbose account with personal perspectives and epiphanies that are experienced throughout the trip. I anticipate that for some it may be too long to read and I will try to not ramble with run-ons but once I start typing there is really not much else to do here especially during the bus trip and lay over’s.

Reflecting upon the tragedies in Haiti, one can realize the need of struggling countries for help, not only at the time of calamities, but actually everyday. I am impressed with the outreach and the monies raised for assistance but people need to go and help if at all possible and not just write a check. Someone said, “It is far easier to give of money than of yourself.” Yet we are commanded to go and serve by God, the Almighty. So we go. And go. Like the Eveready bunny rabbit I think God just wants us to keep on going, and going, and going. Believe me, I wouldn’t mind staying in my comfort zone and continue keeping America beautiful…cha ching! But we all need to get out our pocketbooks or get off our blessed assurance and help our neighbors and to spread the Good News.

We have been asked, “Why Thailand? Why not closer to home?” Good question! Well although the Thai massage is second to none and everyone raves about a happy ending and we can get those “early release dvds”, it is a fact that 90% of Thais are Buddhists and have not even met a Christian. So unless someone goes to them they won’t be coming to us anytime soon. Spread the word. Can you hear me now? MTI is fortunate to be able to go on these mission trips.

We have dynamic leaders in our church such as Pastor Jack and Pastor Dennis and those on the mission and outreach committees. Bill Ho has been working on this project since 2008, just after we got back from Thailand 2.0. Bill has a vision and plans for the big picture and unlike him just tell me where and when to show up and I’ll show up most of the time. That’s why he was awarded that Disney Goofy Medal for running the race for God. Well, MTI has a marathon of a trip ahead of us and we will be traveling well over 26.2 hours, more like 35 hours door-to-door. In fact, our first leg of the journey will be 12 hours, and that’s just to LAX! We haven’t even left yet and it’s now, oh 11:00 pm. Yeah, already the plane to Bangkok has been delayed for mechanical failure and is arriving late. Well you can just keep that plane as long as you need for us to make it at least to Bangkok. Now we’ll miss the connecting flight and end up in Chiang Rai in the evening.

We had a nice send off at the church. About 20 of you nice folk saw us off. Thanks Lanny, Irene, Gerry, Lena Vicki, Ali, Mike, Patty, Bailey, Pastor Dennis, Michele,Vi, Ginny, Lynette, Nanette, Jean, Linda, Elizabeth, Colette, Diane, and Bailey. (I feel like I’m at the oscars forgetting someone. If I did, I didn’t see you sorry but thanks y’all for the send off. Auntie Sylvia and Naomi Tajiri hitched a ride to LA. We met up with Kane in LA and were greeted by Kelly and Lindsey Lowe and Stacy Chinn. Ming is already in Thailand and Bob and Cindy are in Myanmar and will catch up with the rest of the team. So where are we going I’d like to know and what are we going to do you’d like to know.

Stanley Kubrick had made 2001: a Space Odyssey and our postponed trip to China was to be our Grace Odyssey. 9/11 put an end to that trip. 2010: The Year We Make Contact is what we’re doing; we’re making contact with the Burmese, Chinese, and Thai people. Two weeks doesn’t seem to be enough time and we will have to cover a lot of territory and work our derrières off. As I tell my employees, “That is why they call it WORK!” Now Bill, how did you come up with these dates? Don’t you realize that we are missing the 2010 Winter Olympics.!?! Where’s your patriotism? It only comes once every 4 years. Okay, who won gold? Bill, I’m already a terrible father and now I’m missing my daughter Allison’s birthday again! First it was her 16th I missed during the 2008 Thailand mission and now it’s her 18th birthday. Readers, please call Ali on the 25th and wish her “Happy Birthday” AND send her some money to lessen the hurt and make me feel less guilty. Lester is missing Lindsey’s 19th on the 26th as well. Have you heard of milestones man? You better not schedule the next one on Ali’s wedding day cause I’m not going, I’m telling you that now. We’re missing Chinese New Year’s parade too. You can gung hay your fat choy! No time for celebration of birthdays either. Just because you stopped counting (Bill Ho just had another AARP birthday on the 15th, Jack Patton just had his yesterday, the 18th, Cindy Wu is on the 23rd, and Lynelle’s is on the 27th. There is already diuscussion about time and a half working on their birthday. Let me calculate 0 X 1 ½ is still 0. Oh, and you are so generous to offer them double time. We are going to miss those Oscar parties and miss the walk down the red carpet and study fashion trends. Who will win best picture? Avatar of course. Hey we’ll be a day ahead of you so we will know before you do. Hah! I know Bill it’s not the best picture but rather the BIG picture. Well when God says he comes first, he means it. Care to challenge that? I’m cool.

For some reason its been hard to get up for this trip. The enthusiasm has been lukewarm. An informal pole of the team reveals less excitement for this trip. Perhaps we have been there done that. Maybe now it feels routine, less anxious since things are well-planned. Maybe because we have confidence in our fearless leader, Bill Ho. But still we often leave loose ends that are waiting for us when we return. Our medical and dental practices slow down a week before the trip and is slow one week after so it’s like taking a one month hiatus. My desk is still a mess and piles of charts will be higher than when I left (I wish I was as organized as my significant other, Lena). For example, just yesterday I attended a memorial service for my former office manager, Vicki. God took her at 61 years young. Folks, we don’t have much time. I recall a week before my 2006 Thailand mission when a very dear loved one got into a horrendous car accident landing just inches from a telephone pole and resting against a tree. He could’ve died, twice that night in fact. Once from the accident and once after I found out he was okay I wanted to strangledhim he scared me so much. It’s hard to prepare to go. And God’s plan may sweep you up at any time. Can’t plan for that.

About a month ago my foot was acting up again. Tendinitis more specifically, enthesopathy, that’s my Achilles heel, literally and figuratively. Call me a gimp, a wimp, a limp. A I’m already a chimp (year of the monkey). It seems to act up just before we go on these trips. Maybe it’s a self-preservation mode, my body saying “Don’t go!” Definitely wimp material, definitely. Admittedly I’m not one of your fittest individuals on this trip. Bill, Gail, and Jen fit the mold. I want you to know that I did prepare for this trip by going on Atkin’s diet and dropping 15 or so pounds getting my BMI less than 25. My incentive is to carry my own weight and keep up with the rest of the pack on this arduous journey. The last trip I was carrying excess baggage and not the kind Bill complains about. So Luka greeted me in Thailand my hitting me on the shoulder, did an up and down gaze and said “You look bigger.” I didn’t know how to take that. Was it my IZ (Israel Kamakawiwoli) physique or my Bruce Lee abs. No, I later found out that “You look bigger” translated in Akha means “Are you pregnant?” I’m even taking kung fu again to work on my chi since it got a little big around the mid section. I don’t want to look like a have no respect for calories.

Well my excitement comes from getting to go with my daughter, Jennifer on this trip. I campaigned for her last trip but was vetoed by I won’t mention BH’s name. So more lobbying this year, feigning illness asking for someone to push me in a wheelchair got Jennifer elected for a general helper position. Now she was soooo excited she ran out and go nine vaccinations: seasonal flu, H1N1, polio, chicken pox, Measles/Mumps/Rubella, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, HPV, hepatitis A, AND THEY WERE ALL SHOTS! I hope that she doesn’t like needles. Also oral typhoid, no shot since she lost too much blood from the other vaccinations. Just don’t welcome her back with a hit on the deltoids cause she’ll still be sore. I am also excited for father-daughter bonding. I missed that while in med school and residency and work and welcome the opportunity to room with her. God works in mysterious ways. God is good.

Okay, enough for one day. We’re boarding soon. ETA is 23 hours from now, Saturday midnight. That’s when we get to our destination. I hope we get a nap. Lena and Vicki please disseminate this to interested parties. See Jen’s blog at Now on with the Bible Olympics.

Let the games begin…..

In Christ, Medical Team International, FCBC signing off. P.S. this blog will be posted on my blog in a few days.

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