From Thighland to Thailand

February 21, 2010

Thailand 3.2-3.3a

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 2:11 pm

Thailand 3.2 and 3.3 (day 2 and 3)

Saturday-Sunday (February 19-20, 2010)

Blog sites:  www.fcbcfresno.org and www.fcbcmissions.wordpress.com and  www.markchinmd.wordpress.com

Good Morning America!

We finally took off about 2 am Saturday and flew all day crossing time zones so that we are now 15 hours ahead of you.  There was some dissention amongst the team already at the airport with complaints of flight delay and preferential treatment of the Premium Economy prima donnas and the Economy (2nd, no 3rd, no 4th) class citizens.  “Economy” by the way is a misnomer especially when you’re paying over $1000-1500 for a seat.  That, my friends could have gotten you a whole vial of BOTOX!  Priorities folks, but when get back to mainland show me your mission badge for an MTI discount, especially you Bill since you’re frowning quite a bit more these days.  Pastor Jack you might want to come and see me too.

It took over an hour just to check us all in at the Thai Air counter.  Bruce is the Caucasian version of Ming and he got us through checking all of our paraphernalia and contraband and us through as humanitarian missionaries.  Psst! It’s really a clandestine attempt to bring orphans back from…wait.  Didn’t a group of Baptists already try that in Haiti?  Eight of the ten were released; the leaders are still detained.  Okay, Bill, clarification please.  Put it in writing that we are not going to bring orphans home, because you will be elected to stay on our behalf.  (Personally, Jen and I don’t know what they talk about in the Economy class).  Before our flight we all gathered at the Daily Grill with our $25 food vouchers for our last American meal.  They stuck me with the bill so everyone was happy.  (Hey, I got stuck with THE BILL on the first Thai trip too!)  That symbolically was our Last Supper as 13 of us broke bread together which coincidentally happened on a very Good Friday and over the next three days we are literally rising into the heavens and returning to earth on Sunday in our human form.  Now I swear, when we were descending we opened the window shades and a blinding white light shined through with clouds coming into view.  What a heavenly sight (beats seeing a fiery inferno!). Wow, now that was an experience!  A revelation!  Surreal.  Joseph, interpret THAT one.  Coincidence? God is in Control.  Whew!

Side bar: on the subject of orphans, the Wu family had visited a Burmese orphanage earlier in the 2009 and Bob, who is of Burmese descent and Cindy have been actively working in Myanmar clinics throughout the year.  So their children, Jonathan and Jocelyn (AKA the Jon Jon and Jocie show), treated us with a fabulous concert at our church in November benefiting an orphanage in Myanmar.  They shared their God-given talents playing the violin, piano, and clarinet accompanied by piano with a Fresno State music professor and by Cindy Wu herself.  I can honestly say that it brought music to my ears and tears to my eyes.  In a single night they raised over $10,000 for the orphanage! It’s not too late to give! 🙂  God said make a joyful noise and they certainly brought down the house.  Standing ovations.  Incidentally, Jon Jon and Jocie have played as 1st clarinet and 1st piano in the Junior Philharmonic in Seattle, Washington.  You know, they are the stars and get featured and play solo or accompanied with the rest of the symphony kind of like what Mozart and Beethoven did I think.  Jocie, maybe did violin as well. You were both truly amazing.   I wish I had the talent that you guys have in one finger, but I don’t, so I’ll stick with “Chopsticks.”  I tried playing violin one time and was shaking so hard the teacher said, “Don’t fret.”  We thank you Jocie and Jon Jon for your dedication and for sharing your gifts and for the congregation and friends for their monetary gifts.  Kudos to the Wus!

Back to our mission; we’re like Star trek: To boldly go where no one has gone before. Okay, I have been known to be cynical, pessimistic, and paranoid for our safety in the past and I am working on that.  It’s my protective nature, not my faith.  I get to vent through this email or ejournal or blog or whatever this is called and also for what purpose that still needs defining.  We are going to be more adventurous on this trip and get out of our comfort zones.  Home is our comfort zone for most of us and so we ventured overseas.  Then Thailand became our comfort zone and then we ventured into communist Laos.  We are now venturing into China and Myanmar.  Okay, I am not going to say anything negative at this point of the two countries (one communist and one junta influenced so-to-speak; more on this after or if we get out of Myanmar since some emails may be monitored or this commuter confiscated, so shhh!) because I LOVE THESE COUNTRIES.  They are three of the best in the whole wide world up there with the good ole U S of A and I wouldn’t mind living there!  You should try and visit and support their economy.  Buy Burmese jade!  Go China!  Go Myanmar!  I’m even rooting for you in the Olympics (even though were missing them BILL).  Doesn’t Myanmar have a downhill event or is that just their direction?

But I had to ask why Myanmar?  Didn’t any of you see the last Rambo documentary (should have been required viewing) where Christian missionaries went into Myanmar and were captured by the local paramilitary warlord?  Truth: actual footage in the beginning was used in the making of Rambo.  The missionaries’ church had to hire mercenaries (did we budget for this?) and with Rambo’s help they “negotiated” their way back to civilization.  Rambo quote: “Live for nothing or die for something.”  How about Live For Jesus.  Rambo needs repenting.  I guess that goes for us too.

Dare: FCBC MTI is going into Myanmar.  I am concerned because we initially got one way tickets and Bill says not to take too much money with us or anything valuable we don’t want to loose.  What about our lives?  Some of us consider that valuable.  Are we gonna get mugged?  Something you’re not telling us fearless leader who will be elected to stay?  Pastor Jack also asked the team to get “things in order” before we go and we were recommended to get “extraction” insurance.  Hmmm… We have to take doxycycline for almost two months around this mission trip so we don’t get malaria that’s endemic in Myanmar.  Bill says I never get bit!  That’s because he eats and smells like garlic.

It is comforting to know, however, that at least two of our group have State department ties and though I won’t identify the two men who are not of color and who are taller, both who have been shot at and are used to being under fire.  One guy has two purple hearts, not counting the time he shot himself in the foot, but we all do that from time to time.  The other dodged bullets in war-torn Fresno and almost got blown up on a bus on a mission in Israel.  The only CIA we know in Thailand is Christians In Alliance, Inc.  But, there is hope.  Not the great white hope but we do have our very own Rambo amongst us.  A little known fact that I discovered is that Andy is known as “Rambo” at Children’s’ Hospital.  Uh-huh, that’s a fact.   I’ve been told, “Ask Andy to do anything and he will do it.”  No questions asked?  Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.  He was recently seen at County Hall registering his weapons-his hands.  Yes they are deadly.  So is his mouth; he knows tongue fu.  He is also a black belt in karate and expert in the Filipino arts of escrima and kali.  I know he is a softy when it comes to Diane, but don’t let that boyish face and smile kid you…if looks could kill!  I roomed with him one year and while some people talk in his sleep, he ki-aiis in his sleep and sounds like Bruce Lee yelling hi-yah!.  I requested to sleep by myself because I didn’t want to die in my sleep.  I told you I’m paranoid.  Me, I’m no Rambo, just rambunctious.  Bill, I hope you know what you are doing.  Remember, women and children first.  Rest assured, Bill says that if it hazardous to our health we won’t go into Myanmar.  I think it’s just a smokescreen to test our faith.  Notify the cavalry and have them stand by just in case we aren’t seen for a few days.  But just in case, I brought Viagra and Cialis (courtesy of Dr. Jack, not Pastor, he’s already too stiff, loosen up man) for bargaining chips with the opposition in case of hold ups, need for safe passage, bartering, or bri…, no persuasion.  We just need a volunteer to show its affects.  Maybe we should get some betelnut as well.  It’ the drug of choice for missionary plastic surgeons I’m told.

Our tentative itinerary is a follows so you know where we’ll be so you can send help, goody baskets, care packages, postcards, or ransom (I understand that they take cash, Paypal, check, or credit cards with an I.D.).  We arrive in Chiang Rai Sunday evening, midnite Saturday PST.  Monday we will set up clinic at the Saskurwatsura (spelling) schoo.  We’ve been there, done that.  That’s where American Baptist missionaries first made contact in Thailand in the 1950’s and said, “I’ll be back” (Arnold Schwartzenegger stole and popularized that line).  When we returned to the school in 2006, one of the administrators said, “I knew you would be back.”  They were faithful because the missionaries said so.  In the school we will set up a dental clinic to extract and restore teeth, have a medical clinic and pharmacy to treat mainly school-aged children ailments, provide eye examinations and grind lenses and make glasses on the spot and give the gift of sight.  It’s Dr. Tajiri’s invention that allows optometrists that work in the field to create instant prescription glasses.  Before the optometrists used to eyeball the prescriptions and give out old donated glasses.  The patients would choose, not the best prescription for them, but which designer glasses looked best and made a spectacle of themselves.  Hindsight is 20/20.

Then the next day, Tuesday, we will cross the border driving into Myanmar/China and stay there til Sunday.   We wil first head to Kengtong and then to Mong La, China, and work our way back down to Mong Hpayak.  Then next week we will be working in Chiang Rai and throughout the villages.

Just an afterthought, we all should have been implanted with a microchip like Kona in case we get lost.  Good thing Lester brought along his satellite phone since we might have a black out period of incommunicado throughout Myanmar especially if they confiscate our electronic gear.  I’ll feel naked.  Not a pretty site I might add.   For satellite phone access see Lester’s email for that phone number and how you can call or text us through www.iridium.com.

Okay, a quick plug for SALT Magazine.  It’s a Christian based magazine with free subscriptions.  Go to www.saltfresnomagazine.org and you’ll see a familiar face and an article about FCBC and the Thailand trips in 2006 and 2008.  You can read it right now by clicking the digital edition right.  They took excerpts from the 2006 emails chronicling our mission trip.  It will come out on hard copy in March 2010 and we will have a launch party at our church March 25th so that the public can meet the mission team and discuss our past trips. Another related article should also be in Fresno Magazine, www.fresnomagazine.org ,  in March 2010 where they talk to some of the Fresno docs who have been on mission trips.  They interviewed them including myself and I talked about FCBC’s Thailand mission trips as well. Good PR for FCBC.  I’m hoping to have a follow up photo shoot with a 3-paged fold out/pin up using my head on Bill Ho’s physique.  It will display me pumping iron and flexing my/his sinew dripping with sweat discussing how the body is the temple that can be renovated with plastic surgery.  Just a thought.  A portion of the proceeds will go toward mission trips if Bill agrees to the photo shoot.

Okay, enough for today.  Lester is accusing me of having diarrhea of the keyboard.  It’s either this or watch Rambo again on my computer, and then I won’t get off the plane.  It’s still up in the air.

Thanks for listening and please pray for our travel mercy and safe landing.

In Christ, Medical International Team, Fresno.

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