From Thighland to Thailand

March 5, 2010

Thailand 3.15

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 2:47 pm

Thailand 3.15

March 5, 2010-Friday-15th day

See Jennifer’s blog  at now with video! and


I haven’t seen it yet but if you pick up Fresno Magazine, March issue ( you can read about some of FCBC’s missions to Thailand and Laos.  A few months ago they interviewed me, a dentist, and an ophthalmologist, about our overseas mission work and wanted to write an article about it.   Coincidentally, the current SALT Fresno Magazine,, which is a Christian based magazine, has an article about the missions trips as well and has previous blogs and photos.  There will be a launch party for SALT magazine at FCBC on March 25, 5:30-6:30 pm giving the mission team an opportunity to mingle and share our experiences with the congregation and the public.  Refreshments and door prizes too!  Please be there and support your very own mission representatives.

I think Andy and I have worms.  We have been eating for two or three.  He eats his usual breakfast and then the previous nights left-over dinner plates.  I have eaten 12 scoops of Swensen’s ice cream in two days.  Hey, they’re small scoops, okay medium scoops, not Fenton’s ginormous scoops.  Swensen’s has a coup on being the only ice creamery chain in Thailand.  Good thing Baskin Robbins isn’t here otherwise I would have tried all 31 flavors. When I have been on Atkin’s diet for three months, I go into carb withdrawl.   I am just hoping the worms kick in so that I can loose some of this weight.  I feel like this has been a cruise ship meal plan.  Once I get down to my desired weight then I’ll take the worm pills.  Wherever we go, the hosting village, church, or school like to feed us.  There is no shortage of food.  Kind of Chinesey.  They want to make sure that we get food so they never run out and as gracious guests we like to show them that we try everything and leave some food on our plates so that they know that they didn’t run out.  The team has experienced a little GI upset but no Montezuma’s revenge so far.  The common question is, “Is it safe?”

We should be asking the same question ahead of time before we drive on some of these roads.  Today was actually fun.  It was another one and a half hour drive with the last half in the hills through dirt roads and potholes.  We went up and down and we were excited to find out if we were going to survive this drive.  We drove in vans and every now and then the van would bottom out and we would go “Oh!” and then take a big dip and go “Ah!”  Pastor likes to go “Woo hoo!”  The poor van.  I don’t speak Thai but I think the driver was mumbling, “I’m not getting paid enough for this.”  It was a nice scenic route along the river with tiered harvested rice fields, and cornfields, grazing water buffalo, and huts and home lining the roads along the way.  It’s almost envious because back home when we want to get away and “rough it” these are the places that we like to go: to a cabin in the woods or camping, and they get to live this every day.

I can’t believe that a school is located way out here.  If I had to travel this far for classes I would prefer to be home-schooled.  Apparently the principal, who went to college with Luka, drives here each day from Chiang Rai city.  We approach the Pahwang School for the local Lahu villagers.  Several hundreds of children attend this school from elementary to high school and some reside in the dormitories.  It is a relatively nice complex with a playground and a basketball court.  You wouldn’t think a building such as this would be located, or built for that matter, in the boonies.  Just thinking how the construction equipment could make it out here is mindboggling.

A group of children were waiting on the playground and I was trying to get them to wave at me while I was videotaping them but only a few responded to this attempt of an icebreaker.  Then I recruited Kane, Jen, and Ghan to do “The Wave.”  You know, go up and down while the next one to you goes up and down and so forth.  Only half of the group even attempted this exercise in calisthenics.   They probably thought we just looked silly.  I am glad that we were entertaining.

It’s a challenge to influence a primarily Buddhist nation but perhaps it can be done one village at a time.  Ghan told me that Auntika’s sister lives out here and worked with South Korean Christian missionaries who have visited before.  In the past, the children used to get together in the morning and praise the monks and do Buddhist worship.  Now, most of the children are Christian so now they get together in the morning and pray the way Jesus taught us to pray.  Praise the Lord!

We quickly set up clinics and encountered the usual pediatric ailments: runny nose, stomachache, hormones, headaches, lice, fevers from holding the thermometer close to the light bulb, reading and visual issues, and dental caries and tartar build up.  I got to take a eyebrow cyst out and sew up a chin laceration.   It was impressive that after lunchtime how the children gathered and squatted in a circle in the yard and many of the kids brushed their teeth in unison. At the end of the day I had and opportunity to print some photos.  At first, no one wanted his or her picture taken.  Then I printed one up for a partially blind girl.  The kids started to gather around the printer as the photo developed and THEN they wanted their picture taken.  First one, and then another with a friend, then a group and then a family and then a class, etc.  We communicated in sign language.  The kids would just point to who they wanted in the photo and then give me the number of photos they wanted by holding their fingers up. They are little hams.  We ran out of time to print pictures for everyone because by then a small crowd had formed and I couldn’t do everyone but for those who got a photo, this may be their only childhood Kodak moment.  A bit of advice for those, including myself, who take oodles of digital photos: print some of them now or periodically so that you have a hard copy or you may not find them years later and you will be empty handed.

The school was grateful for us coming and gave out hand-made bracelets to the members of the team.  We said our good-byes and now the children were waving as we drove off in the vans.  It was a hot and humid day but well worth the trip.  It takes a lot of energy out of the team so most sleep on the way back.  For some the ride back doesn’t bother them and they take naps and just look like bobble-heads.  It’s pretty quiet though and gives us time to reflect what we did today and for the past two weeks and how the experience has touched each of us.

We have one more clinic to do at Ghan’s village located about one hour away.  We went there before and treated a lot of manual laborers and expect the same.  I don’t know how many people we have treated and it really doesn’t matter because we treat each patient one-by-one, one at a time.  Whether it’s a pill, a filling, a pair of glasses, or a stitch, we have showed others that someone cares for you and that is reassuring and a feel-good moment.  For Christians, God cares for us, and that is not just for a moment, but, for eternity.  It is this enduring love and security that we want to pass on to others.

Medical Team International…winding down.

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