From Thighland to Thailand

February 24, 2014

Thailand 5.2

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 5:24 am

February 23, 2014

Thailand/Myanmar 5.2

Burma or Bust: Meet and Greet the team

This mission team has a different feel than past teams and thus, may have different dynamics as well.  It’s a little too early to tell.  It is a little out of my comfort zone since we had a smooth operating team in the past and were like family.  We get along like family and also have our family feuds.  The difference is that we have newbies to the team (that actually have past connections to FCBC) and some that are MIA.  Those who are missing in action include Richard Bruce, our muscle.  I think the State Department warned him not to go into Myanmar for whatever reason being an ex-marine and all so I don’t blame him and besides Nannette has chores for him to do at home.  Richard is super busy with Matthew 25, FCBC’s food bank ministry providing food for the needy so it was hard getting away.  He’s taking Jesus’ cue and literally taking a few loaves of bread feeding hundreds of hungry mouths.  Go Richard, thank you and we miss you.  Ask Richard how you can help support Matthew 25.  We are also missing Arlene Jack, pastor’s better half, and new grandma to Rachel’s twins.  Definitely extra hands are needed for these newborns.  We will miss your smile and keeping Pastor Jack out of our hair.  We are missing our beloved Dr. Dennis Chinn and Dr. Akira Tajiri.  These two veterans have, collectively, nearly a hundred years experience of treating patients.  Their vast experience is unparalleled and their knowledge, wisdom, and organization will sorely be missed.  By the way, Dr.Tajiri invented the glasses-making system that allows the eye team to grind lenses, install them into frames creating glasses in about 15 minutes restoring clear vision to the visually handicapped.  He has donated thousands of dollars worth of equipment and supplies through various charities in addition to our mission trips.  The absence of his daughter, Allison Farrell, OD, with her tall stature won’t be overlooked because we all looked up to her.

So four former workers of the optometry department are not returning this year. Yikes!  I think someone pulled the wool over Bill’s eyes. There is no blame but perhaps, Bill was blindsided and it was not, in fact, Bill’s short sightedness that left the optometry department tunneled vision not anticipating that this year.  But we could all see that happening due to the physically demanding areas that we have to service which would be hazardous for our veterans.  In hindsight, which is always 20/20, he saw clearly the fact that Lisa Shimada with Diana Lee will be heading the department with two veteran lens grinders, Jennifer Chin and Mark Patton as well as newbie grinder Ronald Stuckey, and returning eye chart finger pointers Lena and Gail.  Not to mention John Shimada, Lisa’s husband, who is an experienced auto-refractor type of guy will be working by his wife’s sided like a personal assistant.  Hmmm, high maintenance perhaps?  How efficient this team will be remains to be seen and any problems will no doubt clear up with time.  No problem because it’s a good thing Bill’s a visionary and saw that coming.  However, it will be no doubt he will be watching the team under a microscope.

The newbies on the team bring a fresh perspective and different experiences:

Lisa Shimada, OD has history with Andy, John (her husband) Pastor Dennis, and Diana at Fresno State during Campus Crusade for Christ.  She lives in southern California John Shimada, esq. who practices environmental law and they have both been on prior mission trips  to Viet Nam and Morocco with John gaining experience with a variety of optical equipment, so they will fit right in.  Additionally, as an attorney, John may help give advice in any legal matters that we may encounter.  But if an incorrect vision prescription occurs and the patient’s eyesight worsens can he sue himself?  We are not anticipating any malpractice cases on this trip, are we?  He most likely will come in handy if any of us gets thrown in a Burmese jail.  Bill how much bail money did you bring?

Dr. Wen Chu has worked with Ming at the VA hospital in psychiatry.  He also was a military physician performing routine physicals for the army.  I wonder if he thinks were all crazy taking this 50 hour door-to-door trip to Burma.  He, himself, is Burmese and just returned from his school reunion and is making a U-turn back.  Sorry, I think that’s crazy! I hope that he gets frequent flyer mileage.

Dr. Chu will be invaluable as an interpreter and treating the team members’ moods.  Prozac anyone?  Bill has given him the “okay” to perform ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) on unruly team members.  Okay Bill, I get the hint.

Trevour Zin is Bill and Gail’s neighbor.  They have known each other for 30 years and is a good friend and “one of the nicest guys” per Bill.  He is an educator in Fresno with an import-export business.  Trevour is actually Burmese as well, has a home in Burma, and attended the Southern Methodist church as a youth where we will be incidentally visiting on this trip. His father worked for the United Nations and one of Trevour’s father’s wish before he past away was for a team to go to help the people of Myanmar (Burma). With Trevour’s help and connections it made his wish a reality.

Ronald Stukey is a member of Sierra View Baptist Church (formerly Sanger Baptist) and is a retired Fish and Game captain overseeing many game wardens within a region.  Oh deer!  I wonder if that’s a boaring job?  He has taken youth groups to Mexico to build homes and has been to the Ukraine to evangelize.  He accompanies Mark Patton, also a member of this and last mission team, who want to bring their experiences back to their home church.  He will strengthen the optometry with primarily responsibilities in the lens making detail.  Just to let you know, it’s a grind.  I am sure that you will be instrumental in forming and efficient production line.

Linh Truong, RN is Andy’s co-worker at Childrens’ Hospital of Central California.  They work in the emergency department together and wonders what Andy got her into.  I’m not talking about the horrid living conditions, disease filled working environments, spoiled food, uncivil sanitary conditions, or sleepless nights.  I’m talking about the eclectic personalities of the team.  Dr. Chu can prescribe some Xanax to help you cope with us.  Her mission, should she decide to accept it (too late) is to help Andy triage the patients to the correct department and to identify pressing health issues while at the same time trying to interpret up to a half a dozen ethnic languages.  Welcome aboard, Linh.

Chris Chow, PharmD son of David Chow, PharmD recently graduated from UOP and is the newest drug pusher following in his dad’s footsteps.  Watching him grow up in the church through BYF into a mature grown man in a respected profession makes us proud.  He will bring much needed joy and laughter on this trip along with his youthful enthusiasm.

Jennifer Chin, soon to be Liu, is my favorite oldest daughter who is returning to the mission team.  A member of the 2008 team, she worked in the optometry department grinding lenses.  She will be working double duty as a photographer and videographer recording history in the making.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll post some so I won’t have to write so much. You can be thankful for that.  She is taking her education from her anthropology and environmental biology degrees to, umm, well, let’s see, (what can you do with that?), well, then, to keep her dad company.  Yeah, that’s a great reason for being here: for my psyche.   She is currently volunteering for six months at the Akha Youth Development Center at the T-AMF (Thai-Akha Ministries Foundation) headquarters in Chiang Rai working on accounting, grant writing, web site development, and teaching English.  She is learning about applications of technology integrating into the villages as she has an interest in urban planning.  She will meet us in Yangon, Myanmar with Luka Chermue our Thailand host.  Follow her escapades at  Je t’aime mon ami.

Allison Chin, my favorite youngest daughter, will cheer you up.  She brings an uncanny sense of humor and will brighten up your day with her smile.  She also is volunteering at the AYDC with Jennifer performing similar duties and will be there for four months.  With a degree in sociology, she recently studied the problems of human trafficking in Cambodia and Thailand and wants to continue to explore the very problems of human slavery present in the United States and abroad.  She will be joining us for the Thailand part of the mission trip as a general helper.  You can follow her photo journal at

Don’t forget to wish her Happy Birthday on February 25th.  “Sorry honey for missing your birthday, again, but Uncle Bill wouldn’t switch the itinerary spending our first week in Thailand.  It’s his fault!  Love you, see you soon!”

By now you know the rest of the medical mission team.  This is the 6th overseas mission trip in the past decade.  The first in 2004 to China and then to Southeast Asia 2006, 2008, 1010, 2012, and now 2014.  By way of introduction (although many do not need any introduction):

Reverend Danny Jack is the pastor of FCBC.  He’s taken our congregation from 60 to 300 over the past 18 years.  As a former clinical psychologist he still gets into your head.  A historian, ask him about Adoniah Judson, the first Baptist missionary circa 1850.  Our church heritage influenced the very first Burmese Christians and it is exciting how missionaries have an impact on people and the world.

Bill Ho, DDS is our fearless leader making this trip a reality.  It is a thankless job and although Bill does not want recognition or acknowledgement (correct me if I’m wrong, Bill).  He is well organized and wise and seems to get his way no matter what other people say.  Did I say leader or dictator?  Retired once, he now works at the Indian Clinic in Fresno.  He just turned the Big Kahuna!

Gail Ho, RN is Bill’s better half.  Her smile is infectious and her “niceness” is evident in her children as well.  They got that from Gail, thank God.  She needs to smile when Bill rants and raves but that’s what makes her a great wife, mother, and friend.  She’ll be working in the Optometry dept.

Larry Lowe, DDS represents one half of the Lowe Boys.  They are not a singing group but you might sing praises to them as they constantly work the background making things happen.  Ask Larry, and considerate done.  He is always jolly, for a better sake of a word, and is always good nature.  Friendly and fun, he’s a hoot.  We need more like him.  He’s in private practice for over 20 years.

Lester Lowe, DDS the youngest of the Lowe Boys and is a go-getter himself.  He is not only resourceful but is the go-to guy to get things done.  He doesn’t seem to worry much unless his wife, Vicky, is around.  I guess he’ll be worrying a lot on this trip.  He along with Larry and his sister Linda Matsunaga, PharmD (all UOP grads) are the reasons why Ed Lowe, PharmD still works in his eighties paying off their student loans.  Give dad a break, will ya?  They get their work ethnics from their dad.

Vicky Lowe, DDS comes out of retirement to help out the dental team.  She feels that the team needs a woman’s touch and provides her influence in addition to Lynelle’s.  She has been on several mission trips herself but now that she is an empty nester is available to join us again on this trip.  She’s a good friend to all and will help you whether you want her help or not.  Even if you insist.

Lynnelle Win is a dental hygienist and is a human production line. If you want that Ultrabrite look, she’s the man, err, woman!  She will make your teeth shine even if you only have one tooth!  Although she has one of the best poker’s face, she is a really nice and funny lady.  She’s considers this mission trip a vacation, leaving her two lovely teenaged daughters with their dad Tom.  Good luck Tom!

Diana Lee, OD practices optometry in So Cal.  She is an invaluable member who sets the pace for the team. 


Jack Patton, MD is our medical director.  He brings a vast amount of experience as a missionary in New Guinea and practicing family practitioner in Fresno.  He is semi-retired and he has a wealth of knowledge both in religious studies and medicine.  He is affiliated with the Butler Mennonite Church and has worked with many SEA ethnic groups such as the Khmu in Laos.  If I am unsure of something I punt the patient to him and he gladly saves their lives.

Mark Patton, son of a gun, Jack, is a member of Sierra View Baptist and is our resident grinder.  He made an art out of grinding lenses with precise and accurate attention to detail.

Kane Kuo, MD has a great passion for the Lord.  He attended FCBC years ago while training in emergency room medicine and has transplanted to So Cal.  He is a great musician and singer brings a desire to treat those spiritually as well as physically and he regularly prays with his patients.

Bob Wu, MD is a great asset due to his Burmese heritage.   His specialty is anesthesia and practiced in Fresno many years before moving to their home in Washington.   He and his wife Cindy have made many trips to Burma on their own, particularly visiting the orphanages, teaching medicine and giving words of encouragement. They are currently in Burma and will be joining us for the Burmese leg of the trip.

Cindy Wu, RN, FNP is Bob’s wife and daughter of Dr. Joseph Woo, Jr.  She is a very passionate woman about helping others, particularly the needy.  She teaches nursing and both Bob and Cindy have been part of past mission teams to southeast asia.

Andy Alejo, RN is an ER nurse at Childrens’ Hospital who so passionate about the Thai people he eventually wants to become one.  He just needs to convince Diane that living in a hut with dirt floors is better than living in Fresno.  I don’t think Diane is up to waving a palm leaf over Andy feeding him grapes and bananas as he says “Yes, this is the life!”  No, she’s not there yet.

Ming Chong, RN is our multilingual translator.  He is a native of Thailand and an indispensible member of our team.  We would be lost without him.  He also is our tour guide and is a very knowledgeable of our surroundings making us very comfortable.  His GI tract is accustom to the indigenous flora, and not ours, so when he says it’s “safe” to eat or drink, think twice, boil it, treat it with UV light, and take a Pepto Bismol with lomotil and I think you’ll be fine.

Irwin Chow, PharmD is a man of many talents.  He will jiump in and do whatever you ask of him (to a point).  He has been responsible in individually counting tens of thousands of pills.  Interestingly, each time after a mission trip he has to update his prescription.  Don’t laugh if looks cross-eyed.


Lena Chin, wife extraordinaire, queen bee mother, wife of 33 years, and mother of 3 beautiful children (she’s looking over my shoulder reading this ;).  This is her second trip and will be serving on the optometry team.  Her greatest virtues are patience, organization, patience, neatness, patience, punctuality, patience, and wisdom.  (You have to have a lot of patience living with me…)  She is not only excited to come on this trip to see her daughters but is super friendly and treats everyone as family.

Mark Chin, MD is your blogger by default. AKA Dr. 93710, his hobbies are plastic and reconstructive surgery (anything from BOTOX to buttocks) with goals of “physician do no harm.”  He is the team’s communication to the outside world for the next two weeks via his blog  Please visit other years to get a flavor of our past mission trips.

Luka Chermue is our host in Thailand.  He runs the Thailand-Akha Ministry Foundation (TAMF) and Akha Youth Development Center AYDC).  He has connections all over Southeast Asia and is a pioneer in bringing Christianity to the ethnic tribes of Thailand, particularly to the Akha villages. Luka came out to Yangon last year to speak with the authorities to arrange for our team to set up clinic.


Frankly this trip to Southeast Asia is a little unsettling to me. Thailand’s political unrest is fortunately located in areas that we will not be working but unfortunately for Bangkok.  Some protestors are trying to out the Prime Minister.  We have been there before when they ousted that Prime Minister too.  The front page headline of today’s newspaper reads “Deadly Blast in City.”   Burma is at least changing over the past few years opening up to tourism so hopefully we will be welcome this time around. Our last attempt to serve the Burmese 4 years ago was filled with turmoil and despair as we couldn’t serve that many people due to our trip cut short and we were escorted out of the country, fortunately, in one piece

So our faith rests in God’s hand to deliver us to our destinations to serve him. Our motto that we are wearing on our wristbands, courtesy of Pastor Jack, reads “Do, Love, Walk with God.”  God will be with us and may he grant us peace, joy, and comfort as we serve His children of Southeast Asia.

Please keep us in your prayers, Mark

1 Comment »

  1. Hello to all. this is Dar Stukey, Ron’s wife. I have heard via Vibr (great app, if there is WiFi) that there was a glitch getting the meds in due to a document that was lacking. Sooooo, I have taken the liberty to get a prayer chain going through Sierra View Community Church, and I notified Richard Bruce of the glitch, and requested that he start a chain throughout FCFBC as well, AND will have prayer starting throughout the little retirement community of Bethel Lutheran Village in Selma tomorrow morning…(those old people roll up their canes and walkers and phones really early, so my Mom (89) will get the word out tomorrow…hoping that delayed prayer will still be effective). All I know is that prayer allows God to WORK, and the more prayer, the more He is set free to work…Prayer Works!!! I am so glad you have all arrived safely overseas, though some of your party are separated from you trying to fix the glitch. Prayer that you will all be safely reunited quickly, and enabled to do your work to Heal In God’s Name, is also on the list.
    May God’s arms embrace you with comfort and protect you with His strength, and through you, embrace those He sent you to heal in His name. May the language of God’s love in your hearts be the language the people there hear and understan; may that language of love break all barriers man has created in their homeland, and plant the seeds of wonder, recognition and desire for Jesus because of your response to God’s call to serve them in His name. May the name of Jesus be your provision for all your ministry needs, and restore your supplies to you, and protect you from dangers. May all “gliches” be blessings in disguise, and acknowledged as parts of God’s plan for the trip….Provb 3:5,6…”Trust the Lord with all your hear, and don’t depend on your own understanding. REMEMBER the Lord in ALL you do, and He will give you success.” (NCV) “Trust in the Lord with all yur heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and Hew will make your paths straight.” (NIV)…I know that this verse will be valuable for you…Keeping god in the midst of EVERYTHING is KEY.
    Blessings on you all…my love to my husband Ron…you will soon find out why he has been dubbed the White Tornado, AKA, Hummingbird on Red Bull!!! 🙂 Let him know I posted. Thanks.

    Comment by Darleen Stukey — February 24, 2014 @ 7:17 am

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