From Thighland to Thailand

February 24, 2014

Thailand 5.3

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 9:37 pm

February 24, 2014

Thailand/Myanmar 5.3

Minglarbar (“Hello” in Burmese)


A lot has happened in the last 24 hours.  Having a hangover in Seoul, Korea, I mean layover (see what sleep deprivation does?) we landed in Bangkok about zero dark thirty.   We had been on the “road” for about 29 hours.  There were stinky, sweaty, bodies with halitosis like sardines in a can contorted in our economy seats (except for Bill who claimed he had “sooo much room”) looking at each other “Don’t you wish everyone used Dial” that were attracting flies with faces full of smiles because we saw land and were now departing the plane.  What a lovely surprise to have dayrooms at Louis Taverns waiting for us at the airport since we had about a 7-hour layover left before we headed to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). Thank you Jesus! And Trevour for making a few phone calls to make this happen for free.  A much-needed bath left a sizable bathtub ring and Febreeze treated fresh clean sheets didn’t feel and smell so good. The nap was short lived especially with the noisy neighbors next door where I heard this honeymoon couple carrying on.  I actually banged on the door since, by then it was 0200, and the commotion stopped and I heard “Sorry!”  I swear that was Bill’s voice followed by a faint female giggle.  At least it was female.  After a trip to the buffet, Burger King, or Kin Ramen for top ramen we were on our way to Yangon.  Fortunately it was a only a stone’s throw away.  A man reading the local Bangkok newspaper had the front-page headline: “Deadly Blast in City.”  Chills ran up my spine and apprehension set in.  Were we leaving the battlefield or perhaps entering one in the near future?  There’s political turmoil, unrest, anti-government protestors, in both Thailand and Myanmar.  Hey, it kind of a made me feel right at home!  Oh well.  Get used to it.

As we flew into the airport the city looked like Fresno!  Green blocks of farmland surrounded airport.  Good, no signs of the military, tank you.  Finally we received some much needed excitement: as we entered the baggage claim area our welcoming party was none other than Bob and Cindy Wu, Luka, and yippee!!!, Jennifer!! waving their hands with great big smiles. That’s my GIRL! I almost didn’t recognize her with her one of her eyes nearly swollen shut due to a mosquito bite last night.  Poor Baby! I hope she took her malaria pills.

We retrieved retrieve 25 bins, 8 boxes of drugs, and 15 pieces of luggage in addition to our personal carry-ons.  A bus and crew helped remove the luggage onto carts ready for customs.  Now the hard part: Satan already put a wrench into our project by TSA not allowing the 3 air compressors out of LAX that were a vital necessity for the dental team.  Compressors run ALL of the motorized dental equipment.  Most of the team loaded onto the bus with our luggage.  We waited and waited and waited for Bill to get our bins and drug boxes out of customs.  Customs claimed that certain papers were not filed properly so they wouldn’t release the bins/boxes and it may take up to a WEEK to release them.  What!!!!  We’re working tomorrow!  It’s like walking into a gun battle with an empty holster.  Now if we don’t have medical or dental supplies or drugs, this will be either a very short mission trip or an expensive vacation!

During this time the rest of the group went to our 7 Mile Hotel and were treated to a little tour by our tour guide Oompah (reminds me of Opah! by Koti Sotiropolos at home) who gave the history of why Burma changed its name to Myanmar and about the civil rights movements.  I don’t know which is politically correct but since Obama uses Myanmar I will too from this point and use Burmese to reference the historical relationships.  Our hotel was certainly an upgrade from Golden Triangle Inn.  We wanted to get checked in but there was no early check in at 1030 so we sat and shot the breeze as a group until we got internet access. Silence then filled the room while 90% of the team went into their personal electronic device mode.  It was hilarious to look up and see everyone in his or her own social media world.  My, my how the world has changed.

We got a bite or so to eat at the Green Elephant restaurant where we enjoyed a variety of the Burmese cuisine.  Still no sign of Bill.  Or Trevour.  Or Dr. Chu.  Poor Bill.  Please pray for his sanity and patience.  So some of the group went “sightseeing” (uh shopping).  Bob and Cindy Wu took a group of us (Jack, myself, Ron, Pastor Jack, Vicki, Gail, and Luka) to the Karen Baptist Church compound.  The Karen is one of the ethnic tribes in SE Asia.  The Karen has one of the largest Baptist conventions in Myanmar.  They have three seminaries schools for Karen and non-Karen students.  There was a large hospital that offers free medical, dental, and optometry clinics as well as surgical procedures.  It was very impressive of the resources available to the surrounding community. Many overseas physicians come to this hospital to provide reduced fee or free services. Bob and Cindy Wu have been developing a relationship with the KBC and hopes to open doors for further assistance medically or financially.  From a historical note, Adoniram Judson was one of the first American Baptist missionaries to go to Burma about 200 years ago and wrote the first Burmese-English dictionary and influenced the translation of the Bible into Burmese.  The Karen tribe is one of the largest groups of Baptists in Myanmar and Myanmar has the third largest number of Baptists behind USA and India.

The Lowe Boys do what they do best and pulled through and found a hardware store and obtained an air compressor for the dental team.  They will need to “jimmy rig” the equipment to see if this will work with their equipment.  By now its 500 pm and we still haven’t seen a hair of Bill but we got a message that it was getting “close” to getting the bins released.  What does that mean?  Are we getting the powers to be to sign off or are there “financial negotiations” being worked out?  There is a lot of anxiety and concern amongst the team members and worries if this mission is doomed from the start.

So we take to what pacifies us the most and go get something to eat.  We went to a very nice restaurant called the Padonmar.  A lot of the food was either Thai or Burmese food and Thai foods are similar.  Lena noted earlier that Thais tend to use their fork in the left hand only to push or break up food onto a spoon so the spoon and not the fork is what feeds the mouth.  Try it you’ll like it.

We finished dinner and by now it was 8 pm.  No Bill.  But another message said that the bins got through!  Eureka!  We are set to go.  I’m sorry God for doubting you.  Pastor just finished a series on Philippians on joy and happiness.  It reminded me of Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Our prayers have been answered.  Thank you God.

Thank you to Bill, Dr. Chu, and Trevour for helping facilitate these foreign relations and for their patience and efforts.  There are so much behind-the-scenes that some of the team, including myself, can’t, but should, appreciate.

Tomorrow we go north to Zalun, proceed to a jetty to cross the river to Nandaw Island.  We then hop on an ox cart and travel to Myit Wa to the Theravada Buddhist Monastery.  We might have to live and eat and sleep like monks.  That may not be a bad thing (think camping) but I am guessing there wont be  any Sleep-Number beds.  Andy and David will be wearing appropriate hairstyles and will fit right in but I hope they don’t have a strict dress code.  Rumor has it that 5000 people are expected to show up at our clinics JUST in Myanmar.  We saw a total of 2500 people in two WEEKS in 2012.  Maybe we should have had them RSVP?  Just a suggestion next time.

I hope everyone gets a good night sleep because it may be your last one for a while…

God is Good, Mark

P.S. I don’t know the availability of the internet where were going so there may some “blackout” dates.  Sorry in advance but please pray for our Pastor as he leads us spiritually, for Bill as he continues to smooth the bumps in the road by absorbing them himself, for Gail’s strength to support him, for the team members working in uncharted territories and working together as this unique 2014 MTI team, for travel mercy, and for those individuals, including the team members, and patients that we will encounter to open their hearts to the physical, emotional, and spiritual enlightenment.

P.S.S.  I will try to load up photos in the near future but it is very sloooooww over the internet.

P.S.S.S.  Please go to facebook and wish Allison Chin a Happy Birthday on February 25th.  Sorry we will miss you!!  Love you sweetheart!


  1. Once again, I have a prayer chain going for the re-entry into Thailand coming Saturday. I have communicated with Richard Bruce, and he has his going too. God’s power is released when people pray for His will to be done!!! He then can do it, and I have no doubt that He wants you to work in His Name to minister to all the Burmese/Akha people that are assembling for His healing touch through you. God is not moved by persuasion, problems, needs, or by trying to change His mind….He is moved by FAITH that He has the power to do what is asked and in His will to be done…by alignment of the request with His will, by claiming his promises. Prayer is the power God has given us to change our world, and gets its power from our faith. Prayers are being said for this trip, and they will not cease. May your ministry be as Christ’s when he fed the 5000…. provision of resources to exactly fill all the “hunger” of the people for healing, both physically and spiritually, coming in abundance as if from nowhere!!!…God be praised for what He has already done, and for what He is going to do according to His promises about how He answers prayer!!! Blessings to all. Dar.

    Comment by Darleen Stukey — February 24, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

  2. Great to read about your adventures! tell everyone howdy from us in Fresno. hugs to all!

    Comment by Patti Kunkel — February 25, 2014 @ 4:00 am

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