From Thighland to Thailand

March 6, 2014

Thailand 5.12

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 1:52 am

March 5, 2014-Wednesday


Thailand/Myanmar 5.12



We try to utilize our sensitivity training that Pastor Jack has reminded us about when traveling to foreign countries.  He spent one morning with his Chapbook underscoring the importance of attitude. We often have an agenda and we might appear impatient, abrasive, and impersonal during our clinics when we set up, conduct business, and pack up. He asked us if we have been demanding, grumpy, bossy, caring, joyful, humble, flexible, friendly, or rude.  Yes to all.

We sometimes don’t display our enthusiasm or friendliness to others who help us or to our patients and while we Christians are all under a microscope we need to appear like were having a good time, whether or not, we are.  We’re having a GREAT time, right team?  So we will take time to smell the flowers.


We continued to see patients from Laos and Thailand, many of which had crossed the border.  More carloads are coming in from further distances but many have walked here as well.  Most of the patients have common complaints of wear and tear on their bodies.  Since they are manual laborers, joints and backs wear out so we try to explain ergonomics and posture along with strengthening exercises.  They are tough and when you feel their shoulders or knees during their range of motion no only can you hear the grinding of bone on bone joints, you can certainly feel the grating and discomfort and pain.  What are we supposed to do, tell them to retire?  Work is their livelihood; there is no state subsidy or workers’ comp vocational rehab.  If they don’t work, they starve.  They just want to feel comfortable so we give them steroid injections and ibuprofen, lots of it.


Optometry clinic gives out a lot of reading glasses.  Many workers sew and need to see up close.  Many of them don’t appreciate clear vision until they realize how good it can be and how they can now continue their craft. 


I saw four otherwise healthy guys today who came together for the same treatment.  They just wanted to get a refill on their medications.  I asked what medication they needed and they said it was for worms.  I was wondering what they had in common.  As we all know at home: completely cook pork to avoid worms such as the tapeworm, which is a parasite.  Did you know that some people actually eat it on purpose so that this “Tapeworm Diet’ helps them loose weight?  Gross.  Well, apparently raw pork is a delicacy and they are willing to risk the chance of getting a little, teensy, weensy, worm for the sake of a brief moment of ecstasy.  It reminds me in Japan of the puffer fish.  Eat a little and you get a little “tingle” worth eating from the neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin.  Eat a teensy, weensy more, and its your last meal, ever.  They really didn’t seem to care as long as their was medication to cure it.  Fortunately I had Internet access and I search Google images for tapeworm and showed them what was growing inside their bodies.  “Oh”, Ooh!, OOHH!!, OOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!” they said in unison.  They were shaking their heads and I hope that they were grossed out.  I should have touched their bellies and pretended I felt worms moving and say “Do you feel that?”  But, I was trying to display more sensitivity per Pastor Jack.  I would have rather done the latter to get my point across.  Wouldn’t it have been hilarious?  Okay, sensitivity. 


Speaking about sensitivity:



I have said it before, I am not a reporter, an English major, nor a professional blogger and I have been “recruited” (since no one else volunteered), to be a representative to record our events, as I see them, and to avail this information to those desiring to follow our perilous journey.  I do take this responsibility seriously because I know that this and each subsequent communiqué may be the last time you hear from us in the event that we are captured by Somali pirates, thrown in jail for religious persecution, drowned from a sinking boat, crash landed, or from other means by which we are called to heaven.


I will attempt to get the details of the events correct, names correct, and “report”, no relay, this information as factual as I can, while rushing to get this blog out to you in the wee hours of the night.  So, unless I intend to distort or exaggerate the truth or actual occurrences on purpose through innuendos, or stir apparent controversy with sarcasm for the sake of adding some, zest, as it were, to illicit a “yearning for more” or cliff hanger, to avoid a monotone affect (I have, indeed, “toned it down” over the years) I will continue to write whatever pops into my mind at that time.   I am not hear to “swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” so forgive me God.  Some of this may be hearsay or gossip, but most of this is through my personal experience and interpretation of the events. This blog is most understood by those who know me, and my attempts of humor, although I’ve been told to keep my day job, and if I hurt anyone’s feelings please forgive me since God already has.  If this blog bothers you, please stop reading it.  It is my viewpoint and not a documentary, and for selfish reasons, it will help me remember my experiences as a mission team member over the past decade and how I enjoyed those experiences with unique and wonderful people and had the opportunity to work with unselfish, caring, and gifted people and professional colleagues, with a common purpose: to serve God with the best of our God-given abilities.  To Kelley Quan and whoever else is reading this, thank you for your attention.  I hope that you don’t miss the aroma or flavor of the soup by biting on the peppers. 


What the clinics try to address are factors that are most important to the patient’s quality of life.  Dental addresses the necessity of eating and nourishment.  Eye addresses the need to see what they are doing to work.  Medical addresses the ability to work. Those basic needs might be taken for granted with higher socioeconomic status.  For some of the patients at the bottom of the totem pole these are life and death issues and not simply just quality of life. 


Take care.  Yes, take care of yourself.  Mark





  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! Mark, I have been reading your blog everyday. I rush home from work and look forward to reading about all your adventures of the day. And of course worry when there’s nothing written. You are doing a fantastic job with your blogs. It has helped in understanding everything you have all been going through good and bad. And boy, you make me laugh so hard! This is your second calling when you run out of surgeries! What an amazing job you all are doing in the name of God. Praying for everyone everyday. Carol Togo

    Comment by Carol Togo — March 6, 2014 @ 3:40 am

  2. Thanks Mark for taking the time to blog. I very much enjoy reading all that you write. Safe travels.

    Comment by Kelley Quan — March 8, 2014 @ 9:42 am

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