From Thighland to Thailand

February 19, 2017

Thailand-Myanmar 6.1

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 5:21 am

February 19, 2017

Welcome back to my readers. Although I am not a professional blogger ( just a designated one) I know that this is a portal to our overseas mission trips activities and I appreciate those that take the time to read these often-lengthy entries since I try to squeeze these out whenever there is a window of internet opportunity and there may be days of blog inactivity. Most entries are done on the road or at night with one eye opened fighting off the mosquitoes so I hope that they can make sense at times.   The last post was almost three years ago during First Chinese Baptist Church’s trip to Myanmar and Thailand. We wanted to go in 2016 but due to the health of several members and their families it was postponed until 2017. Even now, as we age, our health is not always optimal and but please appreciate the efforts of those team members that are willing to sacrifice time, money, relationships, and their health, even life, to help those in need.   No accolades are necessary as we are serving our Lord God and Savior.   It’s what we are supposed to do. The team thanks all of our friends and families for supporting us. We know that we are privileged to go on this mission trip representing FCBC and we thank FCBC membership for funding this trip and others sine 2004.   Please see the video news coverage from ABC30 on our departure on Friday afternoon:

If you missed the video of the 2012 mission trip you can view it at :

Now what’s happening: Every trip we are putting ourselves at risk traveling thousands of miles through the jungles and uncivilized areas and facing the inclement weather. This trip was no different. We have encountered storms, mudslides, leaking vehicles, careless drivers, and wind capable of toppling semi-trucks on their sides and that was just getting to LAX! Can you imagine going to countries where traffic signs and lane markings are just a suggestion? Encountering stone faced TSA agents, lost luggage, unruly passengers, smelly team members and their “Don’t you wish everyone used Dial” moments, and boxed meals (except for premium economy J) is just an introduction of what the team is about to face. Oh, have I mentioned that our trip to Myanmar to the Isuta village (pop. 4000) is so rural that it doesn’t come up in a google search? Go ahead try to find it! Now I don’t want to sound like a drama king, but Bill has explained that we may encounter a few “minor” inconveniences. Okay, Bill’s definition of “minor” and my “major” may mean the same. Are our newbies are in for a surprise!

We have been instructed to take our “vitamin pill” once a day. I found out that this is to combat malaria. Our trip into Myanmar village will encompass 6 plus hours of travel across dirt roads and an hour crossing a river on a cattle boat; watch where you step folks. Yes the same type of cattle boat that carries herds of cattle to their ultimate doom. How apropos. That’s udderly hilarious! (Joke, get it?) Where do they find these places? We will be sleeping under a mosquito net tent for 4 nights in the church village. The village runs on 2 gasoline generators so there is limited electricity, hence the portable Goalzero electric batteries, lights, and solar panels. Now, I have to admit that I’m a little ticked off at Bill since he said that I need to share my 3 solar generators, 6 lanterns, 6 hanging lights, and step-down converter. I get to keep my watch/flashlight. Whoopee. Call me paranoid, but I just like to be prepared for “lights out” situations. (Psstt. I have some personal backup batteries as well that he doesn’t know about and he won’t read this until we’re stateside).   If we are lucky, gasoline generators will be brought in to power our medical and dental equipment. There is no public water source available, unless you consider the river, which I guess it is. If we’re lucky, bottled water will be brought to the village, otherwise we will have to depend on our Lifestraw filters and UV irradiation. Shower facilities will be two tall tents in which their will be a foot pump to pump collected river water through a spray handle sans warm water and lighting. Now Bill has assured us that his iodine disinfecting tablets will make this water even potable but I don’t think iodine kills leeches IMO. I have brought a spray bottle with a fan just in case. Now, the local folks have generously built a western style toilet for our US spoiled derrieres, so that we won’t have to squat, that will flow down PVC tubing out into the river, yes, where we get our bath water from.   Hmmm, I hope that the villages collect our bath water upstream but I will still use my spray bottle, waterless soap, and baby wipes, thank you. Now I know that you seasoned campers say, “What is the big deal?” and that “At least that there are no bears around. “   That may be true, but have you slept around Burmese pythons before. I didn’t think so. Those snakes have grown up to 18 ft. in length and can devour large animals. Humans are considered appetizers. Bears are cute but you can punch them in the nose and they’ll drop you while pythons are cuddly and will hug you to death. Bill has generously provided us with “sporks” (spoon and fork combo) when food is available and baby wipes for hygiene and it was suggested to just wear your underwear inside out in between laundry opportunities; your undies will last twice as long. No one liked my idea of edible underwear in case of emergencies. We will be surrounded by some type of military either under surveillance or protecting us. I hope that it will be the latter. Rambo is on stand-by. Okay, enough of the “minor” inconveniences.

Bill, fortunately, watches our back from time to time and we are presently at the Hong Kong airport lounge where some shower facilities are available to freshen up and plenty of food so we are enjoying these amenities while we can. We have a long layover and then off to Chiang Mai for an overnight stay and then we begin our journey to Myanmar for 5 days. Our last trip to Myit Wah, Myanmar yielded about 3000 patient contacts in 3 days and if this is a representation we should be able to reach our to a few thousand more at this village. Then we will travel back to Chiang Mai for a day of clinic and then back to our old stomping grounds in Chiang Rai/Golden Triangle area. We will be setting up makeshift clinics providing medical and minor surgical procedures, extracting teeth and providing dental restoration and hygiene, making prescription glasses, and dispensing drugs for a variety of diseases and ailments. This will occur in villages, schools, and perhaps a prison. We hope to treat thousands of patients. Bring it on.

Thank you to all of our volunteers on this mission trip. Here is an introduction of the current veteran team members with the rookies highlighted in bold letters:

Pastors Danny Jack and Kim Takemoto (Sanger Faith Community Church)

Fearless leader, Bill Ho, DDS and his wife, Gail Ho, RN,

Lowe boys, Larry Lowe, DDS and Lester Lowe, DDS,

Lynnelle Winn, dental hygienist and twin sis Lynnette Yuen, clinical lab scientist,

Optometrists Diana Lee, OD and Lisa Shimada, OD,

Pharmacists David Chow, PharmD and son Christopher Chow, PharmD,

Jack Patton, MD and his sidekick son, Mark Patton

Kane Kuo, MD,

Vascular surgeon Leo Fong, MD in private practice in Fresno,

Nurse practitioner, Ellen Middleton, FNP, PhD in a women’s health practice

Zina Clark, RN, surgical scrub nurse at local hospitals,

Ming Chong, RN,

Andy Alejo, RN,

Mark Chin, MD and his boss Lena Chin.

We are a team and we have a great team leader who, with his wife Gail, has been planning this for over 2 years. I can’t imagine all the countless hours and sleepless nights and overseas phone calls they have made in preparation of this trip. Most of us, like myself, are content to just show up and plays follow the leader and have faith that we will have a safe and rewarding journey. Many times I said, “If we’re lucky…”.   Well, there is no luck. God is in control and we are taught to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).”

I really learned that I have to trust in the Lord during the few weeks, days, and even hours before I embarked on this mission trip.   Although we have been planning for months, Lena and I did not know if we were actually going to make this trip since we took on some added responsibility over the past year. My father, Tuck is 94 years old and my mother, Jayne is 89 years old. They are recent Fresno transplants from the Bay Area due to their age and health.   My father’s health has been waning, with 4 ER visits for low blood pressure and low heart rate; his heart is failing.   The last ER visit was two weeks ago. Two days prior to leaving we were told that his heart has been pausing 3-4 seconds which translates to an average heart rate of 15-20 beats per minute (60-100 bpm is normal). Since his heart was being monitored his cardiologist urgently called us and told us that he needs a pacemaker and pronto. When asked if he wanted a pacemaker, my father replied, “Well, if it will give me a few more years…yes.” Surgery was scheduled Friday 2/17/17 at 11:00 am, but got delayed and the bus leaves for the mission at 1:00 pm.   There was no question that I had to be at my father’s side. My dad and mother were brought to Fresno so that I could keep an eye on his health. He can’t die on my watch.  Fortunately two of my sisters were able to come to Fresno to help out during his recovery and Steven, my son is just a few blocks away. I was reluctant to ask one of my sisters who is undergoing her own treatment for a serious illnes if she was strong enough mentally and physically to take care of Dad and she said she was. Kudos to her in HER time of need. I still had so many questions going through my mind that I was having a manic moment. How will he handle anesthesia and surgery? What if he stops breathing or his heart stops and he dies during surgery, or after while I’m away? Who will be there for my mother? What should we do? If I stay, Lena stays, but she says that she needs to go since she invited her friend Zina to come, who suggested Dr. Fong to come. So if Lena goes, I need to go with Lena because of my sense of obligation to her.   God first, spouse second, family third and so on.   Will we let our team members down? What about contributions that we might make to the needy? Will I let them down if they need surgery? How would we feel if my father died while we were gone and we won’t even know for days? I heard a voice saying from above, “Uh Hello, this is God speaking. Umm, your father has on My watch all the time. Did you forget?”   “Yes sir, I did forget.”   When we try to handle things ourselves then things get out of control. I should not worry because God is in control.

I had to remind myself of Philippians 4:6-7:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So, I kissed my father good-bye in the preop room and my father said, “Go. See you later, Mark.” Dad had faith all the time. So must I.   Lena and I boarded the bus as it was getting ready to leave knowing that my dad’s life is in God’s hands as are all of our lives. As of this writing, Dad got his pacemaker and he was discharged from the hospital and is doing well. I would have worried about him the whole time but now, his heart is even better than when I left. Thanks Dad and thank you Lord.

Your humble servant, Mark


  1. Thanks for reminding me who is in control. Very pleased to hear your dad is

    Comment by MaryAnne Lai — February 19, 2017 @ 11:33 pm

  2. […] made it to Thailand. Learn more on Mark’s blog […]

    Pingback by Mark’s Blog #1 « FCBC Fresno — February 21, 2017 @ 5:24 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: