From Thighland to Thailand

February 24, 2017

Thailand-Myanmar 6.6

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 11:11 pm

February 24, 2017

There is a reason why I didn’t take up camping. I am starting this blog in the middle of the night, as I don’t have much enthusiasm right now so I guess I need to vent. I have tossed and turned every night and this is no exception. I can’t sleep within my claustrophobic mummy bag as I try to center myself over a sweet spot on the mattress pad but roll to the side where my half my body is on the floor while the other rests on air. My necks has a crick in it (not sure if that’s a true medical term) and the bare skin areas stick to each other due to the humidity and sweat.   I don’t think I’m the only one uncomfortable here but we are supposed to go to sleep and wake up refreshed, not waking up with aches and pains and headaches from sleeping the wrong way. My bladder is full and pulsating but it’s too cold out there to make a potty run so I find my down jacket to keep me warm and my head covered to maintain body heat. I wish I had a urinal or a Depends. There is minimal wiggle room in these mosquito nets but we all hope we won’t contract malaria or the Zika virus or Japanese encephalitis (shoot, I forgot to get that vaccine shot). We have layers of Deet on our skin and our clothes and it burns at times. It’s a little uncomfortable to type laying on my back, neck bent up with two pillows since I can’t sit up, the computer on my tummy digging into my ribs with knees bent to support and bend the screen at the right angle (hah! That’s why they call it laptop!)   There is nothing else to do at this hour so that’s why I decided to type. Bill assigns me this chore each year to keep me preoccupied and to stay out of trouble but I do this to let you know we are not captured and held hostage or we drove off the cliff. Moving my limbs keeps me warm since I can’t do jumping jacks. I can’t get up or I’ll wake my other 8 other roommates, though they probably have earplugs in since we all “saw the logs” at night.   I’m even looking forward to the Cup-O-noodle and powdered coffee and our breakfast that the villagers prep for us each am. We should appreciate that since they have to get up earlier than us to prepare our food, which has been very good and plentiful. I can’t wait to sleep in a bed tonight like you guys. Boo hoo.   Thanks Naomi Ruth for those care packages; they are very valuable as snacks at 3 am.

The day and a half trip to get here, in and out of airports, squeezing in vehicles like sardines, or bouncing in the back of a truck from place to place, facing often hazardous road conditions, encountering hostile environments and risky travel is what is involved in these mission trips. The weather is too hot or too cold and too humid. The water has bugs that we are not used to so we take probiotics, Pepto Bismol, antibiotics, boil, disinfect or filter our water to drink to prevent traveler’s diarrhea.  Some of us took typhoid vaccines along with several others (hepatitis A and B, tetanus). Our showers are cold and from river water, yet it is blessing to have them. Thank you Bill. Our compound has armed guards so we smile a lot as we interact with the military personnel who are carrying side arms and AR-15 rifles.

Even getting to the destinations, the team needs trucks traveled along treacherous highways and had to cross streams balancing on rocks or wading through the water, carrying supplies on their backs under the hot sun for miles.   We have to go back the way we came so that means back in the 4 x 4’s, along the potholes and dirt roads. Good thing it’s not raining otherwise I doubt we could have made it or we would have gone off the many cliffs since were riding the crest of the mountain range for 2-3 hours. Fortunately we haven’t broken down. At least I am up early enough to put on my motion sickness patch behind my ear and take an anti nausea pill for the bumpy ride back to Chiang Mai.

I know you’re saying, “Quit whining!” There I said it for you. I’m just venting, as I like to complain sometimes. I’m not asking for sympathy because we all signed up for this. And, you know, we will gladly sign up again! This is about serving the Lord in what capacity you feel that you can based on the gifts and talents that each of us have. There are many bodies in a church and many Christians in our community, yet few are willing to serve. We live a very comfortable life and as Pastor Jack says we have to get off of our blessed assurance to do something significant for the glory of God, at least for believers. Every few years are okay for me to get out of my own comfort zone. As a health care practitioner, I mainly see patients that want to have a procedure and do not necessarily need them. My patients generally can afford what ever they want and pay cash. Others on the team may treat those in need at home, but for me I participate the best that I can to try to help people who need our services that don’t have access to health care services. This is truly out of my comfort zone as I treat patients of all ages, see exotic diseases not seen before, and dig deep in knowledge and experience while performing some procedures that I never even did before. Even then with the correct diagnosis, we are frustrated with the lack of medications, surgical arena to perform surgery, and lack the follow-up care that they also would need.   I am sure that we are here for a reason, though it is not always clear to me and it becomes apparent later. I want to be as effective a physician and fellow human being (I’ve never really liked that term because were all human).

The dentists and hygienists are great.   They relieve pain and suffering and prevent future dental decay by providing education on hygiene. They even distribute toothbrushes to those that are receiving them for the first time. Kudos to the optometrist who literally can make a blind man see.  The medical doctors and nurse practitioners apply their craft with care, touch, and appropriate medications.  As a surgeon, I need to cut to cure.  Once we get the tools of our trades back we look forward to making a bigger impact.

Sometimes we don’t get off of our blessed assurance because we don’t know what our gifts or talents are or that we’re afraid that we are inadequate or fearful that we will be in a uncomfortable situation. And yes I know that it has been said that fear can lead to the Dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering…Yoda.   Well 1 Corinthians 10:13    God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability (i.e. God won’t give you something that you can’t handle.)   See, isn’t this funny?   Did you see what just happened! God is talking to me right now through this blog. How ironic.   He woke me up in the middle of the night to knock me in the head with this message. He’s pretty sneaky. He sent me on this trip to give me this personal message.

God is asking each one of us to get out of our comfort zone for His glory. That might even mean asking your neighbor sitting next to you on a train if they know the Lord, volunteering at Matthew 25 at FCBC, feeding the poor at the Poverello House, getting involved at church. God needs you to step it up and quit whining about yourself, your friends, your job, and, yes, your church, FCBC.

The roosters are crowing, people are waking up and walking the grounds. It’s time to get up for another day. I have renewed enthusiasm, so I need to finish this so I can get the day started. I can’t wait to stretch out, to shave, and use drinking water to clean my face and brush my teeth and groom my hair. We need to pack our bags and head to Chiang Mai for an overnight stay and then we will be going to Chiang Rai. Our planned visits will be at AYDC (Akha Youth Development Center and Luka Chermue’s home base), a prison, a health clinic, and a school established by Baptist missionaries last century.   I am excited for this leg of our journey. Been there, done that so it should be smooth sailing once we all get our tools back.  Bring it on!

I hope that each of you will venture off and optimize your gifts and talents and may the glory be to God.

Have a blessed day.



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