From Thighland to Thailand

March 4, 2017

Thailand-Myanmar 6.11

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 4:23 pm

March 3, 2017

We had a day of R & R Wednesday to supposedly rest our weary bones. You know how that goes. Usually you do more strenuous activities than expected because you get antsy just sitting around. One of the attractions that we have enjoyed before has been riding the elephants. The Karen tribe has nicely commercialized this endeavor and we thoroughly helped support their cause and their way of life. I don’t know how many of you have ridden an elephant, much less petted or fed one, but these docile appearing creatures are quite massive in size and impressively strong. We climbed aboard stepping on its neck and went for a slow jaunt about 2 mph. We strolled through the river and village getting a little nauseous but I was afraid of dirtying the river until I saw what the elephants dumped in and then I didn’t care. There were a few floaters that we had to dodge but when nature calls, the elephants don’t hesitate. Anyway, I was a pleasant, if not rocky, ride and then we fed them corn, sugar cane, and bananas. One mighty beast grabbed and uprooted a banana tree and just held it in its mouth until later eating it as a snack. They also had an area to pet large snakes and lizards but no takers in this group as they slithered to the vendors.

Another group went to Mae Fah Luang Gardens in Doi Tung where the King’s mother (Princess Mother) helped the hillside ethnic tribes change from growing opium years ago in to teak, coffee, and fruit. It’s a beautiful garden to explore on the ground and in the air.

Our last day of work was at the Sahasartsuka School where Luka was a young student. An American Baptist Missionary, Cecil Carter, founded the school in 1957. There are over 2700 students of which 80% are ethnic hillside tribe and 20% Thai. Sixty per cent of the children are Christian while 30% are Buddhists, and 10% animistic. The children are quite polite and proper lining up their shoes outside and waiting in groups to be seen. The dental team did a wonderful job at screening and evaluating these children in their important time of teeth maturation and despite the lack of tools Lester literally did hands on manipulation on a child with a loose tooth. After looking around unsuccessfully for a doorknob and dental floss, he did it the old fashion way and just loosened a tooth with his hand until it came off. The child was comfortable without anesthesia and happy the tooth was out and anxious for the tooth fairy to come that night. Larry continued the oral examinations as Lynnelle gave out toothbrushes to the children and instructed them on proper use. The medical team dealt with lice outbreaks and treated dozens of children. Lice give me heebie geebies so I let the rest of the team deal with them medically otherwise they might have gotten a shave from me a la Snead O’Connor.   I just didn’t want to be nit picky.   My scalp itches just thinking about it. Does yours? There was a touching moment with Ghan was interpreting for a 14 year-old patient of mine and she thought she looked familiar. She asked a few questions and then realized it was one of the children who lived at AYDC when she was seven. Tears flowed with the reunion with Ghan just happy to see her growing up.

After the school clinic we headed for AYDC for a special ceremony. The children of AYDC wanted to thank FCBC for their donations and past support, which allowed the purchase of the bus that they have been using over the years transporting the children to school, and for building the new boys dormitory. As I mentioned earlier, the massive earthquake in 2014 destroyed several buildings making them uninhabitable. Both the girls’ and boys’ dormitories had to be rebuilt. FCBC help raise funds particularly for the boy’s dormitory and they had a program of gratitude and dedication of the building. Almost all of the children in various groups sang praise songs such as “All and All” and “How Great is Our God” for us and several gave a thank you speech. Ghan and Luka’s children and friends sang one of my favorite songs, “Give Thanks (With A Grateful Heart).” The medical team was presented with wreaths of beads, handmade bamboo cup, and bag of gifts.

It was over to an hour of song praise, and thanks followed by cutting of the ribbon and a tour of the building and coconut ice cream! It was really touching how this act of gratitude, which took a lot of time of practice and organization, was carried out for our benefit. No one expected it or anticipated it and it caught me completely off guard to show their appreciation for what FCBC, which includes not only the medical team, but also the congregation.   We should be proud that we are in a position to help those in need and less fortunate than us and be thankful for how God has blessed our church. I am a proud member of FCBC and I feel privileged to have an opportunity to be part of a wonderful team of professionals and caring, unselfish individuals who make financial sacrifices while risking life and limb. It has been a blessing to get to know these people of Myanmar and Thailand especially to know and work with the Akha people for over a decade. I am humbled by their compassion, thoughtfulness, and acts of gratitude. I believe that we are taught to serve without the need for thanks only because God is the very reason that we are able to serve in the first place.  God has been in control this whole mission trip and although we thought we had limitations because of the lack of supplies, it allowed us to be more reliant on Him, than on ourselves and showed us different ways that we can serve and glorify Him than we had thought.   I thank the readers and the supporters of the FCBC and their efforts to provide future mission trips. Your thoughts and prayers have helped us get through these difficult two weeks and many of you would have like to come on this trip. Willingness to serve is the first step and all these team members contributed to the success of this mission trip by showing up and I am proud to have served next to them. Thank you all for this experience that I will never forget. For those who can’t go on these trips but want to help out, please help financially to support future mission trips. There is still a need to build water towers for the dormitories so that the water supply and flushing system would work optimally and we will need to raise that money in the near future. Please think about giving to help this project come to fruition. If you would like to donate or need more information please contact me at Thank you for your consideration.

I leave you with the faces of the future.


Blessings, Mark

March 1, 2017

Thailand-Myanmar 6.10

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 11:29 am

February 28, 2017

Today we traveled 45 miles to the Troeng District Prison about 90 miles from Chiang Rai. We came here once before and it reminded us that we don’t want to get in trouble here in Thailand. As we approach the prison there are armed guards.   We are immediately greeting with some people who want to take our picture. Smile! Frankly, we will do anything they ask and don’t want to appear hostile. There shouldn’t be a problem getting in the prison; I’m more worried about getting out. I was worried about the bodily cavity search but fortunately it was just a simple pat down. (TSA screening is more invasive.) It’s an eerie feeling being behind bars and looking at the razor wire that deters escape along with the heavy metal gates and bars. It is a medium security prison housing about 700 inmates of both genders with about 100 women. Most are incarcerated due to illegal use of drugs so we felt pretty safe with these non-violent criminals. Good thing we left our betel nut at the hotel and brushed our teeth of the dark red residue.   Thanks dental team for the toothbrushes! Most of the prisoners seem friendly and your average Joe but somewhere along the line they made the wrong decision and it cost them dearly. Typical sentence is a few years to 15 years in prison. Dr. Patton had reviewed several charts and felt that they get pretty good medical care but some have acute diseases that we were able to treat at the time and some chronic diseases we could treat with injections. So far we haven’t had much set back in the medical department, as we have been able to get supplies and drugs locally at pharmacies. Needless to say, cameras were not allowed into the prison so this is it:


The prisoners seemed to be content at the moment to serve out their time. They have adjusted to their incarceration and have no choice to experience the same routine day after day. No hard time here nor balls and chains or rocks and sledgehammers. Metaphorically speaking, we can become prisoners ourselves. It could be that we are prisoner of wealth, greed, materialism, drugs, alcohol, lust, infidelity, pride, and we get used to the same routine. We are enslaved by habits, and routines, and succumb to temptations. The difference is that for most of these prisoners, they will be able to have a change in their current routine when their sentence is up and they are set free. We, on the other hand, may be sentenced for life due to our habits and greed. Will we ever be satisfied? Will we be set free?

Psalms 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” We need to focus on rejoicing unto the Lord so that our desires are God’s desire then we will not go unfulfilled.   Yes, I still buy the Powerball Jackpot lotto ticket, but I truly know that the winning the lottery is with God’s salvation and the eternal treasures of knowing Christ our Lord.


Thank you for reading these blogs as I realize that this is just one small portion of the team’s perspective on the trip. Sometimes I sound like I’m preaching when I don’t have the authority, knowledge, or experience of many of you who are more biblically versed. These blogs are a personal reflection of my thoughts, which allow me a deeper understanding of what this experience is to me or how God is talking to me.   Sometimes it’s an epiphany and maybe it might provoke your own thoughts and understanding of God’s message.

Okay we got out safely, I don’t ever want to go to prison so I will have to keep my nose clean and ask for forgiveness for my sins. I’m putting back the hotel towels and ashtrays where I found them but maybe not the toilet paper though since I interpret that as a “God will provide” moment. I will not try to find a massage parlor that offers “happy endings” even though there are a plethora of masseuses around us. Literally there are dozens of parlors within walking distance and I will have to go “La la la la la la la, I can’t hear you!” with my ears covered as the catcalls are directed my way.   God knows what we need and he will provide.

We had a chance to go to a large park after the prison and chill out. Type A personalities need their daily quota and many were overdue for personal time. Singha Park, or known as Beer Park, offered zip lines from a tall tower, bicycle riding, giraffe petting (and why would you want to do that?) and tour around the park. There are large tea plants in unique topiary patterns. We developed a nice appetite and Bill wanted to take us to a nice restaurant but there was one condition, we had to catch our dinner ourselves.  What was nice in this quiet environment is that we felt loved. (We’re kinda needy at this point.)

It felt like we were back in Myanmar (they regulate because suddenly about 8 pm the city went dark. Completely dark, literally, lights out.   A citywide black occurred and we were concerned with team members lost in the dark. However, it didn’t damper some die-hard twin sisters, whose names I won’t mention, from shopping in the bazaar since they used flashlights and taking advantage of the vendors who needed to make quick sales as the tourists scattered.   I’m often hassled about bringing too much on mission trips but Bill didn’t seem to mind when I handed him an extra Goalzero lantern to complement his computer screen output. Most of us had flashlights for personal use but I felt a little guilty since I had multiple backup lights and resources, so many, that I had to put towels around the door edges so that not too much light would shine through the cracks and attract people, err, I mean mosquitos towards our room.  Okay, add, “I will not hoard Goalzero lanterns” to my list of greediness even though others came ill prepared. As we prayed for electricity, there was a voice heard from above “Let there be light!” and behold, the lights came back on after about an hour. God will provide.


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