From Thighland to Thailand

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:

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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.

Comment:

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.

Mark

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