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Thailand 2016 Missions Trip (Day 7)

Thailand Day 7:

So this is the last clinic day. We drove northwest from the hotel early this morning after packing up all our luggage; past rice fields, over muddy rivers swollen from the pounding rain we had last night, past sugar cane fields (with the mountains of central Thailand in the distance), past flowering trees, around motorcycles, around farmers pulling carts with bundles of rice to plant to Bung Bok (a very small village with no believers). We arrived at an open pavilion at the side of a school where chairs and tables were waiting for us along with 45 beautiful elementary-aged Thai children to learn some English with our kids team.

The clinic was like normal, but the electric fans were set up early thanks to Gussem and Go (some of our faithful Thai Christian friends) and I had one blowing right on me. Two days ago Gussem noticed I was starting to melt in the midst of a hard day with 287 patients and set a fan right on me. He caught my eye and I mouthed "thank you" and he nodded. I have been taking these trips with these same Thai friends for 13 years. Gussem and his wife Oy were on my first trip. He is a strong guy, a husband and now a grandpa--about 55. And doesn't speak English at all, so I don't know him well. This trip it has been fun to watch him hold the little redheaded baby of a new missionary couple. He lights up with the baby in his arms. No English needed.  I'm sure he is a good grandpa. Gussem and Oy are great. She works with the kids and shares the gospel at clinics. Yesterday I saw a lady who needed an amputation, but had refused and Oy was the one who led her to Christ. She gave me a big hug this morning. These people are a little like family to us after all this time.

So anyway, the clinic was underway and business was steady. We had a total of 75 patients by 12:15, but the spiritual ground here was hard. Only 2 people interested and no one prayed to receive Christ. We have had clinics like this before. In fact it is more common than the high numbers of interested patients we had at clinics earlier in the week. But Mark, the local missionary, lives nearby and he said this is the first time for a mobile clinic for this town. That the spiritual ground here is very hard. He and his wife Helen are from Tennessee originally and have been here 30 years. They live in Isaan--the northeast part of Thailand. Their three kids grew up here and now live in other countries. Mark and Helen speak great Thai--and they both know the Isaan dialect as well, which is difficult even for those who speak excellent Central Thai. They have translated for me this week and part of last year when I was here. Actually, Mark has been with us on lots of trips. He has translated for Dr Little, Dr Towery and Dr Coe. It is hard job to be a translator. Today we are in Mark and Helen's territory. Yesterday, too, was a clinic near where they work and live. Very sweet to watch them tending the flock here.  They have devoted their lives to serving The Lord in this area. Helen is a dietician and counsels people about diet at these clinics for things like diabetes, hypertension, weight loss and so forth. She is a great resource.  I am always glad to see them these clinic weeks.

We finished with patients, ate fried rice and headed out just after 12:30 to start the 8 1/2 hour drive back to Bangkla. We stopped at the mall in Korat to eat with about 2 hours remaining in our trip to Bangkla. Much of the time on these trips is spent in the van. Some years we have driven 12 hours away from Bangkla for clinics

My family enjoyed Thai Pizza Hut and Swensons ice cream at Korat. Right now we are going over the big mountain. This is the part of the drive where I try not to look. It is a two lane road that can become three lane when someone gets impatient going up this mountain or passing a big slow truck on a curve. So if you read this soon, pray--or even if not pray anyway for the next team who comes this way.

Cheryl asked each of us the highlight of the week on the way back today.  My husband said it was watching our daughters help in the kids program.  Tessa said it was helping lead the kids program for the first time. Emma enjoyed the pharmacy time, especially watching people pray with the evangelists right in front of her.

I have several highlights, but it occurs to me that when I have to do hard things I have to depend on God. Seeing 287 patients in one clinic with only a 15 minute break is hard. Don't get me wrong--Doug took care of the majority by far--but it's hard. It's exhausting and even worse with jetlag, heat and humidity. It can also be frustrating at times if translation isn't easy. But The Lord equips and provides. He got me through. I remember the next morning when I was thinking about how the day might be really hard again, I was praying for strength and endurance; God chose to give us a light crowd and a time of refreshing so i could get through the afternoon. I think he did that for me. Maybe for some other people too, but he sees each of us and knows our needs and cares. He loves us. Sometimes he makes life easy and some days he allows it to be hard. But I'm grateful. Happy to have been here to see what he has done and be part of it. Thank you Lord. Kap Khun Prajow.

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Posted

July 29, 2016

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Brock Cummins

Thailand 2016 Missions Trip (Day 6)

Thailand Day 6:

Very unusual clinic day today at Nong Bua Lampu--a small village about 45 minutes from Phu Wiang.  We saw only about 40 patients this morning, which may have been The Lord's provision of a little rest for us all since we were all pretty tired from yesterday's almost 300 patients with only two doctors.

This morning we had a few moments of excitement when a little girl was carried to the cliinic. She had just been hit by a motorcycle, and was shaken up, crying, and had some abrasions. Fortunately she didn't seem to have broken any bones and eventually she calmed down.  One of our Thai friends, Nok, cleaned up her wounds and she was able to go home.

After lunch the kids team walked into the "highways and byways" of the little village to tell people about the clinic. They met a man who was in charge of the PA system and he announced the clinic to the town, so this afternoon more people arrived to be seen.

Also when walking through the town our team met a family with a bedridden man and offered a home visit. Dr Doug asked me to go to see the man with one of the local missionaries and a local pastor. When we arrived we removed our shoes before entering the house. The patient was just next to the door on a raised bed.  Mark Caldwell, a missionary here that I've known him for several years, translated for me today. He talked to the family and found out that the man had been diagnosed with prostate cancer 3 years ago. He had an indwelling foley placed about 6 months ago. He is worsening in the last 2 months and is too weak to get out of bed now. He is taking morphine and is comfortable. He knows he is in the process of dying. Several women were there taking care of him.  I examined him and found that he has a urinary infection. I spoke about The Lord--the reason I am here from America in this very small village. The local pastor witnessed to him and we prayed for him.  We had medicine brought from the clinic for his infection.

By the time we left the village and returned to the clinic we had many people waiting, so the afternoon went by quickly. We ended up seeing 135 people with 10 decisions for Christ and 13 other people interested. A very good day.

Dinner was back in Phu Wiang at the Dinosaur restaurant where we had sweet and sour fish, pork with oyster sauce, shrimp with glass noodles and chicken with cashews. It was all very good. We then had ice cream at 7/11.

Kids team went really well today. We had about 100 7th-9th graders. They all listened very well, and that made for a great morning. Tessa led crafts and it was so much fun to hang out with the kids and try to communicate with them. Julie Reed shared the Gospel alongside Oy, one of the Thai Christians. Grace Reed did bingo. Emma and Phil Greathouse did recreation. Mike Flack did coloring books.  We had lots of fun singing songs during the opening and teaching a dance (yes I said dance, and I have a video to prove it!) at the closing. A great English camp for us all.

Tonight Dr Doug finished leading Bible study over the 4th chapter of Jonah. Again God rescues Jonah, this time from the sun and exposes Jonah's heart. It's not a pretty picture as Jonah has more pity for a plant than the Ninevites. Not too good for a missionary.

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Posted

July 28, 2016

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Brock Cummins

Thailand 2016 Missions Trip (Day 5)

Thailand Day 5

When you show up and bring a dozen Americans "you make a scene" at any Thai town. Or at least that's what Dr. Doug told us the other day. It was quite a scene today in Sii Chumpuu.  There was a line of patients waiting when we arrived. The elected government officials were so happy to have us there that they had a ceremony before the clinic started. Which gave us a bit of a slow start to a very long day. All told we saw 287 patients and 101 prayed to receive Christ with another 60 or so interested and requesting follow up. Amazing numbers of people who are interested in Christianity in this part of the world--a very Buddhist country. It really was a great day.

The kids team was able to work with 70 4th-9th graders. The sack race was again the event of the day. Some of the older kids learned to throw an American football. They also enjoyed the crafts and the bingo.

The team had rotis this afternoon as a snack--basically the Thai version of a funnel cake. It is a crepe/flatbread cooked on a griddle with condensed milk poured on it and rolled up. Very yummy.

Dinner was a seafood feast at a restaurant with huge prawns, open face fish, spicy soup and various other seafood. And no--we didn't eat the eyes--at least not at my table. There was a grape soda catastrophe so a few of us left a little sticky, and the grape flavor gave the rice a little extra something.

We are headed back to the hotel for a Bible study and showers. Continue to pray for us as we serve in Thailand.

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Posted

July 27, 2016

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Brock Cummins

Thailand 2016 Missions Trip (Day 4)

Thailand Day 4

We slept late for a clinic day because the clinic was nearby at a place called Wiang Gaw today.

There is a pastor here named Ajan Lam who was involved in mobile clinics with Dr. Doug a few years ago at a town called Chum Phae--about an hour from where we are today. Forest Park has helped with mobile clinics at Chum Phae in the past. Ajan Lam had a plan to plant a church in the town where we are staying this week--called Phu Wiang. His plan was to do mobile clinics in Phu Wiang until there was a church here. He asked Dr. Doug for his help. So they have had clinics in Phu Wiang the last few years and within the past year they have seen enough growth that a leader was appointed to this town and in April the local believers stopped traveling to Chum Phae for church services and started having them here. They have about 25-30 people meeting together here each Sunday. In August, they will formally become a church. Three of the main families in that church came to faith from mobile clinics.

Today was a clinic in an area called Wiang Gaw, only a few minutes from our hotel. The clinic was in an air-conditioned meeting room at the local school. Having come to Thailand for clinics since 2003, today was the first time I was ever cold here. The air-con worked so well that one of the missionaries turned off the fans! That never happens.

210 people were seen and 70 prayed to receive Christ today. Another 18 were interested. Huge numbers for this country. Praise God.

The kids program was at the same location as the clinic today--a school. They had 70 kids grades 4-9. They played games like sack races and racing games, as well as did crafts, and played bingo. The kids laughed and laughed at the sack races. They heard the gospel from Oy. One class was asked if they had ever heard the gospel before and they had not.  But now they have.

After clinics were over we had an hour before dinner and visited the Phu Wiang dinosaur museum.  It is a site of excavation, which is a national Park in Thailand and has a visitor center with exhibits that show the excavation and information about dinosaurs etc.  A bit unusual place to visit when doing mobile clinics, but I think fun was had by all. I had to get a t-shirt.

Ajan Tdaw is the local pastor and we met with him at the church tonight. Our friend Go played guitar and we all sang a couple of songs--half in Thai some in English. A joyful noise:). Ephesians 4:12-13 is posted at the front of the church. It says "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Their goal now is to expand into the communities around them.

We ate fried chicken legs, curry soup, duck and rice for dinner at a local place then back to the hotel early enough for a Bible study. We did the end of the 2nd chapter of Jonah. After Jonah repented and came back to God he began to have a heart for other people to know God too--really the heart of missions. It was definitely appropriate for today. We continue to appreciate your prayers.

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Posted

July 26, 2016

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Brock Cummins

Thailand 2016 Missions Trip (Day 3)

Thailand Day 3

We arrived at the hotel late last night and it is a good one--a collection of very cute Thai style guesthouses made with lots of teak wood sitting next to a rice field with that brilliant green color that only God could have created. Imagine tiny cabins in Branson for two people each, but in a Thai style of architecture and with all the usual Thailand amenities--meaning you leave your shoes at the door, you use bottled water to brush your teeth and there's no shower curtain. It may be the nicest place we've ever stayed for clinics in Thailand. 

So we had breakfast and left for clinics close by at Khao Noi.  Someone (not saying who, but he might have been driving the van) had left the van window down last night and the van was filled with mosquitos. Like 100! Or 200! I'm not sure but everyone started swatting them and we all looked a bit insane. A lot of hand raising for Southern Baptists!

We had steady business today at the first medical clinic with 183 patients--mostly adults. Most had complaints of joint or back pain, many with ulcer/gastritis pain, and then various other illnesses. Each patient received free medicines and heard the gospel. 69 people prayed with gospel sharers today--a huge number of people! And 38 more were interested in more information.

The kids team had over 100 kids participating today.  They sang songs, did crafts, played soccer and parachutes, and played bingo for prizes.  The team teaches English along with presenting the gospel, and they were praised by one of the teachers at the school where they had English camp today, who said that they did a great job. Samuel, one of our team members, stepped up as a translator today, and he did a great job. (Just to let you know, he actually lived in Thailand in the past--we are not speaking in tongues here). It was good that he was here because our main leader was sick today and Cheryl was away also, but the team represented Forest Park well.

Our Thai friend Oy said that the kids she spoke with today had never heard the gospel before. And one teacher was interested in going to church to learn more.

This afternoon the Dinosaur museum was closed, but we did have ice cream in their store and met with the local pastors there. They have had real personal challenges recently, but have remained faithful. They are hoping that the village we were at today will be the sight of the mother church for the surrounding area, in order to plant other groups of believers.

Dinner tonight was a place where you are given a pot of water and told to put what you want in it for dinner. You boil your own food! And then eat it. It was pretty fun and not bad food. I like this concept and I'm thinking I may try it at home:) That might solve the dinner dilemma at my house.

Tomorrow clinic will be at a school where a recent revival was held. There are currently no Christians in the town where we will be tomorrow. Please pray for good results and energy and protection for us all.

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Posted

July 25, 2016

Author

Brock Cummins

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