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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

Author

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

Author

Brock Cummins

2016 Second Quarter Update

We’ve had an amazing start to 2016! Our missions teams have done great work all over the world in places like Arlington, St. Louis, Hawaii, Trinidad, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, Haiti, Thailand, Brazil and Colorado. Forest Park North has moved into their new and improved Forest Park Kids space and had more than 100 children in VBS. VBS at Forest Park Joplin was simply amazing!

We took more than three dozen students to Awana camp where some became Christians and others grew greatly in their faith. Some of our elementary-age kids are at CentriKid at Southwest Baptist University this week.

None of this could happen without the faithful prayers and generous gifts of people like you. God is using you to extend His Kingdom and touch thousands of lives with the gospel.

I’m excited about the rest of the summer. Each Forest Park campus has some new staff with fresh ideas and a strong commitment to help people take their next step toward God. We continue to improve our kids environments and provide experiences and training that will help them reach their generation for Christ.

Giving always drops off a bit in the summer so we could use your help. We’ve managed expenses so as to stay in the black, but receipts have fallen below budget needs.

I promise you that your gifts are being used to impact lives for eternity. Many of us know from our own experience that you can’t outgive God. When we shovel some His way, he shovels blessings our way: and He has a bigger shovel. Thanks for investing in His work!

 

P.S. Sheri and I enjoy using our online giving system. Check it out at forestpark.church/give.

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Posted

July 27, 2016

Author

John Swadley

Next Steps: July 2016 Update

The summer Olympics are just days away from starting, and one of my favorite events is the marathon. The marathon is a 26-mile race that has its origins all the way back to ancient Greece and is an incredible event to watch. The winner is usually the runner that is able to maintain their pace throughout the race and then finish strong. Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, referenced this same event numerous times in his letters to the new church. Paul urged his fellow believers in Christ to “...run with perseverance the race marked out before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Here at Forest Park, we are so excited to announce that we are running our own race with equal endurance as well. With 55% of the time in our three-year building program elapsed, we already have over 64% of the pledges ($1,693,925) received ($1,090,320). WOW!!! We serve a mighty God, and He is so good to bless our church with such faithful givers who want to finish this race.

Forest Park North recently celebrated the grand opening of the enlarged and improved Forest Park Kids space. The 4,000+ square feet of new space looks awesome, and the kids and volunteers are so thankful for your giving that made it possible. Last week during VBS, Forest Park North set a record for VBS attendance with more than 100 children attending, and we had three children receive Christ as their Savior. The new space made the week much better than last year’s crowded conditions.

Our next project is to upgrade the 6th grade Forest Park Kids space (The Warehouse) at Forest Park Joplin. We hope to finish that work this fall. Under Greg Walker’s leadership, Forest Park Carthage is changing some of the proposed layout to make the Forest Park Kids and Students environments more functional. Work will begin there following the completion of the 6th grade room at Forest Park Joplin.

The bottom line is that giving remains strong, our kids environments are being improved, and we are very thankful for those of you who continue to support our Next Steps projects with your prayers and giving. The race is not finished yet. Stay faithful, and please help Forest Park run the race with perseverance. We will celebrate the victory together with God’s blessing!

On behalf of the Next Steps Follow-Up Team, thank you!

Richard and Michelle O’Hare (Forest Park North)
Todd and Alaina Yockey (Forest Park Carthage)
Rick and Kathy Griffith (Forest Park Joplin)

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Posted

July 27, 2016

Author

John Swadley

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

Author

Brock Cummins

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