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.