Everyday Miracles

Monday was one of those days. Jason and Shoshana left early that day to go and take care of work permit stuff in Chiang Mai. That left Kerry and I without a translator for the clinic, but we were not that worried, since after all, we might not get any patients other than the regular ones, and we don’t have to be able to talk to them. (It is nice when we can though!)

But, Monday decided to be a bit different than we had anticipated. One patient after another came. We would guess at what they were trying to tell us, using our limited Karen knowledge, and lots of sign language. The little girls were trying to help us as much as they could, but their Karen knowledge is lacking also…at least when it comes to medical terminology. So we would talk over our ideas of what might be wrong with them with the limited knowledge we were able to get, and then come up with a treatment that might help them, and not do any harm if we happened to get our diagnosis wrong!

We had three or four patients in the clinic, all in different phases of treatment, when a young lady walked into the clinic. She came right to me, asking, “Remember me?” Well, I thought that she looked a little familiar, but I could not place her at all. She then reminded me…in English…that I had been her English teacher for a few short weeks several years ago. She sat down as if she intended to stay, and visited, and listened in to our conversation as to what this or that patient might need. Then, she started translating for us! I felt like God sent an angel right when she was needed the most. For the rest of the time that Jason and Shoshana were gone, I had a translator for when it was really needed. Isn’t it amazing how God takes care of us?

Each day we have been ministering to the needs of others. Both Kerry and I feel totally inadequate for what we are attempting to do, and yet God keeps giving us ideas for treatments, and HE does the healing.

A man came in to the clinic with tennis elbow. His arm hurt so bad that he could hardly use it at all, and he was in a lot of pain. I talked to him about resting it, knowing the whole time I talked that it was a stupid, absolutely impossible thing for him to do. This time of year, everyone is cutting rice fields so that they can burn them and get them ready to plant when rainy season starts. If this man were to rest, his family would not eat this next year.

Then suddenly, I thought of something that my Dad had told me to do for my tennis elbow. So, I explained to Kerry what to do…she argued with me a little because she did not know how to do it, and what if she did it wrong? But she did end up trying for a few minutes and then gave up. So we iced his arm, gave him some massage oil, and put his wrist in a splint so that he could still try to cut his rice field, and sent him on his way, both of us feeling terrible since we wanted to do more to help him.

Two or three days later, Kerry went to visit the man to find out how he was doing, and found him without his wrist brace on, but a big smile on his face. He told her that his arm was all better now, and that what we had done had worked really well! Kerry insisted that he put the brace back on, but he continued to argue, asking her why he needed to wear it when it is all better. Then I realized that God must have worked a miracle to heal that mans arm, in answer to our prayers. I know and believe that God is the Healer, but it is just as amazing to me every time He does it. God knew that man needed to be healed right away so that he could care for his family, so He did it! I love working for a God like that. I have an advantage that no hospital around has….even though I feel like I don’t know what I am doing.

Like a gentle Father, God holds my hands, and helps me to walk by faith. He lets me feel like I am helping, even though He is the one that is actually doing the work. Here is a quote that I love. “The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.” PP 553

Hospitals and Escalators

Last week was pretty crazy. We had decided that after six months of pain, and not being able to use his arm normally, Roy should actually go to a doctor to see what was wrong with his shoulder. You might not remember, but he had crashed his motorbike going about 60 kpm. His legs were in such bad shape that we barely paid any attention to his shoulder. But now that all the other things are well again, only his shoulder problem remains to remind us of his accident.

So Roy, Destiny and I headed to Mae Sot to try to get an MRI of his shoulder. We drove for 5 hours to get there. It was a nice drive, and we enjoyed being together, just the three of us. (Hannah does not have a birth certificate, so she is not allowed to travel in Thailand, so she stayed home with Kerry to help with the patients, and to take care of my monkey) We got to Mae Sot just to find ourselves incredibly hungry. So, we headed straight for our favorite restaurant. We walked in to find Gayle, Blet Jaw, and their friends there! I had not seen Gayle in two years, so we had a great 5 minute reunion! Getting to see a friend is a very special treat for us here.

The next morning, we headed straight for the hospital, only to be told that they do not have any MRI machines in Mae Sot! We would have to go to Chiang Mai for that. Mae Sot is a huge city now, so I thought for sure that they would have one. But….we got back in the truck and went on another 7 hour drive up to Chiang Mai.

The next morning, we went to my favorite hospital in Chiang Mai. You can get right in to see a specialist, usually get an MRI the same day, and get physical therapy and anything else you need the same day, or possibly the next if they are extra busy. So, the orthopedic surgeon looked at Roy’s shoulder, and immediately told us that he thought that Roy’s rotator cuff was ruptured. He went ahead and ordered an x-ray first. When the x-ray came back, he confirmed that his rotator cuff was indeed reptured. He then told Roy, “Don’t worry about making your shoulder worse, it is already worse!” But after discussing the financial part of things, we decided that a $10,000 surgery was out of the question. The doctor recommended that we go to yet another hospital, since it would be much cheaper there.

So we went straight to the next hospital. Unfortunately, you cannot get right in, and get everything taken care of in one day at that hospital. We got a number, and waited in line all day long. He finally got in to see a doctor late that afternoon, and the doctor looked at the x-ray that we had brought, and scheduled an MRI for late in April. That doctor thought that it might take more than one surgery to repair that shoulder, but at least it should cost half as much as the first hospital. Poor Destiny did not enjoy her time in the hospitals, with nothing to do. So after getting out, we tried to find something that she could enjoy doing. We took her out to eat at a big mall and then entertained her by letting her ride up and down the escalators and glass elevator. She was more excited than if it had been a ride at the fair! Next, we found that they were having a pet fair there at the mall, so she got to see all different kinds of pets, including a pink and grey parrot, and a huge yellow snake.

The next day, we were very eager to get our shopping done and head back home. I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but cities are awful places! There is nowhere to go for peace and quiet. Not that the jungle is quiet…we have lots of bugs and birds making a terrific racket, but it is different somehow. The jungle noises are very relaxing, where as city noise is very stressful. Anyway…we still had a full morning of shopping to do, since we can buy things for less money in the city, and we can get all kinds of things there that they never heard of where we live. (Like brown rice for instance)

We had just about finished our shopping when we got an email from the printers, telling us that Roy’s evangelism tent panels would be finished the very next morning! Oh how we wanted to go home. We looked at each other, and Roy laid it out. Either we go home now and make yet another trip to this same awful place to get that tent, or we stay another night. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out…we had to stay.

But at the least, we figured we could rent a hotel to stay in that night so that we could get out of the heat for a little while. The heat is pretty hard on us mountain people. We are just not used to it, and I was unable to sleep at the place we stayed at before due to a lack of air conditioning. So, we began a search for a place to stay where Destiny could see airplanes taking off and landing. She was quite excited about the airplanes flying over, and thought that little bombers in the park were HUGE! We found the perfect spot, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the airport, where Destiny could watch airplanes to her hearts content, while we luxuriated in the cool air of the air conditioner.

Day five we were finally able to head home…after waiting for hours to get the tent. We were so ready to be back in the mountains with the rest of the family! Destiny was so very anxious to tell Hannah all about the elevators, escalators, and airplanes, that she was practically bursting. Who ever would have dreamed that such fascinating things even existed? And how can people ride on them without big grins plastered on their faces? Now if they would just put those things out here in the mountains so that we could get to where we can use the cell phone easier, that would be really nice!

Going to the city is very exciting. But it leaves you feeling exhausted and empty. I think of our very busy lives here in the jungle, and about all the running around, meeting people’s needs, and trying to keep up with all our duties. You would think that THAT would be exhausting, and it is true sometimes we get tired. But it is a good tired. It is a satisfied tired. You could even call it pure joy. Riding an escalator can be fun, but what good does it do for anyone? That kind of fun leaves you feeling empty, whereas working for God leaves you full to overflowing.

My Day

Friday morning found me scurrying around the house, clinic, and office, cleaning as fast as I could go. It is amazing how dirty a place can get in such a little while…it is hot season now, so every afternoon is windy, and the leaves are falling from the trees, which means leaves all over the clinic and house! Not to mention the dust…plus the ants are on the move, so there is a constant battle to keep them out of the kitchen. Then there were the clinic walls to scrub, because my monkey loves to run over the walls to the dirt outside, and then come running in again, putting his dirty little feet all over my white walls. (On my projects list, I have listed bricks across the top of the clinic walls to prevent his antics, but that is for sometime in the future when we actually have time! ) The kitchen needed to be thoroughly cleaned to discourage the ants, the floors swept and scrubbed, and food prepared for Sabbath. There is always far more work to be done than the little girls and I can do by ourselves, but do it we must.

When that work was almost finished…if it is possible to consider oneself finished…Grandma came for her treatment. Kerry was not here because she had gone to check on another patient that needs to come and stay here for us to treat. I still had to make medicine for the patients, so I had 10 year old Hannah sit with Grandma while she was in her first fever bath of the day. Kerry and I have been teaching her how to help us with the patients since we so desperately need more hands.

While Hannah was watching Grandma, Destiny and I made food for Sabbath, and cough lozenges, since coughs and colds are still going around. Instead of making special things for Sabbath like we used to, we now make the quickest, easiest things so as not to waste any time.

Soon, Kerry was back, and we were going busily about our duties when Jason came roaring down the sidewalk on his motorbike with the grandpa that stutters on the back. He had been bitten by a snake. Kerry had never treated snake bite before, so I gave her instructions, and then went back to our never ending work. (It is not clear in my mind if that happened on Thursday or Friday…)

Right after Grandma finished her second fever bath of the day, the Aunty with the bruises all over came for her treatment. This was only her second day to be treated, so Jason sat down and talked with her for a while to find out how she was feeling. She reported that after just one therapy bath, the bruises on her legs were almost gone, and her painful ankle was remarkably better! (I was amazed!)

After getting Aunty comfortably situated for her treatments, the Christian guy and his little daughter came walking down the sidewalk. It was time for her treatment. The poor little girl has sores all over her body, so she comes every day to be treated. She is a cute little girl, and we enjoy taking care of her. Her daddy knows what to do now, so we just have to make sure that he has all the stuff to do most of her care himself.

About that time, a lady came with a strange growth on her foot. Jason brought her into my office, and after examining the foot, we all agreed that we could possibly just cut the growth off. So, I laid out all our instruments, gave the lidocaine shots, and then went to work carving out that growth. The lady was so happy to be rid of it! We carefully explained to her how to take care of it to keep it from getting infected. I sure hope it turns out OK. I never would have dreamed 9 years ago that I would be doing things like that!

Actually, it would have been not quite such a relaxing day, except that it was Friday, and I don’t teach school on Fridays! Usually, I try to teach around all those activities. I REALLY like Fridays!

The grandpa that was dying did finally die this week. It was a blessing, I believe, because he had no quality of life. I am just so thankful that he was not in so much pain, and that he had a chance to hear the Bible before he died.

Now that we have a baby chainsaw, we have been cutting firewood for the clinic fires every chance we get. It is so nice to be able to just zip through those logs instead of laboriously sawing like we did before. We have big piles of firewood at the end of our sidewalk right now. I think that it is a beautiful mess, but the villagers love it! They don’t even notice that it is a mess. They just know that the firewood represents hot water for all the people who need it. When we get time, we are going to build a carport to house all our firewood so that it won’t get all wet during rainy season.

Jason and Shoshana are building a sauna in their spare time. (Spare time is like a joke around here) They have the floor and most of the walls done now. Jason is afraid that in time, my two tubs won’t be enough for all the people who come, so his little sauna can also be used to treat patients.

I got to thinking the other day that people in America don’t realize what a blessing they have! I am amazed at how much pain you can relieve just by using hot water in a bathtub! (And a bit of ice water now and then) All you do is add whatever is needed to that hot water, and it brings an amazing amount of relief to all kinds of problems! I think that I have been the worst skeptic…I treat the people, and then I am shocked when they get better. I know that I shouldn’t be shocked…God’s ways are the best ways after all…but I am still shocked at how well it works!

This is my little office for the clinic

Every day, in my free time, I sit down and study more so that I can do a better job with my patients. So does Kerry. Then we share with each other what we learned. There is so much to learn that we both wish we could just stop and study a lot more. But that is not possible, so we just try to squeeze in as much study time as we can get. Some days we get a lot, some days we get almost none, but our goal is to learn a bit more each day so that we can do more perfect work.

I firmly believe that God will be sending us more help soon. I am praying that it will be someone who can do massage! That is the one job that I cannot do since my elbow is still so sore.

When I look at what God is doing here, I am so humbled and amazed. We are told that our clinic has the reputation of getting people better. But, the only way that can happen is by the grace of God. We don’t really know that much about what we are doing, and our only help is to pray and ask God what to do. He gives us ideas of things that might help, but in the end, it is clear to me that God is the one actually doing the work, not us.

I never dreamed even a year ago that we could actually have our lifestyle center up and running, that I would have a nurse to help me, and patients that are getting well. God can do amazing things when we let Him.

Thanksgiving

All week long, I was thinking about Thanksgiving, and not being able to be with my family in America. Last year was so much fun!

During my worship time on Thanksgiving morning, a new thought came to me. What am I really thankful for this year? Well, it seems to me that the greatest joy I have is in serving others…whether it is my family in America, my family here, or the people who come to me for help. I also thought about Thanksgivings in the past, and I realized that I spend hours and hours of work, and when I am all done, I feel stuffed, and there is a big mess to clean up. Nobody seems to appreciate it nearly as much as that amount of work would justify. So, then I believe that God gave me a better idea! I raced out to the living room and told my plan to the girls who were very enthusiastic.

We went to the kitchen and started whipping up a huge batch of my famous oatmeal cookies! We baked all morning, and when we had finished, we had a big pile of cookies on the counter. Then the girls bagged them up in plastic bags, and put them in the truck.

In the afternoon, we went from person to person in the village, and gave them a bag of cookies, telling them that today is Thanksgiving, and we are thankful for YOU! The result was huge smiles on the peoples faces. They cannot be given something without doing something in return, even though they are so poor, so we were given huge slices of cucumber in return, since that is what is in season right now. So we did end up with a feast of our own…a cucumber feast!

We came home feeling so happy and refreshed. That was the best Thanksgiving I think we have ever had.