Today is the BIG day, Monday, February 20, 2012. I was in a small guest room behind Omkoi hospital, packing a few belongings into my small backpack in preparation for a huge adventure that I felt unprepared for.
Let me explain. Dr. Prajin runs this hospital and had graciously invited me to stay for free in their guest room and work in various departments of the hospital as I desired for training and education. I wanted to work in labor and delivery and also with the dentist to learn how to pull teeth. I arrived Thursday afternoon and sat down with Dr. Prajin to discuss my schedule. Friday I would work with him, Sabbath, I would take off and worship my God, Sunday I would spend in the hospital and Monday he invited me to go with his hospital team on a 5 day medical hike through the jungle. His team would stop and treat patients in the village school houses on the way. I was warned that the hike is very strenuous. The mountains are very steep. The villages are very remote. 2 ladies from Pennsylvania had gone with them one time, but had gotten tired, weak and sick and could not go on. This caused the team much time and trouble. Oh, wow, the last thing I wanted to do was cause trouble. I thought about my condition. I hike to villages 3 days a week, I run 2 miles almost every day. I feel good all the time, but these things are not equal to hiking straight up mountains 5 solid days in a row with no rest until time to sleep! “Oh, Lord I prayed, what am I doing here at such a time as this! I have committed myself to go on this trip, but I am so different from the others.” God assured me that He would not leave me nor forsake me, and didn’t he promise the disciples after leaving this earth and sending them out to teach all nations – “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” To me this means – even through the deepest steepest jungles of Thailand!
I called my friends in Chiang Mai, the Rawlings. Steve Rawlings told me: “Well, if you don’t make it and they have to drag you out of the jungle, I’ll come and get you!” I called and spoke to my son, Micah in America about it and he said: “Mom, I think that is just a little much for you!” -but you know what? I prayed about it and was determined to go – even if I was over twice age of the others, and I had not come to Omkoi prepared to do it! It seemed that Dr. Prajin really wanted me to go and I felt so privileged to be included. God had promised: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 -Thank you Lord for that promise to me!
Sunday was very slow in the hospital. The entire time I was present, day and night, there were no babies delivered. The dentist was too busy to let me work with her, I really felt out of place, in the way, and out of my comfort zone. I was tempted to think: “My truck is right here. I could leave any time I wish!” However I prayed and waited. I was very glad to join the group Monday morning in the hospital parking lot that were preparing to depart into the jungle! I feel so at home with the remote Karen people in their villages.
This trip seemed to be larger than I had anticipated. Rugged 4X4 vehicles were packed into the parking area. People were everywhere. To my surprise I found out there were over 100 people going on this expedition! They would divide into 3 groups going in different directions and cover approx. 30-40 villages in all, and I still cannot tell you how far we walked! Much food, water, bedding supplies and medicine was bagged up next to the ambulance doc. We only had to carry a small personal back pack – carriers would bring all the rest. I was swept into many group photos and stood side by side with many important people.
Dr. Prajin informed me that I was in group 2 with him! I was very happy about that because, he was the only one I knew, and the only one (As far as I could tell), that could speak English, and last but most important, he is an excellent Physician who really cares about the poor Karen people in isolated villages. He organizes these biannual trips. I would observe him and learn how he treats patients.
After a special send off ceremony, I found myself seated in a nice 4X4 truck with 3 lovely medical students that are in their 2nd year. They spoke pretty good English! I don’t really know how the conversation got started, but I found myself explaining why I keep the 7th day Sabbath. We drove about 4 hours on the rough dirt road to our first village and then the daily routine started: Walking, walking, walking, up, up, up, then setting up the clinic in a village school house and when all the patients have been treated, walking, walking, walking again to the next village school house.
Right now I want to tell you the rewards of living the 8 natural laws of health. If you do not know what they are, call your local SDA church and find out how to avoid a lot of sickness and how to stay as well and strong as possible. The most important law is trusting in God! Oh how God blesses us for trusting Him completely and letting Him help us keep all 8 to the best of our ability and to the best of our situations! Please tell your neighbors and friends the importance of caring for their bodies as the temple of God and keep them pure and without blemish before Him. His rewards are great!
I only tell you this next part to glorify God, to encourage you in a healthy lifestyle and to tell you that His promises are sure! -“They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Even now tears swell in my eyes to think of the goodness of the Lord to promise these things to a sinful human such as myself! That first day was the most strenuous day of hiking. We went up a tremendous mountain that continued up most of the day. We stopped at 3 villages in all that day. When all the patients were treated in one village we would pack up and continue on, up -up -up to the next and the next. I discovered that I cannot walk like this with covered shoes on my feet. I used my regular old flip flops that I am used to for the entire 5 days, therefore I did not acquire blisters on my toes or heels, but my feet were free and strong in the open air and through the rivers. (One day we walked along a rocky river bed all day and had to zig-zag back and forth across that river over 20 times. Nobody really counted it). I was not tired the entire time, I felt strong and Oh so happy to be with this group. I had no sore muscles and no aches and no pains. I know it was a miracle from heaven. God sustained me just like He promised. He did it for me and for the others to know what a great God He is!
Let me tell you about the hospital staff that I was with. They were all wonderful people! To think that they worked that hard to reach the villages and care for the sick. What dedication! After 5 days of toilsome hiking together you get to know one another quite well, – a bond was formed between us. They were so cheerful, organized and skillful. I watched them time after time quickly arranging the school houses into a functional treatment area. Dr. Prajin explained to me in detail each patient and the treatment. I am so thankful. I learned so much from him. I also was able to observe and help the 2 wonderful dentists, who pulled many teeth in each village. All in all there were 3 or 4 Physicians, one of them was a pediatrician, 2 dentists, 3 pharmacists, nurses, clerical people, a malaria check person -complete with a microscope, a vaccination team, 2 cooks, medical students and to my surprise 3 soldiers complete with guns. I was told that they were highly trained soldiers, the one who was in charge seemed very strong and capable. I was told that it was important that they were there because we were near the Burma border and also we were in villages that grew opium. I thought about the missionaries living right there on the border in Mae Salit and the 10 months I lived there and still spend time there. All the villages where I live now grow and use opium. I thought about the guardian angel that walks by my side, excelling in strength. How thankful I am to God for all His care.
Even though we are way out in the isolated villages of the deep jungle, where no truck or motorcycle can travel, it amazed me that our group of approximately 25 people had food and water in abundance. The cook prepared the morning and evening food. For the noon meal they gave us each a bag of rice and a bag of meat. I found out that another doctor was also a vegetarian, but for different reasons than me. He had made an agreement with the Buddhist priests not to eat meat for 108 days. He was in the middle of that time period, so I always tried to go through the meal line behind him, in order to know what was vegetarian.
I saved the best part to tell you last! The girl who sat beside me in the truck on the way out became my close friend! Her name is Fon.
The first night she rolled her sleeping bag out next to mine and asked me questions about the Bible and the 7th day that I had explained on the way out. I told her some of the Bible stories and something of the love of God, Jesus stay on earth, His death on the cross for us and His commands and promises to us. That very night I taught her how to pray. She and I prayed together! Every night and morning of our trip we prayed together and had a short worship time when I could tell her more about the importance of the unseen things of heaven! A responding cord was touched in her heart. She told me that she has a whole month off school after this and she promised me that she would get a Bible and would pray and read every day! (She emailed me later and said she bought a Thai Bible and was reading it, and it was touching her heart a lot)! Someday she would like to work with me! What a dear girl she is! She sent me this picture that she took of herself.I loved all the people in my group so much that I prayed for God to please give me a chance to share what I know about the wonderful love of God with them, and how He answers prayer and brings such power and joy into our hearts. I wanted them to have the joy I had. Before the last day of our hike, the important doctor who was in charge of our group, asked me if I would be willing to share a little about myself and my present work to the others during their ‘worship’ time the following morning. Fon would be my interpreter. My prayer was answered once again! Oh thank you Lord. Together the night before, Fon and I prayed and reviewed what we would say. She already knew some of the divine miracles of my experience, and how God had directed my life and answered my prayers. She was prepared, together with me to give glory to the God of heaven!! She told me later that she prayed for God to help her speak and know my English words so she could interpret them right! God answered this prayer and the love and power of the eternal God was lifted up! It formed a strong bond of love between me and all the others. I felt so close to these dear people.
During the last walk on that last day, the doctor who led our group, was walking first in line, then a lady pediatrician, next Fon and than me. They were speaking Thai -Thai -Thai, so I had my little notebook out and was studying Karen words. Soon Fon turned to me and asked the question that made my heart leap with joy. She said, the doctor wants to know from you how does a person find out what God wants them to do? How do you hear His instructions and really know? Truly this man was a very intellectual person, for he had asked the most important question! I told briefly about the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and providence which, after prayer can bring answers. I also told that sometimes I simply ask God to close the door through which I am walking if He does not want me there. She told him these things and then turned around and exclaimed – “Oh so good – good job! He understands a little.”
Please pray for Fon, for this doctor and the rest of this group, who now have heard something about God.
Fon and I will remain best friends. When she left Sabbath morning we were both very sad. She told me that she would never forget our walking together in the jungle and how special it all was. We have each other’s email address and if not in this world, we will share each other’s company in heaven is my fervent prayer!!
NOW -What if I had listened to the fearful, discouraging temptations of Satan to avoid my fears of the hospital and the discomfort of being in a place where I know no one? What if I had fled to a place within my comfort zone, without the risk of embarrassment and difficulty? What tremendous light would have been snuffed out? What a large weight of loss? What eternal destinies would be endangered? What blessings lost?
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2Timothey 1:9
“Those with whom we associate day by day need our help, our guidance. They may be in such a condition of mind that a word spoken in season will be as a nail in a sure place. Tomorrow some of these souls may be where we can never reach them again. What is our influence over these fellow travelers?” PK 347