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Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's a Good Season

How is it possible that we have already entered the second half of 2013 (it's actually the year 2556 for those of us living in Thailand), and quite a while ago, I might add.  Time is flying, but I think that's a good thing.  Life keeps moving, joy keeps abounding, love keeps spreading, and hope keeps deepening.  It's a good season.  Here I am at a friend's recent wedding with a couple of other guests who happen to be sweet girls and dear friends.  I am blessed.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Worlds Beyond the Red Clay Roads

Today, I came home from the office and stood outside my house, just a few short days since the end of one of the busiest seasons I've experienced since arriving in Thailand over 2 years ago. Over the past 12 weeks, we have hosted 4 groups for Animal  Health and Public Health trainings, covering a range of topics from community and home sanitation, nutrition (both human and animal), diarrhea (both human and animal), colds, eye problems, pneumonia (both human and animal... there's quite a lot of crossover...), antibiotic usage, muscle diseases, viral and bacterial endemic diseases, intestinal parasites (both... you know), back problems, natural farming methods, how to take a temperature (you guessed it... turns out thermometers really aren't particular to species), malaria, how to give injections, wounds (if you cut a cow, does she bleed?), arthritis, hoof problems (you should see some of these guys' feet... just kidding), and many more issues that the people living on the mountains face everyday.

One of the reasons we stack our deck so heavily this time of year is because February through April is the hottest, driest period of the year, firming up the rice fields and mountainsides until the widening cracks, blowing dust, and brown stubble remnants of last year's lush bounty make evident the land's thirst.  It is the time of year when farmers take a break from plowing, planting, pulling, and praying for the harvest.

It's also the time of year before the red clay roads that are cut into the steep green slopes slicken to the point of impassable - on these remote mountains travel is impossible after the rains come.

So today, as I stood outside and listened to the dark clouds rolling in for the second consecutive day, winds sweeping through the banana trees enmeshed in the power lines overhead with nary a neighbor's concern, and as heavy drops pounded the metal roofs, I was thinking of my brothers and sisters on the mountains, some of whom returned home just a few days ago, armed with knowledge and skills which I pray will enable them to better their communities.  The cool winds bringing relief to their families from the sweltering heat, the rain softening and greening their fields and forests.  Soon the rains will settle in for the season, the roads will melt away, and we will wait until we can meet once again.  Worlds apart.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year's Benediction

May the agency of thy grace prepare us for thy dispensations.
Make us willing that thou shouldest choose our inheritance and determine what we should retain or lose, suffer or enjoy;
If blessed with prosperity may we be free from its snares, and use, not abuse its advantages;
May we patiently and cheerfully submit to those afflictions which are necessary.

May 2013 make us more like Christ.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Best Job In The World

September is behind us, putting to end one of the most hectic seasons I've experienced since living here.  Half of the month was spent in training with two groups covering both Animal Health and Public Health, while using the leftover days to frantically figure out the last minute details of every aspect of both trainings, which could have done with a little more attention if we're being honest.

It's been a weird phenomenon over the past year for me, which I account to my yet "newbie" status as an Animal Health trainer.  Stress and fear are telltale signs that a training is approaching, and dread on the first day.  And once the participants arrive, and the ball gets rolling, I drive home late, exhausted and dirty every night.  And completely delighted.

Sometimes I still can't believe God gave me such an awesome job.

Here are a few highlights...

Learning how to give shots - practicing on oranges first:

At Boon's Livestock Learning Center:

Waiting for his shot of dewormer:

 Excited to prepare fecals to look for parasites:

 Even more excited to find parasite eggs (and lots of them!):

Our last day, the neighbor asked us to come out and look at his pigs.  3 babies had died suddenly.  We posted one and were able to tell him why it died (acute interstitial pneumonia):

We also had some cultural lessons - learning a children's song from one of the tribes:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Life Cycles and More

Well, I hadn't realized it until recently when my camera finally breathed it's last that I rely heavily on a snapshot or two to keep this blog moving.  If the poor ancient thing had only the problems of no longer remembering how to transfer it's contents to my laptop, and devouring batteries whole, I might have been able to otone (sorry, Thai words frequently slip into the place of the English vocabulary I once could recall without difficulty) have patience with it.  But now, it has taken to producing images that are mostly black horizontal lines.

So, beggars can't be choosers and today I'm posting a couple of pictures from a friend. Fair word of warning: the images below are not for the squeamish.

Last week we kicked off a new year of Animal Health and Public Health training.  This is always the best time of year to start training, since the rice is growing happily in the farmers' fields and the farmers are happily able to spend some time away from their fields at training.  We hosted 10 trainees from a nearby country, with 6 different languages in play over the 5 day training.

I am always so impressed by how interested and excited everyone is to soak up this information and participate.  This group was no exception, and if we had taken a vote about their favorite parts of the training, I'm sure it would have been looking at poop samples under the microscope for worm eggs and pouring over human and animal parasite life cycles and considering various interventions to stop the spread of disease in their villages.  Exciting, LIFE-CHANGING stuff!  Using the very academic tapeworm life cycle to promote washing hands and daw daan counteract pooping on the ground.  Who knew?

We started off in style by dissecting a pig and talking about various diseases and how they can be recognized when an animal is slaughtered for food.  At every turn of phrase such as "the liver will have white scars" or "the spleen will be big and black", they nodded their heads in confirmation that they had indeed encountered such an animal, and, had eaten it anyway.

The epiglottis: a wonder of creation.

In our classroom at the church in Boon's village.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Already Sufficient

Been feeling the weight of future unknowns lately, and I am thankful for this Sunday devotion from Valley of Vision.  Just like the man healed of demons in Mark 5:1-20, may I be quick to obey Christ, clearly seeing that He is already sufficient for all my needs. 

Lord Jesus,

Grant me the favour of being led by thee,
     under the directions of thy providence and thy Word.  
Grant me thy blessings with bitter things,
     to brighten and quicken me,
     not to depress and make me lifeless;
Grant me, like Gideon of old, way-tokens,
     by removing things that discourage me;
Grant me succour beneath the shadow
     of thy sympathy when I am tempted.
Accept my unceasing thanks
     that I am not cast off from thy hand
     as a darkened star or rudderless vessel.
Suffer not my life to extend 
     beyond my usefulness;
Cast me not under the feet of 
     pride, injustice, riches, worldly greatness,
     selfish oppression of men;
Help me to wait patiently, silently upon thee,
     not to be enraged or speak unadvisedly.
Let thy mercy follow me while I live,
     and give me aid to resign myself to thy will.
Take my heart and hold it in thy hand;
     write upon it reverence to thyself with an
     inscription that time and eternity cannot erase.
To thy grace and the care of thy covenant
     I commit myself, in sickness, and in health,
       for thou hast overcome the world,
       fulfilled the law,
       finished justifying righteousness,
       swallowed up death in victory,
       and taken all power everywhere.
Mark this covenant with thine own blood
     in the court of forgiving mercy;
Attach unto it thy name in which I believe,
     for it is sealed by my unworthy mortal hand.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Students, Surveys, and Loving Others Well

This past month I have had the opportunity to host Cori and Jodi, two sweet girls who came to do some research about how the experience of hill tribe students at university differs from Thai students at university.  We were able to network through the MMF scholarship program to have university students contact their friends to come and take the survey that Jodi had prepared.  Their response was amazing!  She ended up with over twice as many surveys as she needed.  I love our scholarship students!  She will go back and analyze the results and then write and submit a publishable paper to an academic journal.  How cool is that!  We are hoping that her results will help us better understand these wonderful young people who we've had the opportunity to befriend through the scholarship program.

Here we are at one of my favorite coffee shops shortly before they left Chiang Rai to have an adventure in Cambodia before returning home.  Thanks for a great 3 weeks (as well as the English muffins, chocolates, and french press, books, etc.), Cori and Jodi!  I have been so blessed  and well-loved by you both!