Final trip days in Thailand

Monday we traveled to our next town in the Chiang Rai Province, three hours southeast. On the way, we toured a traditional teak wood temple and the Phu Sang Waterfall. We also walked through the jungle near the waterfall along a nature trail.

Tuesday was our final full day in Thailand. We held a clinic in a Hmung community in the mountains where there is an LCMS church, and served around 50 people. This was a more reserved tribe a little further away from the main roads in a beautiful mountain area.
The community members mostly spoke a local language where we again needed an local language interpreter to talk to our Thai interpreters to translate to English and back again. Thai culture is very reserved and slower moving than the other communities we have served all week. The team quickly realized we needed to slow down, reduce our volume, and be extra patient with each visitor. We served 51 patients and gave out 71 pairs of glasses. One little boy has an eye condition that makes him sup…

Eternal life with Christ: Spirit boxes not required

This week we have seen many small roofed structures in the front corner of homes, businesses and other properties. In Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, these small structures are called spirit houses. Spirit houses are known as ศาลพระภูมิ(san phra phum, 'house of the guardian spirit') in Thai.
The spirit House is usually mounted on a pillar and can range in sizes. They are intended to provide a shelter for spirits that could cause problems for the people if not appeased. Some houses include small carvings, statues, and separate altars for daily offerings to attract friendly spirits and appease the spirits. In Thailand, it is a long-standing tradition to leave offerings of food and drink at the spirit house with incense. Rice, bananas, coconuts, and desserts are common offerings. A common offering we saw was red, strawberry-flavored Fanta. They say that sweet spirits have sweet tooths.

It’s so reassuring to know the only spirit in our lives as Christians is the Holy Spirit!…

Sunday: Church, Hall of Opium, & Cave Rescue Site

The morning started with a traditional Thai breakfast of rice and chicken or noodles and pork or duck. We then headed back to Baan Doi Saloon for the Sunday church service where members of the church prepared songs and dressed in traditional garb for us to see. The building was packed and we were welcomed back with open arms. It was great to worship with the community we served the day before, hear them sing songs in the Aka language, and see how they worship the Lord.

After service, the ladies of the community demonstrated some traditional dances and invited the ladies of our team to be a part. They then wanted us all to take photos with them, dressed in their traditional clothes. We were very blessed to have this experience!

After church, we headed to the Hall of Opium museum, where we learned the 5,000 year history of opium, how it's grown and converted into drugs we use today, and the consequences of the opium market. We're getting to know their history to get a better app…

Clinic Day Four: Baan Doi Saloon

Today we visited a remote  village called Baan Doi Saloon. Only four years ago was the road paved - which is on a steep incline for a few miles to reach the community. Before the paved road, villagers would make a hike for supplies and visitors were scarce. Now, tourism is starting to seep into the community and the nearby casino in Laos is threatening their safety and way of life. But, the church has grown to over 40 families over the past 13 years.

On the way to the village, we passed the famous Tham Luang cave where the soccer team was stranded in the cave. There were over 10,000 people involved in the rescue this time last year, which turned out to boon the town economy, but drain on the nation.

We served 103 people and handed out 117 pairs of glasses, for distance and reading. We served a Buddhist monk as part of the crowd of patients. We were careful to not touch him, especially his head. The community welcomed us with a great meal of food grown in site. The rice was grown in th…