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A Message from Thailand

Clare Meier was one of WWHF GrapeVine’s Faith Community Nurses, but took a hiatus when she went on a mission trip to Thailand. WWHF reconnected with her at our recent event, the Gathering. We were inspired to hear about her great adventures abroad. She was happy to write a brief post for us, so we could share with you!

Thailand

“Last November found me in sunny, tropical Thailand.  I had signed on for 14 months of missionary exploration in that area and explore I did.  Never living on foreign soil for that long away from my home in WI,  Asian culture was an adventure.  Being an RN and a Grapeviner, I looked for medical opportunities.  I found a group, Operation Blessing, which conducted monthly  medical outreaches into the rural communities.  One particular weekend, we headed into a mountainous Hmong community.   About 250 people turned out on Saturday and another 150 on Sunday for  free medical services.  I was the first of 6 stops.  I took blood pressures, but was unable to fill out a brief initial assessment of complaints due to language barriers.  Other stops were at the free reading glass table, haircut and lice treatment table,  prayer table  and doctor and pharmacy tables. Monthly clinics were held throughout northern Thailand  with annual follow-ups for those who met criteria.

Hmong clients

In the city, medical care is much cheaper than in the US.  I was told this is due to more doctors, who have more time and also due to little malpractice.

Many foreigners visited this second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai, so the hospitals in the city wanted to improve their English.  I met a nurse whose main job was listening for English errors at Thai report.

Thai patients typically do not question their doctors wisdom.  Americans are seen as pushy by asking “why” or “how about trying this procedure” when they come to doctor visits.    I was never a medical patient but did enjoy a root canal at 1/3 US prices in a modern facility.  Thai family members stay with their hospitalized family members, assisting with meals and cares.  This too contributes to less cost.

I had the opportunity to be an English speaking friend to English speakers in a foreigner-friendly elder care facility. We chatted about their homes in the states or the island of Jersey off France, or even Poland, my ancestral home.    We chatted too of their reasons for being there, being either cheaper or warmer or accidental. This site had been first established by a Dr McKean as a leprosy colony.  Lepers still worked on the grounds at the craft center.  Leprosy is more manageable with medications.  There is less stigma, but in China, where I visited for 2 months in a village, the lepers still lived a secluded lifestyle.  They were careful to tuck their hand stumps or crippled feet away from prying eyes.  I got to sit with some of them though, as the old women congregated.  They encouraged me, nonverbally, as they persevered.  I like to think I encouraged them as I was simply there with them and prayed or held hands.

This is only a small slice of my Thai time.  It IS challenging to work cross culturally, yet whatever is done for the least of these is done for Him. A part of my heart remains with them and a part of their heart remains with me this wintery  November day.”

 

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