16 April 2000

Blessings We Take For Granted

As we start the beginning of our third week here in Thailand, we are reminded of how very fortunate we are to have been born in such a rich and comfortable country. Every day, we meet people who do not have clean water to drink or who live in huts without screens and doors to keep out the malaria-carrying mosquitoes. We feel very privileged to be working here among these people, but we both felt the slightest tinge of a longing for the things of home this past week (like a shower without geckos). This aside, we are doing very well and are very excited to see what God has planned for us during the next few weeks. Here are our most recent updates.

Jennifier's Progress with Melodie

Jennifier spends from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. with Melodie McDaniel every day except for Sundays and Tuesdays. She has spent most of her time implementing a behavioral modification plan that has enabled Melodie to accomplish her schoolwork without physically hurting her mother or disrupting the learning process on a number of occasions now. The behavioral plan has been in effect for about 1 1/2 weeks and has had tremendous results. Jennifier's next step will be to implement a similar behavioral plan for the other aspects of Melodie's life where she exhibits many negative behaviors. When Jenn is not working on the behavioral modification plan with Melodie, she is doing physical therapy with her. Melodie's motor development is quite behind on her left side and at times she has problems controlling and coordinating her movements. Jenn has a daily routine in which she works to help Melodie strengthen and gain coordination on her left side. Melodie is making steady progress toward learning to ride a bike. Jennifier has her to the point where she can ride up to 15 yards without falling over. Jenn is building a great friendship with Melodie and is enjoying working with her. At last Sunday evening's "English" service, Jennifier also shared her testimony with a group of about 40 people.

Eric's Medical Work

Eric has been working hard at the hospital--he works from 8 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m., except for Sundays and Wednesdays. He continues to see new patients and exciting new diseases every week. This week he saw a man with a disease that he had never heard of, lethal midline granuloma, and was fortunate enough to be asked to perform a few minor operations on his own. Eric removed a bullet from the chest of a man who had been shot by his father-in-law while he was holding his 18-month-old son (the baby, who also had multiple gun shot wounds, became a patient of ours as well) and explored a mass (which turned out to be a hematoma (a collection of blood)) in the back of a man whose diagnosis continues to elude us. In two days, Dr. McDaniel and his family leave for 10 days of vacation (and the other visiting medical student leaves as well) so Eric will be the primary "doctor" for all of Dr. McDaniel's current hospital patients. This will be a real challenge for Eric because two of the current patients remain undiagnosed (and quite sick) and another will require a knee exploration under spinal anesthesia to remove gentamicin beads (beads full of antibiotics) a few days after Dr. McD leaves. Dr. McD has taught Eric the basics of spinal anesthesia (which you very rarely see in the United States) and so far Eric is 3 for 3 under supervision, but obviously there is a lot more pressure when there's no one immediately available to help. There will still be a Thai doctor here while Dr. McD is away, so Eric will have some help if he needs it, but in Thailand many doctors do not complete residency training before they start practicing medicine (including the Thai doctor here, Dr. Sakda), so in actuality many Thai doctors have no more training than Eric has now. Even with all the excitement in the hospital, Eric was able to prepare a sermon on "The Availability of the Kingdom of Heaven" (based on Matthew 5) that he gave at the Sunday-night "English" service last week.

Critters on the Home Front

Lizards, lizards everywhere! We just can't get over how many lizards live in our apartment. There are two main kinds. The first are called "chin-chooks" in Thai. We call them "geckos" in English (but this is actually a misuse of the term gecko because gecko really describes a whole family of lizards). They are literally everywhere. Originally we had at least 4 adult and 2 baby geckos living in our bedroom alone (but in total there must be at least 100 living in, on, and around our house--and this is no exaggeration). They were beginning to drive us nuts, crawling down the wall to within a couple feet of our faces and staring at us while we were trying to get to sleep. One morning a couple of them woke us up when, while fighting, they lost their grip on the wall and fell into a plastic shopping bag of ours where they rustled around making all manner of crinkling noises. The last straw was when Jenn stepped on one in the shower (which was anything but a pleasant experience). It became our mission to make at least our bedroom lizard-free! We have devised a system where Eric sneaks up on a "chin-chook" and then in one fell swoop Jenn tosses him a plastic bowl in which he traps the serpent by slamming the bowl on the wall over the lizard. So far we've successfully removed 3 adults and 1 baby. The remaining 2 "chin-chooks" now seem quite afraid of us and have been keeping their distance. So while we're not quite lizard-free, we're satisfied--for now. But then there are the "too-kays"! While the "chin-chooks" grow to only about 3 inches long, the "too-kays" can grow to upwards of 2 feet! We are aware of 4 living on our premises. Thankfully, the 2 big ones (about 18 and 20 inches each) live outside and feed on the insects that swarm by the bathroom window. We have one "baby" who appears to live somewhere in our shower (though we're not quite sure where), and who is about 4 inches long. Then our true resident "too-kay" lives behind a painting that hangs on our living room wall. Each evening, all 12 inches of his white-with-black polkadotted body comes out from behind the picture and feeds on whatever insects we've accidentally let in during the day. While the sight of him crawling along our living room and kitchen floor in the middle of the night (should one of us get up to get a drink of water or something) gives us the creeps, he sleeps most of the day and we benefit from his insect disposal services.

Prayer Requests

  1. Pray that Melodie would continue to respond positively to the behavioral modification plan and that the plan for her everyday life would go just as well as the plan for her schooling.
  2. Pray that Jenn would be patient and loving with Melodie every day.
  3. Continued prayer for our days of solitude (Jenn on Tuesday and Eric on Wednesday).
  4. Pray for wisdom for Eric during the next 1 1/2 weeks while Dr. McDaniel is away on vacation.
  5. Pray for Eric's relationship with a Thai man named Petak who works as a tech at the hospital--this man is becoming a good friend, and he speaks very good English.

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