Running the Race Before Us

Running the Race Before Us

“Time – 845 hours, 46 minutes, and 16 seconds per mile,” the impersonal voice announced.

I stopped running and looked at my phone. I know my running pace is slow, but surely not THAT slow. Found the problem. Evidently I hadn’t closed down my Runkeeper app since I used it last some time ago. Well, 845 hours, 46 minutes and 16 seconds or so ago. It must have been running in the background all this time. No wonder my battery kept going down.

I fixed it and took off again. It was my long run day and I’d worked up to a four-mile run. Not a bad way to start a sixty-fourth birthday! I have many friends my age who are almost invalids due to health problems. The Lord is good to allow me the strength I need to run, and to take care of a houseful of teenagers. Many other friends were active until their health failed suddenly. One of my birthday resolves is to not take good health for granted, but make each day count for the Lord.

The rest of the day was blessed, too, with a meal out with my sweet husband and some shopping. We had already celebrated October birthdays on the Sunday before. Preston turned 22 the day before my birthday and William will be 21 before the month is out.

The three years they have lived with us have transformed them from teens to men. William will finish his vo-tech course and get his high school diploma in the spring. Preston has one more year to go.

They had the same problem many hill tribes kids have. There aren’t schools available for them in the villages. When they start in Thai school, they have to start at the beginning, regardless of their age or ability.Almost all our kids are years behind. So far our new plan to catch them up is working well. Besides the two in vo-tech, we have two in the Thai informal school that meets once a week. The other days we teach them at home, using the ACE curriculum. They are advancing quickly, nearing the end of the first level after just a few months. The other kids are younger and still have to attend Thai public school. They have class at home in the evening and are doing well, too. We look forward to the time we can teach them all in our “learning center.”

This week the kids left for their three-week semester break. We didn’t send them off without a little bit of drama. We were nearly to the church in Pasak 2 on Sunday when I had a dreadful thought.

“Andy, you DID pack your medicine, didn’t you?” I asked.

He shook his head. “I forgot.”

My heart sank to my toes. We were a couple hours from home and his step-father was meeting us just a few miles up the road to take him to visit in the mountains. In the US, this wouldn’t be a problem. You would just stop at Walmart pharmacy, call the doctor’s office, and have the prescription sent over. Not here. The pharmacy didn’t have it. We went to the hospital and tried to get in to see a doctor. The hospital didn’t carry it, either. I hope no one in that good-sized town has seizures, since there is no seizure medicine available anywhere nearby.

It worked out, of course. Paul was going to make the five-hour drive to take it to him, since we were worried about seizures in an isolated mountain village with no quick access to a hospital. Our secretary, Pann, and Andy’s mother worked it out, though, and Pann sent it by courier to him.

It had rained in the village and the steep hill to the church was slick as well as steep. We clambered up with some effort and lots of splashes of mud. My new shoes aren’t ever going to look the same. It was well worth it, though, to join with the believers crowded into the tiny building. Paul preached a good message with Aidonkhom interpreting for him.

We did medicine, this time handing out pre-packaged bags of the meds the people invariably request – toothache medicine, paracetamol, charcoal tablets for stomach issues, etc. Then we did a quick clinic to cover more specialized ailments. As usual, spirit worshippers with dirty strings tied around their wrists showed up for the medicine after the church services. We can’t afford to give to everyone in every village, but I’ve not yet learned a way to say “no” to people in need.

I gave a little talk about worms and how to avoid getting them. After the issues we’ve had with brain parasites and seizures, I was burdened to warn them.

“Wash your hands often,” I said, holding up the pink box of soap we gave out. “Ladies, wash before you cook the meals and make sure the meat is thoroughly done. Make sure the kids wash their hands before they eat. Everybody wash hands after using the bathroom.” Then I gave out worm medicine to each person there.

Some folks listened, because when we went to eat, a couple of ladies offered us water to wash our hands. The water wasn’t too clean and there was no soap in evidence, but it was a start.

This week has been quiet with most of the kids gone. Moses and Nora will leave for home on Saturday. Kimmy has been a great help with the kids, but I think she is ready for a break, too. I’m afraid it hasn’t been much of a fun trip for her – just lots of hard work and kids with attitudes. But she came to serve and has cheerfully put in the hours teaching and helping. What a blessing that the Lord sends us the help we need, when we need it!

Thanks for your prayers for us and for your donations that make it possible to carry on our work here. And thank you for the many birthday wishes! Maybe by next birthday I’ll be training for a marathon. Although I may be running at 845 hours per mile.