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  • Susan Brown

Busy and Blessed Days

Bright eyes and chubby cheeks – what could be sweeter than a new baby? We have a little bundle of joy around the house now. Timmy arrived on September 10.

The wait in the hospital was long and gruelling. I felt like we had stepped back in time to the days when not even fathers were allowed in the labor room, let alone the delivery room. We waited in a hallway, taking turns sitting on the broken chair. The other chairs weren’t exactly comfortable, but the broken one was not comfy at all. After about 12 hours of labor, Mali (Molly) had a c-section and we got a brief glimpse of the baby as they wheeled him down the hallway.

Because he had a little trouble with fast breathing at first, he had to stay in the nurses’ station and Mali only got to see him at feeding time. She was one miserable young lady after having her first-ever surgery. But she recovered and in a couple of days was able to have him in her room and care for him. A family member was required to stay with them at all times. I took a shift each day so that Moses could go home and get a shower and pick up the food his mother cooked for Mali. According to LaHu tradition, she had to eat chicken every day for the first month after giving birth. It also had to be a chicken which was freshly killed and cooked. Nothing frozen or already in the store, killed and plucked, was acceptable.

Needless to say, I treasured those hours watching over Mali and the baby. It also made me aware of the difference in hospitals in a developing country. We had to provide basics like soap, toilet paper, Kleenex, and diapers. Nurses were on duty, but you were expected to take care of yourself unless there was a problem. Once a day the nurses would have the parents line up with babies in the hallway. One by one, they went to watch a nurse give their baby a “shower” so they would know how to do it at home.

Mali was in a private room, but others not so fortunate were in a crowded ward. Mothers and babies had beds not three feet from the next patients. While Mali and Timmy were in the hospital our missionary friends from the area were in the same hospital with their seven-month-old baby girl who had pneumonia. Until a private room was available, they had to spend several days in the ward. The crying and confusion there were horrific! We’re thankful their baby recovered.

Don’t worry about us, though! When we have medical problems, we have been able to travel to Chiang Mai and see the doctors at a modern hospital with doctors who speak English. In fact, we took one week of our break to check up on various concerns that had ailed me lately. Good news on all fronts. My A1C dropped from 5.9 to 5.8. (5.7 is the top range of normal). I was especially happy to see that, because I had to change medicines and had several weeks of high numbers. My cholesterol was down and I was able to drop my cholesterol meds. All the other troubling symptoms were summed up in the phrase I heard over and over –“consistent with age.”

Well, I did turn 70 this month. I guess all I can do is eat carefully and exercise and try to keep my muscles strong enough to keep going.

My birthday was the last of the big milestones of the year. 2023 marked 50 years of marriage for us, ten years in Thailand full-time, and completion of my “three-score and ten.” What’s next? Next year in 2024, we will mark 20 years since our first trip to Thailand. For most of the following decade we spent a couple of weeks each year for Paul to help Brother Camp with the original preachers’ training. Brother and Mrs. Camp spent five months of the year here and the rest of the time in the U.S. That was our original plan, but God had another schedule for us. We miss our family and friends and there have been plenty of challenges, but we are so happy to be serving here! God is good to us.

One of the beautiful flowers we enjoyed at the Queen's Garden.

The rest of our fall break passed quickly. We took Anna to some of the “must see” tourist sights. We visited the elephant camp, although they no longer do the amazing elephant shows or have elephant rides. We also saw the Queen’s Gardens and took a lengthy bike ride around Lake Hoi Tan Tou.

Anna is an enthusiastic bike rider, which is good since both Wichai and Paul love bike riding. They have been on many long rides along the trails in our area. I go with them occasionally on the back of our tandem bike, which is the only way I can keep up.

Our young men at the university, Jay and Prasit (Preston) joined Wichai, Anna, Paul and I for a long bike ride around the lake.

We ended the three-week break by traveling to Chiang Mai again, this time for Anna and I to update our visas. I have six months this time before I have to renew again. Then, hopefully, I will get a year’s visa and only have to go through the red tape once a year. Anna has to go back in December. I’m thankful for our secretary, Pann, who keeps up on all the rules and prepares the piles of documents required for us to stay in the country. All we have to do is spend a day at the Immigration office, waiting our turn. We get there before seven to get an early queue number and stay until late afternoon. We go equipped with books and crossword puzzles, so it’s really not too bad.

This week our fall break officially ended and our students are back to work. As usual, they forgot a lot of what they learned before the break, but by the end of the week began to pick English back up.

Thanksgiving season also started this week. I stayed home from the first one to handle the learning center, but there are plenty more ahead for me to attend. Anna went and took care of my usual job of handing out hats and medicine.

Anna and I put together these bags for newborn babies. We will give them out at the Thanksgivings along with hats and bags of medicine.

Next week we will start our afternoon classes up again and will hopefully add an adult class soon. Also, we will distribute the next quarter of Sunday School lessons and pictures to the preachers. What a blessing to have a part in teaching the next generation of children!

Please pray with us for direction about the future. The preachers are crowded in the preachers’ training building now, and Moses and Mali haven’t been happy with their rent situation. We are thinking of turning our apartment over to them and moving the preachers’ training to the bigger room downstairs in the mission house. We would remodel the preachers’ training building for Paul and I. It will be better for us in a lot of ways. I’ve fallen on the stairs twice, so the ground-level house looks good to me Also, both Paul and I have health issues that require me to cook more – something hard to do in an un-airconditioned kitchen which doesn’t have a stove. There are more logistics to figure out and, of course, funding. God has always provided, so we are waiting on His provision and direction.

Paul has had lots of requests for a Bible Institute for young preachers and is praying about that. When he asked Wichai and Moses how many men they thought would be interested in coming, they replied in unison, “How many do you want?” The problem is time and energy. He’s already stretched to the max with monthly preachers’ training for the older, poorly educated preachers. He also is hoping to meet regularly with the men from Myanmar and another group of pastors from Laos as soon as details can be worked out. He really does need someone to come alongside and share the burden of teaching.

For now, though, we are plunging headfirst into the busy Thanksgiving season. Preachers’ training here is next week and is quickly followed by two village thanksgivings. We have invitations to one or two each week throughout November and early December. More last-minutes requests will probably come in later.

And in-between our projects and responsibilities, we are enjoying playing with the baby who is just at the age now to respond with smiles and coos. God is good to us – and we are happy serving Him here.

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