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  • Susan Brown

First Thanksgiving of the Year

Running sores dotted the baby’s legs and he looked lethargic and ill. That’s not what concerned the mom, though.

Moses translated, “He has an animal in his ear.”

I knew something got lost in the translation, but looked in the ear. Sure enough, there were several little “animals” running around there. I soon dealt with the lice, but the animal that concerned them turned out to be a tick. It was the first one I have seen in Thailand. I got out my trusty medical-strength tweezers and removed the animal.

I gave the mom oral antibiotics for the baby and soap and antibiotic cream for the sores. I turned back to the crowd around the clinic table, but immediately began second-guessing myself. Did I treat the baby correctly? Was the antibiotic the right one? Hard to tell when I didn’t know what was actually wrong with him. Did I remember to add paracetamol to the sack? He didn’t appear to have a fever or be in pain, but……

And so went the afternoon – seeing masses of patients at our clinic after the Thanksgiving service. I’m so happy to do what I can for these beloved people of ours, but I’ll be delighted when a more able person takes over this part of my job! Rusty helped me out, with the aid of Wichai, who could almost do medicine by himself after translating for me so often over the last years. Moses did a great job helping me for the first time.

Denise and Jemelle, stepped up and filled the gaps with Bang’s help, preparing bags of soap, vitamins, and bandaids to hand out and taking care of emergencies. When two kids simultaneously had nosebleeds, I was thankful Denise calmly took care of them.

Meanwhile, the crowd kept coming. I sent a family to wait with their little girl until I could get away and examine the sores on her backside in the privacy of the church building. Eventually, they got tired of waiting and just walked up and pulled down her pants. Yep. Boils on the backside. Antibiotics, soap and topical cream.

The crowd at the Thanksgiving was much larger than we expected. We had been to celebrations at this small village before, but never had we seen this many people there. I’m not sure how many, but we gave out more than a hundred hats to children and about ten baby bags.

Ah, the hats! Usually I distribute these, trying vainly to find a more efficient method. Paul and his helpers gave up and let everyone pick one that fit.

I guess it was as effective as any of my carefully orchestrated methods. At least it was quick. They are supposed to be just for the children, but several adults went through the line with baby hats stretched over the top of their heads. Maybe they were taking it home to a baby. Or not.

I might have felt inadequate for my part of the Thanksgiving, but the service didn’t lack a thing. We could already hear

singing when we drove up the muddy path to the church. The little pink church building overflowed with people. They crowded onto the porch and filled the chairs set outside.

After many songs, Paul stood to preach with William interpreting for him. It was a great Thanksgiving message. As always, he preached the Gospel as well as encouragement for Christians.

Then the meal of pork balls cooked in banana leaves, rice, and stew of mountain cucumbers and pork.

And the clinic.

We drove home exhausted and already planning for the next Thanksgiving a mere eight days away. Paul and I will be out of town for a long-anticipated week away to rest before the busy Thanksgiving season is in full swing. But the unexpected crowd had bitten deeply into my store of medicine that I thought would be ample for both celebrations. Usually the second one, at Bon Saw, is the largest. How to get the replacements ready in time?

The hats were nearly depleted, too. Where can I get more this early in the season? I’m thankful that Matt and Brittany will be bringing us another suitcase of hats from friends in America, but they won’t be here in time for Bon Saw.

It’s Sunday today, and I’ve been up early going through medicine and baby bags and hats. Maybe I can get it ready today. Denise cheerfully offered to bag medicine while I’m gone, turning the task from impossible to probably doable with a little stretching.

A little more packing and clearing up to do and I’ll be ready to leave on our trip tomorrow. And I’ll be ready for it!

In case you are wondering, life isn’t always this frantic. It goes in spells of dull routine with nothing new to write about, and crazy busyness. Whether mundane or exciting, we are here to serve our God by serving these precious people. We thank our faithful supporters for prayers for us and for the gifts that allow us to buy medicine for babies, for the hats that come from across the world to keep a child warm, and most of all, for the donations that keep us here so the Gospel continues to be preached. God is good, and we are thankful to be able to represent all of you, serving Him here in Thailand.

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