• Susan Brown

Lots of Drama but a Faithful God

The stench of rotting flesh wafted into the air as I unwrapped the dirty bandage. I stared in horror at the open wound…

I always like to start my blog with an interesting statement to catch the attention of my readers. Some months I don’t have a single interesting thing to say. This time I had a choice. I could have started:

The wickedly sharp knife slipped from his sweaty hand and plunged down into his foot. Blood shot out like a fountain as the blade sliced through muscle and tendon….

Or:

The nurse rushed into the emergency room like a chicken, flapping her arms and squawking loudly in Thai too fast for me to understand.

“What is she saying?” I asked.

“She says for us to get out of the hospital quickly. Wayne’s Covid test is positive.”

All of these happened. In fact, two of the three happened the same day.

And there’s more! I guess I’ll start with the current excitement and begin:

A knock on the bedroom door in the middle of the night is not usually a good thing. It certainly wasn’t this time!

“Molly is sick. I gave her a test and she tested positive for Covid,” Moses told me. “What should we do?”

That was the big question! Finally, the headman of our village had given Paul permission to have Preachers’ Training. He was ecstatic. After all these months of waiting out the Covid pandemic it seemed too good to be true that they would allow it now when there was so much Covid in the area.

I guess it was too good to be true. The preachers immediately packed up to go home when they heard the news. They are extremely fearful of the disease, since the poor village people have little healthcare or protection. At least Paul and Jay were able to get them set up on Zoom before they left so he can teach them remotely. The preachers who hadn’t arrived yet still have to be reached, but we have hopes of getting that accomplished.

Meanwhile, Molly is already feeling better. She felt ill yesterday with a bad headache and a "cold." Today her headache is gone and a runny nose is her only symptom. We still are not planning to be around her!

Now for the other stories. The second scenario happened first, so I’ll start with that one. It’s the end of the school year for our kids. In order to get a certificate from the Thai informal school, they have to garner “points” for community service. On one of these service days they were cutting bamboo. The sharp knife slipped from Pat’s hand and sliced open his foot, bare in his flip-flop.



Pat had surgery to repair his tendon and spent a night in the hospital. He has been in a splint and on crutches since then. We were warned that he might need another surgery, but apparently the tendon has healed, and no more surgery is needed. However, they took the stitches out surprisingly early after such an extensive surgery. Not surprisingly, the wound gaped open again. He has to keep the splint on for another two weeks to make sure the wound fills in.

The kids had their final informal school tests last weekend, but Pat will have to stay on with us for another week after the others go home for break. He’s disappointed and tired of the splint, which is hot and uncomfortable, and also tired of the crutches.

Paul and I were in Chiang Mai when his accident happened, getting our yearly physical. Our tests came back with results that weren’t surprising. We take them every year to make sure we are going to be able to continue on with the ministry here. Paul would probably do the same thing, no matter what the results, but mine determine whether we will be able to keep going as before with the school ministry, expand it, or cut back.

The check-up revealed several problems – all “consistent with aging.” (I was really tired of that phrase before the day was over!) Possible glaucoma (one test was high, the other normal), bone density loss, blood sugar too high, cholesterol too high, protein too low, beginning of fatty liver (related to diabetes) etc. That was me – but Paul had a few negatives, too. Nothing that would prohibit us from keeping on, though. If the Covid restrictions don’t tighten again, we plan to add a few day students to the Learning Center. We’ve planned that every year and so far have had just one for the last two years. He’s a good one, though! We will see what God has in mind for this year.

We can only have six boys under 18 living with us. Three of our boys turn 18 this year, so we will have four vacant spots for boarding students. They are all potentially filled. We did interviews recently and have four candidates. They will be coming to our three-week intensive English classes in April. If they can handle the academics, they will stay for the two-year program.

Please pray with us for wisdom and continued strength. Also, that the Lord would send us every single one that He plans to save and use – and ONLY those.

Are you wondering about my opening story? One evening Wayne came to our room to talk with me with Jay interpreting for him. He told me he had to leave. His mother has epilepsy and various other problems and is not able to live on her own. He had dropped out of school at seven years old to work and care for her and his siblings when his father left. An older sister offered to care for the mom so he could come to us to study. His pastor arranged for his younger brother and sister to be placed in a children’s home. Wayne has been a good student and a willing worker. He was always so happy to be here.

But it didn’t work out as planned. His sister had family troubles so that she had to work several jobs and couldn’t care for her mom. The brother and sister weren’t happy in the children’s home. We have seen many children’s homes where there is abuse and neglect, so we easily believed the tales we heard about this one. We know people who worked there before who confirmed the problems.

So, Wayne chose to give up his future for the sake of his family. At 17, that’s a pretty mature decision.

I told him, “Let’s pray about it. Wait a few days before you leave.”

“No point,” he said. “It’s impossible.”

“Yes, it’s impossible. But impossible is no problem to God. Let’s ask Him.”

Wayne prepared to leave and Jay took his name off the work schedule.

“He has to go,” Jay said. “There is no way for him to stay.”

But God answered. Seme, our cook, volunteered to take in Wayne’s mother and little sister if we would take care of the added expenses. We gladly agreed to that! It was such a testimony of God’s goodness.

Wayne will be with us for another year at least, and his brother is one of the four new boys who will be joining us in April.

Wayne’s mom moved here last week and Wayne requested bandages and medicine for a leg wound she has. I asked to see it and unwrapped the bandage. It was horrific. The smell is one I recognized from my time working in an orthopaedic office. It was the smell of dead flesh, probably gangrene. I learned that she was burned three years ago and that the wound never healed correctly. Recently she was seen at the hospital for worms inside the wound. They cleaned it up and sent her home. She didn’t make it back to her follow-up appointment and it obviously didn't heal.

We took her to the hospital. This time the doctor said it was cancer. She had her leg amputated just under her right knee yesterday. Please pray for her and for us as we figure out how to help her and care for her as she recovers.






Wayne was going to stay with her in the local hospital, since she doesn’t speak Thai. She is child-like and fearful and was counting on him to be with her. However, we have had a Covid surge here in our town. They gave Wayne a test before allowing him to stay. It was marginally positive. That’s when the nurse threw us out of the waiting room in a panic. They tested again, and it showed negative. Another one showed a faint second line again. In all he had seven tests. They decided that he couldn’t stay at the hospital and told him to quarantine at home. He was finally able to go and stay with her when his quarantine ended, the day before Molly tested positive.

The boys and Molly had their final test at the Thai informal school this past weekend. Please pray for the results of those. They really get their education from us, but those certificates are important for their future.

Also, Jay will have a university entrance exam next week. He has been helping me in the learning center and studying with a tutor this year in preparation for the test. However, it turns out that this test is for only six available slots in his major. He will be competing for those against 100 other candidates.

He is sure it won’t be possible, but I reminded him again that impossible is no problem to God. If he doesn’t make it, we will assume that God plans for him to be with us for another year. His back-up plan is to live here with us and to study accounting at the local college/trade school. I confess that I will be happier with that outcome – although I hate for Jay to be disappointed. He is bright and loves math. He would be a good candidate for the university. He’s a young Christian, though, and he would be away from Christian influence there.

So – lots of requests this time:

*For Wayne’s mom, NaSaw

*For continued health and strength for us

*For the new students and direction for the new year

*For the kids’ tests

*For Jay and the university exam.

*For the preachers’ training ministry to be able to start and continue on again without Covid hindrance.

By the way, we have had lot of expenses lately with a refrigerator going out, beds and wardrobe cabinets needed for the new boys, LaHu people with special needs, etc. God graciously provided for those needs before we even asked or knew they were coming up! Thank you for the special offerings many of you sent this past month. You answered God’s prompting and we rejoiced to be able to take care of all the needs. He is good!

Paul is a great teacher and an even better role model for these young men.


Denise in the Learning Center. She's a huge help!



Congratulations! We believe in giving lots of encouragement, including congratulations slips for successfully completing a PACE.



These two 15-year-olds from a remote village want to join us next school year, which begins in April.



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