A Just Walk (run, hike, etc…)

"…to the Rock that is higher…"

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Super-conference and a birthday marathon

Not just another conference…

It’s hard to believe that we’re well into March already! February was a very full but fabulous month as it was the every-two-year Continuing Medical Education (CME) meeting for health professionals working in cross-cultural health settings across Asia.

The conference is designed for North American (because we tend to have stricter requirements) health professionals who need valuable CME to maintain their practice license. It is of course a full schedule of medical lectures (all optional), but it is much more than straight medical lectures. Workshops in reading ECGs, “ultrasound for dummies”, and use of other techniques and modalities to help those of us working in areas where there is no other specialty consult service (such as when I was working at Kwai River Christian Hospital). The faculty who come take their own time and spend their own money to come and teach us. THANK YOU!

However, it is even MORE than a medical conference! Every two years I get to spend a couple of weeks with friends from all over the world learning, worshiping, crying, laughing, and enjoying each other. These people are truly my peers and it is so refreshing to come together again. Many of us will drag ourselves in haggard and weary – barely hanging on until we can get to Chiang Mai (location of the meeting since 2001). The week is tiring enough, but it is a break from our normal schedules and routines. Although I left quite exhausted – having maxed out my capacity for people interaction several times over – I was also thoroughly refreshed.

Therefore, I want to encourage all of you who support cross-cultural medical workers to support them financially to attend meetings such as this one. It is important professionally, of course. But I know it is also a lifeline for many of us and it is a component of “member care” that enables us to go back and keep going in our work abroad. It is a break for health care professionals AND their families (many are 2-profession families). Another thing to consider in support of your worker is to come and serve as a child care worker at similar conferences. Not a “glamorous” short term mission, but an absolutely essential one! If you are a member of CMDA (Christian Medical Dental Association), consider contributing towards this very valuable medical missions endeavor – your sponsorship helps keep the costs down for us.


birthday marathon start 7 March 2013My birthday was last week and of course I had to celebrate with a special run! The marathon distance is basically 42km (26.2 miles) and so I had a birthday marathon to celebrate 42 years! Three running buddies showed up for coffee before heading out at the 6am start time. Two ran the first 10km loop, but then had to get off to work. The third gutted it out to the last. He is fit, but I had the special birthday adrenaline and just could not slow down… until he asked if we could walk. <WALK!?!> To his credit, we actually went 44.6km because I found a new trail and didn’t want to turn back so soon. The only thing pulling me back was that I had another (non-running) friend coming to my house to make pancakes for my post-run treat! Besides, I had to be back, cleaned up and fed before my scheduled massage! That evening I spent with another couple of friends at my favorite live music hangout place.


It is just a few weeks until Easter. I don’t know what traditions you follow for the Lenten season – I actually never really heard of Lent, or thought it was something for me until I was older – but I like to read one of two books to be mindful of the season. This year it is Henri Nouwen’s “Show Me The Way” that takes one through every day of Lent. Nouwen has always been a sort of pastor to me. I know that you will also be enriched from his writing as well. What kinds of practices do you follow for the season, if any?


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It’s a New Year – Surprise Me!

I opened Henri Nouwen’s “Bread for the Journey” daily devotional reading on New Year’s Day and here is what he said:

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

So, surprise me God! Your surprises are so much more rich and blessed than what I could think of! Of course I would never think of or hope for anything adverse or contrary to my goals would happen to me, but that doesn’t mean that these unbidden events are necessarily bad (although it certainly feels like it!). What I can know is that each event is not a surprise to God, and I pray for the grace to accept each one as an opportunity to grow.

This was a good word for me to start out the new year 2012. The year 2011 was full of surprises (I moved back to Thailand for one) and I have no doubt that 2012 will bring many new joys and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it unfolds – there is a lot up in the air even now as I write. I hope you are full of anticipation as well!

I had intended to take a couple of rest days in the final week of 2011 to journal, read, reflect, and blog. What happened was that I just plain rested. It seems that 2011 and all that I did last year caught up with me and I found myself exhausted. It was all I could do to wind down so that by Friday I felt pretty good again. Although I had a few items of work to follow up, I did no heavy reading, made little use of my brain, and I certainly had no desire to sit at the computer for any length of time trying to make sense of the year through the fog of my fatigue. So, no big revelation that wraps up 2011 for me, and that’s OK. I did so much last year I don’t think that’s possible.

However, I did  I manage to finish off a couple of novels I had going – Byzantium and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (great books, both); saw two movies in the theater; and let myself sleep as long as I wanted. Of course I still managed 74 miles of running!

Speaking of running, I completed the Chiang Mai Marathon in 3:45. I was just hanging out, chatting with a friend from Kunming (surprise!) and others and running pretty conservatively as I didn’t really know what I could do since I was training through this event and didn’t taper or anything. At the half, I was feeling really good and started to pick up the pace. The hilarious thing was that this time was good for second in my age group and 4th female overall and I even got 4000 Baht ($130) as prize money! The stink of it is that I lost first by less than a minute! I had no idea! Sorry, no pics – had I known that I was going to be able to park my moto within 100 meters of the start/finish I would have brought my camera – who knew!