Where: The province of Buriram, Thailand. This is the poorest province in Thailand; some 6
hours drive from the capital of Bangkok.
Who: 5 of us participated: The Dickinson family - Pete (cowboy & business
entrepreneur/banker) & Dr Diane Dickinson (licensed veterinarian); Carolyn Dickinson (a
sophomore at OSU - pre-vet major); Jacqueline Dickinson ( a senior in HS); & Kristin Wessel
(a teacher at Claremore Christian, holding an anthropology degree from the University of
What: Christian Mission & Veterinary Mission trip. We worked with the animals, and the
Our connection in Thailand was a little woman named Prong. Prong became a Christian
in Bangkok two years ago. She wanted to make a difference in her own home village of
Samed, so she recently moved back there. She was the only Christian in the village. She
offered us great hospitality. We stayed in her home; her and her extended family live on a
small corner of land, and they cooked our evening meals.
We traveled to a new village every day, treating animals, and to share the love of Christ
with the people. Prong would travel with us on most days. We hired an interpreter, Gig, and a
neighbor (Mone) with a small pick-up took us to the villages. The area agriculture officer, Nagh
would meet us at the village every day. We would arrive at the villages at about 7:30 a.m.,
working on the food animals - water buffalo and cattle primarily - till early afternoon. After
breaking for lunch, we worked on dogs and cats, pet animals, in the afternoon. People would
come from miles, on foot, bringing their 2 or 3 cattle or water buffalo. Barefoot or in sandals,
they would come elated to have some help for their animals. Standing in lines, down the
streets of the village, they would wait patiently, as we rushed to treat all of them. We treated
over 1800 animals, primarily for internal and external parasites. We also did some vaccination,
vitamins, and medication for illnesses.
Every village received us warmly. They had never had anyone come help their animals.
They heard we liked to work animals in a chute, so everywhere we went, they built us one - out
of scrap lumber or bamboo. They would bring us food, and the chief (village leader) would
usually host us in his home for lunch. Repetitively, they exclaimed, “We can not believe you
came so far to work so hard and help us!” They introduced us to every government official
that they could - including the Sheriff (like a mayor) of the Province of Buriram. Their
hospitality, in the midst of such overwhelming poverty, was overwhelming.
During the waiting time, we had opportunity to answer the people about why we would
come and work so hard, for someone we did not know. Our response: “We have so much, we
wanted to come and share.” We did this because of Jesus’ love; we do our best to live out the
instructions of Jesus Christ, “Whatever is done for the least of these, so has been done unto
me.” Within a day or two, our interpreter, driver, and the agriculture worker were all
announcing to the people “Get your animals ready, this is how; these people are here to help
you, because they are Christians. They come in the name of Jesus Christ.” The Lord truly
preceded us and prepared the way, physically and spiritually.
The area we found ourselves was in Thailand, and the people call themselves Thai,
however, the people primarily speak Cambodian - what they term “kha-maehn”. They
escaped from the brutal killings of the Khmer regime in Cambodia in the 1970’s (over 2.5
million were killed and the country was stripped of all its resources - schools, temples, medical
facilities, homes). Consequently, the villages are like refugee camps, where the people have
simply stayed, built homes, and set down roots. Some of the translation was consequently
challenging, as our translator did not speak their first language!
Prong has house church, every week at her home ( actually outdoors on her land), and
leads some in Bible Study during the week. She is developing a small business to help train
some of the village women in an occupation. Many are single parent moms, and their meager
income of less than $5 per day has to care for their family. She raises silk worms; they spin
the silk; weave the silk in to fabric; then sew it on old foot-treadle sewing machines. This is
tremendous wealth in the village - and an inspiration, not only to the women and children she
is helping, but also to the entire area. Additionally, she helps the children make jewelry on
Saturdays, to earn money to pay for their school. All schooling must be paid for. We have
purchased some of their handmade items, and offer them for sale at the shop at Shepherd’s
Cross. 100% of the proceeds go to these families.
The biggest challenge for our trip was the water and health situation. There are no wells
in this area. The water is taken from ponds. The ponds are also the buffalo wallows, and the
water is yellowish green. Fortunately we had bottled water. When the people cook, however,
they cook with this pond water. Food prep is done on the floor, as with almost all other work.
Their food is well balanced, but they served meals to us that were the very best they could
offer. Fruit and vegetables are simply picked from what grows in the yard, or on the roadside.
Some fish (intact - no wastage here), chicken, eggs, were our primary protein groups. Rice -
much rice -with every meal. That rice - having to cook for 20 minutes or so - was a safer food
item for us. We ate a lot of rice. They eat a lot of interesting things. Nothing is wasted. On
days when we could not stomach a meal, we had packed energy bars, and we begged off,
rubbing our tummies in explanation.
We were able to coach Prong in the area of baptisms, and baby dedications. Over 30
were baptized when we were there. This signalled the formation of a church in Buriram. To
God be the Glory!
Many have asked, will we return? We truly loved the people. They are loving and kind.
The circumstances there, however, are dire. Poverty has caused brutality. Kidnapping and
open sale of women and children is pervasive. We will only return with God’s blessing and
provision. Inside of His will, wherever it may be, is safer, than the safest town would be,
outside of His will. We want to help the people, and God willing, we will continue to have
opportunity to do so.
Pete and Dr. Diane have Shepherd’s Cross & Heart of the Shepherd - a working farm,
and Christian non-profit organization, north of Claremore, OK.
from Heart of the Shepherd
|16792 East 450 Road,
Claremore, OK 74017-0935
Hwy 66 & then 2.5 miles East on Akin Road (EW 45 Road or EW 450 Road)
Contact us by e-mail at:
Tuesday thru Saturday
Tours available Th, Fri & Sat
or other days by appointment
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for Special Events
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