Monday, March 2, 2009

Return Trip by Steve Bristol

Hello everyone...
I have a story I would like to share. As some of you may know, last week I paid a visit to Chachangsao. I stayed one night at the Wangtara and toasted all of you with a Singha beer. Unfortunately I had to drink it alone because I think I was the only one staying at the hotel (same employees and they all say HI) The next morning I was picked up by Fai and her family. You may remember her as she was one of the translators in the dispensing area. I stayed with her family for most of last week and was able to experience real Thailand. It was a great experience and a lot of fun.

The day they picked me up I spent the day at the school all of the students and teachers came from. They were asking about all of you. I have to tell you that their experience with the GOS team was something they will never forget and their lives were changed because of it and all of you. I met with the school director and we are working on setting up an exchange program with a school in my area (Connecticut) for the month of April. I’ll let you know how that works out.

During the week I flew to Udon Thani for two days to visit Heather and Theun. I met with them, the Lions, and the bank regarding fundraising for the “Lions Fund for Orphans” project. I will tell you more about that at another time.

On Saturday (Feb 7) we went to a festival in Chachoengsao. I met Fai’s uncle John who is an English teacher so it was great talking with him. As a teacher, he knows many people and I think I met everyone at the festival. At one point I met a very nice older gentleman who was a friend of his. The man asked him who I was. John explained to him about the GOS mission. The man’s face lit up and he proceeded to tell John that he got his glasses from the clinic and that I was the one who gave them to him at dispensing. Well he grabbed my hand and started shaking it and wouldn’t let go. I pretty much melted on the spot. If anyone thinks that the GOS missions don’t change lives, remember and share this story. Here is one life that was changed and he will forever be grateful. I saw him several more times over the course of the festival and each time he came back over to me to thank me for his glasses.

Well I just wanted to thank you all again for the great mission experience in Thailand and to share this story with you. I am currently slated to participate in a Onesight mission this year in August in South Africa. I look forward to hearing your mission stories this year and will share mine in return. I know that John Broaddus is currently in Payao Thailand along with Heather and Theun on a GOS mission.


Steve Bristol

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More Memories of Thailand 2008

I have posted photographs of Thailand: The autorefractor station, elephant riding a tricycle, team members riding an elephant, Docs on ants, and the Grand Palace in Bangkok. I hope these share the great diverse nature of this country. It was a pleasure to be there to serve 24,890 people.

Photo Memories of Thailand 2008

Here are photos of the Thailand 2008 team together on the last day of clinic. The students are int he red shirts and performing one of their farewell songs in English for the team. The next three photos are of various work stations of the clinic.

Friday, October 3, 2008


"Two observations on the Thailand mission:
1) The Chachoengsao GOS team is amazingly young and vital, very quick in learning the ropes in an Asian setting, and
2) Of the seven Asian GOS missions in since 2005, this mission stands out in serving many, many, young kids with proper glasses to further their education.

If the focus had only been on the adults, the future of the kids (mainly 8 to 12 year old) might have been bleak."

Theun Prins, Mission Team Volunteer
Theun and Heather Prins reside in Northern Thailand and have volunteered on each Asian mission they could make since 2005. They lead an organization that sponsors children who lost parents from AIDS, through primary and secondary educational opportunities. They are wonderful and devoted volunteers to Gift of Sight.

October 3, 2008 Last day of Clinic

We ended clinic with 2052 people visiting for a total of 24, 890 over the eight days we were open.

Some of the thoughts and experiences of our mission team members:

"Best experience in Thailand, meeting everyone! Making friends, learning how to speak Thai. I can say this in my sleep: 'Ya die when song lein me, hah' (do you want bifocals?) Ha ha! That was so fun when the patients were amazed knowing/thinking I can speak Thai!! Best memorable moment was dispensing a pair of of glasses for a 7 year old girl, -8.00 and never had glasses before. When I put them on the little girls face, what made me cry was not the smile on her face, it was the expression on her mom's face. Her mom was the one who had the bigger smile. I loved every moment of Thailand and I will miss everyone here a lot." - Dr. Victoria Feng

" The leadership team led us through all situations allowing the talent and determination of the whole team to make it happen! The organization of the clinic and and spirit was the best ever. Our host, in the Thai people made this a most unforgettable experience. This will be the destination of choice for future missions. Thank you Thailand and GOS!!" - Charlie Wolfe, IMS Team Leader

" The last day of clinic, a day of mixed emotions. Looking forward to going home, but hating to leave. I made so many friends here it is really tough to say good bye. It feels so good in my heart to be able to help so many people. They are all so gracious and appreciative and this will be a mission I will never forget." - Steve Bristol, Permastelisa vendor partner

Last day of the Thailand 2008 mission and all the dispensing areas were so fun. The volunteers are all keeping us fun and light & laughing. Dancing and singing and lots of fun hats. Many amazing pictures to remember everyone we exchanged email addresses with the teachers so we can share some of the photos. If we could take the volunteers home, imagine how fun the stores would be!" -Steve, Mission Manager

"Clinic day #8. Everyone looks fantastic and festive wearing their crazy hats. We have been blessed to have helped over 24,000 Thai people. They are very kind to all of us. Each day seemed to get better and better. Our team is most amazing. A couple of people go sick for various reasons and everyone was gracious.. picked up the slack and cared for the sick.
We laughed, sang karaoke, cried and just plain bonded like a team should. It was a pleasure serving this particular team. I made lots of lasting friends and got to know more of those I already know. Thank you Thailand 2008. I will think about my experience here always."- May Thomas, Mission Technical Leader

The evening of the 3rd the team returned to the clinic site where a transformation took place and the hall was beautifully decorated for a dinner and entertainment celebration. We were entertained by the very talented kids who helped translate and assisted us in clinic. They were very talented in singing in English and dancing. There were speeches and we presented some cash from our silent auction for helping referral patients with eye care. The celebration was an outpouring of gratitude and well wishes for our safe return. Everyone left with a gift or two, or three from the Health Ministry, Lions, and the students. Tomorrow, Saturday, we will begin our journey home. -Alan Greggo

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sept. 30 through October 3, 2008 -Clinic Information

There have been no additional posts since Sunday because the hotel computer has been broken and was removed for repair, but we are up and running again.

October 1, 2008
We helped 3540 at clinic and the total helped is up to 18,970. Prescription eyeglasses have become depleted in the most common ranges. Charlie Wolfe and the IMS team continues to do a fabulous job of picking the very best prescription for the patients, even if it is not exactly what they need. Many will be given a quick pick of reading glasses and sunglasses if there is not a best fit for them and their correction is low.

"A 73 year old lady came into dispensing and her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were all with her. She had to sit down in a chair because she couldn't stand. She put on the glasses that were prescribed for, frowned, and shook her head. A couple of adjustments were attempted on the frame before we discovered the left eye was not clear. Another pair of glasses that matched her prescription in the left eye was picked. She tried them on and broke into a huge smile. You could tell she was able to see. Her son shook the dispensers had saying "Kap Khun Kup" (Thank you)." This is just one of may success stories written in the journal by our team members. It is great to know that we are making a difference in people's lives, one person at a time. There are many who have not had a pair of glasses in 20 years.

"We received our "care packages" today and they were great. A nice reminder of those we care about at home. They gave us an extra measure of energy to finish what we came to do, and love to spread around. One of the student volunteer translators, a young girl named Ploy came up to me this morning and gave me a hug. I saw another student go up and high-five one of my team member. They are great kids and help us immeasurably. When I try to speak Thai, they are patient to teach and only giggle a little. I dispensed glasses to an older person today. When I adjusted them to fit, she hugged me and kissed my cheek. She taught me a new work in Thai... pretty. - Michelle Fowler

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 28, 2008 Touring Bangkok

On Sunday we toured the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). The team had a very hot and fun day. Many great pictures to share when we return. In the afternoon the team visited the Chatuchak market where there are many stalls of local merchants as well as larger stores. The team members had fun bargaining with the shop owners for the best price. "Mai dee Paeng Pai, Paeng Pai" means "Not good, to expensive, to expensive." Lunch was served on a very large boat on the Chao Phraya river. The food was excellent. One thing is for sure, the Lions Clubs and Health Ministry are taking good care of the team and no one is going hungry. We are very grateful to our hosts!