As we glanced around the crowded waiting room,

we felt lucky to be at Lanna Hospital for such a small procedure.

Joe ran off to complete an errand, since we were told it would be an hour wait. He wouldn’t have left my side if it were anything serious. I was finally getting three ugly, overgrown warts removed from my toe. They had been camping out there for years.

Within 15 minutes, I was called back, where I was laid out on a table and given local anesthesia.

Knowing Joe would return soon and not be able to find me easily, I asked for someone to go to the waiting room and call for him. The tech helping me knew very little English so he summoned over a nurse.

I tried to describe to her with hand motions the word, “husband,” and lifted a chunk of my hair, signifying, “He looks like me; he’s white too.”

In other words, he’ll be pretty easy to spot.

She attempted to find him twice, after asking, “Ah, his name is Mr. Joe?”

“Yes, Mr. Joe.”


That was the first of many efforts Nurse Panada made to ensure we felt comfortable and important at Lanna.


She described instructions in detail, made sure we knew exactly where to go, scheduled two follow-up appointments (including one in a completely unrelated department), and coordinated physician paperwork on our behalf though getting that paperwork was not her assigned task either.

After paying our bill and visiting the pharmacy, we stood at the edge of the road to hail a taxi.

Within a few minutes of waiting, we heard Panada’s voice behind us. Although a busy ER nurse, she noticed we were standing there and took the time to deliver the paperwork that was completed earlier than expected. We were planning to pick it up at our follow-up.

“Where you going?” she asked.

“Pantip Plaza.”

“Come with me.”

She exchanged some Thai with one of the hospital drivers who agreed to transport us to Pantip Plaza. It’s important to know that Panada was preparing for an ambulance ride during these same moments. 


We couldn’t believe it.


Not only had she made our stay in the hospital so pleasant, she took the time to walk to the road, hand-deliver paperwork, AND arrange a ride to our next destination.

We thanked her profusely and headed on our way, in a nice air-conditioned hospital van, I might add.


We were energized by Panada’s care and service,


which she delivered without expecting anything at all in return. This was just part of who she was and what she did to take care of people, amidst everything she had to do in her day.

When we returned for our follow-up visit, we tracked down Panada in the ER. Joe, per his usual, had the thoughtful idea to bring her a treat as a ‘thank you.’

She received the gift with kindness, asked us questions about our trip, and sent us off with well wishes and warm smiles.



How quickly she became someone we would never forget. She was a spark to us: a joyful, delightful, helpful light that made our day better and brighter.

We’ve encountered several other sparks on our journey, including Wan Noriah, who runs an orphanage and school in Phuket, my parents, our new Slovakian priest friends, and Karen and Jim, our hosts in Tuscany.

I even remember the Thai girl who approached me in the Bangkok train station and pointed me in the right direction. Granted, I probably looked very lost, but this is the single person I can remember who actually approached me first in an offer to help, rather than me approaching them.

Throughout our travels and at home, the many sparks in our lives add energy, love, and hope to our days. What this thought leaves us with is two-fold.  


1. We can notice the sparks and show ample appreciation.


2. We can be a spark to others.


There are different personalities, talents, and gestures that all form unique sparks. This immediately reminds me of my siblings and the distinct, joyous spark they each provide me and Joe: Karen, Ben, Mark, Jessie, Scott, Charlie, Rachel, Katie, Neal. If you’ve met any of them, you know what I mean. 

It’s true that we have our own spark already within us. We can expand it with imagination and forethought. But a big part of it is simply being ignited and taking moments to splash our little bits of light as we travel along.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to see how our spark impacts someone else. It can give us a deep sense of fulfillment and a taste for the inter-connectivity in our lives.

And sometimes we never see or hear how our spark touches someone. That’s part of the beauty in this life too. We do things because they are well and good, and we may never understand the greatness that’s at work beyond our tiny slice.

As we journey on from Thailand to Burma this week, I’ll be keeping an eye out for sparks like Nurse Panada. And in the meantime, I wish many, many sparks to you, too.

Thanks for reading! We hope you leave a comment!

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