Chiang Mai city center walking bridge over medieval moat.

OK, “nosing around” is a terrible pun. The truth is, though, my nose has pretty much dictated the agenda this first week in Chiang Mai. For the last 18 months or so I’ve been monitoring strange comings and goings on  the top of my ample probiscis. A suspicious growth there had to be removed three years ago or more. Lately, a reappearance, so as soon as we settled in, thanks to a new friend here, I checked in with two more doctors (a dermatologist and a plastic surgeon, numbers 4 and 5 in this series). Result: the most extensive biopsy I’ve ever experienced. A three-and-a-half-hour surgical procedure. I thought it would be the usual snip snip. That was last Wednesday. I return this Wednesday for the report.

The Hat’s nose. Joy hoped the procedure would reduce its size but instead she says it now looks bigger than ever.
The Hat’s new pillbox. It’s not been a good week. I asked the pharmacist for some daily multivitamins. This is what she gave me. I know what “geriatric” means.

Preston Coursey met us at Chiang Mai’s International Airport and drove us, with an intermediate stop for groceries, to our new home in the Chonlada Land and House Village, an elaborate residential development north of town. As we gained admission through two guard houses I nearly gasped. This is so not our kind of residence. What hath Joy wrought? The answer is, she had discovered the value of the Thai Bhat. For one of our lowest rents since we’ve been on the loose she rented a spacious two-bedroom three-bath house with both a Western and a Thai kitchen. Not everything works (one burner out of four in the Western kitchen, the electric one; one out of two in the Thai kitchen on the back porch). But we have space.

Chiang Mai Airbnb, our home in Thailand for three weeks. When considering cost of living, this would be a good place to retire.

Most of our immediate neighbors are Thai, so conversation is limited. We have become well acquainted with one, though. Here’s how. From time to time I’ve reported times not of being lost, exactly, but perhaps temporarily misplaced. That happened again on our first morning here. Out for my walk, I felt secure with my GPS. I also paid careful attention to where I was going so I could find my way back. On my return, though, I came to a confusing intersection (they look pretty much alike). Which way? Not to worry. Check the GPS. But–it couldn’t find my house, either. Wandering around, I spied a young woman walking her dog. Could she help me? Dada (that’s her name—she’s an old friend now) didn’t understand at first, then she did and began giving me rapid-fire directions in Thai.

DaDa, Tony’s housekeeper, is going to Thai massage school. Here she is ready for Joy’s treatment. Joy gave her high marks.

It’s amazing how animated two people can be while miscommunicating. She was determined to help me, would not let me go on by myself,  and finally with sign language and unwavering insistence she led me to her own house, that is, the house where she’s housekeeper. She sat me down in the living room, made several trips up the stairs to implore her boss to come downstairs and bring his English with him.

Tony the rescuer/tour guide.

Which he did. I told him later what a compliment she had paid him. She knew he would come to my aid because he’s that kind of guy. Nothing doing but that he would drive me around the neighborhood until I recognized 189/123 Chonlada on Soi (street) #6 (though there’s no sign at the intersection to identify #6). He dropped me off with an invitation to afternoon tea. We accepted.

Then Tony (Antony Moundcote-Carter), retired Classical Systems Architect at the Center for Addictive and Mental Health in Toronto (he’s an IT geek) appointed himself our personal caregiver, with our grateful acquiescence. He recommended the hospital for my nose, deposited me  there for my consultation (stayed in the waiting room with Joy all Monday morning), then drove us to the mall to have the lens replaced in my glasses and get a sim card for Joy’s cell phone, and assorted other errands, including an Apple store visit for my laptop’s adjustment. Tony retired here four years ago in part because living is so inexpensive but also because as a Buddhist (he once studied to become a monk) he could pursue his religious practices in a supportive environment. I wasn’t surprised to learn he had devoted much of his career to the health industry; he likes helping people. We’re a good match. We like being helped by the likes of him.

Chiang Mai city bus service. Thanks to Tony’s services, we did not need to use this mode of transportation.

Back to Preston Coursey. We had looked forward to spending some quality time with this CMF missionary couple. We didn’t know Preston well, but I’d known his wife Kristin all her life. Her mother and father met at Milligan College when I taught there. Her grandfather was what I called my “next door neighbor” preacher in Oregon in the 1960s. I pastored in Tigard, he in Lake Grove. In the days when I was also teaching at Tigard High School, about once a month I’d take the long way home from school to stop in at the home of Don and Beth Alice Johnson and their three little boys, one of whom was Greg, Kristin’s father. (I would tease the boys, from time to time threatening to toss them in the garbage can. How was I to know Greg would grow to 6’3″ and not forget my threats?) Kristin’s grandmother Beth Alice was an early role model for Joy, her favorite among ministers’ wives.

Preston, Kristin and Killian in the gardens of nearby Eat on Earth Restaurant.

There’s more. Kristin’s great-uncle was Jess Johnson, president of Milligan College when I was vice president; and before that pastor of St. Johns Christian Church in Portland where I was his youth minister; and before that pastor of First Christian Church in Tillamook, where, he later loved to tell people, I was the Junior Church preacher.

There’s still more. Kristin’s great-grandfather Walter Johnson was a barber, my barber when I was a boy. When we moved from Oregon to Tennessee many years later, we bought Walter Johnson’s house (in Johnson City, of course) and made it our home for eight years.

We had a delightful evening at a nearby restaurant with the Courseys and Becca Schaefer, a fellow CMF missionary. She and I had met when she was commissioned but had never spent any time together. She’s from the Indianapolis area. Her pastor is Graham Richards, whom I first got to know in his native England as a student at Springdale College. Since then he interned in the States, married an American girl back in England, and eventually made his way back to America for good. One more connection: The associate minister at THRIVE (formerly Central Christian Church in Carmel) is Scotty Daily. Scotty grew up in Mesa Central Christian Church during our years there; his father was one of my associates on staff after he ministered for several years in England. Small world. And wonderful.

Becca and Phil

Becca introduced us to Phil. Becca came to Thailand to work with children with disabilities. Her ministry is inspiring. She gives herself daily to  children society discards. In addition to the other children she serves, she is Phil’s foster mother. A charming thirteen-year-old, Phil is a victim of cerebral palsy. He has almost no control of his body; arms and legs flail as they will, head moves without intention, feet are more helpful than hands. Yet Phil is endowed with intelligence, a keen sense of humor, and a strong will. Becca sees progress in his development. He wants to learn to feed himself; she’s determined to help him acquire the skill. That’s an immediate aim. Her long-range goal is to equip him in these teen years so he can get a job. Ambitious. And admirable.

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Street Market before the crowd thickened.

On another evening out we took in the Sunday Night Street Market in the heart of Chiang Mai. It’s a bargain shopper’s paradise, a non-shopper’s nightmare: streets closed to vehicular traffic but clogged with the human kind, all inspecting every stall’s offerings, pushing on to the next, sucking up the oxygen, heating up the already hot atmosphere, and convincing themselves they’re having a wonderful time.

Sunday Night Street Market music

Truth to tell,  they–and we–were. Joy did splurge. Bought two cool Thai pants that look like pajamas. Squandered over three dollars apiece on them. Forced me to buy a hat that cost almost seven dollars. I had to hurry her away from the place before our taxi money was gone. Got out just in the nick of time.

The biopsy came back negative. No skin cancer. No reduction in nose size. One reason to smile.


Our caregiver/tour guide Tony is equally conscientious in caring for Kami, his Alaskan Husky, and Kami’s best boyfriend, Mr Mee.
Hospital lobby full of orchids. Very peaceful
Sunday Night Market crowd  in front of Buddhist Temple. Chiang Mai boasts 500 Buddhist temples.
Thai market has how many kinds of rice?
Our first view of the Chiang Mai mountains. They had been covered with haze for days. 


  1. These connections are fun. Did Graham Richards marry Angela_____________? Also, what are Scotty Daily’s parents’ names? Was mom Carol? Also, what was the address where you lived in Johnson City for 8 years? Since living here, we find that people we know have lived close by.

    1. Hi Cindy. Yes, you know these people. Graham married Angela Foust, Tom’s daughter. Scotty’s parents are Carol and Larry Daily, good friends. We lived at 912 (we think!–this was 50 years ago) East Eighth Avenue near. Bet you’re glad to be back in Johnson City.

      1. We live on E. Unaka and love it, even with all the traffic. We just ran into Barry and Kathy Blackburn up in the Gump while walking the other day. He was a prof at ACC (now Point) and now teaches elementary Greek at Emmanuel. Their son Lee is a prof at Milligan. They live a couple streets from us on Ridgeway.

        I texted Beth Bartchy-Smith who confirmed that the address was 912 E. 8th.

        So glad that you got a good report from the biopsy. How providential to try to get directions from the one person who could lead you to Tony!

  2. When you are traveling all over and running into nice people from whom you (miraculously) extract all sorts of favors and help in your moments of need, don’t forget that long time ago I let you sleep on the floor of my house on an air mattress with no bedsheets and a bath towel for a blanket (since you wouldn’t be using the bath towel for your shower as I had no working plumbing). See, I’m as nice as they are!!

    1. Brian that’s SO you! We miss you : )
      Roy, as usual another entertaining adventure. Happy to hear of the negative biopsy, it really is NO fun to have skin cancer removed on the nose! Hugs to you and Joy,
      Tammy and Russ

  3. Another fascinating, people-connecting adventure. What a facility you have for losing yourself and finding amazing friends as a result–like DaDa and Tony! And we were glad to join the parade of connections between the Johnson families and the Lawsons, renting (from the Bartchys in 1973) what had been your home on 8th Ave. in JC before we bought our current Powder Branch home. We’re thankful for the great news on your biopsy!

    1. You probably remember that the Bartchys bought that house sight unseen. They were in Germany when Fred Norris told them they should buy the Lawsons’ house when they moved to Johnson City. And they did. How long did you live there before moving out to Powder Branch?

    1. Thanks for the reminder, Kevin. I thought you and Graham were contemporaries on the staff but was uncertain. Time is doing a number on my chronological calendar!

    2. I have to say that Graham was in high school in 1985 at most. We went to England in 1985, and he was in the Birkenhead youth group then. A year or two later he and a friend came over for the summer. That must of been your internship, Kevin. HIs would have been at least four to five years after that. Correct me Graham or Larry. I remember you as a high school student, too, Kevin. Christmas caroling in the old church bus pre-Lawson. I sound like such an old-timer.

  4. Roy, so nice to hear your stories of your connection to the Johnson Family Generations. Alas, I did not fare so well as you with my ‘nose biopsy’ and will be having more tissue removed. Unfortunately, it’s not in the place that I would love to have slimmed down! 🙂 Hi Joy! Can you give us pictures of your new pants?

    1. So sorry to learn about your nose biopsy, Loretta. The doctors seem to take a cancer or pre-cancer on the nose very seriously, don’t they? In your case I suspect the culprit is all that hot Tillamook sun. Don’t you agree? I’ll look forward to your report. And thanks for the suggestion–I’ll see about getting that picture of Joy in her new Thai pants.

  5. What interesting connections with all the Johnsons!! I did not realize these people were related to each other! The Kingdom is small. We notice that even more in Russia where it seems that everyone knows everyone else, in the believing community, and is related to half of them.

    1. You’re right. It’s a common phenomenon, isn’t it? Hope you have satisfactorily sorted out all the details following your mother’s passing, Annabelle. What a blessing she was to you–and many, many more.

  6. So nice to read of all your interesting travels. Glad the nose job turned out so well too. You never seem to go where don’t have some connections with friends you have made over so many years. Glad your health is holding up so well. God is good…all the time!!

  7. Another great post!!! And so thankful and relieved at the ending …… the biopsy came back negative!

    I’m sharing this with our grandson and his wife who just came back formThailand.

    And all your connections …. not surprising. I think the Daily’s (or someone from CCC in Mesa actually stayed with my sister, Marty, and her husband, Elliott in Ealing, England on their way to Birmingham …..maybe in the ’70s or ’80’s.

    1. Ah, Toni. I see you have totally caught up with the posts. I hope this means you have healed! We leave Chiang Mai in a couple of days, en route to Honolulu. Always glad to hear from you.

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