Rob and Lucas - 2010

A man once told me that although you seemingly live one life, your one life may consist of many more little chapters or somewhat smaller separated lives. At the time I totally misunderstood what “this man” was trying to get through my head. Now (2 months later) after giving this topic just a little more time to sink into my brain, I am under the belief that I thoroughly understand what “this man” was speaking of. My name is Lucas Winner, and I have a story to tell.

This Chapter in my Life I refer to as “Forced Out Of Ignorance”. At the age of 14 my father informed me that he was going to help one of his friends from Brooks Institute raise money to help build a school in Laos. At 14, no thoughts out of the ordinary, I was only excited for my father. About two weeks later I was introduced to my father’s friends, Brain and Leila Watt. We met the night of the fundraiser and shortly after being introduced I was able to see one of their slide shows that somewhat summed up they’re “doings” in Laos. After, I was quite baffled, and at the same time overwhelmed. It was about 20% disbelief, and 80% sympathy. This encounter with Bryan and Leila gave me my 3rd chapter in life, aside from 1 and 2 (childhood, and rough times). This slide show forced me out of ignorance because when I looked at Bryan and Leila I saw something I hadn’t seen before, I saw 2 people doing EVERYTHING they could to help. And I grew up with the idea of survival of the fittest planted in my ignorant brain.

About a year and a half later, at the age of 16, my father asked me if I would like to travel with him to Laos to go visit Bryan and Leila. I hadn’t traveled much and the little knowledge I had obtained about that side of the world made this decision tough. There was no way I would have passed up on the opportunity but the idea was still quite frightening. The next 6 months were just a bit nerve racking, I guess one could say.

The Fourth Chapter in my life I call “Someone please Hold My Hand”.

After traveling through Laos and meeting up with Brain in Muang Sing (Leila was helping patients in Vientiane) both my father and I had to start our temporary lives in this small town. The 1st Luxury to go for ME was the hot shower due to the presence of an abnormally big spider above the shower head in Bryan’s house, there was no hot shower for Lucas. 2nd change; no cheese, no ground beef, so my diet changed and seemingly resulted in less mosquito bites. 3rd was transportation. Having a car in such a little town would be quite unnecessary so we walked or biked. And last but not least, there was the language barrier. Although we had Brian whom speaks some Lao, the second he would leave your side, you felt like a hopeless infant. I mean how far can you really get only knowing how to say hello, thank you, and thank you very much??? I felt like I needed Bryan by my side ALL the time.

Ok chapter five I know as “The Grass is Greener on THIS Side”.

After overcoming some minor changes I started to realize how awesome this place was.

Everyday at 4 p.m. kids from all over the Muang Sing would come to Bryan and Lela’s to play games like soccer, board games, and educational video games. They’d draw, and if not that, they’d be social; they’d enjoy what life had to offer. This two hours of pure joy that Bryan and Leila introduced into my life they know as the “Butterfly Children’s Program”. Aside from the children’s program, Leila is a volunteer doctor in Laos, Bryan does his best to sustain their help with medicine, or his knowledge of medicine when Leila is not around. See both Bryan and Leila at one point lived in my hometown of Santa Barbara. Leila quit her practice as a pediatrician after Brian had talked her into moving to Laos to help with what they could. Now the two have been living in Laos for 8 years. Leila’s overall goal is to train at least one pediatrician for each of the 16 provinces in the country. Today this goal does not seem too far out of reach.

So with this daily visit from the kids life was never dull. Aside from the children my father, Bryan and I would often find ourselves going out to hill tribe villages not too far out of Muang Sing, whether it be for a child whom Bryan and Leila had heard of through the grape vine, or be it a past patient that Brian felt needed a visit, an informal checkup one could say. The day was never dull, especially for me, a 16 year old whose brain is in the process of being molded into a “proper” mature mind. I mean I felt like the questions toward Bryan were limitless. After the original discomfort of the age barrier, I started to feel very close to Brian.

After becoming more than comfortable in Muang Sing, my father and I had to start making our way back home. I’d give this chapter a sad name and call it chapter six, but this part of the story is where I get to see Leila. Leila had just started home from Vientiane and as my Father and I left Muang Sing with Bryan we decided to cross paths with Leila! It was awesome! Pretty much a vacation for a few days in Luang Namtha where my father and Leila got to catch up on old times, and a time where I got to learn and spend time with BOTH Bryan and Leila. I very much enjoyed our few days in Luang Namtha together.

This next chapter is NOT a chapter. This is the beginning of my 2nd life.

One day I was eating breakfast with Brian, as we conversed, we came upon a certain topic. Bryan tried to explain to me how there are different stages in your life. He didn’t phrase it like this though; he spoke of living more than one life, and then asked me what life I believed I was on. At the time I didn’t really think deeply about it, I gave him a quick answer saying that I was only 16 and still on my 1st life. Well Bryan, I did not lie. This was in the middle of my stay Muang Sing and I believe my 2nd life started when my father and I first departed from you and Leila. The second I was not able to turn to you two and ask you to tell your story. The second your story became mine.

I am forever inspired by these two people. You are exactly what I want to be when I grow up. I am 17 now. Still young, and proud to say that Bryan and Leila Watt

have helped shape the path in which I walk. I met you two a confused misdirected child, and left knowing what I want to do in life. I love you both, thank you very much Bryan and Leila!

Sincerely Lucas P. Winner