Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"I think maybe not too many kids will come. You know, the police will be searching for the children who are collecting garbage and arrest them today."
We lay on the floor of the drop in center, waiting.
"What should we cook then? I mean... if the kids do come."
"I'm not sure. We could buy some chicken and sticky rice." Esther is Karen. She can speak something ridiculous like 5 languages. She's one of the interns Compasio recently hired.

Just then, Daniel pulled up on his motor bike and joined us. One of the tallest Burmese men I've ever seen, Daniel is gentle and loves spending time with the kids.

"Well I will go to the market." Esther announced as she got up. "I'll be back soon."

I got out my first grade Burmese book and read aloud as Daniel corrected my pronunciation. Then we heard the familiar shouts echoing down the street as three dirty boys torpedoed through the doors. We got out the Uno cards and began to play.

Time passed and children came and went. A father and his two daughters took a break from collecting bottles and cans to sit and eat chicken & sticky rice with us. As they left they asked for help. They were having trouble buying food. They couldn't make enough money to feed everyone.

I talked to a boy I had never seen before and found that he was from Burma, he had come to Mae Sot to see the Compasio staff because he missed them. As we asked more questions, he told us about his family (father dead, brother took the house, sister wouldn't talk to them, it was just him and his mom). The boy had finished 7th grade and now worked to support his mother. He would stay in Mae Sot until he could make enough money to go back.

My heart felt like it was being squeezed. His shirt was torn down the sleeves; he hadn't changed for 3 days. He had nothing else to wear. The least we could do was get him a new shirt and some shorts, so that's what we did. He plans on begging. Daniel and I looked at each other, stunned. No teenage boy would be able to make money from begging. No one cares.

I can easily see him being captured by the Burma army, used as a porter, landmine tester, or child soldier. His life could go in two directions from here. What can we do?

We're going to see if we can find him a job, something reliable, something to give him dignity. He says he'll be in Mae Sot for 20 days. Maybe in those 20 days we can give him the sense that there are people who care for him, that he's worth more than the few bot he can collect.

As we locked up the drop in center I heard Daniel singing as tears pricked at the corner of my eyes:

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.

There will be an answer, let it be.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Do you have Jesus?

Today I had my first 'Jesus' Burmese conversation outside of my Burmese class and Church. Granted, it was between a six year old and me, but it was interesting, and heartbreaking non the less.

Si Mao Mao is six years old and lives in the prison baby home. His mom was released from prison right before I arrived in Mae Sot. I'm pretty sure that he has a history of past abuse from his father, and from what I can see, he and his mother don't have much of a connection.

We were sitting on the porch today talking (in Burmese! I've hit a breakthrough where I can carry on a Burmese conversation :]) and he said,
"P Katie, do you have Jesus in your heart?"
"Yes." I replied, "Do you?"
"No." He answered, "I don't have him in my heart." He had the saddest, most rejected look on his face.
"Si Mao Mao. You can have Him. He loves you." I told him, stating love in a way that is expressed between friends, parents, and siblings.
He simply shook his head.
"Si Mai Mao, Jesus loves you." This time I used a word for love that is special, the kind of love that only God has for us.
His face reflected confusion and he said, "Love? I don't know that kind of love."
We sat in silence for a few moments.
"Have you seen Jesus?" Si Mao Mao asked me
"Yes." I said, though I couldn't elaborate further, my vocabulary is not that extensive.
"I have seen Him!" Si Mao Mao stood up and illustrated with his hands, "I was sleeping and I heard him say 'Si Mao Mao!' I looked, and I saw Him, Jesus!"
"I don't know... over there." He gestured towards the sky.

He wandered off. He is six years old after all.

I think I'm going to have one of the interns that Si Mao Mao has admiration and love for talk to him. He could do a better job than I at explaining how one comes to have Jesus in his life, especially to a six year old Burmese boy.

Will you pray for Si Mao Mao? Pray that he will know that he is loved more than he can imagine, even though he may feel unloved by his mother and father. He is in first grade. He's so smart, able to speak Thai and Burmese fluently, and bits of English. He's a treasure, and I pray that he will know it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Welcome Wednesday

Wow I feel completely rested. I rolled over. Wonder what time it is. Where is my phone? For the past few nights I had been waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, unable to sleep, drenched in sweat. It is so hot here. Besides that, our next door neighbor is usually blaring an eclectic mix of tunes around 6:00 am. You never know what you’ll hear; it is Thai pop one minute and Brian Adams the next.

I stood up. Where was my phone? Why haven’t I invested in a clock? Found it. 9:30??? Shoot. One new text message from Ashlee: hey when you come today… Double shoot. I totally forgot about the drop in center. It opens at 9:00. My phone began to ring as I tried to reply. “Ashlee? Hey! I’m so sorry. I just woke up, okay I’m leaving now.”

Welcome Wednesday.

I was out the door in 3 minutes. “Don’t forget we’re meeting for lunch today.” My friend Steph shouted as I ran out the door, helmet in hand. “Oh! Thanks for reminding me.” I definitely would have forgotten. Why am I so scatterbrained?

I got to the drop in center ten minutes later, with a heartfelt apology and no good excuse for Ashlee. A few of the street kids had already arrived and were playing checkers. They are way too good at checkers. I’ve never won a game against them; slightly embarrassing considering I’m a high school graduate (plus an INSIGHT Alum) and they’ve never been to school. I’m pretty sure they cheat though.

We spent the morning coloring, making bubble wands, blowing bubbles, watching homemade videos, kicking the ball around, and then we closed up. We took three of the boys to pick up some bottles and cans that had been collected by a local Burmese Church. These kids spend the day digging through garbage to make enough money to bring home. These three boys in particular had recently begun supporting themselves, the rent, and four younger siblings. Their mom was just put in prison. They hopped on the back of our bikes, laughing. They were so excited to be riding on a motorbike.

(Hin Pai giving a quick haircut to one of the street kids)

At 12:30 I met a few friends at a restaurant for lunch then we went to Mae Tao Clinic, one of two hospitals in Mae Sot, this one specifically for Burmese. A friend of mine works there and was more than willing to show us around. It was amazing. There was a room for everything. Dentistry, counseling, maternity care, I don’t even know what all. One room that specifically stood out to me was the prosthetics area. We walked in to see 2 men sitting around a table, constructing fake limbs. One man had crutches and was slowly pacing the floor, testing his new leg. A few other men sat waiting for their limbs to be created. I looked at the wall behind me and saw a white board. The chart had the names, ages, cause of accident, and limb needed for forty people. Forty people in forty days would soon have 2 legs again. I scanned down the row titled “cause of accident” every single one was listed landmine.

Hundreds of people cross the border from Burma to visit the clinic. They come to vaccinate their babies, receive treatment for illness, have their limbs amputated. It’s really overwhelming to think about the numbers of people in Burma who have no medical care. I know that so many die from preventable illnesses. Visiting the clinic made me wish that I could help in some way, even if it’s just to finance.

I went back to the office. I had about 30 minutes before my next engagement. I lay on the floor reading a book on ministering cross culturally, then a book on the LAMP method. Times up.

I got back onto my motor bike and drove to the Compasio Safehouse. When I pulled up the kids were all asleep on the floor. I lay down between them and closed my eyes. I felt someone poke me and I looked around, all the kids were sleeping. I closed my eyes again. Poke. I reached behind me to tickle Saja. He laughed.

(Saja and Coffee Dog wheelbarrow)

I spent the next two hours coloring, braiding hair, dancing to music, pretending I was on a train bound for Chiang Mai, pretending I was being chased by the police, pretending I was in jail, playing soccer, rescuing the dog from the neighbors yard, resolving an argument (Jamila had stolen Chiada’s lipstick), drinking mango smoothies, having a tickle war, and playing in the mud pretending leaves were fish. “Twamino!” I shouted to the kids. “No! No! P Katie! Ten more minutes.” How could I say no to those little faces?

Here I am at home now. It’s 6:15. It’s been a long day. It feels like it’s been three days crammed into one. Not bad for waking up two hours late. As I sit here and process, I am really amazing by what I’ve seen, who I’ve talked to, what I’ve done. I feel so blessed to be here. I truly am blessed.

So there you have it, one day in my life. I try to constantly remember why I’m here, to remember that I am representing Jesus, I want to be a blessing to people I come in contact with. What does it mean for you to be a blessing? For me today it was playing and laughing with the street kids. It was having a smile and making eye contact with the people (complete strangers by the way) I saw at the clinic. It was hugging and loving the safehouse kids. What is it for you? Is it saying hello to someone who looks lonely? Is it buying lunch for the homeless guy on the corner? Is it sitting with your kid, talking and working on a coloring book together instead of watching TV?

I can’t ever redo this Wednesday. I like to think that Jesus really knew what He was talking about when He said “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow has enough trouble of its own.” So friends, maybe you’d like to join me in remembering to make each moment count, to show love to those around you, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus everywhere you go.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My Birthday is on June 14. I'll be a whopping 20. It's really strange to me that I am... old. I know! I know! It's not old, but it's old for someone who's been a teenager for the past 6 years. For my birthday, I'm asking that you pray for some things that are close to my heart. I would appreciate it, you would be spending time with God, your prayers have power, and it's free. What do you say???

  • pray for the Church in Burma- I've gotten to meet many Burmese pastors from Burma and Mae Sot and i see how devoted they are, even through difficult trails. Pray that they will be strengthened and empowered to spread the Gospel.
  • pray for the Compasio kids (Asha, Alias, Saja, Nokia, Chaida, Simila, Ali, Jamila, Baby, Ni Ni, Birdy, Yao Min, Se Mao Mao, and Y Y)- that they will remember and honor their identities as Burmese Muslims, yet be a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. Pray for their future lives as they grow and pray for Compasio as we make decisions which will affect their lives.
  • Please for for my spiritual life- sometimes I am very overwhelmed by injustice, and I forget that God is sovereign over all. Pray that I will let love guide my life and that I will place serving Jesus above all things.
  • Pray for me as I am nearing 6 months (halfway mark!) in Thailand. That the Spirit will guide me as I seek what is next in my life.
  • Pray for the Burmese government leaders- Burma is a broken country that is collapsing in on itself. Pray that there will be conviction and repentance among the leaders of Burma and that they will seek reconciliation with the people they have persecuted
  • pray for the Church in America- that Christ and his mission will be at the center of all that is done. Pray for a revival of the Spirit, that the people of God will feel convicted to act with love and compassion against injustice, whether it is in their lives, in their neighborhood, or on the other side of the world

That's it. Thank you.