I have been going to Mae Tao Clinic lately. Mae Tao is a hospital that treats everyone, no matter if they're illegal, poor, whatever. They do what they can to help. There's a young girl there who I've become friends with. She is just completing her medical treatment after multiple surgeries in Chiang Mai and months of waiting at the clinic in between. She has become my younger sister. I often go to visit her. I'm welcomed into her house, which she shares with 20 other recovering patients. It is a long wooden room on stilts. Everyone has just enough space to sleep. We sit here, sharing food and talking. I've become friends with the people who sleep nearby her as well as some of the staff who work at the clinic. They are teaching me to read Burmese. When I leave Mae Tao after a full afternoon of talking and eating, I feel my heart overflowing with joy and I often thank God for giving me such awesome friendships in Mae Sot.
The other day I went to the safehouse to drop off some paychecks. There was a woman sitting on the front steps. As soon as she saw me her face broke into a huge smile and the tiny girl next to her grinned at me, squealing with joy.
"Tha min! Nay Kawn Lar?" (Hello My daughter! How are you?)
This is a woman who Compasio has been supporting, and I really love her. I'm sure she's not older than 50, but she's had many life experiences which have pushed her age. We often sit and talk, and she holds my hands as she cries and tells me about her life or how thankful she is that she can be with her tiny grand daughter.
On Christmas Eve we all gathered together, all our kids and staff, as well as the families of our kids who are living in the Burmese community. Someone had donated gifts for every child and I sat off to the side as they opened them. I was playing with one little boy who had come to the safehouse just the day before. I watched as the children eagerly ripped the paper off their packages and smiled at the treasure inside. This was beautiful, but what caught my eye was the picture of a young girl and her father slowly and carefully unwrapping a small gift together. Birdy's mother and father were recently released from prison and moved near the baby house to be near their daughter. I was surprised by their age the first time I saw them. They looked old enough to be her grandparents, and I later discovered that they could have been. He is a very quite, sad looking man. I had never seen him smile and I feel compassionate towards him. I wish I could be his friend. I was shocked to see that his usual somber, far away look was replaced with a smile and shining eyes. He sat with his daughter on the floor and they worked together to unwrap The Gift.
I imagined the kind of life this man had. He is Karen, one of the most despised minority groups in the eyes of the Burmese Government. What kind of childhood did he have? Was his father ever there to share something special as he was doing with his daughter now? Did he have a place to sleep at night, surrounded by people who loved him? I thought about these things and involuntarily my eyes filled with tears and I prayed that God would shower his life with joy and blessings. That his smile would come easier and soon replace the look of fear and sadness that his worn face had held for so long.
So Maybe that last one was kind of sad....
sweet Mae Sot life :)