Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just the Beginning.

I lay on the cold tile floor. The inevitable tears forming in my eyes for the third or fourth time that day.
I can't do this.
No, you can. It will be okay. Everything will be fine.
I stood up and looked at myself in the mirror
You can do this.
"I can do this." I said to myself outloud.

I've never been one for giving myself pep talks, but this is something I've never been through before, so I think it was a good exception.

It has been looming. My departure. I knew it was coming, so you'd think that I would have been prepared, but I don't think that goodbye's can ever be anticipated to their fullest degree. Even I had been telling myself and everyone around me that I would be returning soon, there is always the element of the unknown. I literally cannot tell you what will take place over these next few months. So, as much as I would like to believe I'm going to return to Mae Sot in June, I don't know if it will really happen.

The day started with breakfast at Lucky teashop, a place where I had been building relationship all year, and where a lot of my language learning occurred. My friend Steph summed up the day with this,
"This is a bitter sweet day. Wait. No. There's nothing sweet about it."

I went home and finished packing my things, shoving many items into the dresser that would stay in Mae Sot, a security blanket for my safe and speedy return. I ended up having two suitcases, which were extremely heavy. I still have to sort through through and lighten the load as much as a I can before I get onto the plane.

I went to the office for our weekly staff lunch and had a really good time seeing everyone and eating together. It still had not hit me fully.

I went back to Lucky and was taken upstairs to my friend's one room home where she lives with her husband and newborn son. She had made my mohinka, one of my favorite Burmese dishes. We sat on the floor and ate together as the Indian Bollywood movie played in the background. I went back downstairs and sat with Sii and Saa, my beautiful friends who have taken me under their wing. I was so hesitant to leave, and we all had tears in our eyes every time I attempted to stand. We sat and talked, eating sweets together, until I knew I had to leave.

"You'll be back soon." They told me. And I silently nodded, because I can't stand to think that's not true.

I continued the afternoon running errands and making sure I had everything ready. At 5:30 I went to Hin Pai's house to eat dinner with the high school kids I had taught English this year. They had cooked a delicious meal, with many different kinds of curry and we sat talking long after we had finished.

When I stood to leave Hin Pai pulled me in to hug her, and she held me close, her tears wetting my hair. I started to cry, because this woman has become my sister. She had been with my since the start, patiently teaching me the Burmese alphabet and sympathizing with my shock to the culture. I've seen her blossom into a young mother with a beautiful daughter. I've seen her and her husband overcome trials in their faith and in their community. She is my hero. So it was difficult to say goodbye, and as she walked me to my motorbike a million memories rushed back of my daily visits to her home and our laughter and conversation.

Quick trips to the Safehouse and Babyhouse were next on the agenda, and the kids and staff prayed for me and my journey. They laughed and shouted and we played for a while before I had to go.
At the babyhouse, P Chat (the house dad) read me scripture from Joshua 1 to encourage me.

"Katie, no one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous…"

As I left, he pressed 20 bot into my hand, "For canomb (cookie or cracker) buy a snack at the bus station."

I returned home. My sisters were waiting for me. We were laughing, joking. They prayed for me and we began to cry. My sisters. We had slept next to each other, eaten together, spent so much time together over the past six months. They were like an extension of myself. They were the most difficult to say goodbye to.

At the bus station my friends were waiting for me. We had gotten there early and sat talking, laughing, joking until the bus began to back out. We all leapt up shouting for it to wait. I quickly said goodbye, hugging each friend close. This was it.

I'm sitting here now at the airport. Life continues on. People are passing by me, everyone going somewhere, saying goodbye and preparing to say hello. I feel excited. I feel scared. I feel sad for what I'm leaving behind. God works and He is near me, of this I am sure. He brought me to this country and blessed me with these deep and rich friendships. I know that I will have an amazing experience in America, as difficult as it will be, but when I return to Mae Sot, I will be welcomed back, hugged and kissed, and I will know that with each hello and goodbye you can be assured that it's not the end, because deep and true love has no ending.


I. Pham said...

Pretty hard to read, baby. Thanks for sharing. I love you.

Alyssa Robin said...


carrie d. said...

Ah, such flashbacks of my goodbyes to beautiful friends and family in Burma too. Amazing. Love hearing your heart! And I know how much it hurts.