Saturday, December 22, 2012


 The snow is beginning to fall in Denver. I’m on Christmas break from school, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have had more time to spend in my neighborhood, getting to know the parents of the youth I connected with over the summer, eating Burmese food, and my latest task… teaching English.

They came into my life and swept me off my feet. From the first moment I saw them, I knew that I would come to love them. They are a brand new family, and I was part of the team that would help them acclimate to life in America. The family of four had been living in Malaysia since they had fled Burma in 2008. Their two boys are bright and outgoing.  When I met them on their first day in America, they had made friends with all the boys in their apartment building. It helps that the boys can speak close to perfect English. Their mother is quite and loving as she provides for her family. The father has a wide smile, an easy laugh, and a leg which as been broken for two years. He was injured in a factory accident, and never had his leg fully heal. He walks with pain and a noticeable limp. I’m worried for them. What will happen when the agency discontinues their monthly financial support and he is expected to find a job? This is where the English comes in.

Our team figured that if he could speak good English, he might be able to get an office job and avoid the factories where you are expected to work 10 hours on your feet. A few of us got together and made a plan to help him learn. Surprisingly, he knows a lot. He can read and write perfectly, he just needs some practice with pronunciation and sentence structure. It has become part of my morning schedule to arrive at their apartment and sit practicing words that I never found difficult until I saw it through the eyes of an ESL speaker.

Rice and Rise.
Right and Ride.
Bleed and Breed.
Bled and Bred…. AND Bread.
Some words that are so hard to pronounce include swear, swore, and swum. Something about those SW’s.

I have learned a lot about their precious family through these English lessons, and each day I grow to love and respect them more. I find that they are probably blessing me more than I bless them. When I sit in their apartment, I literally feel like there is nothing else in the world that matters as much. I want the boys to be happy and healthy, and I want the parents to feel comfortable and full of joy. I want so much for this family.

The other day I decided to stop by their house and surprise them with a Christmas tree. I wish you could have seen their faces as they knelt around the tiny tree, feeling the branches and smelling the fresh pine scent. They were so excited to have a real tree in their house! As they tried to pay me for the tree, I insisted that it was a gift. When I left, I thought to myself, “That is probably the best gift I will give or receive this year.”

tiny elf tree brings so much joy :)
My sweet family!

I am going home next week to visit my family and friends, but I have a feeling that each morning when I wake up I will feel a pang in my heart for my little family, and I will say a prayer for them, and eagerly await the time that I sit with them and talk about the difference between rice and rise.

Little Karen boy, Johnny, Ling Mo and Ling Hoan (left-right)

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