The past few weeks have been heavy with prayer. I have been trying to write or to capture it in some way, but it has been slow coming.
We have been searching. We have been asking for so much wisdom, so much grace. We are learning our weaknesses, our limits, our failures. We are praying through fears and lies and frustrations.
“For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
I’m still fairly sure this blog won’t capture it and will definitely lack conclusion, but I can say that we have honestly been praying. We really want to be wise, despite our young age and limited experience, and we are praying for that wisdom. We want to be wise in our roles at Partners, with our time, with our friendships to those we can speak to, and our friendships with those we can’t.
As I’ve mentioned many times, our neighborhood is one of my favorite aspects of our life here. But it is draining. I am just on the beginning stage of formulating Karen in sentences, and the little family that knows Karen is so patient with us to come, speak simply and slowly, and try to befriend us, even when she has to repeat her kindergarten-level sentences. I’m burning to spend more time studying and practicing Karen; I’m burning to move on to study Burmese. I want to be more available to spend time with our sweet friends, rather than squeezed in hugs and conversations amidst life.
When Yuh Meh Oo broke her finger a few months back, we tried to take her to the hospital. The adults said it wasn’t a big deal; they couldn’t afford the expense of a hospital visit. Stephen & I decided their health was worth valuing, and we assured them we would try to help with medical expenses as needed.
This was scary. Will they take advantage? Things are cheap here, but even Tylenol for a group of fifty could get costly. Will they come for help with every ailment?
We took the risk. And as you know from previous blogs, we’ve spent plenty of time at the hospital. Sometimes the bills add up, particularly in 5-step rabies treatments. Even so, the community has been loving. They honestly have only come with emergency-level needs, where one man was convulsing excessively, the baby was burned with skin hanging off his chest, the woman couldn’t walk or move her lower half after a bicycle accident, and the older woman’s leg was throbbing in pain from an infected dog bite.
And we’ve done our best to help.
But we can’t always. Another man in the community has an advanced stage of lymphoma. He needs chemo. Here, it’s not all that expensive; each treatment is around $100. Even so, that is a higher expense than we have readily available. We have been praying, and we don’t feel like God has told us to pay for this one. We sought help; but just last week, he decided to return to Burma to die in his own homeland.
We did a health check at our neighborhood a few weeks back. It went wonderfully, and we loved bringing some basic help to the community in the midst of a variety of emergency-based situations. Kids were treated for school sores, lice, and infections. They were all de-wormed, and having had worms myself recently, I’m grateful they can be de-wormed, too. It’s not a fun experience.
We also discovered two families where the children were malnourished. One family had three children, and the other two. The children weren’t growing wider or taller, and they looked much younger than their age.
We prayed about what to do. We discussed it with some friends. We tried to consider the variety of angles and the different consequences of our potential approaches.
We decided to provide one bag of food each week to both families for eight weeks. We explained this up front, using Karen with the community leader; we couldn’t help always, but this would be a small help and start. Each week we bring by a bag of vegetables, and we alternate oil and eggs. We explained that the nurse said the children were too small for their age, and they needed to eat more vegetables, oil and eggs. We also mentioned that fish and meat were good options, but we wouldn’t be bringing those specifically.
They seemed grateful; they seemed to understand. I’m praying they see it as a blessing and not debasing.
And we’re on delivery four this weekend.
I try to choose vegetables they might not use as often, but are very nutrient-heavy. In this way, we hope it provides education as well, of the importance of vegetables and proteins, and which vegetables are vitamin-rich. We give pumpkin, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, gourds, and leafy greens. We alternate the eggs and oil so that it works out to about 100 baht per family per week, or $3. Over the two months, this is about $48. It seemed like a wise investment, and as of yet it seems to be received well.
As things change in Burma and these changes creep into Mae Sot, I fear for them. I fear for the coming crackdowns. I fear our time with them might be short, and there is so much I want to say and learn.
Ultimately, though, there are countless unknowns. Of how long we’ll be here, or they’ll be here; of how long we’ll work for Partners, where other ministry opportunities might open up, or when our time here is spent.
And thus, more prayers. One of my increasingly common prayers over the past year or two has been this: that we wouldn’t be here | work for Partners | live in Mae Sot | be absent from our families a day longer than we should be, and not a day less. And perhaps that being confident in this would make all the questions, disappointments, and missed family events a little more justified.