It’s been one of those weeks when you start a blog with the phrase, “It’s been one of those weeks…” and it’s merely Tuesday.
I feel so small this week. I feel small in the grand scheme of Burma, as I try to write curriculum to teach a few courses on development. A few courses teaching an unspecified number of people, in hopes that huge concepts might be applied to small villages and make small changes in communities, government, and the economy.
This seems ridiculously ambitious for my twenty-four year old self.
And while I write this curriculum and make preparations for trainings in the office, I come home to a community of pain. A community I can’t truly help: I can’t provide papers or secure homes; I can’t provide enough food. I can’t heal the pain and suffering; I can’t even end it. The simplest concepts of gardening, playing games, and friendship often become so muddled in communication and cultural differences.
I’m not sure I have the words; nor am I sure that any words I’ll come up with are biblical or true. But I would probably say it this way: I have never been so sure of where I should be and so unsure of what the value of it is. I have never been so unsure that it is really, truly changing anything.
I suppose this week the things I can’t change seem prominent. The things I attempt to do each evening seem so inconsequential.
The kids drained me tonight. Not because they were disruptive or disobedient; they were just such a tangible picture of the reality that is our community.
There was a group gathered outside of about ten kids; the youngest was a little boy about two years old and the oldest his fifteen-year-old aunt who cares for him. The two year old cried every ten minutes or so, feeling left out and neglected by his aunt as she played with friends; and likely just tired as 8pm rolled by.
I gave them children’s vitamins and suckers; they asked for glasses of water. They started fighting each other and I heard screaming; I went out and explained they could fight in the street, but not at our house–our house was for playing and kindness. A drunk man came to sit on our bench and started bothering the girls. When we heard them shrieking and running around the yard, we couldn’t determine if it was a game or they felt threatened. Stephen went out to tell him to go home and go to sleep.
They played longer, and my sweet little friend, Yuh Meh Oo, came back and forth from the door to check on me inside. She had a sweater on her head like a veil and repeatedly modeled it, waiting for me to tell her how beautiful she was. They all seem to ache for affirmation.
Another drunk man came by, this time speaking slurred Karen to me–very difficult for a language learner–with very little awareness of personal space. At this point Stephen had run up to the office to grab a file off the computer, and I hurriedly told our visitor goodbye and shut the door.
The kids continued to play. While some ran off to go home, Yuh Meh Oo stayed around, per usual. She asked to watch Cinderella on the computer. I told her we couldn’t do that, but she could color on the iPad.
The ten kids quickly found their way back and each took their turn on the iPad, coloring a picture of a house or landscape. They each chose their own color and waited for a compliment on their masterpiece.
I wrote yesterday of our dinner on our doorstep, and of the ways we can see God’s faithfulness in placing in this neighborhood.
This is still true.
I’m no less thankful for all the things orchestrated to bring us here; I’m no less sure that it is right. But I do have more questions than I know what to do with.
I was crying tonight for our neighborhood; and I found myself whining, “I’m just a kid. Why do I have to know this?”
And then I thought of Yuh Meh Oo, and my tears became, “And she, she is truly just a kid. Why on earth does she have to know that?”