In 2006, I came to Thailand on a short-term missions trip.
I have a love-hate relationship with short-term missions, but my whole life is a product of one.
During this trip, part of our team took a day trip to Mae La refugee camp to visit a home of Partners. Kris Allen was among the group and gave away his Takamine guitar to the family that ran the home. And I met Luke.
Luke was an elderly man living in the camp. He told us stories of his life in Burma and how he wanted to go home. He told us that he couldn’t see any longer, and was unable to read his Bible, but he could pray. He prayed for America at five specific times of the day.
I, on the other hand, did not know Burma was a country, nor that they had been at war for sixty years with over 100,000 refugees and over 100,000 internally displaced people.
And Luke, he changed my life, really.
That’s where it all started, and turned into raising funds for Partners’ work in Burma; changing my university major to political science and writing every research paper on some aspect of Burma; starting a weekly prayer group to pray for Burma; doing an internship with Partners; Stephen & I both falling in love with the people of Burma; working with refugees in Tennessee, then Oklahoma; working for The Spero Project; learning Karen and eventually moving to the spectacular town of Mae Sot. God used Luke to shape my entire world as of 2013.
It was sometime last year that we were in Mae La for a Partners’ event and saw Kris Allen’s guitar on stage. It all came flooding back–this is where I’d been, these are the people I’d met; this is where so much of my life changed. I asked about Luke that day, but he was home and sick.
Since then, Stephen has pushed me to try to go back and see him, and to tell him the influence he had on my life and Burma.
Kerrine, who works with us at Partners and coordinates all of the children’s homes, worked out all the details for us to meet Luke on Tuesday.
I’m not sure I could express it all to him; and at 81, I’m not sure he grasped all that we were saying or how thankful I was. But it was such a good day. It was such a beautiful reminder of God’s big plans, and how little of them we can grasp from where we stand.
We also had a chance to visit each of the six dorms the kids were in, letting them ask questions and learning a little bit of their lives. We were so thankful for the opportunity to visit, especially with Gena & Karen there to join us!