We surprised Tata with two new badminton racquets yesterday.
She loved the ones we had, but we lost the birdie. She went and collected her own birdie from somewhere, but then our cheaply-purchased racquets broke.
We bought the new ones and presented them to her smiling face. She really loves to play badminton, even with her three-year-old nephew hanging on her leg.
We then watched a few games, played some cards with the younger girls, and said hellos all around. And then we finally sat down to a late, slightly-cooled dinner for a few minutes before little Mango Oo & his dad came over with a fever, Mu Sa Na had a nose bleed, and about six other kids needed bandaids to cover up their oozing school sores.
And then we finished dinner and shared funny stories about the crazy kids screaming behind us.
We ended with a question, one we ask fairly often: how did we get here?
Stephen has been having dreams about the community about once a week. We know all the little voices outside our door, and when they peek their little eyes through the screen I can tell who it is. The little boys that were all babies when we arrived grew into little toddlers that tell on each other and make us laugh each and every day.
When I think back to when we moved in, I don’t actually remember the community around the house. I just remember wanting so badly to make the right decision about where to live and praying for wisdom constantly.
Then I remember the early days of playing together and bringing a football out into the streets. I remember the day some hid behind our house when the police came.
It was somewhere around there that we decided we had an opportunity in our neighborhood, but we had no idea what that meant or what to do next.
And, really, there was no time in the past two years that we knew what the next step should be. We made attempts: the garden, Christmas gifts, a Christmas dinner, hospital visits, gifts for the newly delivered babies. But we never had a plan, per se, of how to best get to know the community. We simply took opportunities as they arose.
And even in our grandiose plan of loving them, we never would have guessed it would look like this.
I never would have guessed that I would value their way of life and their culture in the way I do. I never would have guessed that I would try to emulate them.
I never would have guessed that I would love them this deeply, or pray for them this naturally and sincerely. I never thought I would be in America aching for them the way I did.
I never thought I’d fear the fact that I likely won’t be able to keep in touch with all of them, as I struggle to remember that this is a time–just a moment in time where I can love them while they are in front of me. And someday, perhaps soon, they will be scattered around Burma and Thailand. And we will be scattered elsewhere as well.
And though Stephen doesn’t write on this blog much, I’ll say that I never thought it would look this way for him, either. I never thought I’d overhear ten children shouting at him with popularity, and see him laughing as he swings them around, holds them, and shows them true, healthy, pure love. I never thought I’d see his heart break for them the way they do.
We talked about Proverbs 16:9 promising that we plan our way, but the Lord determines our steps. I guess I planned to serve and help the community, but now we see them as dear, true friends. I didn’t plan to love them in this way, and hurt for them to this extent.
And ultimately, I suppose I never thought they would teach me so much about the love of Christ. I wouldn’t trade our experiences with this community for anything, even if they leave tomorrow and my heart breaks. They have genuinely taught me more Scripture, more faith, more hope, more joy, and more love than any number of books or sermons or pastors. They have put faces on truth in an extraordinary way.