I’ve been mulling this around for a few days, but the situation keeps changing, becoming more confusing and more complicated.
On Friday morning, we awoke to shouting outside. We made it outside to see one mother and her son taken away in the back of an army truck. We then looked around to see that they were the last bunch of around 140 people (of about 150) from our community that were arrested at 6am.
It was mostly women and children, with some men. Some of the men had left for the morning or went to run errands. The police have come in the past, often to arrest primarily men. When they were seen coming, some of the men went hide–thinking this was the best way to protect their families so they could continue to work–but returned to find their wives and kids arrested.
The ten or so remaining–because they had hid, been showering, or had papers–looked devastated.
We were devastated, too, and so confused. What were we supposed to do?
The kids who attend the migrant school down the road were released about five hours later with the help of the principal. They came back shaken up and with numbers on their arms. Most of the mothers and fathers weren’t released. Many were deported and then given passes to return, simply to pack up their things.
Our community is split into two pieces of land that meet at the corner of the street. One side, though arrested and deported, is now permitted to stay. The other half was told–by the army and then the deputy mayor–that they are required to be off the land in three days, at which point the army would return to burn down their homes. It was later negotiated to five days, giving them until Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on when you start the counting.
We can’t really explain all the details, the political drama, or the entirety of the situation, particularly on social media. We can say that all the questions running through your mind are most likely running through ours, as well. We’re asking a lot of questions and praying a lot of prayers.
We’re trying to determine how to help. Friday night we had a community dinner, since after a stressful day with no one able to work, most were struggling to buy food. We cooked together and tried to celebrate the friendship that brought such an odd group together. We discussed a few options we could collectively pursue. Stephen & I let them know that we love them, we are praying for them, and we are so, so sad.
The days have been really somber. Everyone seems to feel helpless and hopeless, ourselves included. We really aren’t sure how to help. We’ve pursued a few options with little success. We aren’t really even sure if this is a short-term, small-scale problem, or long-term change to Mae Sot that ultimately will affect thousands of people on the border.
While we have been trying to sort out the details of finding homes and moving families in our immediate community, we learned this morning that another missionary family living here in Mae Sot was in a car accident last night. The husband, wife, and 12-year-old daughter were all killed. The husband was in a bible study with Stephen and they had breakfast together once a week; they were a part of our home church. It was more heartbreaking news.
And we just really aren’t sure what to think.
We aren’t sure what God is up to. After such a long year, we were so excited about the doors opening ahead of us. We have been trying to give thanks for the little things: the community was all able to return, so we are able to say goodbyes. Some will move close, and we’ll still be able to see them regularly. We are able to love on them while we load up truck after truck. We have seen God work in some miraculous ways in the details.
But there are also so many questions unanswered. We are suddenly praying over some big questions and attempting to process things much bigger than ourselves.
Will you simply pray with us? Please, please pray for our community. Pray for them to have a place to live. Pray for safety. Pray for peace. Pray for the trauma of all that has occurred over the past couple days.
Pray for wisdom for Stephen & I. Please pray for us–our exhaustion, our confusion, our heartbreak, our questions.
I’m sure more stories and more thoughts and photos will continue to come. I just wanted to be sure I got out something—we need people praying with us. We really so desperately need people praying with us.