We had such a lovely day on Friday. It was full, and to be honest, it isn’t good when you aren’t sure when you wake up how you will fit in time for meals. But it was a day full of really lovely moments and memories.
We visited around to the different families and homes on Thursday afternoon to invite everyone to a community dinner on Friday. We explained that we were going back to America for a month, but that we would be coming back. And we also introduced the lovely Bex, a volunteer who is staying in our house while we are going and taking on our chaos.
These visits were sad. It was hard to tell people we were leaving; we could tell they were worried. They would ask: what do we do if it floods? Bex will be there, and she is happy to help, too. That’s why we’ve asked her to stay in our home. What if I need medicine? Bex will help with that! What if the police come again? Well, Bex will do the same thing we do–very little, but the best we can.
In that moment, I was so grateful that God provided Bex here, now, and looking for a way to plug into a local community. There is still fear: we don’t know who will be there when we come back and what changes will have happened. But we are trying to rest in the fact that we are doing what we feel God has told us to do, and we have to trust that He’ll fill in the blanks for us.
And while we wait, we give good hugs and throw huge dinners!
Friday morning Bex & I headed off to the market with two ladies, Thida–an amazing mom of seven–and Jee Miew, who is now helping me with Karen translation all the time since Mong Ey moved a bit further away.
It was a fun little adventure. I gave Jee Miew some money–about $90 to feed 150 or so people–and told them to go for it. They knew how many we were hoping to feed, and we requested both meat and vegetables. They gave back about $15, and we came home with piles of food, including 15 kilograms of raw chicken to stuff in our fridge until that afternoon.
The market is a pretty crazy place, and this was the first time I had driven through with a car. I usually take a motorbike or bicycle, and do my best to park somewhere nearby and walk. It’s just absolutely chaos with all the vendors oozing into the already narrow streets, with pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, motorbike taxis, tuk tuks, carts, and cars.
By the time we were leaving, I just wanted to get out of the over-crowded areas, so I told Jee Miew that I was just going to get away from the people and we might take a longer way home. I made a couple more turns until I knew where we were, but then noticed we were near Mae Tao, the primary clinic where I take everyone. I asked her in Karen if I could show Bex where that was, since she didn’t know yet.
Somewhere, though, I didn’t say all this. I headed towards Mae Tao and pointed it out to Bex from the road, and then turned around to head back to our house. Jee Miew and Thida were just rolling with laughter, leaving Bex & I confused.
I learned later that Jee Miew thought I had gotten confused trying to get away from the market, and somehow just started heading towards Mae Tao since that is where I usually drive our neighbors. She thought it was absolutely hilarious that I just got confused and drove to Mae Tao. And this is now our inside joke. When we get in the car together or when I would head off somewhere, she’d shout to me: Don’t get confused and just take them to Mae Tao!
I’m not sure I really understand the humor of it all, but I love that she laughs so hard and that we have a little joke between us!
When we got back from the market, I headed off to visit my Karen teacher and to see her three month old twins before we would be gone for a month. It started pouring as I headed out the door, so a number of women were gathered under our porch. One sweetly ran me out to the car with her umbrella, and I just smiled with joy. It was just a little reminder of how we help each other out and look out for each other, and somehow we all get by with that little help from friends!
They don’t usually use cutting boards, so they chop right into their fingers. This is terrifying for me, being the opposite of what I was taught, so I would use my thumb to slice. Either way, I was working with a butter knife and lacking a cutting board or counter, and they found it hilarious how horribly my onions came out!
The kids were a little crazy to wrangle for the four hours it took to prepare all the food. We started with games and toys, moved on to coloring, and then commenced with watching Cars on the iPad. I laid out a row of books and instructed everyone to stay behind the line, not to touch the iPad or speakers. I came in a few minutes later to find Pyi So sitting right in front of the line.
They enjoyed the movie, though, and it kept a fewer number of kids near the fire!
Bex was so great with the kids and so helpful. She was also great at taking everything in stride and will be perfect for fitting into the community while we’re gone! After we left Sunday at 10am, we got a text from her at 1:30pm saying, “…already had our first little medical emergency blood everywhere lol so been an eventful afternoon…”
Before dinner, Stephen headed up a small meeting with the adults to make sure everyone understood that we were going, but also that we were coming back! He introduced Bex again to everyone, and we gave out little cards with her photo, name in Burmese, and phone number. We also gave them a little calendar showing the dates we’d be traveling, with a little airplane on the day we’ll arrive back to Mae Sot.
At the bottom, we gave them a schedule for some activities we’re going to begin when we get back: we planned English classes three days a week, with once class for 0-4 year olds, one class for adults, and two classes each for 5-9 year olds and 10-14 year olds.
I am also going to start making trips to the market once a week, where I can take a couple women with me. Our hope is that we can encourage them to coordinate together and buy things in bulk to save money. It also gives me a regular outing with some of the women. And last, one morning a week we’ve invited over the moms & kids-too-young-for-school to play.
This was all explained into a schedule so they know when we’ll start when we get back and what to expect every week. They were so excited about the English classes coming to fruition, and overall just seemed to encouraged to see that we are not only coming back, but we are excited to come back. I think this helped all of us to look forward and feel like things will be okay, rather than be fearful of how they might change.
And then we crashed. We grabbed dinner out–which we always do after community dinners to sort of close the doors on the chaos and prevent our house from being flooded with “help” in the clean up process. And then we crashed, really thankful that God gave us such a good day and such good community around us.
We get by with a little help from our friends!