Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can’t see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give
Look beyond ourselves
There’s so much sorrow
It’s way too late to say
I’ll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
It’s so long overdue
Even with our differences
There is a place we’re all connected
Each of us can find each other’s light
So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see
It’s up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There’s so much to be thankful for
(Josh Groban, Thankful)
Sometimes it just seems fitting to write a list of thanks.
I’m thankful for the neighbor kids that fill our house with laughter and smiles. I’m mostly thankful for the odd gifts they bring us, such as a crown that attaches with rubber bands around your ears.
I’m really thankful for how well English classes have gone. We are up to nearly sixty regular attenders! I’m actually kind of hoping that number stops growing.
We have about ten kids learning their letters and numbers, all under six, that make up the Yellow Team; they meet once a week. We have about twenty kids learning a basic English vocabulary between the ages of 6 and 12 that make up the Red Team. They meet Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour. We have another twenty kids between 12 and 16 that come twice a week–the Blue Team. And then we have about ten adults that come once a week on Thursdays; they are the Green Team. We have little velcro signs outside the door to keep us all sorted with what day of the week it is and what classes are meeting at what time.
Despite the numbers getting a little ambitious in the kids’ classes, they have all gone really well. They are excited learners that come pretty consistently. I’m just really thankful it is going well and its just another way to connect with the community.
I’m really thankful for our Sunday morning trips to the tea shop. There are about five of us, give or take a few. Chit Mhwe is 13 (and on the left above), and she helps to cook the food every day for Aung Moo, and thus she purchases food for him each week at the market. Nyein Nyein is 19 (and on the right), and her boyfriend is Kyaw Htet, about 20. The five of us go to get tea and breakfast at a local tea shop. We attempt to chat in broken English and broken Burmese and broken cultural norms, and then we wander through the market to get some items for the week.
I’m really thankful that we have time to spend like this.
I’m really thankful for my favorite little sewing shop. I have been finding fun fabric and dreaming up simple projects recently, and she is just stellar. Sometimes she does add a little odd flair, but I just love how warm and friendly she & her husband are. I love their kindness. I love her flexibility to make whatever I dream up, even if she doesn’t understand it at all!
I’m really thankful for Faith Baptist, the Burmese church we have started going to. I’m thankful for their unity, as the room is filled with a variety of ethnic groups from Burma–Karen, Burmese, Naga, Kachin, Karenni, and more–and then a few of us foreigners. We started attending this church because of their faithful influence in the community–they come each and every Saturday to pick up the children and take them to a program in the afternoon. I am so thankful for this ministry they have in our community. It is on the prayer list each and every Sunday, to pray for the children that come on Saturday. Those are our children, and I’m so thankful for every Saturday, every prayer, and every Bible story told.
Thanks to a gift from a friend, we brought back four little Bible story board books. Using just the pictures, the kids know the stories from church, and will “read” the books to the younger kids. They will act out Bible stories for us, which is just beautiful. I am so thankful for Faith Baptist for this, and how much it enables us to share our faith–sometimes without words!
We haven’t attended a Burmese church until this year, and it has just come into our lives at just the right time. While it does make for a long Sunday with Burmese church and our expat home church, it completes a circle in our community. It makes me feel connected to the Burmese community on the whole.
They also serve lunch each week after service. Since this is after our Sunday morning tea shop visits, it is a lot of Burmese food. However, it reminds me of our fellowship lunches at EBC, the church I grew up in. Somehow the rice and curry tastes a lot like a ham sandwich and off-brand Oreos served on a paper plate. It is odd that somehow a Sunday service in another language and a meal of curry can make me feel connected to the Burmese community here and my family and roots at the same time, but it does. And I’m thankful for it all!
Our first week to Faith Baptist, and in the first few minutes, a little girl came up to us and hugged us. When asked how she knew us, she said she had been to our house for a meal, which didn’t surprise us. Since then, she is one of the few kiddos who likes us and waves each week. The rest are little scared, which is really odd, honestly. We’re kind of the heroes among the kids at our house, and it feels odd to be feared. I’m getting over that and hoping that someday we’ll be friends.
Until then, this little guy has become the exception. He still doesn’t like me and runs away even if I speak Burmese to him, but he loves Stephen. He’ll bring toys to Stephen through the entire service, until the end when Stephen has a little pile in his lap. He will hang onto his leg and smile up at him like Stephen is amazing. It’s pretty adorable, and I’m thankful for him, too.
I’m thankful for the skies over Mae Sot. They are absolutely beautiful. The clouds this week have been breathtaking all day long. The sky is bright blue with stark white, cottony cumulus clouds. The evenings have brought stunning sunsets and still more lovely clouds.
I’m thankful for our bicycles. Since we bought a motorbike when we arrived, our bicycles have never really been our main form of transport, but always just for fun. I love this. We usually go out at least once a week for a bicycle ride into the paths and roads around Mae Sot, sometimes as little as 10 km and sometimes more like 50 km, and I love it every time. I always forget water, but there is always a little shop with a sweet little lady happy to sell us some. I am always exhausted in the very best way. I always love seeing the lives of Burmese spread out into all the little crevices of our town. I love the evening markets. I love the families on bicycles or motorbike carts, where the dad proudly drives his wife and children home for the day. I’m really thankful for our bicycles and even more thankful for a husband who loves to ride alongside me week after week.
I’m really thankful for all I’ve learned medically since we arrived here. Don’t get me wrong–I am not useful for much and have absolutely no official training. However, I have learned a great deal on how to stop bleeding, how to change bandages, how to look for respiratory infections, how to maneuver a Thai hospital and ER, how to maneuver a Burmese hospital, how to treat worms, how to identify and prevent spreading school sores, and ultimately how to prevent fainting.
These have all become really helpful skills, and really, they bring us closer to this community constantly. There is something very unifying about tragedy. When a mother is scared for her child, when a man is in horrible pain, when a child is scared–being a form of help, comfort, and assurance can add irreversible strength to a friendship, even to a point that I am truly thankful for even the most gruesome events we’ve been a part of.
This week, it was little five-year-old Myant, who was riding on the back of a bicycle and got his foot caught in the spokes. His entire ankle was shredded, and he and I made a trip to the clinic. I received the most stares yet–which is saying a whole lot–as I trekked through the local clinic with a little Burmese boy clutched to me inseparably. I am now changing his bandage every day when he runs into the house, finds his two pillows to spread on the floor, and then lays on his stomach for me to wrap the bandage. It’s really amazing how an injury can make you best friends.
I really thankful for our supporters that give to us month after month and year after year. We lost one significant supporter–a church–in our switch over to Every Nation recently. In God’s goodness, we have had a number of supporters increase their giving, as well as one new supporter, that have covered this gap–the gap of an entire church!
It is amazing to me to see God provide for us, even when we are horrible at asking and raising and doing this whole support thing. It amazing to see God speak to people and lead them, to see them follow so generously and make it possible for us to teach English classes, go to tea shops, make flower deliveries, and trek to the hospital with Burmese kiddos in tow. And even make it possible for us to enjoy a coffee at the local shop and get a bicycle to go for a ride.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but it can also just be said. I’m really thankful for Stephen. He is so vital to keeping us afloat here–keeping me afloat namely–and I just can’t believe how good God is to send him my way and send us here. He makes me smile and laugh and have fun. He makes me more kind and more gracious and more loving. He makes me stronger and more determined. I could make a list of little things to be thankful for all day, and he would probably somehow be a part of them in some way or another!