Things have just gone so fast in the community recently. We are nearing the end of a three-month summer…I don’t really know how to describe it, except to just say that our yard & house are the daycare plan, and it’s exhausting. There are so many kids around our house, all day and every day.
But they started school on Tuesday, and we are kind of excited about that.
We can now go outside in the morning and catch smiles and goodbyes, and then enjoy a semi-quiet day, with adults or just two or three children outside . Our evenings are then more community-centered, where we have the energy still left in us to play with the kids and talk with the adults.
The summer chaos and summer heat has been tiring, but we have had a lot of little things that have gone well.
Tea shop visits have been going so well recently. We have a small, constant group we take each week and get to talk with. It is so fun to see these relationships growing. A few weeks back, one of the girls’ zippers split on her side, and she was quite embarrassed. We came up with a quick solution and she wore my purse to sit right on top of the split. It was so cute to see everyone work together, to see the growth of relationships, and just to see trust grow. It amazes me how much time it takes to really know someone and call them friends, particularly with language limitations and challenges; it takes living life together. It takes week after week of little conversations, little memories, and getting to know their quirks and habits.
Two of the girls also came over last Friday to bake dozens of cookies for the team we met in Bangkok. It was fun to see them make themselves at home in the kitchen, and we are dreaming of ways to expand this..
This little guy, Lay Ta Oo, is still around and still absolutely adorable. He loves Stephen and really wants to be just like him—he tries to play instruments, to wear his hat, and really do anything he sees Stephen doing!
Zen Yaw is nearing two, and has really taken to us recently. He learned to say Stephen’s name since we got back from America, and it might be my favorite thing to hear. He loves to call our names and lights up just to have us respond. And since we can understand his level of Burmese, we have great little conversations.
He also heard Stephen practicing songs for church the other day and kept calling and calling his name. I took him in to listen, to which he tried to “la-la-la” along and clapped. It so fun to see him grow & learn.
On a semi-related note, Stephen was asked by someone at Burmese church on Sunday if they could come visit our orphanage. When Stephen looked confused, she said someone else told her we have an orphanage. This kind of made us laugh.
Last week, a young couple, Kyaw Htet & Nyein Nyein, came to bring us a gift. It is probably one of the sweetest gifts we have received from the community! Kyaw Htet works in construction, but mostly does windows and doors; he has actually fixed our windows and doors from child-destruction before! With broken pieces of windows he presumably found from work, he made me a vase!
They know I love flowers and buy them from Daw Ma Oo each Friday, so this was a really sweet, thoughtful gift. I’m not sure I can even explain how much it means to me! We really love this couple, and are really excited they’ll be welcoming their first little babe this winter.
We had our first Bingo night a few weekends ago, and it was such a success!
We hosted it with a small team in town to see how it went…we weren’t sure how much chaos there would be. We had the kids outside playing Bingo with basic English words and playing for snacks, pencils, erasers, and pencil sharpeners.We invited the adults inside the house to play with traditional Bingo cards, since this would not require literacy and was easy to translate into multiple languages since we know our numbers in English, Burmese, Karen, & Thai! It felt the most inclusive. We also had somewhat practical prizes mixed in: snacks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, laundry detergent, soap, baby powder, and dish soap.
They were so excited for the hygiene prizes! It was fun to see everyone get so excited and have fun together. We have a lot of difficulty getting men to participate in activities, but we had a mixed group, which we were so excited about. We hope this is the beginning of a very fun, participatory community activity!
And my last, perhaps weirdest little anecdote, is on hair color. The kids love to color. The love the princess coloring books and often color them to be Caucasian or light-skinned, with blonde or brown hair, even if it’s a generic princess (not Cinderella, for example, who they might be coloring as she is in the movie). It saddens me that they usually don’t color to fit their own beauty. One week during the sermon at church, I gave the kids coloring pages of a little girl praying. Each one color her hair black!
I was really excited, and I can’t even tell you why. Is it because they could actually see themselves as a little girl praying, rather than as an elaborate princess which feels too distant from their lives? Did all of my coloring girls with brown skin and black hair finally convince them that is beautiful? I have no idea, but it gave me great joy. I hope they can see themselves as beautiful, just as God made them!
And so that’s a wrap: it feels like the past couple weeks have really turned a corner into goodness and seeing growth in relationships. Praying that continues and blossoms!