It has been quite a month.
We really love living here, and we love this community. But I’ll be honest–and I have been here for years, so you know this already–we’re often in over our heads. And this has been true for nearly a decade now.
And then we adopted a toddler–who can run and shout and touch hot things!–but isn’t able to say much and is doing his best to grasp at English, Burmese, and remnants of Thai.
And so I’m looking through all the photos and realizing just how much there is to say: so many great things! And even I say them, I know they are each too amazing and too great to have waited this long!
But other things won out in priority–mostly keeping our little community center running and hiring eleven people, while keeping a toddler fed and rested and as minimally injured as possible.
First, baptisms! Our church celebrated three baptisms in the past month, including one of the teenagers in our community! He’s an English and guitar student, and his family attends our church regularly. So thankful to celebrate this with them!
Also we just generally love our church: baptisms by the reservoir, big hats and umbrellas.
Our church also hosted a three-day discipleship training, which Stephen and The Reinforcers managed sound and PowerPoint for.
This week after church they gave out free umbrellas for the children and students who are walking to school every day during rainy season. We love their intentionality in the community! We also love that umbrellas are legitimately something everyone gets excited about, kids and teenagers alike.
One of my best girls, Yaminoo, which many of you remember, now lives at the church with a few other young women. She still attends school with many of her friends in the community and she comes to our house after school and through the summer for English classes.
And, after she and I both waiting patently week after week, seeing Oak only on Sundays and Tuesdays, he decided he liked her. So while this photo isn’t all that amazing, it was a milestone. It felt like he just decided to like his big sister!
We are still doing Family Dinner, but we now host it once per month. We all gather around the colorful, delicious meals that Thida cooks up. Then we have a teacher come and attend a Life Skills class together.
Over the past few months, every Family Dinner has held a big announcement: in April we had just received Oak’s photo and shared it with them; in May we announced we’d be leaving the next week to pick him up! Then he joined us for June.
Our sweet sister Phway Phway also came with great news: she passed her Grade 10 matriculation! For those outside of Burma, this won’t mean much: but it’s incredible. Only about 1/3 of the population passes, and she received high marks. She’ll be able to attend university in December if she can determining a funding plan.
Her mom, Thida, was SO PROUD. We were all just beaming for her!
She returned from a year studying in Burma in March, shortly after we visited her. We have connected her and subsidized a position for her at a local organization–the same organization that provides our language classes and self-defense course; also our Life Skills class and previously our sewing training! There, she is working with other Christians, getting more comfortable in her English, and learning basic office and management skills.
She’s planning to work there until December, when she’s hoping to be off to university!
Sojourn Studio is still present in our home a few days a week, and the ladies are working hard on new designs.
They are just releasing three new stud designs, which will soon be available on Etsy under Sojourn Studio. Our neighbor ladies make great models!
Our Schoolhouse classes have been restructured now that there is a toddler to be looked after, but they are still happening! I am now teaching English on Tuesday, twice on Thursday, Friday, and then twice on Saturday. Stephen is still teaching guitar twice and cajon twice through the week, and recently started a coding class. One student is really doing well with coding and learning some great problem-solving skills.
Our house is still a playhouse five days a week in the afternoon!
This is Oak’s favorite friend. They are always up for a hug.
Her mom told us today that she asked about going to English class–Toddler Schoolhouse. Her daughter said she didn’t want to go this week, until she heard Oak was back from Bangkok and then decided to join! 😍
Sometimes, when family disputes happen, our house becomes a playhouse much later into the evening. Thankfully, we always have snacks and toys and, now, a playmate!
We’re also still celebrating community birthdays, sometimes with cake and sometimes with something extra special! The newest Reinforcer just turned fifteen this month, so we had a small party with his friends.
See how beautiful it is? Our church is growing and thriving. Our friends are producing beautiful work and accomplishing great things! Our neighbors are coming to play and rest. And now there’s always a toddler in the middle of it!