Saturday, April 9, 2011


I hate it when the tears come at the wrong time, in the wrong place, in front of the wrong people. But god has given me what my mother has called a "sensitive spirit", and sometimes....tears are unstoppable.

I am required to attend a monthly para training at my school. Yesterday was one of such trainings. These trainings require a certain amount of "homework" each month, and this month was no exception. We were to bring a box of meaningful items/objects and prepare three stories about our life with a few different prompts, including, "my earliest memory". There are a few girls that I always sit with at these trainings, but much to my frustration, someone else asked me to join them at their table, and I felt I couldn't resist. Of course, even in these small things I think God is at work, as He uses the smallest of things sometimes to remind me of His purpose for me.

We were to split into groups of 4 to share our memorabalie boxes and our stories. I was with a good friend of mine close in age from Burma, and a Nepali man and a Burmese man. They told me to go first and I shared-some lighthearted objects, a funny story of a family vacation spent honking our car horn from the hotel window in the hopes to startle people.

***** shared her earliest memory. Her grandmother leaving the military base her family lived on (as her father was a commander in the Karen opposition army) to collect one of her cousins as her cousin's family members were missing (killed?) and she was living with friends. When her grandmother came home she told young *****, "this is your new sister".

****** shared being sent to a boarding school during his pre-teen years as he tended to be a slightly "naughty" boy. Upon returning home one year he discovered his country was in turmoil, and his families lives were in danger. They crossed the border to India, then ended up in a refugee camp in Nepal. He never returned to his school.

Then... ***** shared. He, for some reason, I have grown very fond of. He is not Karen, he is Burmen, and he has spent much of his life in a Burmese prison as he has actively protested against the Burmese government. Because of his imprisonment, and commitment to his cause, he has nothing for himself. No wife, no children, no possessions. He comes to the U.S. as an asylee, he will never be able to safely return to Burma. His story is as follows:

"When I was a little boy I spent everyday talking with my mother and baking. I was good at language and even at 3 years old was able to communicate everything to my mother. We spent the days talking about everything together and one day I told her I wanted an electric car. She told me she did not have enough money to buy me an electric car, but she would give me a piece of candy instead. I told her I didn't want candy, just the electric car. Every day I asked her to give me an electric car, and every day she told me there was no money. One day after I asked for the car, she told me if I kept asking her for the electric car she would hit me. I told her if she hit me I would run away from her. She said that if I ran away from her she would run after me. Then I told her that maybe I could run so far away, that no matter what, she wouldn't be able to follow me, she wouldn't be able to catch up with me, and most importantly she wouldn't be able to tell me what to do.

Now, I am a grown man, and I have finally run so far that my mother cannot find me, cannot catch up to me, and even though more than anything I want her to tell me what to do, she can't."

Let me tell you people, tears. I asked if his mother was still living in Burma, and he said she died two weeks ago. I mourn for my friend, and shed tears over the injustice of it all.

We were asked to respond to each story with the following prompt:

I wonder why....
And I wonder why God allows such hurting, such sorrow.

I wonder why I wasn't born in Burma and God didn't use me as an activist, and why **** wasn't born in the U.S. with memories of car horn pranks.

I wonder why I care so deeply about a conflict half-way across the world, that I am still barely learning to understand.

And I wonder how people DON'T care about a conflict that leaves people motherless, fatherless, torn up, jailed, beaten, abused, and displaced.

I just wonder about the ways of this world and cry because I don't understand and feel so bad for people who have had to experience suffering and sorrow to the millionth degree that I have.

And I wonder, if God has given me such a heart for these people and these places, why I am not in a place where I can live out my passion more adequately and fully.

And then I wonder, maybe that's why I'm at Place in the first place. And perhaps, despite how challenging it's been, that is why I should stay there.

1 comment:

  1. It's so neat that you have the opportunity to work with and around people from Burma (and all over the world) - kids too!

    I love hearing these stories.