Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Truth about the Ways

(if you were to ask me)

I know everything there is to know about the conflict in Burma.

I know everything there is to know about the history of my friends, the Ways.

I have learned to understand all the feelings that those friends of mine could possibly feel, and have shared their suffering with them.

They are our best friends and we know them (and connect with them) in a deep and profound way.

But sometimes:
(if you were to watch)

20 minutes can go by without a word being spoken.

I, or one of them, might attempt to communicate a thought, a plan, a feeling, or an idea, and then give up mid-sentence as we realize that the concept is too hard to explain. My Karen, or their English just isn't up to it.

Silence is easier than talking...cause talking can be exhausting.

And here, really, is the truth:

I love and connect with my friend the Ways in a deep and profound way. And sometimes, silence IS easier, because their vocabulary is just so limited. And I have mourned and mourned over all the things we cannot discuss because we don't have the words. And I have mourned and mourned and mourned over all the feelings they cannot express because their adjectives consist of "good" and "no good".

For months now, Maung Way has been telling us his job is "no good" and that his hand is "no good". He works at a meat packing plant in Greeley. They move over 2,000 cows through their plant on a daily basis. He cuts the same piece of meat every day. If you can imagine lifting your right arm into the air and slicing with a diagonal motion...well that's what he does. For eight hours a day, usually 6 days a week. And that is what he has done for the last 2 and a half years.

Last week he informed us that he has taken a leave from his job, in the hopes of finding a new job. He can simply no longer continue performing this job as he is in constant pain (did I mention he uses his crippled arm, he was shot in the hand at one point during his time in the Karen Liberation Army).

When he told us he had quit I was shocked, and worried. He has enough money to live off of for 3 months. But it got me thinking...he wasn't shocked by this decision, he has known for months that he simply cannot continue on in this way. He has known that he had to change jobs, he has even been asking us to help him find a new job. And had I known what he was TRULY trying to communicate to us, I probably would have looked a littler harder for a job for him. I probably would have been a bit more sympathetic when he told me about his arm while rubbing oils on it.

If only I listened more carefully. Listened and watched beyond the few words we can exchange. Because, people, you better believe that their hearts and ours are knitted together with the deepest of love and the most precious of affection. We are just limited, and the limitation is so discouraging. But I know that we have touched their lifes in an inexpressible way, and that God has used us to bring hope, and peace, and a clearer picture of His love for them. And I am here to confess that God has used them in the same way for me and Mark.

So ya, sometimes there are awkward moments. And alot of times there is alot that isn't said, that can't be said. But by God's grace, my mind will keep working during those silences, and my heart will hear the words that are unable to be expressed. And one day, whether it's on this earth or in Heaven, we will sit down and talk for days...reminisce of days gone by, laugh about some of the stupid things I've done, and we will hear all about their hopes and dreams and feelings and past.

1 comment:

  1. Your relationship with the Ways-this is one of my favorite things about you and Mark. One of the things that makes me most proud of you and most inspired by you.