Thursday, June 28, 2007

They Call Me "Teacha"

"Teacha, follow me" said one of the several dozen shorn heads. And then as if they were afraid I wouldn't, six of them grabbed my arms and we headed down a very muddy path away from the Vocational School.

I was a little surprised the kids liked us after we gave them medical exams-something kids in the states can hardly stand; but these girls seemed to have recovered from whatever fright we must have given them.

After a few minutes, we got to an open patch of grass between the corn fields where some of the older boys were playing volleyball and some of the others were engaged in a game of almost-professional soccer with no boundaries.

Since my soccer skills are slightly less than "almost-professional" and because we couldn't all play soccer, we started another game. I won't desecrate the great American sport by calling what we did baseball...but it evolved from that idea.

We didn't have a bat or a ball with us at the time, so we used a long stick to hit a shorter stick. There were two bases, then home. The problem with "home" was that when the kids didn't want to get tagged out, they would take off running across the fields. At first we chased them, but we were no match for their little feet. Especially when we were trying to avoid piles of...uh...stuff.

Another big hit with the kids was playing with bouncy balls inside the school. We had more fun doing that then I've had in a long time...Throwing, catching, chasing, and climbing under furniture with 12 little boys ages 9-11 shouting to each other and rattling off instructions to each other in Karen and Karenni languages. I got more of a workout doing that then I would have had in a month at a gym.

I'm so grateful for the teachers that are investing time and energy in these kids. They are doing a great job caring for both the physical, spiritual, and educational needs of these precious little ones. It was an honor to be called "teacha," even if just for a day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Not just another day at the office

I spent the last two days at Freedom House Orphanage in Mae Sot, Thailand. I have been privileged to visit and get to know the children over the past three visits and each time they have become more dear and more precious to my heart.

Tuesday, we did medical check-ups on each of the kids. My job was to get each of the kids' height and weight. Even that can be a bit of a challenge with the language barrier, but they were great kids and generally caught on to the process without too much confusion. The thing that was perhaps the most difficult was asking them their age. Kids who said they were 13 less than a year ago now told us they were almost 16...What do you say to that? I am pretty much convinced that there is no 14 in Karen.

The girls had a blast painting their nails and making bead necklaces. We played some games with the boy; they can make incredible works of art with play-doh. Beware that they have their own creative rules for checkers; and if you try to play "Go Fish" with Karen children, all fish are "goldfish."

Wednesday we gave out medication to those who needed it and were able to spend more time jut interacting with the kids. Some of them are scheduled to come to the US in the near future and asked for my address and phone number so they can contact me in the states. One of them said she would learn English so she could call me.

My heart especially went out to one of the boys who is not on the resettlement list to come to the States. He said he wants to be a doctor. His opportunities are rather limited within the refuge camp, so I will be praying with him for a miracle. Although I don't believe they all need to come to the States, I would love for them all to be in a place where they can have jobs and support families.

I got to share my testimony with the children and I tried to share a little bit about my life in a way these children could relate. I know what it is to move alone and learn to find a new job, make new friends, and find a new church; but I really can't imagine what it is like to go to a new country as a child or a young teen where I don't speak the language. I tried to stress to them that the same God who is with me will be with them everywhere they go. When they are lonely, it is God alone who can satisfy them.

When we left the camp, the kids all escorted us out to the gate, holding umbrellas over our heads (or in our eyes, whatever the case may be). They stood forever at the gate waiving and blowing kisses. All of us girls were crying. I hate saying "goodbye," so I told them all "See you later" and I hope I will.

I can't wait to post pictures; I will put some up as soon as I get a chance. In the meantime, you can check out for some shots of our visit to Mae La refugee camp.