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Spreading Christmas

01/14/2011

This Christmas was definitely a unique one. After having a fun team Christmas Eve party and a fun morning at home opening presents with the girls, our entire team loaded up in our trucks and drove out to the university that sits 15 miles outside the city.

A few weeks earlier we had learned about hundreds of Burmese immigrants who were doing construction out at the university. Ryan and I went to meet them at one of the camps where some of them had been living for 3-4 years. The camp is right off the main entrance road, back in the trees. About 250 Burmese live there, including many families with small children. The camp is composed of makeshift houses built of plywood and tin. They share a common outside bath area and two outhouses. The majority of the workforce, including boys and girls as young as 13 years old, work around 12 hours a day.

While Ryan and I were out there, nurses from the nearby hospital came to give polio vaccinations to the children in the camp. Since we couldn’t talk to the Burmese (except for two of them that can speak some Thai), we talked to one of the nurses about how we could bless those living at the camp. Her first reply was that there was no system in place for garbage disposal, thus there was a large accumulation of trash all around the camp. She said that it was turning into a health hazard, but the university nor the construction company was doing anything about it. She also pointed out that there were now many young children in the camp but they did not have much to play with.

Our team took what we learned that day and decided to spend our Christmas afternoon trying to bless the people there. We started the week before by having the kids on our team pick out some of their toys that they wanted to give to the kids there. Then, our kids helped pick out some toys at the store to buy for them. We also bought some sports equipment (soccer balls, badminton racquets, etc.). When we arrived at the camp, it was mostly women and children because the men were still at work. We helped our kids give out toys to the young children. It was fairly humorous trying to give out presents without being able to communicate. It just meant lots of smiles and nods from all those involved.

We then tried to get some of the kids to play sports and games with us. A few were willing to throw the frisbee around and kick the soccer ball, but most of them were fairly hesitant, understandably so. It was still fun trying to engage the wonderful people out there.

One of the coolest things of the day was that Rampuey (she and her family have been joining us for various activities and coming regularly on Sundays), her daughter (Mai), son-in-law , and granddaughter (Naam Pban) joined us for the afternoon.

After an hour or two, our wives and children left in order to let the kids rest. Chris, Ryan, and I stayed around for a couple of hours to start picking up trash. We knew there was way too much for us to gather, but we wanted to make some type of effort. Our hope for the day was to focus on collecting glass and plastic bottles and then sell them at the recycling center. We would then take that money and buy some type of playground equipment for the children there.  We thought this might show the people at the camp that collecting the trash could actually help them financially. (Note: We found out that you don’t get that much for recycling. We filled up Chris’ truck and only got about $3. It will take a few more days of picking up bottles to get enough for a slide. Oh well. Better than nothing.)

We were definitely worn out after our time there, but it was such a blessing. I am sure the people there were slightly perplexed as to why we were there. But, we tried to explain to the woman who spoke some Thai that we wanted to bless others on Christmas because, through the birth of Jesus Christ, God has blessed us so richly. Ultimately, we know that one afternoon did not change the situation for the Burmese workers. However, our hope is that we blessed them in some way, and we look forward to regular opportunities to visit and serve the beautiful people there. It was definitely a Merry Christmas!

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3 comments

  1. i WANT TO BE THERE!!!!!!!


  2. I love the fact that you’re smiling and nodding at the Burmese people who don’t understand you–sounds like my life! We have so many funny conversations with our refugee friends. One of them told me the other day that she’s having her first grandbaby (either that or she already had one years ago–or she’s pregnant, which would be crazy in her late 40s). I can’t wait to see where these relationships lead!

    Jess


  3. I love reading all these stories of your being Jesus constantly…We pray for you and know God is richly blessing the Thai people and all those you touch…
    Keep those good ideas flowing for ways to bless…You are being led and you are so loved by us here!!! Give Meg and Brynn hugs for us….We love you!!!



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