Wednesday, October 27, 2010

thanks


I've made a huge mistake.

I've gone through a lot of physical and emotional adjustments while living on the Thai-Burma border, and I've allowed myself to take credit for making it to this place of peace and overall fullness of life. Compasio's training program is entering the third and final month, and has included guest speakers from all over to talk with us about a range of topics. The focus this week is worship, and I'm reminded that it's not an hour of singing, but a lifestyle... an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. I don't want to pretend that I have held everything together anymore, or that I have the future under control, and I'd like to give credit where it is due.

First, I'm so thankful for the people in Minnesota, Idaho, California and Germany who have been a huge source of support and encouragement for me. Through emails, Skype, and even Facebook, I have been included in your lives when it could've been so easy to become disconnected. You have allowed me to process difficult things with you and to share meaningful experiences. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, for Compasio, and for the people at risk here.

My mom and dad are amazing...
and I love Skype dates with my nieces and nephew... they're getting so big!

I do not receive any pay from Compasio, and have been fully supported by family and friends to be here. I can't thank you enough for this. This was my greatest source of anxiety before coming here, but I have always had enough to support myself and enough to give. I have been able to feed the street kids on many occasions - and sometimes spoil them - and have not had to worry about whether or not I could afford it. Not that I have taken this for granted, but quite the contrary. Being dependent on others is very humbling, and is teaching me what it really means to be a good steward of the resources that are provided for me. As I continue to live and work here, I will continue to trust God to "give me my daily bread" through the generosity of others. I hope you all know how much your gift is appreciated, and what a large role you play in the good things that are happening here. Thank you.

A great afternoon of soccer with kids from the Muslim Community!
Ali is one of the street kids, and the highlight of any day I get to see him

I'm also in awe of the wonderful friendships I've been blessed with here. I have a few close friends that I can (and do) share everything with, and many more that make up the community of friends I "do life with" here. We can spend time having coffee, praying with each other, studying Thai, watching movies, crying, exploring, making music, laughing, and enjoying nature. We learn together how to take heart when we feel broken over all of the suffering and injustice we see, how to be independent but not hardened, and how to be family to each other when ours are on the other side of the world. For these people, I am so utterly grateful.



Last but absolutely not least, I am so thankful for my God who has been my Father, my love, and my best friend. I struggled a lot with loneliness in the beginning, and have at one time or another felt insecure, hurt, depressed, or violently ill. He has urged me on, saying, "Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me" (Song of Solomon 2.13). He has shown me that he has never taken his eyes off of me, that he loves me more deeply than I can comprehend, and that he is good. He is so good. He has invited me into a deeper relationship with himself, and through that has given me more abundant life than I would've thought to ask for.
Psalm 139 is pretty fantastic:

O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in - behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.

When I awake, I am still with you...
...Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Okay, so there you have it. Thanks to you all for being part of this adventure with me.

Love,
Steph

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

there's something about the baby house...

I was not in the mood for my "shift" at the Baby House. I was tired, had some important emails to respond to, and was concerned that a whole evening of taking care of the kids would wear me out too much. The Baby House is where kids who had been living in prison with their moms could receive a healthy home environment in which to grow and go to school. We also welcome in the moms when they are released, give them time to reunite with their child, and help them regain an independent lifestyle. All good stuff, yes, but like I said, I wasn’t in the mood for it.

Chat and Nee are the house parents, and they stuck around all night, even though it was their day off. I somehow forgot how I always feel like family when I’m there, and how warm they welcome me into their home. I spent about an hour watching the kids play together outside, and could see Saw Min Oo, the newest boy to the home, laughing hysterically as he was being chased by Simomo. After that, Bobo noticed my Thai dictionary and wanted to practice saying the characters of the alphabet. At four years old, I was impressed with her ambition. We sat there for an entire hour while she repeated the alphabet, learning from her mistakes and moving on to the vowels. As Chat walked by, she said (in Thai), “Look dad, I can read the alphabet!” He gave her a smile that warmed my soul, a thumbs up, and said, “Alright! Great job!” as enthusiastically as possible. He was so proud of her, and she knew it.

We broke for dinner, and I realized that the best was yet to come. After goofing around with the kids and making some videos (Nee and one of the kids’ mom’s got in on the action, too), Chat gathered the kids together for some worship time. Did I mention it was his day off? This was not something he had to do, nor was it something the kids had to do. They were so excited. They gathered in front of him, ready to sing and dance their little hearts out. In between each song, Chat asked them what they thought God was like and got these responses: good, kind, and “I feel happy around Him”.

He asked me if I had anything to say to the children, and I thought it would be neat to ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Bobo, who is usually very quiet, said she wanted to be a doctor without any hesitation. While the boys wanted to be pilots or truck drivers, Simala, a 14 year old girl who has already endured a lifetime of suffering, had the most thoughtful response. She said she’d like to work at the Baby House, to help Chat and Nee, and that she would like to work with people who have broken hearts. This kind of wisdom and heart is rare in anyone, let alone a young girl with plenty of her own pain. It’s beautiful to see God’s healing and restoration at work.

Chat told the kids that they all have dreams, and that they have futures where anything can happen. He told them that they can ask God for anything, and that God will help them. We prayed for the kids, for their futures, and for their precious little hearts.

I left because I felt like if I stayed any longer I would be keeping them up, and not because I wanted to or had to. I left feeling whole and alive, without a care in the world about the emails in my inbox. It was not a distraction or an obligation, but an absolute privilege to be welcomed into their lives, and to experience the community of family that takes place in this home.


video