Doi and Li, our Burmese foster daughters, were so exhausted after their arrival. The trip to America meant leaving all that they had previously known. Months earlier, both girls courageously escaped from Burma under extremely dangerous circumstances. One lay at the bottom of a boat as a guide secretly crossed the river at night to freedom. The other was separated from her sister and stuffed into the trunk of a taxi where she lay for hours in the dark, alone and afraid.
No, I’m not making this up. They had been traumatized. While in Burma, one was beaten in a prison, the other kidnapped by Burmese militia and forced to carry weapons as a child.
The next afternoon, after we all talked with their foster care caseworker (who thankfully was a Burmese American and could translate for all of us!), we looked at the task at hand–English. I posted signs on doorways and appliances on 3 x 5 cards:
We sat together at the dining room table with a large bowl of fruit and an entire place setting. I taped 3 x 5 cards onto each item:
I was so glad that they understood phonetic sounds for most of our letters!
Class over, we relaxed and I showed them books. One of the first things we did was enroll them into a summer ESL school. After that, I found a child’s dictionary that contained pictures of words with spelling beside each picture. Li poured over her dictionary, quite the student! Doi was much more interested in the garden.
I took Doi to Lowe’s to look at the end of spring flowers and vegetables. She walked right passed every green plant and went straight to the cilantro, rosemary, garlic, parsley, and onions. We bought some of all the herbs she wanted. Later on, I found out that girl knew what to DO with all those herbs! She was quite the cook!
You can imagine my surprise when, during her first year away from home, she sent me a check for $100 in November. “Mom, buy big Thanksgiving meal.” Wow! Maybe she missed my cooking, too?
Scott and I got involved in fostering children from overseas because we both have a great HOPE that one day the starving, orphaned children of North Korea may also be free. And when they are freed, we wanted to be here waiting, fully understanding the foster care system provided by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) coupled with the LIRS (Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service). We learned a ton–but I won’t get into all that now.
I will say that the 4th of July holiday was coming within a week after the girls’ arrival. I wasn’t sure I could communicate clearly what the holiday was about, but I was determined to try. I pulled one of children’s history books off the homeschool shelf and opened it. Li had her English to Burmese dictionary in hand and looked up a few of the words within the quotes to fully comprehend the meaning.
I shivered. Straight from the mouth of a fifteen year old who knew what it was to live without freedom. I believe that this first small history lesson confirmed for Li that she had made the right decision to leave her country and come to America.
Today, Doi and Li’s Burmese Christian family are suffering more than ever. I hope that Doi’s next text message will help us comprehend her plea for help and each of us will hear Holy Spirit’s voice telling us how and what to pray.
After Doi sent me the message about the two volunteer Christian teachers who were martyred in 2014, she texted another report:
“Yesterday the Burmese Army burned four young men. I don’t want to include a picture to you this time because this is very bad. We suffer so much. Kachin, Chin, and Karen–we all need to be one team now. Bad spirits are destroying our religion and peoples. I announced to all our neighbors and churches to help us to pray, too.
February 7th, on Saturday, we’ll all meeting together with our country’s people and we’ll pray for this situation. We can only pray . . . because our living God is greater than any others. I just believe in God.”
My friends, what will we do if our nation suddenly turns to martial law to restore order in a time of invasion or unrest? How will we know what to do unless we hold hands now with our Christian family that lives under a military government that persecutes Christians? No guilt. Just alarm bells. We really DO need to KNOW our GOD. Please, get to the prayer closet. If not for Burma, than for yourself and your family and your nation. Remember Daniel’s prophetic word from heaven:
“The people who KNOW their GOD shall be strong, and do great exploits (Daniel 11:32).”
And now, one more touch point of prayer for Burma: