“Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.” Psalm 4:2-3
As I prepared for my journey to Myanmar many friends asked “Why Myanmar?” I would inform them about the connection between Baptists and Myanmar, and then I would share about the amazing discoveries that are always available to us when our hearts and minds are open. Today was prove of such a day!
Our day started early with breakfast at 6:15 am at the hotel. Our group has figured out what is good for breakfast and it helps that in addition to the options that offer what we would eat for lunch or dinner in the states, there is also cold cereal and eggs cooked to order. It was humorous to try to explain to the young chef this morning that I wanted my eggs scrambled, a term that took some acting out for him to understand. I would note that the coffee is instant and does make one miss Folgers and of course Starbucks.
We boarded the bus at 7 am, I took a turn in the back of the bus which does provide some challenges to one’s comfort zone. The drive out to the country was beautiful, lots of flowers, water buffalo, goats, pigs and lots of chickens. When we arrived into the Bago Township, the village appeared to be very poor, lots of trash and very rustic housing. I felt like I was in a very desolate place. The road was very narrow and red clay prevailed. We made a wrong turn so backing up and turning around was harrowing. We eventually found our way to the Wai Lu Wun Monstic Education School in Kyauk Tan Village.
Laughter abounded when the first sign we saw posted on a tree was WIFI available with a password provided. We were offered coffee and cookies and then sat down in the outdoor dining hall. We met with the principal, Dr. Ashin Pyin Nyaw Bha Tha, a very genuine and thoughtful man. His mother was Burmese and his Father Indian. Dr. Bha Tha was educated in India and received a Ph.D in the Bali language. His father was a Hindu, Dr. Bha Tha had a strong interest in all Religions and chose to be a Buddist monk as he desired to always be a very kind person. He shared how much he appreciates all religions and gave the illustration of how beautiful a garden is as it has many different colored flowers. He believes the same is true for humanity as with our different religions we consist of a beautiful world.
The school has 345 students, many are from poor families who would not have an opportunity for education without the Wai Lu Wun Monastic Education school. We listened to the beautiful voices of the children sing their national song and then visited their classrooms. We also saw the free clinic which is open 2 days a week and toured the amazing retreat center that Dr. Bha Tha is creating. He and his staff were so helpful and gracious to us.
We then stopped for lunch and experienced our first marketing blitz with many mothers and children selling us postcards and goods, it was not an easy scene and very heart breaking. Our next stop was to be an orphanage; however we had some challenges along the way and didn’t quite make it. Plans don’t always unfold as created J
During our evening reflection time in Heather’s room, we considered what it means to be in Myanmar during the Lenten season, Tom said he was glad he didn’t give up rice for Lent which of course made me chuckle. On a more serious note I thought of how my pilgrim journey to Myanmar mirrors my Lenten journey as I take each step with faith that one can always be open to that which will change my heart and deepen my awareness of God’s Love and Grace. May it be so………