I am sorry for not updating in a while. In the last few months, we have seen many of the refugees move to other states. So now, we have just a handful of the refugees that we were working with left, and they are scattered all over. We haven't had any lessons in a couple of months, but that does not mean we haven't been busy. First, I have been really busy with my business. The last few months of the year are always the busiest time of year for me. Secondly, school has started again for our household. That is not to say that we haven't done anything with the refugees. We have turned into a "paper pusher". What I mean by that, is that Sarah has had to answer many of their questions about Medicaid, food stamps, or billing issues with the power company, phone services, and others. We have not forgotten them, but it is easier to just move on, when their seem to be so few that we work with. I wish I would've kept up with the blog, but it seemed the people that were really interested already know everything. As the year comes to an end, we might be seeing an end with our work with the refugees. Not permanently, but going every week, and teaching, that is probably over.
I know I haven't updated in a while, and I apologize. In the last couple of weeks, we have been distributing items that have been given to us for the refugees. My wife's parents knew some people that were having a joined garage sale. My mother-in-law went to the garage sale to buy some things for the refugees, and told her friends what she was buying the stuff for. The people at the garage sale told her that whatever they didn't sell she could have to give to the refugees. Needless to say, we got a lot of stuff. We sorted through the clothes, and tried to figure who would benefit from what. That was not easy, seeing they all have great needs. So, we have been slowly passing out all the stuff, and of course they are very grateful of all the gifts. Thank you to those that gave, and if you have things you need to get rid of, think of the refugees. You can contact us through e-mail if you want to give them something. Other than that, we are continuing to try to teach them to read. The one problem is that they are starting to understand how to read, but have no idea what the word is. One step at a time.
Today is our Independence day. Most of us take great pride in our country, and the "freedoms" that we have. But, imagine for a second, growing up in a land where they tell you how to believe, or even think. Then to live in constant fear that the government will lock you up, or even worse, kill you, because of those beliefs. For most of the refugees, it truly is Independence Day. That does not mean their lives are any easier, and it doesn't mean they don't have anymore fears. In some ways, in fact, they might have more. Being uprooted from everything they know to go to a land that seems 100 years more advanced and not being able to communicate are very frightening things. They don't have many things explained to them but then get in trouble with no understanding of what they did or why it was wrong. They may not be afraid for their lives anymore, but now they are forgotten. We, as Americans, look down on these "foreigners" because they can't speak our language, and they are living off the government. We say things like, "Why don't they go back to where they belong?", or "If they are going to be here, why don't they learn our language?". That is why they are forgotten. We bring them over here, and help them for about six months, and then tell them they are on their own. They are fearful of being taken advantage of, and losing the little that they have. So, instead of complaining about how bad it is here, and all the "freedoms" we are losing, think about others. Life is more enjoyable when you think of others, and not just yourself. You may not be happy with the direction of the government, but I can still worship God freely. I can witness to someone without being put in jail. I have the ability to change my job, and better myself in whatever way I believe that to be. We really don't have it that badly here in America. If you don't like it, then move. Go to Burma, Bhutan, Malaysia, or Indonesia and see how good it is over there. I realize that some of you are thinking that, if we continue in this direction then we will end up just like those countries. I say that if the body of Christ acts like it is supposed to, then that would not happen And no, I'm not talking about through political means. If we take time and serve others, we will make a difference. But, our attitudes need to change. Enough of all this "doom and gloom" and complaining. It does nothing but promote fear. The refugees are glad to be here, and some of my friends are afraid to be here, go figure. I guess it is a matter of perspective, and mine is through the lens of Christ.
This past week was more of a field trip week than anything else. One of the Bhutanese wasn't able to go to the zoo the last time we went, and since he was leaving for Pennsylvania soon, we decided to take them again. On Wednesday, Sarah took a group of nine to the zoo again. The zoo seems to be our default place to go. Then, on Friday, the same guy said he wanted to come to our house. This past Monday we brought over a number of the Bhutanese to our house. We walked around our property, and showed them different trees, plants, and animals that we have. When we came inside, we got out a world map, and showed them Nepal and Bhutan. They started asking about different places. One of the guys, could read a little Nepali, so I got out some "Good and Evil" books in Nepali. They also said that their children could read Nepali. We gave them a box of the "Good and Evil" in Nepali that we still had. They were going to go back to their apartment and pass them out. Sarah has been with the Burmese group, and the conditions that these people live in are horrible. We know of a family that sleeps in one bed, kids and all. That bed is a double bed, not a king size bed. A church wanted to give them a king size bed, but, due to miscommunication, gave the bed to a newly married couple instead. The newly married couple can speak English fairly well, and the other family not so much. That is the problem. We, as Americans, feel more comfortable around those that speak our language, and we really don't want to know how others really live. All it took was a few minutes in their apartment to realize who needed the bed more. I'm not judging the church or the people who gave, but it is just one of those unfortunate things that happens in America. It is easier to bring them to a nice clean building and do something with them there than it is to go to them and see the leaky roof, moldy carpet, air conditioning not working, leaky pipes, rotting floors and walls, and so on.
It was a very slow week. I wasn't feeling well, so I was unable to go a couple of the days. Sarah tried to pull double duty on some of the days. On Friday, Sarah brought a Burmese family over to our house to teach her how to make bread. She had never made bread before, and wanted to learn. She can't read English very well, so I hope she remembers everything she was taught. We had a couple of new Burmese want to come to our classes, but they are a little more advanced than the classes we are teaching. We don't know how long we are going to be doing this outreach. We have been doing this for 6 months, and are not sure just how long we plan on continuing. So pray for us in this matter. We spend a lot of time and energy on this outreach, and we don't really make anything on it. We are also not spending as much time with our children, even though they are there with us. Our plans to have churches, or people "adopt" the refugees, hasn't worked, so at some point we have to consider our effectiveness in what we are doing. Please keep those things in mind, and prayer.
They really liked the elephants
This week we went to the apartments on Tuesday and Thursday. Because we only went over the two days, and one of the families was moving soon, we decided to take the Bhutanese to the zoo on Wednesday. They all had a very good time. We are still reviewing a lot of words, and slowly introducing new ones. They are starting to be able to communicate with us a little. It is very broken, but we can understand what they are trying to say half the time now. Over at the Burmese apartments, There has been a few new families, so we might be able to revive one of the classes. At the other apartment complex, it seems that most of the refugees are moving there. Most of the people we started with, are now living at this other complex. Bethany reported to us how her class with the Burmese was going (she has the one that might be able to revive), and she told us that she has had a few new people. One of them is a Buddhist, so some of the other Burmese, and Bethany, were going through the "Good and Evil" books with them. They told Bethany that they really want this person to be a Christian. Hopefully that will come to pass. Keep praying for them to understand the gospel, and that we can effectively present it to them.
I have cut down the number of posts, just because I don't want to keep saying the same things over and over. So, after a week or so, there usually is something to talk about. This past week, we met a few new families from Burma that just came over about a week ago. We were able to give them a "Good and Evil" book, and talk to them a little. Some of them can speak a little English, and some, well, not so much. We also got our back side window broken on our van at the apartments. People already are a little worried about going to the apartments, so I wouldn't normally tell people this, but at this point, if you are helping, you don't care about that stuff. Anyway, it must have been the most expensive piece of glass on the van, because it was $400 to replace it.
There have been a lot of moving around lately among the refugees. They are starting to scatter, which makes it difficult for us to see them all at once. But, none more difficult than when you move to Pennsylvania. One of the Bhutan families is moving to join one of their sons in Pennsylvania. We are not sure when they are leaving. It took us about ten minutes before we quit trying to figure out what day they are leaving. We know it is in June, and the best we could understand is that they are leaving the 1st of June. The one problem with the refugees here in Louisiana, is that there aren't many of them. It is very difficult for them to join our culture to begin with, and there really isn't a community of their own to help. So the temptation for them, is to find area with a community of people like them, and why not. The Bhutanese have about 4-5 families in Baton Rouge, as far as I can tell. So now we will have one fewer family, and unfortunately, I think that is a popular trend. Louisiana is still fairly new at bringing in refugees, and there really isn't much help for them here. They also have the "grass is greener" feeling. They will call friends and family, and hear how things are somewhere else compared to how badly they have it here. It may or may not be true, but that doesn't matter, they want to go. So, it has been a very discouraging couple of weeks. We work so hard to help them learn English, so we can give them the Gospel, and then they leave. That's tough. Most people in America don't have a clue in working hard to give out the Gospel.(most hardly try) Getting the Gospel to these people will take a while, and you might say why take so long on a few families, when there are thousands in Baton Rouge going to hell? I do it because I feel that America has had many chances to hear, and there are plenty of people that can reach out at anytime, but these people may have never heard, and may never hear if people like me don't take the time to try to communicate to them. I'm not saying neglect the others, but it is just easier to reach out to them. I need my pentecostal friends to show up one day and speak in tongues, and maybe that will get them the Gospel quicker. Yes, I am taking a shot. I grew up in "Pentecost" and saw "tongues". I still believe it is for today, but for a purpose, like in the book of Acts. It's not for some babbling to make yourself feel good. Sorry, I just get frustrated with people that have no action with their belief. I have an audio below.
There seems to be a lot of moving these days. The very first apartment that we taught classes, is now completely empty. All the people living there finally moved out, and thank goodness they did. That apartment has been flooded for about two months now. You have to wear water shoes to walk around the kitchen, and management will not fix it. So, I am glad they have moved on. There is one problem with everyone moving, keeping track of everyone. It seems that most of them are moving to the other apartment complex that we are working, so that is good. We haven't had any new people in a while, as far as I know. We have a lot of the refugees tell us they want to come to class, but because of work it is very difficult. This past week, besides helping move, we did are regular classes with our normal people. We found out that one of the guys sister is deaf. It took us about four months to communicate that. We are getting somewhere, however, and hopefully soon we will be able to give them good news of Jesus Christ.
Me and Sarah with one of our classes at our house
Today I wasn't able to teach because of work, but Sarah was able to go and pick up a class, and bring them to our house. Debbie and her husband were unable to come last time, so they made sure they were coming this time. They walked around and enjoyed the nature. Sarah then brought them inside, and worked on their ABC's. As they were leaving, I came home. I talked to them for a while, and then one of them wanted their picture taken. We weren't quite sure what they wanted, but we finally were able to communicate. They wanted a picture with Sarah and me. We will get these printed, and pass them out to everyone. They also really liked our Magnolia trees. I saw them with a number of Magnolia flowers that they were taking home.