Day of Prayer for Burma

Sunday, March 13th, is the Global Day of Prayer for Burma. For more information, here’s a link to information put out by Christians Concerned for Burma.

The View from the Front

This article yesterday in the Seattle times tells about the struggle refugees are having making ends meet in the recession economy and how the budget cuts are impacting them here in Washington State.  I took some time to read the comments that followed the article, and was made aware of how great some of the hostility is that people hold towards not just illegal immigrants, but also towards those our government has invited to be here.  While I understand financial frustation, and fear that your piece of an ever-shrinking pie will somehow disappear, I am also aware that my friends who are refugees have faced things beyond my comprehension.  The link here is to an article from the Bangkok Post, written by a friend of a friend, highlighting the situation these folks needed a refuge from.

Wandering between worlds….(poem)

(working in a job that helps connect people with semi-affordable dental care…..)

Each day is a study in contrasts….
The poor coming seeking treatment,
The rich come seeking a deal.
Under the different designer labels
(Or lack thereof)
The human thing still goes on….
Each person in need of love,
Of being seen and listened to.
Each person wanting to not be turned away.
A study in contrasts-
Money not making you a better person-
Just giving you better choices.
Those who offensively demand their own way
Thrown in with those who just hope someone will make a way….
Each of them, in Mother Teresa’s word “Jesus in disguise”
Can I see Him in them? Can they see Him in me?
God, give me your eyes, and your kindness
To meet the day, and be a bearer of light….

Good Life in the Midst of Bad Circumstances

At first glance it might seem a little incongruous to have a “Good Life Club” in the middle of a war zone, but the name comes from John 10:10 where Jesus promises abundant life. This project, started by our friend, Karen, gives those of us living in safety and prosperity something practical we can do to contribute to the lives of internally displaced mothers and children on the run from the Burma Army. For details of how you can help, click here

For more pictures of the Good Life Club in action….click here.  (This is  a project of Partners Relief & Development and their friends at Free Burma Rangers).  The Good Life Club packs are carried in by the relief teams going into Burma and delivered to the moms and kids who need them.

Uncle Ralph….and the politics of nothing new

Amazing what you can find out about your family (and politics) when you start sorting and shredding the collected documents of the last 50 years….

When I was a kid, I knew Uncle Ralph had died in a logging accident. When I was a teenager, I found out he had had the audacity to run for governor. I also knew this was not looked at as a good thing in the 1950’s-people from our side of the tracks weren’t supposed to dream that big or do anything that noticeable. I was very surprised when my brother told me Uncle Ralph had actually gotten 3000 votes. (Judging by the level of family embarassment, I had expected it to be 3 or 30 votes-not 3000). But it wasn’t until today (stumbling across a couple of articles from the Seattle Times) that I found out why he ran, what he was about, and why there really is, like Ecclesiastes says “nothing new under the sun.”

Uncle Ralph had concluded elections were mainly popularity contests and that the party who wants to get elected makes extragant promises to get elected, then when they’re in office, finds they can’t deliver what they promised without raising taxes, even if they meant to. Then, according to him, the party who’s not currently in power does the same thing and this goes on, and on and on and now it’s 60 years later and it still goes on……

My uncle had some unique ideas….having been really really poor, he was sympathetic to poor people. He thought there should be surplus stores (food banks?) where poor people who needed food could get food and pay whatever they could afford (even if that was nothing) and that they should also be able to get help heating their homes. He thought some of the things being wasted should be turned into other things (recycled?) so people who needed them could use them ….. he thought there should be a limit on campaign expenditures ($1000 tops) so rich guys couldn’t just buy the office.

Uncle Ralph paid his whole life savings ($200) to file as a candidate because he thought doing something was better than just complaining about what wasn’t being done….

Not sure what Uncle Ralph would say about today’s political insanity-my guess is he would probably say taking care of the poor is important and remind me of the words in James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” God, please help us be the change we want to see!

Global Day of Prayer for Burma – March 14, 2009

The Global Day of Prayer for Burma is an annual event initiated in 1997 by Christians Concerned for Burma at the request of Burma’s democracy leader, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  Next Sunday, churches around the world are urged to pray for Burma during their services.  See the following link for details:

For Seattle area runners/walkers, the Run for Relief (a fundraiser for relief efforts in Burma) will take place next Sunday in Gig Harbor….See following link for details:

Refugee update Sept. 2009

Quotes from a quarterly report by a local refugee coordinator:

“Even when the economy is down and the unemployment is up, refugees from Burma are coming to the United States every month at a steady rate. From January 2009 to September 2009, we have welcome and helped 22 new families with a total number of 107 people. These families are Karen and Karenni families who came from Thai-Burma border only. Due to the economic recession and the poor language and job skills of the refugees, many of them haven’t found jobs and have survived so far only on welfare. Some of them have found seasonal farming jobs but their jobs ended when the farming season is over. A few families have moved to other states where the rent is cheaper and a job is available. Those who stay in Seattle have faced financial difficulty because the cash assistance they get from DSHS usually doesn’t cover their rent. Besides the rent, they have to pay for utility, telephone and their travel loan. Life is not as easy as they thought it would be.

Activities undertaken during this reporting period: July– September 2009

• Bring furniture, clothes, shoes and food to 4 new families and warm clothes and shoes to 18 families.
• During this reporting period, ( July – September ) we helped 8 families and 5 singles, altogether 43 people to get their Green Cards. The service we provided includes making civil surgeon’s appointments, interpreting for them during the appointments, filling out the application forms and taking them to the immigration office for fingerprints. So far, 4 people have gotten their Green Cards, 34 people have finished their fingerprints process and 5 are waiting to have their fingerprints taken.
• Took 7 families to license office to get their Washington ID cards. Altogether, 15 people got their Washington ID cards.
• During this period, 5 people went to ER; 3 for acute diseases, 1 for childbirth, and 1 for domestic abuse. We provided transportation and interpretation for them.
• Make routine medical appointments for 5 elderly people and take them to their appointments and interpret for them. One got his hearing aid and another one received surgery on both eyes for cataract and both eyes were totally healed.
• Make routine dental and immunization appointments for 8 families; altogether 20 kids. Provide interpreter as needed.
• 2 families received Section 8 government housing voucher and we provided transportation when the families moved.
• Work with 3 school districts as an emergency contact person and provide any assistance needed by both parties. This includes picking up sick children at school, replying calls and emails from school, and interpreting for the families at teacher parents conference.

There are 5 families who were resettled in another county , remote from the community. They face many problems that need to be addressed. For example, one family came in June 2009 but all the family members haven’t received their social security number yet. We visited them only one time, talked about their problems and reported their problems to their caseworkers. Language problem is a big issue for them since their resettlement agency couldn’t find an interpreter who can speak Karen or Karenni.

Many of the Karenni families speak only their own dialect so it is very hard for the resettlement agencies, schools, and clinics to find interpreters for them. Moreover, many of them are from the remote areas in Burma and totally illiterate so it is very hard for them to assimilate to the new society.

Why are the refugees here?  This link to a story recently published in Utah, and this link to a video taken in Burma will help explain what it is they were seeking refuge from.