Saying Goodbye Leaving Mae Sot on February 8 was one of the hardest goodbye's I've ever said. I wrote about it here on my blog, in Bangkok during a l

Saying Goodbye

Leaving Mae Sot on February 8 was one of the hardest goodbye's I've ever said. I wrote about it here on my blog, in Bangkok during a layover between my overnight bus and my flight to Kuala Lumpur. All together I had 36 hours of travel, and I honestly spent most of it in a numb sort of self pity. It was only on the long flight from Taipei to Los Angelas that I noticed the young boy sitting one seat over from me. He looks like he's from Burma I said to myself. But that's impossible I thought.

I had been placed next to an older man who spends his time traveling around the world on an endless holiday. Although he had many years behind him, he was caught up in the youth mindset of "do everything you want as long as your happy" kind of thing. I could tell that my year working and living with poor migrants baffled him and he openly said, "Gosh, I hope you're not going to try to convert me."

During one layover I had been watching a film called "Moving to Mars" which documented a few Karen families as they moved from the refugee camp to their new country in the U.K. I had stopped right when they were stepping onto the plane so I could catch my flight.

I overheard the young boy calling to someone behind him in Burmese I was shocked.
"Hey little brother," I said to him in Burmese, "where are you going?"
"To America." He simply replied.
"Where are you from?"
"From Burma." He looked at me suspiciously.
"What people group are you from?" I was probably pushing it with all the questions but I was honestly in awe that I was sitting next to a little boy from Burma.
"I'm Chin." He simply said.

That pretty much almost knocked me off of my seat because I've been living with Chin people. Out of all the ethnicities in Burma, I know the most about Chin people. My closest friends are all from Chin State.

"I'm Asho Chin." He said, pointing to himself. I think I might have gasped out loud. My best friend and my adopted younger sister are both Asho Chin.

Re-adjusting

As we got off the airplane in Los Angelas, I realized that the entire back of the plane was full of refugees from Burma on their way to the third country, America. I almost began to cry as we walked towards immigration.

The weight of their burdan began to sink onto my shoulders and it was all I could do to look them in the eye and smile. I wanted so badly to help them, to reassure them, but they were so shy when I tried to engage in conversation. I found out from one woman who was traveling with her husband and young daughter that the were being resettled, and they didn't yet know which state they would live in.

As we approached the immigration check in, I spotted IOM workers with blue vests. They called the refugees over and had them sit down while they checked their names off of a list. That was the last time I saw them.

I quickly went through immigration and picked up my bags. The first face I saw was my dad's. I quickly walked to my family and began to cry into my mom's shoulder. I cried for the families waiting for their unknown future and because my heart was breaking, there are so many people being resettled into a foreign country. Suddenly my readjustment didn't seem so bad.

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A family from "Moving to Mars" at the Bangkok airport

Today.

It's been exactly a week since that evening at the Los Angelas Airport.

The Lord has been faithful to me. I have a loving family that welcomed me and did everything they could to help me adjust smoothly. I, surprisingly, haven't been too homesick for Mae Sot, but I rarely stop thinking about it. When I'm awake late at night (still getting used to the time change) I look at the blackness of the ceiling and see faces of my friends, I imagine going down my favorite streets, I remember the sights, and can almost smell the garbage dump. I try to remember everything.

I have a list on my wall of things I'm praying for. The first thing was a car, and God has already provided. The next thing is a job. After that is future options for working in Mae Sot and Mae Sai. I'm looking for opportunities to build relationships with Burmese speakers living in Southern California, but until then I speak Burmese to the family cat. Keeps me sharp.

Talking to You.

I would love to! I want to meet with you, skype with you, hug you, etc.

You have been with me this whole year, and as I think back on my experiences and memories I feel gratitude towards you for praying for me, cheering me on, and sending me those supporting words.

Below is my contact information.

This has been a difficult and wonderful year, I have been given a whole new set of passions and gifts that I never could have dreamed of. I'm going to be equipping myself over these next few months to be a better disciple of Christ and a more loving neighbor. I'll keep you posted!

Love,

Katie

Contact:
katherinegracepham@yahoo.com

www.katiepham.blogspot.com
12922 Yorba St. Santa Ana, California 92705
714-744-4794

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