I look a fright. I'm either drenched in sweat or rain and usually both. The rainy season has definitely arrived, and when it rains, there is no internet. When it's sunny, there is no internet. Today, there is no electricity either so I'll type until my battery dies.
Classes have started. I'm teaching 2 English grammar 3 hrs a week each, Baptist polity for 2 hrs a week, another English grammar for 2 hrs on Friday and anyone who wants to come for 2 hours every evening. Some vacation. Though the students are pretty good at reading and writing, they have very little conversation. I'm focusing on basic verb tenses for the classes and trying to find ways to force them to create English. The evening is mostly games SO: ESL friends, if you know any good games I can use for fairly basic English, please send them on. I'll search the internet when I can, but I don't have much time on it at the moment. I've taught the progressive and imperative through Simon Says and charades, but I've always been a bit weak on games and creative techniques. I see this as a great opportunity to grow in that area. If you have any of the information gap pictures or things like that, I can get them copied. I have 50 hours of class to fill. Actually more because I can't get them to leave. Not a problem I have back home.
Last weekend, I met a man from Holland in Mae Sot and he came by to see the camp yesterday. His last job involved working with handicapped children so he wanted to see the handicapped house. I'm glad he came; I hadn't thought to go there. There were 9 men in when we came, just lying around – but it was break time. Most had lost various appendages; all were blind. Except for one man who was blinded by boxing in Burma, they had all been soldiers who had been wounded by missiles or land mines. There were about 20 in this part of the camp, some living with family. They're learning to read Karen in Braille, some English, and a lot of music. They sang for us. It was very impressive. They get around camp fairly well on the arms of small children, most of them from the orphanage, who have adopted the men. Shirley tells me that on National Day, when everyone crosses back into Burma for a several day celebration (for some reason permitted by the Burmese army), the men go too. They make their way across the river in rickety boats and are led by the boys for the 45 minute hike into the jungle. And they march proudly in the "parade". Wearing their uniforms, with whatever arms they have linked together and small boys leading the line, they march proudly. The people are proud of their soldiers, and as a community, they take care of the wounded.
Shirley led me to the market in the camp today. I was in desperate need of shoes that won't slip on this mud. I had a quite elegant fall yesterday. Going to market means going across the bridge into the main camp, which we aren't really supposed to do. The UN and Thai's claims the market isn't there, though how they can't see it is amazing. But, because it doesn't exist, they don't want to find any foreigners there, especially ones with cameras, so I haven't yet done my picture-taking thing. But I will so you can see my elegant mall and the luxurious neighborhood in which I live.
More than 400,000 baht (more than $12,000) have been raised in the camp and taken across the river to help the Nargis victims. About 20 Baptist families have been taken in by the Baptists in the camp; I don't know how many others have come. Shirley and I stopped for tea at an Indian stall in the market and there was an elderly gentleman in a cotton button shirt (unusual, most are in T shirts) who started talking to us in very good English. He was from a suburb of Rangoon. His son lives in Phoenix. His family was harassed though I'm not sure if it's because of his son in America or because he was Muslim, so he moved to the camp. His other son and his family were caught in Nargis, their home destroyed. They were without food or shelter for 48 hours, and he got them into the camp which is actually a fair distance away. I don't know how they got here, but they're safe. When money goes over from the camp, it has to go in American dollars, so I will give them what I have the next time they go and say it's from all of us.
Karen Hite, you would love the sounds here. This place is alive with music. The Karens love to sing and I've got the CD. Music is a required course that they all take after lunch. There are groups all over the place singing away. I just sit and enjoy.
I thought you might like to hear from my students (with only minor corrections). Many of them have left their families in Burma to attend the school:
My name is Peh Shee Way. I'm 27 and I have four brothers and 3 sisters. I'm younger one. I live in Plaw Lah Hay Village, Lapputta Township in Myanmar. My father is a pastor and my mother is a teacher. I have been here in three years. Now, I staying in dormitory. My father passed away in 1999. Now, my family are living in Myanmar. I miss my mother, my brother and my sisters.
Now, I heard about my family. I so sad because they are meeting by cyclone. So they have many troubles, they have many problems because the Governor of Burmees are defeating to them. We can't do for them. But we can praying for them. We are also refugees. We have no chance to go outside. We are staying along in this camp. but God giving us opportunity to learning His words, English, and other educate in our camp.
...My family stay in my village while I'm study in Maela. I worry about my family. Because now the Burmese soldiers attack to many who cover in Brigade 5 (this seems to indicate an area as well as an Karen army unit) and also attack my village too. So, I'm very sad because now my family is in the jungle. But always I pray to God for our Karen people who are living in jungle. – Naw (Miss) Lah Hser Paw Doh)
I'm a student. Now I'm studying in KKBBSC (Kawthooli Karen Baptist Bible School and College). Now my family live in Burma. I have no relative in Mae la but only one me. My families are poor and they provide their lives with ordinary work. They are selling rubber materials. In my village most the Karen people are grow the rubber trees and feeds their life. But no they are still under the rule of SPDC (Burmese army) government. They are chaining tightly under that ruling. They cant safe their lives while they are staying in the time of modern.
While I'm searching for wisdom, I live far from my family and I miss them too. I can do nothing for them. I'm just praying. – Saw (Mr.) Kaw Khu
My name is Saw Klo K'paw. I live in Mae Ra Moe camp. I hae two siblings and I am the eldest. My youngest sister is nine years younger than me.
My parents are Christian. When I was eight years old, I went to Sunday school. There teachers taught us Bible and tell us many stories about Jesus. S I heard God's word since I was small and know a little.
In 1992 I passed eight standard (grade) and stoped attending school to undertake the work for my nation. I worked as the soldier for 4 years.
Whenever I was in trouble I pray to God and tell my problems. And God helped me all the time. Besides I want to know more about Bible and want to help highland people who do not know Jesus and believe God yet.