Thursday, July 10, 2008

June 26: Food and Bibles

(Above: Morning Chores)

journal 5
June 26, 2008

Yesterday I talked with Wa Do, one of the teachers here who is probably the most active in trying to make a difference inside Burma. He's working with the Karen Baptist Youth ("youth" is young adults) to send supplies into the churches affected by Nargis. The latest count is 110,000 dead. Can we possibly comprehend that? About 70 families have made their way to Mae La and the Baptists are trying to supply them with food, pots and pans, mosquito netting and mats. They're also sending supplies across the border in minibuses and small trucks. The supplies include rice, mats, and netting. They have to pay the Burmese border police to get them through, but they're getting through – a few trucks a week. It's a lot for them to undertake and organize with very little funds, but it's only a tiny drop compared to the need. Wa Do hopes to focus on one church (we're talking about a community), get it up and going with housing and supplies. Rather than trying to send a little to a lot, send a lot to a little, then move on to the next little. Their crops are gone and the ground saturated with salt (which I hadn't thought about). I gave him what I had in my wallet (10,000 baht – around $330) for this week's shipment. He said it would buy around ten 45 kilo bags of rice. That gift is from you.

He'd really like to get Bibles in Karen to the people as a sign of hope. Would you like me to pursue that?

Apparently, there was a news piece on the TV a few nights ago showing how much the Burmese government is doing to help its people. There was a shot of rows of color coordinated tents, but strangely no people. And a shot of happy people receiving supplies. Their clothes were all similar – and coordinated with the uniforms of the soldiers handing them the supplies. They were all picture perfect and beautiful. Those who saw it said it was an obvious piece of staging. The reality is, the government is siphoning off most of what's sent in, but there's no other way to get it in.

Tomorrow I go to Burma to renew my visa. Don't panic, Mom. It's done by most foreigners. I just go to the bridge, cross over, pay them $10 to stamp my passport and cross back into Thailand for a new 30 day visa. They say there's a dramatic difference across the river. I'll let you know.


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