Journals of a Burma Bushopper

Part One: Yangon.

In March, one of my closest friends and I went to Burma. Before we met up, I stayed in Yangon and visited with a phenomenal family who took care of my every need and more, even though their firstborn son was only twenty days old. In a country where the hospitality outshines the beauty of the landscape, I nevertheless spent time exploring the streets and learning my way around the city by bus. If we had public transportation in Atlanta like they have in Burma I’d rarely drive. Here are a few of the many pictures I was able to take, along with some journal entries that may give you a little glimpse into my mind as I traveled. One thing I will say: traveling in such an unfamiliar place alone sends one reeling through every emotion in the spectrum in a immensely short period of time.

And the man through Death’s doors going
Leaves old Death behind
-George McDonald

The root of all evil is the suspicion that God is not good.
-Oswald Chambers

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March 9, 2015
3:49 PM – Atlanta Airport
Myanmar gives you a visa approval letter through email rather than giving you an actual visa stamp in your passport. This caused trouble with the ladies at check in, as they were not ready to me through without seeing a stamp… Then they told me that my carryon bag (a backpacking backpack which contained everything I was bringing to Burma besides my camera) was too big and I’d need to check it on. I scrambled through my bag to make sure I had everything I needed for the long flight. Somehow lost my water bottle and large jar of peanuts in the process. I’ll miss them both.

Flight to L.A.
The sky through the window of the plane is on fire. A layer of burning clouds stretches to the horizon. Mauve-gray, then orangey magenta, then yellow, then green, then blue, and the plane wing reflecting the sky. Golden clouds with deep purple on the shadow side. A sunset is extended when you are traveling at 600 miles per hour with the sun.

Remember younger days
Let us regress to time and place
When we could feel
When we could fail

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11:09 PM
Flight to Guangzhou, China

Thoughtful words
Are ripened fruit
Picked from tree
And not from shoot

Think for now
And only think
Resist the fiery
Urge to speak

Sweeter fruit
Rewards the waiter
You will taste
The goodness later

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I think I could not imagine feeling more welcome than I do in such a foreign place. Everyone, the kindness offered me is so much.
March 12
All of that yesterday and I still come up feeling empty today… Lord, only you are my strength here, my solid place in this strange land. – Ps. 62

My mind races to get more knowledge, but the more I get and the faster I gather it, the less I use it; the less the knowledge moves me. My heart needs to be more patient–to gather knowledge little by little, and slowly; to be choosy, and to let that little knowledge sink in. Better to be affected by a single line, than to read an entire book and be unmoved.

Taking care of the poor–it isn’t about feeling good about yourself. It is about those who are given more than they need being responsible to take care of those who have less than they need. It cannot be a show. Bring low the hills and raise the valleys.

There is a house here where the church takes care of nine orphaned children. The people of the church take turns staying with the children, and I think I see a genuine joy in the kids.

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Spent the morning out on the streets of the village. Communication is very difficult, as I speak none of the language here. I did meet a family that manages a little food stand near a monastery. They served me watermelon and coffee. Mookie told me before I left that I should go to the villages rather than the tourist spots, and talk to the everyday people who work everyday jobs. Talk is a stretch. We signed to each other and taught each other a couple words in our respective languages. The man introduced me to his daughter, and when I said the name he told me to call her the whole restaurant exploded in laughter and she through a couple of punches at her father’s shoulder. I can only imagine what I just called her.

There is a smallness to life here. I have yet to meet a proud person, and the laughter is so full. No one is rushed. Still I know there is a lot that is hurting in these people’s lives.

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We were wanderers
In the shadow lands
But in the hallowed room
Of our temple hearts
We found light
For the walking
Careful feet
Lead us home

We find ourselves
In the forgotten realm
In the arms
Of the living God
And in the rush
Of the river
Loving arms
Lay us down

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