The ESL teacher proceeded to pray at the beginning of the class, as she always has, and, in view of an extended summer break and change in the class make-up, cries. She cries, because these ladies have become her friends. She cries, because she wants their families to thrive. She cries, because she will miss those leaving for a more advanced class and the bond broken when this particular mix of women learned together.
She cries, because she is so grateful that they have all made it to a safe place, from their country, where all is not safe for those of Karen ethnicity and all is not in order. They have been granted refuge in the most unexpected of places, Buffalo, New York, in which nearly 6000 individuals live who have come from Burma, whether ethnically Burman or Karen, Karenni, or Chin.
Today, we looked at photographs at a field trip we took last week to a photography exhibit by Law Eh Soe, a Karen photographer who took famous pictures of the Saffron Revolution as well as life in rural Burma. Following this field trip, we took a picnic to Delaware Park where we enjoyed Burmese food: noodles, chicken and pumpkin, rice, bamboo, and, well, watermelon.
Today, at the end of class, as our final session for the year is tomorrow, a student suggested we have a party. She wants to cook for us again, as she had contributed a great deal of food to the picnic. She takes great joy in this, in sharing her culture, in blessing us with her skill.
This past weekend, I stayed at the home of a current housemate in the country. Her family’s home is safe and in order, open and desirous of welcoming all those who enter and visit.
I love this, because all of this, it reminds me, in a roundabout way, that we are all invited to the wedding banquet of Jesus in the kingdom of heaven, that, with Him, we have refuge, we are safe, our hearts and lives put in order and joy given in abundance.