Thursday, May 13, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

A skeptical crowd

When I first arrived at the orphanage, the children were a bit skeptical. Here is a video of our meeting. Within hours we were laughing and playing (see video in earlier post).

video

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Video

I'm sorry for the delay in posting video to the site. It has been a rush since I got back from Burma/Thailand trying to get funding for projects and help the children and people. Here is one video of the orphans teaching me Karen. They learn English as part of their schooling as you will see:
videoI also want to say thank you to Vision Beyond Borders for building the current orphanage. Partnering with them to help these kids has been a great thing, benefiting all involved. They do great work in the area, particularly with the Karen IDPs.
I will continue to post pictures and video. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Looking back

I had to stop posting for a number of days because of travel back to the states. The trip left a huge impact on me. I had never been to Burma before and found a people warm and eager to welcome me into their lives for a few days. The church there is incredible and thriving. The government seems to be content protecting themselves and their money while the people manage to live as best as they can. It had the lowest living cost of any country I have seen--A full dinner cost $1 USD. Money goes so far there.
I left not only with a head full of memories and a camera full of photos, but also with information to begin funding a number of projects that will help the Burmese church where it is most vulnerable. There are villages that have historically expelled Christians that now are showing signs of openness. I cant get specific on this blog, but I was very excited by what I heard. I was also able to take funds directly to the pastors and people that need it. Because of donor support we were able to buy an underground pastor in the Delta a canoe-style boat so he can reach his congregation who are dispersed throughout the islands. We bought powdered milk for Karen refugees hiding in the mountains that didnt have enough food themselves and couldnt provide milk for their nursing infants. We tons of rice to Christians in Chin State (western Burma) where the rats have eaten all the agriculture and while the government assists the Buddhists, no food is given to Christians. The list goes on, and will continue as these and other projects become something that we can take on for long-term support. For some reason I am having trouble uploading photos--I will put some up on Monday, and hopefully some video as well. Feel free to contact me at logan@persecution.org for more details--we can talk more freely on email.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A land of contradictions

Now out of Burma and in an international airport, sorting through memories like a photo album. Luckily I had a camera and voice recorder to help.


Just this morning I was in the Delta, the area hardest hit by the Nargis Typhoon two years ago. It was also the area totally off limits to foreigners. Some NGO's have gotten permission to get in, and when I was given the opportunity, I jumped at it. The reason it is closed has nothing to do with security. Simply, it exposes the government for their ineptitude to help their own people. It is out of sight (you can only get around by boat), and therefore out of mind. That was until Nargis hit in 2008, drowning thousands, followed by thousands more deaths when the Burmese government refused to allow relief organizations in.



Its funny how your thinking changes based on comparison. When I first arrived in Thailand from America I thought it was struggling. Then I meet the Karen and see a people that truly are in desperate need. Then to Burma where the safety net disappeared and the people lived in a strange mix of dictatorship, socialist propaganda, democratic desires, and pragmatic anarchy. Like an Asian Cuba minus the organized government. And then today I saw those living in the Delta. I think what got me most was simply the remoteness. Say you want to call someone who lives down one of the countless river offshoots. You would call a shop that is at the mouth of the river, and leave a message that you called for so-and-so. When someone comes by that is headed in your direction the store owner passes on that you had a call (could be days before), and they shout out the message to you as they paddle past your village. You then either go upriver or wait for someone who takes you to the phone and then (provided electricity is working and the phones arent down and the other person picks up) you make your connection. That is exactly what had to happen to get me in, multiple times. To call it a privilege is no exaggeration. People literally took me in, and they thought I was doing them a favor.

The Christians there are under special persecution from the Buddhist monks. Local government leaders have relative autonomy and as long as what the Christians bring is good for their village, its ok. However, the Buddhists see it as a zero-sum game. Any influence they lose means less power, and in its most concrete form, less donations and food for the temple/monastery. So when Christians go in, they have to do so very gently, letting their community aid be their reference. This means preschools, food (pigs, ducks), rebuilding bamboo houses from Nargis, and small house groups at night. To the left is a kids section in the newspaper--The Tatmadaw is the military. The greedy guy in the tophat is a westerner (me).

I started off by saying Burma is a land of contradictions. On the surface this is easy to see: the dollar is outlawed yet there are stores that are only allowed to use the dollar. The internet firewall stops you from accessing Gmail or Yahoo, but there are large permanent signs advertising the internet cafes that have hacking software that will access online email. The contradictions go deeper. A country that is supposedly based on Buddhism cracked down on monks after the recent protest. 50% of its GDP is spent on military, and only 2% on healthcare and education, yet the official name of the government is the State Peace and Development Council. However, the contradictions were personal for me as well. Coming from seeing the Karen people who have suffered so much at the hands of the Burma Army I expected the capitol of Burma (Yangon) to be something like Berlin in 1939. However, I was surprised. The people are... well, people. They are all the mix of emotions that any of us are. And the government is largely absent unless they are collecting money or enforcing some random law. I traveled to areas that I was supposedly not allowed in, and the whole way just a small fee and a smile got me by the roadblocks. There is a huge disconnect between those in power making the rules and those actually enforcing those rules. If contradiction isnt the right word, maybe "isolated" is. Those in power seem to have a perception that doesnt match reality; through that crack light shines through.

pictures of the past days






















Sunday, March 21, 2010

Illegal

I was told just before speaking in front of a house church that foreigners are definitely not allowed to preach in Burma. "A big no no," my friend said with a smile. I smiled back; what a great motivator to say what needs said. I got up and spoke, pausing after every sentence so the translator could catch them up.

What do you say to a gathering like that? I wanted to have them leave feeling some new courage, to know that outside their country the church knows about them. I wanted to remind them that God exists and, despite the darkness around them, he is good. I wanted to help them tighten their grip on what is true because we know how the story ends. (And keep all that simple.)

Thats alot of goals to try and meet. God knows to what effect it was conveyed. Maybe they just saw a white face where they had never seen one and somehow knew that the outside world was involved with them. That is enough of a reason.

I got one of the best backward compliments I've ever gotten. The house pastor told me that a Buddhist "elder" had heard it, and afterwards went up to the pastor and said, "You need to be more patient. I understand now that you need to be more like Jesus." Ha.

We went out to the countryside and to another house church where we took communion. There was one little girl, about 8 or 9, who sang along with an adult. She had the most extraordinary voice I've ever heard from a child. Completely natural. Afterwards I think they thought I was important because I was white. I enjoyed changing their mind by sitting on the wood floor with the kids and making faces and weired noises with them. No thing breaks down barriers like a giggling toddler.

The sound of freedom

I just finished a long conversation with a Christian man that works in IT here and spends his days trying to get around the firewall. I see a hero--when a country closes down its information flow it is for two reasons: political or religious persecution. In the case of Burma, it is both. This guy is right on the edge of bringing freedom here, in a different way that the rebel armies in the jungles. Case in point: I can post this blog courtesy of his tunnelling software. Let freedom ring. In this case it is the soft sound of a mouse click.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Burma

In Burma now. The city is a strange mix of Asian, socialist, and 1950's style buildings. I wont be posting much as I will wait until I am out of country to put details.
Strange how the billboards are all in English. I asked about this and it makes sense: only the wealthy speak English, and no one else can afford whats being advertised.
People are genuinely surprised when they see me. I am guessing not as many Caucasians make it here as to Bangkok.
Another quirky thing is they only accept crisp, brand new US dollars. If it is wrinkled or dirty its worthless or nothing at all. I still have to figure that one out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ashes

I am sitting on my bed in the motel in Chiang Mai, four hours from the orphanage, when my phone rings. It is Sara. With panic in her voice she says a strong wind is blowing a brush fire toward the orphanage.


[Since arriving in northern Thailand I have not seen the sky once. It was always covered in a cloud like it was about to rain. I asked about this and learned that Thai farmers burn their fields to clear them. In agricultural northern Thailand this means everything. When we drove to the orphanage a few days ago, as far as I could see was the black ash where fire had been. Even in the mountains there were small wildfires, still burning, right up to the road. This is an ironic practice when at times the Thai government outlaws street vendors from cooking meat to reduce pollution. All on the road to the orphanage warning people not to start fires.]


“It is 1000 meters away, unstoppable,” she said, clearly distracted. I asked about who was there helping the kids. “They are on the road, they have everything in their hands.” There was silence.


“Sara?”


I heard her crying quietly.


“Why them?” she asked. “They have been through so much.”


I asked American questions about starting backfires and calling firefighters. This was not America. There was one woman trying to keep the children away from the oncoming fire, realizing it was going to destroy the orphanage, with any help at least hours away.


She asked me to pray, said she would update me and hung up. I sat there on the edge of my bed again, suddenly in a very different frame of mind than before. My mind started racing: maybe I could call someone important in the states who could call the Thai Ambassador who could call some department head who could order some team to go stop the fire. Maybe I could hire a driver and go there myself. I started imagining what I would do when I got there and realized I would be halfway there by the time the buildings would be ash. After ten minutes of this thinking, I lay on the bed and asked God to stop the fire.


My cell phone beeped that there was a text message. I opened it. It was from Sara: “500 meters”
Sometimes you pray because you think you should. But sometimes you talk to God because you have to, and you are confronted with what you actually think is going on when you pray.
I called Sara and asked if she wanted me to come do whatever I could. She said it wouldn’t help—it was coming too fast. She said the children were on the road, praying for rain.
There was nothing I could do except the same.


Five minutes later I got a text from Sara: “Its starting 2 sprinkle!” My first thought was to not get excited, to be wary. But I couldn’t help it. I walked out onto the street and looked up into the grey sky and grinned.


Thirty minutes later, another text: “Raining now, all fires r down! Ptl.”


Writing this now I just realized what Ptl means—Praise the Lord. Yes.


If the fires hadn’t stopped and the orphanage huts were destroyed, it would have been tragic. Especially so because the orphans had already had to flee their first orphanage. Those old structures were occupied by the DKBA (the Buddhist militia that fights for Burma) for months before being burnt down, the land mined to keep anyone from coming back. I was told an alternate version of the story two days ago—the DKBA had occupied the buildings but a stray brush fire had destroyed them. Above the burned remains of the orphanage flies a DKBA flag. While it is intended to establish ownership, it actually gives a much more accurate picture of the situation than they intended. Violence won a piece of land but is exposed for the emptiness it is: a bright waving flag above a pile of ashes.

Shekinah 2

After meeting the IDPs I hopped back in the truck and headed back to the orphanage. The kids recognized me and remembered some of the games I had taught them from America. They all had the cards with them I had passed out the day before--a school in St. Lewis that had Karen refugees heard about the orphanage and had written letters to give the orphans. They were entranced with reading the English on one side and Karen on the other, each one handmade.

I sat down with Sarah in her hut and brought out my computer. I turned on a voice recorder, pulled up on the screen pictures from the day before and asked her the story of each one. They were remarkably similar: the child was in a village in Burma, their family had to flee their home when DKBA attack was imminent, they ran into the woods and their parents were either killed or they were separated from them. It is a good thing I had the voice recorder because my pencil couldnt move as fast as she recounted what happened, and the spelling of the names was guesswork at best for me. The children were waiting outside for me so after getting the information I jumped up and chased them. We played for hours wrestling, making faces, and teaching each other how to count in our languages. Actually, part of their schooling is basic English so they became my teachers in Karen. I tried posting a video of them doing this but it will have to wait for a faster connection.
When the sun started down and it came time for me to leave, they weren't clingy. They just waved, smiled, and ran off laughing to each other. I think I was the one feeling more at a loss of how to react.

I headed to a town, sat on the edge of a river and sorted through my thoughts as the sun went down. Ill post some more pics here of the orphans...

IDPs

Wikipedia defines IDPs as, "Internally displaced persons... are people forced to flee their homes but who, unlike refugees, remain within their country's borders." This qualifies for many Karen who have remained in Burma, hiding in jungles or constantly moving locations. Technically the Karen I met yesterday hiding in the mountains were "refugees," having left their original country, but the Thai refuse to acknowledge their status as refugees (which carries with it certain rights) and so I think IDP is more accurate. Enough in the technicalities.



Yesterday I woke up and was taken into the foothills where many Karen have escaped to. Less than a mile away was the Moei river dividing Thailand and Burma and this wilderness was difficult for Thai police to access. We were there to do what had become our accustomed roles--the Thai/Karen team would lead worship while the doctor examined kids and I sat with the people and heard their stories. We pulled and parked on the side of a road and then went up a dirt path to a large open air church. The IDPs had heard we were coming and some were already gathered while others were constantly arriving. For some it meant a four or five hour hike down the mountain and then they would have to head back after only an hour or two to make it back before sunset.

They squatted down and waited, eying me and looking away anytime I pointed the camera their direction. Yet one bold toddler was especially curious and walked right up, poked at my white skin, the camera lens, and then settled himself in my lap. I cant think of a better way to greet a stranger, or how to make suspicious eyes around me relax. I snapped away, trying to respect them and not just make this about the camera. I saw the Karen pastor, so I went and squatted next to him.
His name is Pastor Tim and he spoke enough English to explain to me that he had escaped from Burma when he was eight. He attended Thai schools, went to Bible college and become a pastor to his people, moving to this particular location four years ago. I talked to him about his past and about what his hopes were. He dreams of having a building for classrooms that could also be used for those who travel a far distance down the mountains to spend a night in. His life revolves around helping the most desperate of his people, body and soul.
After talking to the pastor I notices a man sitting nearby who had no hands and was clearly blind. His name was Mae Su. He had been a soldier in the KNU (Karen National Union) and was captured by the Burmese Army. They forced him to become a human minesweeper, crawling until he found or blew up a mine. He was in the process of defusing one when it went off in his hands. He somehow was left and made it to safety where he healed. Today he is known as an evangelist, even going back into Burma and talking to the DKBA, which for a normal man would be suicide.

By this time the singing was gathering a crowd, and soon there were over a hundred crowding around to see the show. They were attentive and laughed so easily. There were skits and one part where participants were brought up on stage to play a game. Everyone, from the smooth round faces of toddlers to the wrinkled and tobacco stained faces of the elders, was entranced. When we started handing out flavored drinks, food, and stuffed animals, they formed lines and grasped what was handed to them tightly to their chest.






The IDPs had a poverty like I have never seen. Babies were clearly malnourished, their heads the same size as their bodies. When I asked about this, the translator said bluntly, "No milk. The mothers have no food and so the babies get no milk." The need was so apparent, yet the children were so well behaved, listening to every instruction. "They are trained that way. When their parents say run, they have to run. They cannot argue." Yet their faces held an innocence that seemed untouched by their circumstances.



I had to leave the IDPs to go back to the orphanage. As I got in the truck and heard worship songs start up again and wished I had so much more time.
This little one insisted on having his new stuffed bear tied to his back in the same way his mother would carry him.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shekinah















So where was I? Over the crest and down into the orphanage, surrounded by Karen children. We had carried the food down that they would eat for the next two weeks, stored it in a hut and then gathered under a bamboo and leaf roof. At the front was a concrete step that served as a stage, and the group of Karen and Thai college students I had been traveling with immediately gathered the orphans attention by singing and playing guitar. After a few minutes the children were mimicking the motions of the leaders and jumping in rhythm. After a few playful songs the team changed into a slower tempo and then began praying. It was the children’s response that struck me most—they followed in prayer but their intensity needed no translation. They were speaking in urgent whispers, imploring God. I couldn’t tell what they were saying, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. In the States I would have sat down next to the child and asked what was going on and expected to help make it right. Instead their stories were imbued with a tragedy that I had neither the language nor the ability to explain to them. As I was being caught up in the depth of what they were expressing, the mood suddenly changed like a sunburst through a raincloud. The prayer had ended and their faces beamed. [In the past day I have thought more about this and it seems to fit their lives—the darkness of violently losing their home and parents, sometimes right in front of them, was contrasted with the eagerness that they radiate. It was in prayer and silent times that they faced their past.] A doctor and pastor from the US had also traveled with us and after the pastor talked to them, the doctor gave them a checkup. I had brought bags of items that were donated to ICC, including stuffed animals that the children had been eyeing since I arrived. The team of students held each one up, and after the children made the appropriate sound they taught them the English word. Lion. Bear. Dolphin (that was a new one for the kids), until each child had one.


There was one boy nicknamed Spiderman who seemed a natural fit for the Spiderman hat I brought. He has a natural at playing to the crowd, imitating what he thought Spiderman did (see picture). One girl hugged a Raggedy Ann doll, another was absorbed stroking the blond hair of a Barbie in a yellow dress. With the songs and the doctor and the pastor and the animals, a wall seemed to melt. Any hesitancy at all was dissolved when popsicles arrived and the children showed me how to stick the wrapper to my forehead. The green residue left them giggling, and one color after another my forehead was left a sticky rainbow. One of the boys started to tentatively grab my shoulders so I swung my arm back and grabbed his leg, and a full fledged wrestling match ensued, 6 or 7 boys each grabbing a limb. After that they taught me a strange version of rock scissors paper that involved a fist, two fingers, one, and an open hand.


To the side of the room I noticed one boy who hadn’t moved. As the others played, I sat next to him and the orphanage mother, Sara, told me his story. His name was Philip, and when his village was about to be attacked by the DKBA he and his parents fled to the jungle. They lived there, constantly hiding and running for months. Philip caught the measles which soon became severe. He nearly died, but was left blind.
At this point I looked closer and saw that he wasn’t looking down to the floor—he was blind, white cataracts completely covering his pupils. His legs were covered in scars, sores and fresh cuts. I asked about these and she said he would often try to walk on his own and hit against roots or rocks. The other boys would walk him arm and arm, but sometimes he didn’t want to wait for someone else.
His parents had been killed and with the aid of the Karen militia he made his way to the orphanage. The orphanage mother was hoping to find an eye doctor that could examine his eyes and possibly help.


It was now past 2pm and the children started making swimming motions and looking at me questioningly. I understood what they meant when Sara announced in English, Thai and Karen that it was time to go to the river. When she got to Karen, the children erupted and started running to their hut, boys and girls respectively. We all climbed the dirt stairs up the hill and started down the road to a nearby village. Three boys had attached themselves to my hands, and shirt and I tried to avoid stepping on their feet. One of them raced ahead to a village hut and when he came out the other boys surrounded him with open hands, but he said something in a strong voice, pointing to me and they put their hands down. He then handed me a small plastic bag of frozen root beer-flavored ice. Sara saw what happened and told me this was a favorite treat of theirs, and at 1 Baht apiece (3 cents), the only thing affordable for them. I ate it with enthusiasm, but was torn inside. Here was an orphan who fit everything he owned into a backpack buying something for me. I wanted to say no and buy him five, but that would have diluted his gift. I ate it and grabbed his hand.


We made it to the river and I saw why they had been so excited. Did I mention that this whole time I had been wiping sweat off my forehead? The temperature was so high (a thermometer the doctor had measured the ground temperature at 125 degrees) that relief seemed impossible. But here was a swimming hole that was deep enough not to dry, and was in fact deep enough for the kids to leap off a rock into. I followed and we played, splashing water at each other, trying back flips off the rock, and having a strange sort of war where as many boys as possible would try to hang onto my shoulders. The funny thing was that one boy kept trying to ask (via hand motions) if I could breathe while his friends clambered on; I was both tossing his friends off and reassuring him at the same time.
Sara announced it was time to head back and we started through the village again. This time we stopped at the hut and bought bags of ice for everyone. When we got back to camp the children headed down the hill and we went to the truck. The departure was abrupt; I had been swept up by their laughter by laughter and surrounded by their chatter. Now I was left with my pictures and memories. That was yesterday. Im ending today even more overwhelmed. I keep doing this “stay tuned” thing partly because upload speeds are frustratingly slow, but mainly because it gives me time to mentally catch up. I look at the pictures, my notes, and after about a day it seems much easier to pick a few specific instances to write about. The kids were overwhelming, not because of their bare feet, dirty T shirts, or tentative status as refugees, but because of their eagerness. I keep repeating that word because it fits well. Their default expression seemed to be joy and I left brightened and excited because of them. I changed my plans to return the next day.




The 11 hour time difference is finally catching up and coffee isn’t helping. Im off to search for a guesthouse with air conditioning. A teaser on who I met today:


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Arrival

The Moei River divides Thailand and Burma. We (A team of Thais and I) drove up and down a mountain road on the Thai side for three hours before reaching a dirt turn off marked only by a small blue-lettered sign is labeled “Shekinah Orphanage.” Nothing is visible except for two large blue water tanks and a steep drop off beyond. I stepped out of the truck hesitantly, not sure if this was it or not. Two Karen men were sitting on their haunches in the shade of a nearby tree and watched me. I walked up and smiled, and then past them to look down into the valley about 100 feet below. The sides were incredibly steep, and on the slope were perched some bamboo huts. I thought the orphanage must be around the hill or out of sight, but then I heard the shouting of children. They were streaming out of the huts and running to a path that went straight up the hill. As they ran they shouted excitedly to each other and soon I was surrounded by the children of Shekinah orphanage.


They were both excited and shy at the same time, running up to the truck then stopping abruptly and standing still with their eyes averted. I myself was torn between taking pictures (never a bad picture with these kids) and wanting to get out from behind the camera and just get to know them first. I chose the second option and am glad I did because it freed up my hands. The children had already crowded around the truck where the food was and instead of grasping to get some immediately, they shouldered it (or lugged whatever they could) and started back down the hill. I jumped in and grabbed a bag of cucumbers.

Getting down the hill was a trick the kids were far better at than I. They ran down around me as I slipped on the loosely packed dirt that seemed impossible to get footing on. Stairs had been carved out of the hill and cut bamboo shoots served as a wobbly railing, but it took all I had to not drop the bag. The kids seemed to be a bit apprehensive, and to tell the truth, so was I. Some were only 5 or 6 but I found myself very aware of their background. They were from Burma, and had been separated from their parents (by death or distance) by the terrible ongoing war. Sometimes this was when they were hiding in the jungle for weeks or months to evade the DKBA (the Bhuddhist militia that has systematically destroyed Christian Karen villages within Burma). Other children have far worse memories of their parents being killed in front of them. Somehow each of them made it to the first orphanage. However, last June the orphanage was again attacked by the DKBA. Four local Christian Karen soldiers slowed down the assault and in the middle of the night the children were able to escape across a river.

All this was on my mind when I first saw them. However, it wasn’t long until that cloud cleared in the brightness of their laughter. They were so excited to see us. We put the supplies in the storage hut and then all crowded into a 15 ft by 35 ft concrete-floor hut that I learned serves as their assembly area, school, clinic, church, and playground. They knew exactly where to sit: boys to one side, girls to the other, youngest up front.

It’s midnight my time and after going non-stop for a number of days I need to stop messing with the 56 kbps connection I found and get some sleep. I can’t wait to begin where I left off.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A brief history of the Karen


It has been a long while traveling—I’ve lost track of time after a flight to Japan, another to Bangkok, a night’s sleep in the airport, and an early flight to another northern Thai city. From there I will meet with our partner that runs the orphanage, and after a truck ride, finally meet the kids that everyone has heard so much about.


But I’m not there yet, and in the meantime Ive been doing some reading: A Land Without Evil, by Benedict Rodgers. The book details the Karen people’s struggle in Burma, beginning with the foundations of their culture.


The Karen have a uniquely monotheistic background, oddly parallel to Judeo-Christianity. Their traditions go hundreds of years before the first missionaries and include a legend about a “golden book.” This book contained the truth of life and although they had lost it, a “white man” would return with it. They believed in one all-powerful God, called Y’wa, the creator of the universe. When he created man he gave him a “fruit of trial,” and told them not to eat it. Mu-kaw-lee, a servant of Y’wa who rebelled and became the devil, tempted the first humans:


Mu-kaw-lee deceived two persons
He caused them to eat the fruit of the tree of trial
They obeyed not; they believed not Y’wa
When they ate the fruit of trial,
They became subject to sickness, aging and death.


There are other striking parallels, causing some historians to suggest a connection to ancient Judaism. This strangely monotheistic belief was at odds with the larger Buddhist ethnic group called the Burman. [Burman is a term used to differentiate the majority ethnicity from other Burmese minority ethnicities, which are Karen, Karenni, Mon, Chin, and Shan among others.] Because of the Karen’s unique belief system, when Christian missionaries first came they found a ready audience. Adoniram Judson is counted as the first, reaching the Karens in 1828.


The history of these groups and the Burman people is important to understand the conflict today. The Karen, along with other minorities, sided with the British when they invaded Burma in the 1800’s. The Burman people didn’t forget this when the British left, and thus began a history of attacks and counter attacks until 1941 when the Japanese invaded Burma. The Burman people sided with the Japanese while the Karen joined with Britain against. The Japanese overran the resistance, and the Karen resorted to guerilla tactics. Some British officers stayed to train the Karen, and one in particular, Major Hugh Seagrim, lived for years narrowly evading the Japanese until finally being caught and executed. By 1944, the tide of power changed and Britain again invaded Burma. With the help of the Karen, they eliminated Japanese resistance in 1945. What followed is still not clear; some British officials promised the Karen a homeland while others deals were struck with the Burman. It is clear that within a few years, the Karen found themselves again under Burman rule. The Karen set up a resistance, and engaged in guerilla warfare that has continued to this day. I’ve got to run to catch the next flight—much more to say, but it will have to wait.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Preparation


We have had such an enormous response from our supporters--it has been great to see the very visible evidence that people are moved to do something, even for those a world away. We had one ESL class write personal cards to the orphans, and a man that drove hours to deliver 5 large boxes of items.
If you're not sure of what I'm talking about, a few months ago we started collecting items for the orphanage we support in Thailand. The orphanage is comprised of Burmese refugee children that have run away from the violence. Children will often lose their parents when the military raids their village, leaving them without care and vulnerable to be drafted as porters or human minesweepers.

This is a picture of some of the material I will be taking over--toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, notebooks, hats, socks, stuffed animals and many other items. I'll be posting as much as I can with updates on the trip. Thank you all so much.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Southeast Asia: March 2010

Hi, I'm Logan Maurer. I'm a Regional Manager at International Christian Concern, and work with persecuted Christians in SE Asia. This covers alot of territory, so we try to get out in the field and meet with our partners in country, as well as find new projects to help sponsor.

I'll be traveling to locations of persecution throughout the next few weeks, and updating this site regularly. Check in to see the latest, and feel free to email.

Thanks,

Logan