Category Archives: K-L

We the People of the United States….

Yesterday was a great day of festivities with the grandchildren.  We had a cook out, they went and saw their uncle perform in a concert, and we wound up the day watching fireworks.   Creekside Park in Archdale provided an excellent display of illuminating fire-flowers and resounding booms seen by thousands in the park and surrounding neighborhoods.  I took along Key Rey and Than Naw Tu because there is nothing like watching fire-works through the eyes of a refugee.

Two documents from history should accompany this post, and some pictures.

Preamble to the Constitution:    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And because we have our constitution, Emma Lazarus wrote this quote etched on the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

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Previous July 4th Posts:

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

The Stories of Knaw Bawk and Roi Ji

Story of Knaw Bawk

Knaw Bawk  [Nah Baw] grew up in a Christian home. His mother and father were believers in Jesus. His father was a Burmese soldier. His home in the Kachin province has a strong Christian presence, at one time that province was 100% Christian. This is now problematic with a junta dictatorship whose stated purpose is to have one language, one country and one religion, Buddhism.

 Knaw Bawk attended elementary and high school in Myitkyina his home town (marked with an “A” on the map). During his early years, his family feared for the safety of his older sister so she sought refuge at the Australian embassy and relocated there almost 26 years ago. Knaw Bawk attended college after high school completing four years while still living in the Kachin state.

During his young years Knaw Bawk began music lessons and learned to play the piano and violin. As a young man he and his friends played music for different local and regional events and activities. Even though Knaw Bawk was young in his Christian faith, he took a stand that led flight from Myanmar. It seems their village had completed the construction of a new Buddhist temple. A village leader came to him and asked him to play the violin for a folk festival that included a dedication ceremony of the temple. Knaw Bawk refused on religious grounds. The leader came to him a second and third time. The third time she said she could no longer assure his safety. With such a not-so-veiled threat Knaw Bawk knew he had to leave.

So in 2004 he traveled with a Kachin businessman south, to the Chin province of Burma and then west to the India border trading town, called Tia. After a couple of months, he moved to New Delhi, India where he began an 8 year exile. While in New Delhi he became active in the “All Kachin Student and Youth Union”. He took a job as a journalist working with the Mizzima news organization (www.mizzima.com). He translated stories from English into Burmese for ex-patriot Burmese who lived in India and elsewhere.

Meanwhile back in Myanmar, Knaw Bawk’s mother and younger brother had to also flee the Kachin province. They were accepted as refugees in Japan. While his aging father and younger sister were able to remain in Myitkyina.  At this time this sister is in a refugee camp on the border of Kachin and China and the father is at home.

A bright joy came into Knaw Bawk’s life when he met Roi Ji for the first time in 2003 in New Delhi, India. They began dating, about the same time Knaw Bawk sensed a call to ministry. He began pastoring, while still working as a journalist, and started Bible College. He graduated in 2007 and the family (for now they had a son) received news that they had been accepted as refugees to the United States.

When Knaw Bawk’s family first came to the U.S. they were settled in New York City. They stayed there 3 weeks and with the encouragement of High Point friends relocated to the Triad. They said they like High Point, the climate and atmosphere is closer to their home state and this is where they want to be. Knaw Bawk is now the preacher of our Burmese language service, he is 36 years old and works at a local factory. Their son, Samuel attends the Stanley preschool on Brentwood and Roi Ji works at High Point University.

Story of Roi Ji.

 Roi Ji  [Reggie] left the Kachin state of Myanmar at age 26. She has two brothers and two sisters. She grew up in Burma, received her elementary, high school and college education before fleeing the country.

After college Roi Ji got a job with World Concern (NGO). The task of her team was to educate villagers regarding HIV. They would travel to different towns and talk about the prevention of this disease. During such discussions they would encourage women to oppose sexual harassment, promiscuity and teach them to avoid rape where they could be endangered with HIV.

One village they visited had a large military base nearby. The commandant of the village built a local bar complete with music videos, free-flowing liquor and beautiful women. While visiting that village Roi Ji spoke out against the sexual harassment and even rape associated with this bar. The next day the NGO team moved on to another village with their training sessions,  but the villagers burned the bar to the ground.

Government military investigators went to Roi Ji’s home and to her World Concern leaders making inquiries about her. Her supervisor at World Concern said, we are non-partisan, we can’t help you, you need to leave. Roi Ji had to flee her home country. She traveled through Tia to New Delhi to start life as a exile from Burma.

While in New Delhi she took a position as the leader of the “Burmese Women of New Delhi”. Then she met Knaw Bawk and their story continues together.

I invite you to meet this highly educated couple, they understand English at 90-95%, Knaw Bawk has a lot of insight and wisdom and Roi Ji’s British accent is delightful.

News!

The first of two children’s camps was last week and the second is going on now.  Several of our Burmese children were enabled to attend these camps through the scholarships provided by the Outreach Class.  Thank you Jerry Farlow and class.

Frosintina made a quick trip to High Point last weekend so that Joshua would be back in time for camp.  Grandma Nu Nu got to see the baby for the first time.  Frosin Tina has some great pictures of the baby on her Facebook page.

Klo  Say with Nelson and Nyein with June will join the FWC father/son camping trip for the Aug 13th weekend.

A Burmese (province) preacher is going to be in the area next weekend.  He will speak on Saturday night at the Chin home cell group and Sunday morning in the Burmese language service at FWC.

One Kiss’ son. Ku Lu Taw, had a choclear implant (in one ear) and is learning to hear for the first time.

We have had 4-5 newly arriving refugee families in the last two weeks.

Lea Rey and Zu Zu are going to try to meet with Dace Hennesey about some work this week.  He helped Da Htoo get a job a few months ago.

Klo Say preached in the Karen language service this past Sunday.

Max Inthisane stepped in to preach to the Laos congregation while his father was away a few weeks ago.  But Max says it was not preaching but just a “teaching”.

Bibi Thakbal will start classes at GTCC on August 22.

Great to get back from vacation and get in touch with my friends once again!

To all my Fishermen Friends…..

Yes Klo Say, Nyein, Eh Htoo, and Hla Win Kyi, these fish are almost 3 feet long and were just 8 feet from me in the water.  They are salmon in the upper Willamette River near Eugene OR. In the picture below you will see one of the fish trying to leap to another level as they have been climbing a fish ladder.  These fish were hatched in this area, went out to the ocean for several years and now have come back to spawn another generation and then die.  An additional blessing of our vacation, besides seeing family, has been the cool weather here in Oregon, we have worn sweaters in the morning.

Ministry in the Karen Service

Last weekend I had the privilege of preaching in the Karen Burmese language service on Sunday morning at our church.  Klo Say did an excellent job translating.  The message was on the phrase from the Lord’s prayer, “Your Kingdom Come”.    It was a blessing to hear the congregation recite the Prayer earlier in the service.

Lea Rey An Orphan

Lea Rey arrived with his older brother, Baw Reh and sister Nae Mah (naming convention) about two years ago.   Their parents were dead before they arrived.  Lea Rey is under age 21 so he can attend high school until he graduates.   His brother got a job 120 miles away in Lumberton, but is now getting married and moving out of state.  His sister got married.  So Lea Rey, who is Karenni has been staying with Beh Reh, an unrelated Kayah (Karenni) family.  Lea Rey would like to get a summer job and I said we need to pray about getting a job.   Our church can give him a monthly bag of rice to help with his food.

Lea Rey

Plan Seng Ing Tang Bau is One Year Old

Yesterday there was a birthday party in the Burmese fashion celebrating one year for Plan Seng Ing Tang Bau.   Community families were invited, food was prepared, singing was heard (click here to enjoy part of one song) and the Bible was preached.  Congratulations are in order for La Zawng and Mun Ra Marip and their daughter, a Kachin family in High Point.

La La and Shrang, Been here Awhile

I must have been busy when they arrived but La La [Lay Lah] and Shrang (left) are two Chin brothers who arrived about two years ago.   La La works at High Point University and his brother attends Central High School.  It is great to have them in our community.

Shrang (left) Lay La (right)

Poe Sei Arrived in time for the 4th!!!

About a week ago, Lae Lo Thaw’s sister, Poe Sei [Po Say] arrived from a Thailand refugee camp housing Burmese refugees.  She is staying in Lae Lo Thaw’s home.

Getting those names right!

The other day I spent some time with Clement and Ka Di Thang arranging for some car repair.   Ka Di Thang  called Clement, Mane [mah nay] and so I asked him about this name.  He said this is a nick name.  He and his wife Mary work at the Townsend chicken plant in Siler City.  However Mane is currently at home recovering from a sprain and bruise to his right arm and wrist.

Another person who works in Siler City is K’naw Bawh [kay nah bawh].  I had been mispronouncing his name but as I spent time with my friends I heard them say it the correct way.  He is one of the pastors of our Chin worship group.

Kshaw Wah comes Home

Kshaw Wah arrived in America several years ago as a single indivdiual.  Shortly after he arrived he moved from High Point to Texas.  While he was in Texas he met and married his wife.  He has now moved his family back to High Point to be close to his sisters Mu Yah Pel, Ma Aye Kyi and Win Nwe Nwe.  Welcome home Kshaw Wah

Saw Leh Paw Got a Job Closer to Home

Since Saw Leh Paw arrived he has worked in Lumberton (2 hours from home).  He has just changed jobs and will be working in Mocksville, about 45 minutes from High Point.   The fellows working at the Townsend’s chicken plant in Mocksville face a bit of uncertainty as we have heard the plant is up for sale.  Pray for Saw Leh Paw and his friends who live in Winston Salem and who work there.

Before Saw Leh Paw was paying rent for two homes, one in Lumberton during the week and one at home.  Now he will be at home with his family every night.   Here is a picture of him with Klo Say participating in the morning Karen service at First Wesleyan.

Tha Na Kah: It’s Makeup and Sunscreen!

Several years ago I asked Klo Say about the light brown substance I saw swirled on the cheeks of the Karen women, children, and teens.  He told me that it was make-up one time and sunscreen another.   Yesterday as I was reading an auto-biography by a Karen lady named Zoya Phan, I found her telling about this in the following paragraph:

“My mother’s complexion was a little darker than my father’s;  I had inherited his lighter coloring.  Every day she would weal tha na kah–a traditional Karen face cream–on her cheeks.  She used to make the tha na kah from the bark of the tha maw glay, the tamarind tree.  She would take a smooth-worn stone and roll a length of bark backward and forward on it, adding a little water as she did so.  Gradually, the bark would dissolve into a light yellow paste:  the tha na kah cream.  She would rub in onto her cheeks, using a circular motion, until it left a little yellow sun on each one.  We Karen believe that tha na kah makes a woman look beautiful, and it also protects our skin from the sun.  It was the only “makeup” I ever wore; the next closest thing was when my sister, Bwa Bwa, and I improvised lipstick by smearing some old vitamin tablets across our lips.  My mother would rub tha na kah onto my cheeks, arms, and legs to keep me cool in the hot season.  And when she grew old and less capable, we children did the same for her ( p. 15, Undaunted. Phan, Zoya, 2010. Free Press, New York, NY).

Kunga from Kelford, NC

Kunga and his family visited our Chin worship service today.   They are from Kelford, NC which is between Rocky Mount and Elizabeth City, NC.  They said they are the only Burmese family in this rural area of NC.   Here is a picture of some of this family of 10 sitting with some of our host families.  They arrived in America via a refugee resettlement agency based in Raleigh.

Lay Koy’s Family are new Arrivals

Here is a picture of Lay Koy  with his wife and two children,  they recently arrived in High Point.  They are Karen Burmese as are most of the Burmese who have arrived in High Point in recent years