It was November of 1995

when I found myself in Rangoon (Yangon), Myanmar. I was traveling with a music missions group called Carpenter's Tools International. We spent 4 days with the Myanmar national director for Youth for Christ. (Yes, there is a Youth for Christ in Myanmar) This man's name was Saw Si Hai (saw see hay) and his wife's name was Amarilla. Saw Si Hai and Amarilla lived in a tiny little house. Probably no more than 150 square feet. It was a tiny, tiny, little house divided into four rooms. It was little more than a hut in many ways. His was one of the larger, nicer ones in the area. There were 12 people living there at the time. Saw Si Hai essentially was running an orphanage out of his home. He would literally wake up some mornings and find abandoned children on his doorstep. Myanmar is a desperately impoverished nation. Granted it was nearly 13 years ago when I was there, but when I was there, there were 120 Kyats (chyats) to the American Dollar. The average wage for a worker was 500 Kyats a day. In American Dollars, that is about $4.16 a day. Even though they have nothing by our western standards, these were some of the most beautiful and giving and sweet people I have ever met. When you have very little, possessions mean nothing, people mean everything. This is how the people that we met in Myanmar live. I came home from that country with a much greater appreciation for the life that I have.

If you have been following the news at all, you are aware that a devastating cyclone has hit this region. Tens of thousands are either dead or missing. Complete villages have been wiped out. Major cities such as Rangoon, are without power, and much of the city is underwater. People are desperate for food, water, shelter and medical care. I read that food and fuel prices have increased by 400%. I can't imagine my food and fuel prices going up that much, much less what it would do to the economy. The government which essentially is a military dictatorship, is dragging their heels in helping these people. They are very slow to allow any sort of western aid into the country, for fear that they will be undermined or overthrown.

My heart is breaking for the people of Myanmar. To have been there, and walked among them, eaten with them, been invited into their homes, and to now know that they are in desperate need, and that there is little I can do, is really difficult for me. I did manage to contact YFC International and did find out that Saw Si Hai and Amarilla did survive the storm. I praise God for that! I also realize that their needs are greater than they have ever been. My husband and I plan to make a donation to YFC International, specifically for Myanmar. They have ways of getting the money to the people who really need it because they already had a presence there before the storm happened, ie donations were already coming in to help the YFC staff in Myanmar, the amount will just be increased by the donations that come in specifically for them. If you feel so inclined to make a donation, you may do so here, just specify "Myanmar Cyclone Relief".

I'm sorry to be so "off topic" but this has been weighing on me all week and I needed to share it.
I have posted a couple of pictures from my trip at the bottom of this post. They are from my pre-digital camera days. They are scanned so they are not the greatest quality in the world, but they will give a sense of what life was like there 12 years ago when I visited Myanmar.

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