Curry and Questionings – Part 1 of 2

There have been very few frustrations in this immersion program so far.

CHI participant, Jane, enjoys both food and friends in a Burmese house church.

CHI participant, Jane, enjoys both food and friends in a Burmese house church.

In fact, the only one that I can think of right now is my total incompetence when it comes to learning words in a different language. We have spent three weeks with a Burmese congregation and the only word that I know is Jesu-be or “thank you.” Fortunately for me, I have plenty of opportunities to express my gratitude using this simple expression.

My time with the Burmese has been an amazing adventure and a wonderful experience. We attend the Sunday service every week, located in the Bethel World Outreach church. Here, the 2-3 dozen or so attendees worship, pray, read scripture, and share stories of God working in their daily lives – all of which is conducted in the Burmese language. Needless to say, I cannot understand anything that is being said, sung, or shared. What I can understand, however, are the smiles on their faces, the passion in their words, the tears in their eyes, and the love on their hearts. I find this to be true not only on Sundays but also Saturday nights at the house church. Actually, the relaxed setting makes the experience even more powerful because it is a much more informal and personal interaction.

Spending Saturday evenings at a church member’s apartment is what I look forward to most about the weekend. As Jane highlighted in her previous blog, (found here: http://siloaminstitute.org/2013/06/11/my-burmese-family/) the house church is “no ordinary experience.”

The large mat covering a majority of the floor serves as the only “furniture” in the room; we all sit around it and I am reminded of kindergarten during show and tell – except we are asked to share testimonies of the presence of God in our lives the past week. Listening to these stories is very encouraging; even the smallest blessings are spoken of with excitement and exhilaration. I am always taken aback when I look around the room and witness the pure, raw, unbridled emotion in their words and actions while sharing, praying, and singing. This is what true gratitude toward our Father is: always acknowledging His presence, seeking Him with our thoughts, mimicking Him through our actions, and allowing the Holy Spirit to flow from our being.

After we are done worshiping and sharing, we are met with a wave of food – noodle soup, egg-rolls, and curry to name a few. Simply put, it is delicious. Not only are we fed these cuisines, they find great delight in continually giving us more and more until I feel as if I am going to burst!

In addition to their generosity, we are showered with excellent conversation and stories about their lives and where they have come from. The more I hear the more intrigued I become and the more my own faith is challenged.

Many stories include fleeing their native state in Myanmar (Burma) to a refugee camp in Thailand or Malaysia. From these camps, they have been able to travel to America, finally ending up in Nashville. This pattern repeats itself from one person to another but each individual has a different take and a different experience through the process.

One constant that I have found in every story is their faith. Throughout all of their trials, turmoil, travel woes, and tribulation their faith remains. Everyone is so grateful not only for the blessings, new beginnings, and friends accumulated but for the hardships as well. Their faith hasn’t been shaken but strengthened; I long to experience this same abandonment of personal feelings in order to focus on our Heavenly Father.

With the opportunities and blessings I have been given why do I not always feel this confident in my faith? In my next blog, I will write about how this summer is affecting the way I approach my own “hardships” and personal wrestlings dealing with my faith in action.

Manzella, Elias - 2013  Elias is a participant in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion.

 

Day One

A Sudanese boy expresses displeasure from an encounter with the immunization nurse.

A Sudanese boy expresses displeasure from an encounter with the immunization nurse.

Day one at Siloam:  Nashville is lush, green, beautiful, muggy. The sun rises at 5:30 a.m., the interns shortly after.

Whatever we were expecting –  it wasn’t this.

Several things stand out in my mind:

An army of small children attempting to force their way through the door of Apartment E-3 as I approached its peeling facade, suitcase in hand. They were in search of candy.

Warm handshakes from retired Siloam clinic volunteers.

The laughter of a four-year-old Burmese child as he watches his father get his blood pressure taken for the first time.

The tears of the same Burmese child as he receives several vaccinations—his arms held steady by his father. The once laughing child now has his legs held down by a volunteer nurse. Welcome to America.

The pregnant absence of the wife, the Burmese child’s mother, awaiting approval of paperwork in a refugee camp in Thailand.

Prayers asked for and given via volunteer interpreters.

Children’s frantic feet padding down the apartment stairs at the sound of “Silent Night” blaring from the ice-cream truck.

Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” (John 1:35-42).

Whatever we were expecting, it wasn’t this. This is better; there is so much more love, beauty, and gentleness here than any of us could have imagined. There is joy, pain, and authenticity. There are real people, reflections of The Holy One, with scars too deep to ignore.

Come and see.

Editor’s Note:  Claire is a pre-medical student participating in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion.

Faith and Culture Fusion this Saturday

I originally just forwarded this link to a few fans of  South Asian culture, but after reading their website and viewing a short video, I am all the more fascinated with the kind of cross-cultural, biblically infused music this band is making.  My only regret is that I’ll be unable to attend their concert Saturday night!  Check out the website for yourself.  If anyone makes it, I’d love to know how it goes!

Morgan

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Aradhna in Concert

Saturday, Aug. 4 | 8 p.m. 

St. Bartholomew’s Church

Parish Hall
$15 door/$13 online

$10 with student ID.  

For more information, please contact Adam Wirdzek at admojazz@gmail.com.

Please join us in a moving & memorable worship experience with Aradhna. With roots that extend to decades spent in India, Nepal and America, Aradhna has powerfully melded Indian classical melody, rhythm, and devotional lyrics, with the sounds of folk music and rock; an intimate, yet immense sound. You will not be dissappointed.Check out their music & videos, and purchase advanced tickets at: http://aradhnamusic