Not as long a day today—only 12 hours away from hotel—but we did do a lot. Got picked up and drove to orphanage for the seminary graduation ceremony. Calvary Church (our church) partnered with the local ministry to start a seminary to train pastors and missionaries to reach Myanmar for Christ. There are about 25 students in the seminary and 4 graduated today.
We wore our Chin coats and they gave us matching ties to wear, very nice.
We had a few moments to fill out congratulation cards for the graduates and award winners. We ended up with one less envelope than we needed. But this ceremony was a big deal and we wanted to give a nice envelope. We searched and Pastor Dan found a used envelope big enough to hold the card and gift money.
But it had someone else’s name on it. So we searched more to find tape or adhesive to cover up the name. Then I remembered that Colette had made me a card on Valentine’s Day. She had attached a piece of paper to the card with Creative Memories sticky stuff. I had brought the card with me to Myanmar. So I detached the paper, which had stickiness on both sides, and we used that for the envelope. McGyver would have been proud. So people, make nice notes for your loved ones and God will use them exceedingly more.
We lined up for the procession after many pictures. If this was how many pictures they took before the ceremony happened, I wondered how many they’d take after. After pictures, the music started and we went in. The room was filled with people. We felt very honored to take part in such a special day. The enormity of the occasion finally hit me during the ceremony.
Here were 2 young men and 2 young women who were graduating from seminary in Myanmar. You have to pay to go to public school. Myanmar is over 90% Buddhist. Christians have been martyred in Myanmar in the last year. You don’t just build a church, put out a sign, and invite people to attend. There’s much more to it than that.
So as I sat from my seat on the stage and looked at the graduates, I felt such respect, honor, and excitement for them. How incredible to be part of this day. What a milestone for them. What a milestone for Myanmar. What a milestone for me to participate.
All three of us played a part in the ceremony. I got to pray for the seminary. Pastor Dan gave a message about how pleased God was with them, as a Father is pleased for his kids. This was especially meaningful because all of these graduates came from orphanages. I don’t know all of their stories, but I know some of them, and it’s a guarantee that some of their fathers were not there. God’s pleasure was replacing what they were missing.
Dan B got to hand awards to the award winners. There were awards for spiritual disciplines, academics, leadership, and campus activities. The winners seemed so happy to be recognized.
In all, the service took about two hours. It was so lovely. Then it was time for the recessional and then the receiving line. We stood in line outside while everyone—I mean everyone—went down the line and shook our hands.
Then we went back inside and took pictures. I don’t know how many pictures we posed for, but it was a lot. My mouth felt like my wedding day, although I was more sweaty for these pictures than those. Imagine 100 kids and rather than taking group shots, many of them wanted single pictures. We were happy to do it.
Next we ate lunch. Then Pastor Dan spoke to the seminary staff while Dan B and I played with the kids. We started playing outside but it was just too, too hot. Then I grabbed a bag of Hershey’s kisses and a group of kids followed me around. I threw a handful one way and watched the kids scatter. Then I threw another the other way and they scattered in that direction. They were having a lot of fun.
I threw them up high in the air and they crashed to the ground, like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I hid them and they had to find them. I sprinkled them around for them to pick up. I made sure to hand candy to the little kids so they wouldn’t be left out. Soon the candy bag was empty.
Because of the heat, we went to the chapel, which serves as their all-purpose room. They cleared the chairs away so the floor was wide open. This is where the kids play in the afternoon heat, and I understand why. The sun is stifling. The kids were playing soccer and frisbee and bubbles. Then Joseph came in with his whistle and began to lead some organized games—relay races, arm wrestling, and this one game where you squat and move side to side like a squirming fish out of water. The person who lasts the longest—it’s very hard on your legs—wins. This was very fun to watch.
As I sat and watched, many kids came over to sit with me. They leaned on me and held my hands. They just wanted to touch me. I wondered how often they are held. I mean, 100 kids with about 15 staff members? There’s no way the staff can give the kids the physical nurture and touch they need. I was blessed to give my small share.
Next Joseph said that Dan B and I would lead games. Dan thought of a soccer game and he led that for awhile. The kids enjoyed playing. Then it was my turn to lead a game. All I could think of was a game I learned at camp. I called it Burmese Pile-up. Ten people link arms with each other and hold on tight while another ten people try to pull them off the heap. So I sat down in the middle and ten kids jumped on me, grabbing legs and arms and clasping their hands around them. Then the ten—mostly girls—began ripping the boys off. It was incredibly fun and we all laughed the whole time.
We played three times. At the end, my white shirt was no longer white—it was brown.
Next we piled into the van and drove to another orphange that is operated by Joseph’s oldest son, Peter. They have 165 kids at their orphanage. They have a loom, pig farm, and chicken coop in addition to their crops and housing facilities. Because of the loom, they have a small store, where they make and sell blankets, purses, scarves, and jewelry. It’s all very nice stuff and the proceeds support the orphanage. So we did some shopping.
Next we stopped at our hotel to get changed for dinner. Then we met the graduates and faculty at a restaurant for a nice celebration dinner. What a nice honor for the graduates.
Then we returned to the hotel to unwind and try to email or skype with our families. But the internet was down, so Dan B found a worker and asked if we could reboot the modem, which was in the hallway. Worker said yes. So Dan instructed, if the internet ever goes out, reboot the modem. So Dan B showed him how and we returned to our room.
No internet. Dan B went out again and told worker it wasn’t working and he’d like to reboot again. Worker said okay. Dan B unplugged modem again then plugged it back in. We went back into our room. No internet. Now the fourth floor connection had disappeared. Oops!
Dan B and I went to the main floor, which had its own connection. It was out, too. We told the front desk that the internet was down. They said, “Yes, no connection” very matter of factly like they were saying it was hot out. Okay, thanks. Then Dan B asked for a roll of toilet paper. In addition to finding internet, we also needed to bring back toilet paper. It was a very important mission.
So after Dan B asked for toilet paper, the front desk clerk handed him a box of tissues. No, mam, toilet paper, please. She looked confused. So Dan B went into the public restroom and came out with a roll of toilet paper. “Toilet paper,” he said as he pointed at the roll. “Ah, yes,” and the bellboy ran off to get a roll.
We returned to our room with only partial success—we had toilet paper but no internet. Some would say we scored the greater victory. Then we went to bed.