Here is a guest blog written by Jessie Boston on Phil King’s Blog. Phil is the Global Mission Coordinator of the Presbyterian Church here is Aotearoa, Jessie was a member of the Going Global visit to Myanmar in December 2013
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
On Thursday the 5th of December 2013 our bags were packed and our excitement was mounting for our trip to Myanmar, which began that night. Setting out I wasn’t sure what to expect but after all our preparation and fundraising it was a relief to finally be going.
What first sparked my interest and desire to head to Myanmar was a university portraiture project in which we had to choose an influential person to study and paint. I chose to focus my project on Aung San Suu Kyi the inspirational leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar. Her story and life is incredible, she is a true symbol for freedom and hope in her country. The complicated history of Myanmar and the hope and dreams of its people as well as the PCM’s relationship with the PCANZ were the main reasons I wanted to visit Myanmar.
|Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party is now able to take part in Myanmar politics again|
Having never been to a third world country before, I knew that the poverty was something that would be very confronting. It is an issue that confronts you everywhere you look in Yangon (capital). The contrast in wealth is striking; the Porsche driving past someone’s shack of a house barely standing on the side of the road is an image you don’t easily forget. For us as ‘tourists’ it was all very well for us to escape back into our comfort and clean air-conditioned cafés and hotel but this was not the reality for the people on the streets.
|Early morning market in Tahan|
Reaching Tahan in the North of Myanmar was a relief. It was great to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and meet the lovely and wonderful people of TTC (Tahan Theological College). This was the main reason that we were here in Myanmar – to continue the relationship with PCM and to help TTC with their Christmas fete, which is their main fundraiser and community outreach for the year. Words can’t really describe this experience but I’ll do my best. We were truly overwhelmed by the generosity of the people that we met, many who had very little materially speaking but an abundance of blessings in their hearts.
|Food preparation for the TTC Fun Fete|
As you would expect with a Christmas festival there was food, fun, games, Father Christmas, a Christmas tree, music and dancing. But what was more moving was the joy, hope, passion and love, which the TTC students poured out to the wider community and us. This community which has been oppressed and often abused by its military leaders can still find hope and joy and love for one another. These are a few of things that I will take away from our trip. That there is always hope, that God made his people strong and resilient, that the fellowship between PCANZ and PCM is a blessing, and that there is so much we can learn from our brothers and sisters in Myanmar about loving each other and worshipping God to our full potential.
Over and out
|Enjoying a walk up a nearby hill with TTC students|
|Somewhat surrounded by locals all eager to have their photo taken with Jessie|