Disclaimer- I don’t watch the WWE. 🙂
In my life of teaching and helping refugees and immigrants, I have gotten to the point that I expect to be surprised, so surprises don’t get to me much. They are a common everyday occurrence in my life. But sometimes there are ones that I get a kick out of and ones that lead to blessings.
In 2007, we had a new people group come to Lincoln, The Karen People from Burma. The Karen People were forced to flee their homes to refugee camps in Thailand because the military dictatorship was trying to kill them off. Coming to Lincoln started with a trickle of a few families in 2007 and then it was like the gates were opened as many more came in 2008 and kept coming.
I had three Karen women in a morning class I taught. None of them were over 5 feet tall and one was maybe 4′ 10″ at best. They were sweet women, moms, and trying to figure out life in their new country America. They smiled and at times giggled as we studied. Each Friday I would ask about the weekend to help the students practice using will for the future. When I would ask, “What will you do this evening,” they would answer, “teacher- Big Show, Undertaker, Batista.” I had no idea what they were talking about, so after a few Fridays my curiosity was aroused and I googled Big Show, Undertaker, and Batista. What came up were images of WWE wrestlers. I laughed to myself over the thought of my three small, petite, and sweet-natured students being fans of the WWE.
They also talked about Karen meetings for Sundays and said the word Bible. They invited me to one of their meetings. I wanted to learn more about this new group of people in my city, so I visited their meeting in an apartment. The first year and a half they were here, they had meetings in their apartments because they did not have a church home yet. My first time with them I heard their beautiful harmonizing as they sang, in a language I still don’t know, and they faith was obvious.
After that I spent time with them every Sunday and taught bible lessons through a translator for them. I had a small Hyundai at the time and would make 3 or 4 trips, taking three or four at a time, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to take them to a Asian market to buy food.
This may sound funny but when I would visit them I felt like Gandalf visiting hobbits in the Shire, not so much because of the fact that most were small in comparison with Americans, but more because of their warm hearts, their love of simple things in life, and how vulnerable they were because of not knowing what potential problems could happen in their new city. They were so much fun to be around too.
I was even given a traditional Karen robe to wear at their meetings.
I love my Karen friends and also their fellow refugees from Burma, The Zomi People and the Karenni People. Their music is beautiful, their clothing is colorful, their hearts are warm. I have enjoyed worshiping in the Karen church and also the Zomi church here in Lincoln.
Oh by the way, the sweet little elderly woman in the picture above is standing up 🙂