Alice*, an OM team member in Myanmar sat across from a woman who held her two-month-old baby. His name meant “floating in the water” because he was born in the flood waters. The OM team gave him the name Moses, who similarly was a child who floated in waters. When the mother’s labour pains came, so did the floods. So the woman, whose husband was working outside the area to send money home to his family, walked to another home for safety, but the water kept rising. She then was half-carried and half-walked to a higher home in the village, and when she reached the third floor of the building, the child came.
For two days the new born and his mother waited for a boat to take them to a local community hall in a neighbouring town. When the flood waters had subsided, the pair returned to what was left of their home; the roof was halfway missing. If it rains at night, they, and many others with similarly damaged homes, have to sit not lie down, as there is no covering to stay out of the rain.
Due to lack of food herself, the young mother was unable to breastfeed her baby, so she was trying to express milk into a bottle. Alice, also a mother, gave some helpful instructions and then also gave some food. The whole community had been pooling their food and money, but they did not have enough for everyone. The food that the OM team gave was the first food aid this community had received in a week. As they were leaving, Moses’s mother cried. The local pastor partnering with OM asked if they could pray for her. She accepted, so the team sat around her again to pray for this little baby and his mother.
In another village where the flood waters had just gone down, the OM team sat with a group of eight women, all older than 60. They had arthritis, hypertension, high blood pressure and stomach problems. It was the second time in about six weeks that an OM team had visited this village, and the people were called together by the local chief with a loud speaker to come to get the food donations the OM team brought. Slowly the old women carrying babies came to collect the donations, then they stayed to speak with team members.
Most of these children’s parents work in other countries, as there are few sources of income in the village. So the grandparents raise the children. The village has no secondary school, so most children, when they are 14 years old, move elsewhere to find work. If students choose to continue on to secondary school, they need to walk about a quarter of a mile, take a 30-minute boat ride across the river and walk for about another mile just to reach a bus that takes them to school.
As the OM team handed out packs of rice, the old women thanked them profusely. The village is strongly influenced by a high monk, who has never allowed Christians to come. However, as the team sat in the village, the chief invited them to come as a church and do a medical trip and host a concert around Christmas time. He even offered to arrange things for them. Even though he is not a believer, he has been so touched by the work that the local pastor and the OM teams have been involved in since the flooding that he has been listening to the pastor’s sermons every week. Through this developing relationship, Christians are now being invited to do more in an area they had not previously been allowed to visit.
For most families, the financial strain of the flood has been crushing. Those that had some savings have spent them in the pooling systems that many villagers started to share their food and finances among everyone. Despite having so little themselves, the people are quick not only to share with each other but also to extend their generosity to the OM teams visiting.
After speaking and praying with a translator they had spent the day with, one OM team member shared, “We went to give rice, but I think that [the woman] felt love. She invited us many, many times to come to her home and eat with her in another year, and that we could sleep in her house then. The generosity of people who don’t even have enough daily food is so touching.”
*Name changed for security
Published: Thursday, 04 October 2018
Credit: Ellyn Schellenberg