What it was like for some detainees in Burma

morning walkI don't watch very much t.v., and if I do it is not the News. It seems like most of the news I read is in my local newspaper or what I see on the screen on my yahoo homepage.

Here's the e-mail I got from my savvy friend, then I checked out the following link. It won't take much of your time so I encourage you to click on the link at the bottom of the post.

"Hey there,

I just thought I would pass along this article. It does a very good job telling what it is currently like inside Burma, and also the conditions the detainees faced.

From what our casual research has shown, there are still hundreds, if not thousands of monks, unaccounted for... The 1998 military crackdown by this government was much more bloody than Tiennaman Square, but of course, it happened in much more darkness.


It's important to note that many young men in Thailand and Burma go through Buddhist Monk training. You could say it would be similar to a "right of passage" or what Mormon young men do in early adulthood.

Look closely at the picture at the top of the post. You can see the monks taking their morning alms are YOUNG MEN. It would be my guess, and I am guessing, that it is and was YOUNG BUDDHIST MEN who are protesting the Myanmar Military Dictatorship.

Here's more:


Pictures of Buddhist monks shaking their fists at riot police in Myanmar (formerly Burma) have landed on the front pages of North American newspapers and scrambled some Western stereotypes.
These are not the blissed-out meditators of Western imagination. Generally pacifistic, but far from passive, Buddhists have a long history of social activism in Asia.

Monks held court with ancient Tibetan kings, and in Japan, lay Soka Gakkai Buddhists bankrolled their own political party.
"I think we misperceive Buddhism as a sort of stereotypically quietistic and world-renouncing religion, which has never been the case," says Donald K. Swearer, a visiting professor of Buddhist studies at Harvard Divinity School.

In Myanmar, many young men join the monkhood, which counts some 400,000 members, for a short time and maintain close ties to mainstream society. As society's moral exemplars, they work to alleviate the suffering of others.
That's why they took to the streets in droves last month to protest rising fuel prices.

Dissident groups in Myanmar say some 200 protesters have been killed, according to The Associated Press, and more than 4,000 have been rounded up and imprisoned.
When Buddhism was imported to the West, Americans favoured a more individualized Buddhism, concentrating on meditation and personal discipline.

The rising profiles of the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn have sparked a more socially engaged Buddhism in the West."

from: Religion News Service


Road Trip and a Bit of History

Mt St Helen's 10-23-07Took a roadtrip today. To get to this spot from my house takes about an hour, slightly less. Clearly, it's worth the drive. My goal in going up to the mountain was to get a nice portrait of it w/ some Fall foliage. I had taken many shots before this one, but when I got to this Viewpoint I knew I had nailed it!

You are looking at the North/Northwest flank of the volcano. The north side completely sluffed off into the biggest landslide in recorded history. You may have seen some ash in 1980. Even though I lived so close the winds blew East and went around the world before dumping on my hometown. I remember riding my bike w/ a dust mask on!!!!

Also, straight below you can see some water, that is where the Toutle River starts, which flows into the Cowlitz River, which flows into the Columbia and then the Ocean. If it weren't for the dikes around where I live our town would have flooded.

I don't think you can see a steam emmision here but there was a tiny one while I was there. The mountain has been active again since Oct. 2004.

This photo was taken from outside the official Mt. St. Helen's National Volcanic Monument area but is still within the Blast Zone as you can tell if you look Large.

This was a place that I visited often until the eruption. My parents took my brother and I camping up here, we fished in Spirit Lake (which is no more) and we picked wild huckleberries to put in our pancakes. We would pick so many we'd have to freeze them.

Just a bit'o history today folks.....


Message from Chiang Mai Thailand & the Myanmar Border

Hey Mary Ann,

I'm glad you sent me your blog. Most of the staff who work here at Ban San Fan are Karen and I have been to vist two of their homes. The Karen people are some of the most generous people I have ever met and those I work with are continualy blessing me. Ro's family, who I had the privilege of visting two weeks ago, all came from Burma (Myanmar). Her parents moved to
Thailand when they were around my age (mid twenties) and Ro was born in Thailand. They still live fairly closs to the border. We went to vist Ro's family for her friend's wedding (I'm sending a few pictures).

All the time I was there, as an on looker of both their joy and their (very real life), I was treated with the greatest of kindness. The Karen people are truly a beautiful people. I join you in your prayers for them.

God bless,Danielle

P.S. I am also sending a picture of some rice filds in a valley near Ro's home that I took with you in mind because you wanted one so much in January. I hope you like it.

***Danielle was one of the people that went on our mission trip in january 2007. She loved it so much that she went back in may 2007 for a year. She is helping @ an orphanage in Chiang Mai called Ban San Faan.

Chiang Mai is near the border of Myanmar (Burma) and there are refugee camps along that border, please go to Partners Relief and Development for more information.

***All photos taken by Danielle or Ro.


National Do Not Call List

grandma mary on the phone by TSE
National Do Not Call List

Rumor? Just heard that cell phone #'s will be given out to telemarketers. It is very easy to register all of your phone #'s online. ****UPDATE*** Checked the do not call website and it states that it is illegal for telemarketers to call cell phones. However, I listed my cell phone anyway! The last thing I want is getting these types of call on my cell!!!****

You can also do it by phone but you have to call from the phone that you are registering. The # is 888-382-1222.

It is very easy and only takes seconds. I had registered my home phone a few years ago but not I'm getting LOTS of calls so I re-registered.

If you are registered and after 30 days companies are still calling you, go to the National Do Not Call website w/ that companies name and/or phone #.

Please feel free to link this post and forward it to all of your friends! None of us wants telemarketers calling our cell phones as you will be billed for receiving the call.


The Real Burma

meyers and papa d overlooking tachilek town in myanmar, the northern most point in thailandHey friends! I just bought a book that I thought you all might want to hear about.

Did you know that the political dissidence happening in Myanmar (Burma) is nothing new? The Burmese millitary has one of the top land armies in the world. Know what they are doing with that land army? Oppressing their own people, and even more, they are systematically killing the Karen people.


Didn't know about it?

Well, thanks to the monks and the students protesting recently, the problem actually made it to the mainstream media.

Don't ask me why its been kept under cover for such a long time. I'm not political enough to know those answers.

However, I know that human life is much to precious for a people group to be exterminated. Unfortunately that type of behavior didn't end with the holocaust.

One of the highlights to our trip to Thailand was a visit to a Karen village. That is where we went on an elephant ride to a Karen church.

See, the Karen migrated from China, down into Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In fact, there are more Karen people in Burma than Thailand.

Such a beautiful people. Such wonderful smiles and joy. To think that just a few hundred miles away from where I stood at this church were more beautiful people like these being forced to flee for their lives into refugee camps.

I met Steve Gumar a few years ago when he spoke @ my church about his ministry. He risks life and limb, going into the trenches of land mined areas with his helpers. They are like warriors communicating with walkie talkies or something like that....keeping each other posted on the millitary action that's taking place all around them.

On his website I read that a man he knew quite well was brutally murdered in April. You can read that story on his website. http://partnersworld.org/index.html

We can't know everything that goes on in the world. We can't save everyone. But we can pray, we can educate ourselves and we can care.

Again, what's happening in Burma has been going on for two decades or more.

I bought this book that Steve's wife wrote. I didn't even know she wrote a book! http://partnersworld.org/usa_cart/product_info.php?products_id=32

I bought a t-shirt too, a pink one. I thought it would be good to support his work there and that possibly people would ask about the shirt and then I could tell them what little I know about what's happening in Myanmar.

If i was a good spitter I could have spit on Myanmar soil last January.

This is a real place.just like it says, the northern most of thailand

It is a real country.

These are real people.two old women in the karen church

They are suffering.

They are being persecuted.

They are being systematically destroyed.

The lucky ones make it to refugee camps but even these aren't safe.

I'm not asking you to save the world, nor do anything, just read about it. Know it's real and tell people about it.

washing the dishes tribal style


Popularity Syndrome

This morning I realized that my son is suffering from a not too uncommon disease called the POPULARITY SYNDROME. I have had many health problems but never this one. I can't recall anyone in my family having it although on his Dad's side there is at least one cousin who has enough symptoms to fit in this category.

It is causing him quite a bit of stress and anxiety. Often the symptoms of this disorder are quite easy for him to handle, and the first time we noticed the underlying anxiety that coincides w/ this disease was last school year. For my son, the hardest time to deal with the syndrome is at school. Primarilly, when the teacher lets the students pick their own partners. Everyone, or most everyone, shouts his name and waves his/her hand. They compete against each other for his attention in hopes that he will choose them for the "special" honor of being his partner.

My son tries and tries to cope with this situation, always hoping and praying that God will intervene into his plight by convincing his teacher to choose the children's partners for them. He is convinced that this will alleviate all the pressure and stress that mounts as the kids shout and wave at him.

This morning before school he was especially distressed about his disorder. We talked about many different aspects of the symptoms of this disease. In particular, the shouting, waving and yelling of other people around him. He was expressing his frustration and I could see in his face that he was really quite disturbed about the whole thing. Wanting him to feel validated, I told him that it would only be natural for a person to feel anxiety and be incredibly frustrated at the shouting, waving and yelling. I told him that he really should ellicit his teacher's help in trying to deal with this very real problem.

At that very moment, I realized the discomfort that one with this disorder suffers. I felt much compassion for him even though this was nothing that I, a poor humble person, had ever experienced. Just about the same time that I was having this realization he looked at me with a sorrowful face.

"You know what I do?" he said.

"No, what? Tell me!" I said with anticipation.....

"I pick the last person," he said.

"That's a great idea." I replied, quite shocked.

After he walked out the door for school I remembered this saying: The last shall go first and the first shall go last.

Wow, I thought. How often I think that the troubles in my life are meaningless, worthless, tiresome and irritating. But yet, so often they are used, if we allow them, to teach us lessons. Lessons, not only about ourselves, but about the human condition and how it relates to God.

"Just a child...." I thought. How did he know that this was God's own strategy at the spiritual competition that man pits against one another. Humbled again, as I so often am with the simplicity that children have, I was greatful. In that moment, I was greatful for my son's "syndrome" and all of the trials it would bring him, and the lessons too.

"Wait!" I shouted after him.

I gave him a hug and looked into his eyes. "You know what?! God has given you a gift. I'm sorry that it's hard," I said hugging him. "I know it's not easy. Please try to have patience with the others," I added, "and all the shouting and waving. And, it's o.k. to be frustrated. Just ask for help. Your teacher will help you, that's her job. Will you tell her how you feel?"

Really, I think that's the hardest part: the asking for help part. I guess I'll have to wait until he gets home from school to find out what the Teacher said. The teacher will help, I know it.....the good one's always do.