Hi friends! I’m back with Myanmar trip post part 2! I just turned 20 a few days ago + went for a staycation so it is indeed a little hectic, so forgive me for not churning this out earlier.
Click here for Part 1 if you have not read it yet:)
So….where did I stop. That’s right, the bus ride to Pyay.
During the bus ride, I wanted to talk to Stacy who was just sitting beside me but guess what, I was too weary on the hot bus to do so HAHA. Stacy said she’s okay with going to developing countries but would like her accommodation to be in her comfort zone, like a hotel or hostel or something. She said it’s something to look forward to at the end of a long day of serving, knowing that she is going back to someplace comfortable to relax or unwind. 我倒是相反。I don’t mind sleeping in trashy motels, village homestays with the indigenous people and really bond with them. You get to experience, with full value, the life of the people there. Stacy said when she was younger, she actually didn’t mind staying at such places last time. I think it’s also true. When you are younger, you tend to be more adventurous but as you get older, you prefer comfort with age.
After that, I remembered the team all joked that Stacy’s very “atas” HAHAH and we kept teasing her when she said she have not been to Bangkok in her whole life before. “She’s too high class for Bangkok…she will go to Rome, Italy, all those places…but Bangkok, nah!” The team erupted with laugher, of course we’re joking. At that time we were already going home on the plane. For now, let me talk continue about the rest of Day 2!
After an arduous 6 hour journey, we reached Pyay! As I said last post, we checked in to Nawaday Hotel. The steps there were so steep & our room this time round is on the 3rd floor kill me now.
The hotel had a super cute toy poddle! Some of my team members played with it and they showed us photos of it (we didn’t see it in the lobby at first). Then, then lied to Stacy and I saying it’s a lamb LOL. She took a minute to realise it was a dog in the photo. After we realised it, they couldn’t fool us anymore. As if we didn’t know that’s a dog!
Then in the evening, Lucy my leader received a last minute call for us to visit Koe Thoung Asho Baptist church. Although it wasn’t in the itinerary, we all felt it was God’s calling and off we went. After all, it’s a mission trip, we should be flexible and be prepared for any last minute changes. By the time we arrived, it was during dusk. The sun was setting and the sunlight shone through the back doors of the church to the pews. It was very beautiful.
The church was bigger and better than I thought! Myanmar is a developing nation and frankly, there were child workers and labourers everywhere on the streets. The children there are resilient, even though most of their childhood is spent (and will be spent) on working. I didn’t expect such a backward village to have a nice church like this.
Different corners of the church—their sidewalk, backyard, alleyway..
The Burmese people: almost all of them have some sort of yellowish cream applied on their faces. I thought it looked funny at first, but after that I learned it’s called Thanaka cream. It is a mixture of sunscreen and cream to protect the skin and give it a cooling sensation, preventing sunburn. Apart from that, it’s also for cosmetic beauty! It is believed to help remove acne and promote smooth skin. We even joked that I should bring some back to mix with my BB cream haha! I think I need it, I was having a breakout then. The cream is also anti fungal, too!
What are the kids doing you might ask? They are in the midst of having a Christmas party (and we’re crashing it, lol!)
Cheeky Helen :’)
Please pardon my make up free face and don’t ask why I look so different here from the pictures on Instagram HAHAH. I don’t believe in putting anymore make up especially when I’m here to serve + it’s really tiring to get up so early in the morning.
Upon our arrival, the children were actually singing Christmas carols in Burmese! I immediately felt tears well up. Ahh, tears of joy…I know that all too well. It’s a familiar sense of warmth that suddenly enveloped me, and I turned my head away. Their loud voices, filled with enthusiasm and joy despite any circumstances…was too overwhelming for me. I do not need to see to feel the joy, all I needed was to hear their loud singing voices. The melody still rings in my ears today, and even though I do not understand a single lyric they are saying, I felt as though I was hearing the familiar in the foreign.
This is Pastor Bar (i think that’s how we spell his name, at least that’s how its pronounced) and he’s really a respectable pastor and really has a heart for his people and fellow Burmese citizens. Really loving to the kids and patient to whoever is in need.
I was listening to my own travel playlist on Spotify on the bus ride to Pyay and in fact, was deciding which song I should use for my vlog later back in Singapore. I had such a hard time because every song (especially Monsters and Men) fits the mood of this trip perfectly! I concentrated on every tempo, every beat and every note. Each song actually brought my imagination to one country that I hope to visit. It’s magical. However, when I heard Michael Jackson’s Heal The World, and now looked at these kids singing, I immediately knew I have found The One. It would be this trip’s jam. It brought me to tears.
I had visions in my mind of how I would help the poorer of humanity in future, that I am doing something for this world, and seeing these happy faces that I have never met before. I guess I’m excited to do more of this, to spread God’s love, and also because I find it immensely meaningful to volunteer and travel at the same time.
If you’ve read my TV show reviews under “Films”, you would know I am currently re-watching a Hong Kong show called No Regrets. People from high school might remember me going crazy about the show. In all the Hollywood movies and HK dramas or Singapore dramas I’ve watched, this series is one of the most inspiring and I find it very applicable in this situation.
“戏中九姑娘常说 “救得一个得一个”，希望大家心中都有个九姑娘。” 🙂
Next, we prepared some station games for the kids by setting up 5 game booths outside at the alleyway. The children are kept occupied in the church doing other activities while we set up. We also bought lots of prizes for them!
Setting up and testing out the games for ourselves! There’s this one game (see below) where the children have to put a biscuit on their forehead and try to eat it without touching it with their hands at all.
The children are kept very busy inside the church.
After we finished setting up, we finally invited the children out to play with us and give a shot at those station games. They were super happy! We gave out game prizes according to their score in the game but those who did not score will look at me with those puppy eyes & in the end I couldn’t resist being so bad so I gave all of them the prize. HAHA.
This cute lil guy who wore matching colours with me!!
Then after all the games, we gave out cakes and pumped countless balloons for them. I mean countless when I say countless…it was a lot of balloons…
Here we are bringing the balloons into the church hall for distribution!
When we entered those halls with the balloons, it was chaotic. Chaotic! The children were super excited and they all flooded around me, us, and we distributed it to them one by one like some rationing program hahaha. It’s surprising everyone knew what they had to do and everything somehow went smoothly in the end. It’s almost a miracle everyone played a part and contributed, and no one was left standing there not knowing what to do.
Us carrying the balloons in!!
And…look at the children’s eager faces as they watch us bring in more and more balloons. So cuteeee
I think God wired me to be a dreamer, a firm believer in humanity, a romantic that lived for people and relationships and memories and experiences. I’m invested in what has been and what could be. That’s why I felt connected with these kids so much and I’m seriously considering missions. I have seen people look at me with the “are you mad” look when I tell them about my decision. However, I think it is in the path less trod where the treasure lies unfound. Of course there’ll be dragons, but I’ll have a unique experience.
And the scene gets chaotic from here…look out
Pastor Bar amidst the kids!
Night falls really quickly. How the church looks past 8pm.
I guess because I’m typing this at this point in time, when I have already graduated, I would say I’m never the sort that lives for money and power and fixed schedules. And if that’s what the design industry is going to give me, then sorry. I wouldn’t buy into the lies of commercialism and whatever corporate ladder shit. I cannot bring myself to live like this anymore after I have seen these kids and experienced such love. I believe there is more to life than the mundane. I honestly love design, and I surely wouldn’t mind taking on exciting projects that enhance myself, challenge my skills and benefits the society (eg. those projects I read on Underscore mag which are really good). However, if I’m just going to do some first world country routine, aimlessly designing brochures for cat biscuits and whatnot, then I wouldn’t buy it.
This girl in white shirt keeps looking at me since the beginning when I first entered the church! She’s really warm and keeps clinging onto me afterwards because we made a lot of eye contact prior. She just kept following me and I’m not sure what is it about me that draws her hahaha. I really like her bc she’s really sweet. I asked for her name but sadly it was really hard to pronounce and I forgot upon reaching Singapore. I saw her for the next two days so I’ll be talking more about her later!
By the time Day 2 ended and we headed off for dinner, I was famished!!! On a side note, I really wish to speak more to Lucy, my leader & pastor John. I think I can learn a lot from them both! so I made myself promise to make use of the remaining 3 days to bond with them. I knew Pastor John since I was little because my parents & godparents are good friends with him but I didn’t see him for a few long years already. It’s a little awkward how we didn’t really acknowledge each other’s presence, especially when you are sure that it’s the other person (not that you cannot recognise each other or anything) and it’s been two days! I really want to break the awkward silence.
Pastor John is the one in pink shirt hahaha. Here we are at the dinner table.
Yum looks really good! Burmese food is quite oily though. We could get them at really affordable prices too, plus the serving size is really huge. I didn’t even finish this plate of Bee Hoon……pls don’t scold me for food wastage but my appetite was really pushed to its maximum LOL
Another important thing I forgot to mention, is that Joshua and I discovered that we’re actually long lost kindergarten friends!! Like…..wtf…..now that I remember, there’s actually a Joshua in my class. I’m so happy. Once kindergarten buddies, now mission buddies. I just can’t believe we took so long to realise it because we sat thru 3-4 planning sessions in Singapore prior the trip and didn’t even talk to each other LOL.
“When I first saw you there was something about you being super familiar, like I have seen you somewhere but I couldn’t remember where,” he told me. He was beside me this whole time yet my memory probably failed me.
At least I’m happy we talked then, for a start, because I remember thinking how boring the trip would be if I had no one my age to talk to. Glad that God reunited our friendship and come to think of it, it’s quite peculiar how I posted on Instagram a few days prior the trip, saying I want to search for one of my kindergarten friends named Ryan but I found Joshua instead loooool.
Then the team and I went back to our hotel at night!
That’s all for Day 2. Please stay tuned for day 3-5 in Myanmar mission trip Part 3!