by Natalie, DTS student
Mazie picked up a stick from the ground and put it in her mouth.
“Mazie, no! Icky!” I jumped up and took the stick from her. She cried and I felt like joining her. I pulled her into my lap and wiped her tears away. I love my little girl, but it can be hard to be in a foreign country with such a busy child. Often, when the others on my team are having fun playing with the kids at the children’s home, I am looking after my own daughter.
“I just don’t feel like I’m making a real difference here,” I told Genae, replacing Mazie’s stick with a doll and setting her down to play. “I feel so useless.”
“It’s not always the big things you do that make a difference, like when the team does the dramas or puppet shows with the kids,” Genae said. “Often, the significant moments are when you’re just sharing one-on-one with someone.”
I nodded, uncertain that a time like that would come. And if it did, what would I share?
“Natalie,” Miriam, the children’s home director, called me over to where she sat under a thatched shelter. A young woman I hadn’t seen before sat beside her. She looked about my age.
In her arms, Miriam held a tiny baby. She held the child out to me and my heart melted. My sour mood lifted just at the sight of the girl, the gentle weight of her in my arms against my chest.
“This is Ruth, the baby’s mother,” Miriam said, indicating the young woman beside her. “Would you like to hear her story?”
I nodded, cooing at the baby and smoothing her soft hair on her forehead.
“Ruth is twenty-three. Her husband, a taxi driver, was recently sentenced to two years in prison for unknowingly transporting an illegal immigrant. Any kind of prison sentence is like a death sentence—the prisoners are mistreated and most die before they’ve finished their time. Ruth doesn’t know if she will see her husband again. And without a husband, Ruth has no income or a place to live. She came to this children’s home just now because there is no other place for her to go.”
My heart began to pound. Ruth’s story sounded much like my own, and I knew I should share it with her. I married young and had a child—a girl—right away. But my husband abandoned us less than a year later. I had nothing, not even a place to live, and nowhere to go. These last several months, God has provided for my daughter and me in miraculous ways. Even coming to Myanmar has been a miracle.
“God hasn’t left me homeless or hungry, or without people who love me,” I said. “Just as he has cared for me, he will care for you.”
Ruth began to cry and then my own tears came. We cried together for some time. After I prayed for her, I asked if there was anything I could do to help.
“I need a place to sleep,” she said. “I came here, but there isn’t room for us tonight.”
“I’ll be right back,” I said, and went to find Paul, the team leader. “Can we rent a room for Ruth at our hotel while we’re here?”
Paul looked through the team’s accounting ledger. “We can afford to put her up in a room for one night,” he said.
We would be in Myanmar for two more nights, so I asked if she could stay one of those nights in my room.
I told Ruth the good news and a look of relief crossed her face. She came back with us to our hotel and I prepared a space for her to sleep. I was delighted to do something so practical and useful!
Just as she began to settle in, an insistent knock pounded at the door. It was the hotel manager.
“This woman cannot stay at the hotel,” he said. “She is Burmese and you are American. The government will be suspicious.”
I was so discouraged and angry. Why was it so hard to help someone in need? Michaelia, one of my teammates, came with me to talk to the manager again. I don’t know how, but we convinced him to let us buy Ruth a room for that night.
The next morning, I spent time with Ruth. We read some of the Psalms that God had used to comfort me. Psalms about God being our defender and provider.
Later that morning, we returned to the children’s home. I wondered what difference one night in a hotel would make for this young mother. I felt like it wasn’t enough. Where would she go now?
But when I saw Miriam, all my questions were answered. “Ruth will stay with us tonight,” she said. “Then we will send her to live at another one of our homes that can help care for her baby as well.”
I was so amazed to see how God provided for Ruth and her child, just as He had cared for me and my baby. Ruth will be able to get a job nearby. She’ll be taught about Jesus. And she will have a safe place to raise her daughter. I’m so thankful that God IS our provider and our defender, no matter where we come from.