Update #2 From Pawdaymu

First of all, here is Part 1

Pawdaymu is an American sister serving as a need-greater in Myanmar. I know her parents well and I have watched her grow up. As is frequently the case with our young, particularly our zealous young, she got so many followers on Instagram that she had a hard time keeping up. She wanted to jettison some, but she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Particularly trying to her were some who had left the faith, some of whom, in time, began to post pictures of themselves such as might appear in the Watchtower magazine depicting ‘the world.’ It’s up to them if they want to go that way, Pawdaymu is not judgmental. She is not wound up to tight because her dad is not wound up too tight, and when a student asked her: “Will only Jehovah’s Witnesses be saved?” she said, “Well, I’m not Jesus, and I don’t know.” No, they can go there if they want, but they do put themselves lower on her Instagram priority list, which is already too long. So she vanished as a person under her own name, but resurfaced as Pawdaymu, a not uncommon name in Myanmar, which means ‘little sister flower. It didn't really fool anyone. Her ruse was discovered in no time at all, word got around, and she may now have more followers than before.

Her American friends come to visit in Myanmar and the husband is a sensation. Of Edward, the host Karen brother travels to the friends’ homes and announces: “Negro American coming! Negro American coming!” Presently Edward tells him that it’s not how they do it in America, it’s not considered polite. ‘Oh,’ the brother says, much distressed that he has done it wrong. ‘Well, what do you call yourself?’ and Edward says ‘black.’ “BLLLLAAACCKKKKKKK American Coming! BLLLLAAACCKKKKKKK American coming!” he switches gears. “Negro is fine,” Edward finally tells him.

Edward is also huge and he towers over his Karen hosts; the Karen are a tiny people. They typically have bamboo ladders leading up to their homes on account of monsoon season, and he breaks a rung while climbing. Much abashed and apologetic, he takes to clambering around on all fours to better distribute his weight, and he carefully chooses the support beams. One can only imagine what they do with that image.

Is it only black brothers who create a stir among the humble people who rarely see anyone not their own? Pawdaymu and her husband ride a crowded city bus which stops to pick up yet another passenger. On spotting them, he cries out: “Hey, there’s white people on this bus!” Pawdaymu’s husband is not shy, and he instantly hollers: “White people! Where?” This sets the place in stitches and causes the man much embarrassment; never did he dream that a white person would speak the language. But Pawdaymu’s husband is personable and he puts the fellow at ease. In the end, he places him a brochure on family themes and the man passes it throughout the bus.

They are immensely appreciative there that outsiders would willingly accept much lower standards so as to dwell amidst them in order to teach the Bible. As Pawdaymu conducts one Bible study with a woman, her husband melts in the corner, for it is almost 100 degrees. This alarms the woman, who insists on fanning him. Next, they must go to a nearby village where he will conduct the study and the woman insists upon coming along, fanning him all the way. “The teachers are here!” she cries as they approach, and she fans him throughout the study. You cannot break them of this, treating visitors like kings. It harkens back to Pawdaymu and her husband catering to the same ethnic group in America. They enter for the pre-arranged study and sit on the floor, like their hosts. This sends the latter into a panic. “No!” they cry. “You must sit here,” pointing to the chair. “That is where the leader sits.” No amount of protest will dissuade them. So Pawdaymu and husband sit on the chairs and slide down onto the floor during the course of the study.

 

Rangood


It's Because We're Jehovah's Witnesses - A Respite from Monsoon Living

When the border guard asked my daughter's friend from Canada, recently Honduras, how she knew her companion from Australia, recently Myammar, who both had come to visit American friends and camp in the Adirondacks, she, caught unawares, said the first thing that popped into her mind: "We're Jehovah's Witnesses." The guard accepted that as the answer, and he pursued the topic no more.

Did he do so because he knew that with Witnesses, national divisions mean nothing and they routinely hop all over the globe? Or was he a scaredy-cat who feared they might witness to him?

The two had stopped by the house to pick up the Aussie's suitcase, which through some crazy sequence of events that I did not even try to get my head around, yet another friend had stored at my house for safekeeping, they being in and out too much to reliably be at home for pickup and subsequently taking for granted that I was a stick-in-the-mud who would be. I learned long ago that I am no longer TrueTom but my childrens' dad. I do what I am told and I don't open my mouth; it just complicates things.

California was burning up on the TV with the state's greatest fire in history when they arrived and they were dismayed at the sight, but there were no mentions of the 'last days' on that account. Their dismay was tempered by the fact that they get around and see and hear of such disasters all the time. For the most part, American TV news cares only about what is happening within the country, and if calamity strikes people elsewhere, it is barely a footnote, unless it is kids trapped in a Cambodian cave.

Certain numbers of Jehovah's Witnesses' youth have long volunteered to serve as missionaries abroad, being trained at a school called Gilead to do this. About 20 years ago, the general invitation was sent out to just about anybody, young or old, who could work it into their lives, following the example of Paul ('step over into Macedonia, and help us') to relocate temporarily or even permanently anyplace on earth where there was a preaching need. A sizable minority of our youths take them up on this. My daughter has done so.

Though grueling in many ways, she and her husband love the experience. The Branch, she says, takes substantial care to ensure that the experience will be a good one and that no one arrives unprepared. They know that the volunteers are stepping far outside of their comfort zone and they bring them up to speed on cultural, political and safety climate, so that these produce as few surprises as possible.

When my daughter experienced severe dental problems, a resurfacing of injuries suffered as a teen, it turned out that she could hardly have been in a better place. She flew to nearby Thailand, which has dental clinics so excellent and relatively affordable that Americans halfway around the world line up to fly there. She did it discreetly, conscious that for most of her new native friends, if they suffered such injuries, they would simply go toothless. However, the locals asked her husband point blank about where they had been, and when they learned the answer, they bore no one any ill will. There is a general gratitude that outsiders would willingly accept vastly lower standards of living, and they are not expected to "go native" in every respect.

Not all can acclimate. One friend, of slight build to begin with, became quite ill in her new home and had to leave. I figured she had caught some horrid disease and perhaps her goose would be cooked, even back in the States, but she promptly put the weight back on and thrived. "Some foreigners simply can't hack the change," nod the locals, as they wade through eight inches of routine monsoon water in pedal-to-the-metal humidity.

My daughter had sufficient lead-in to her new life and learned how to handle herself long ago. Working with a congregation in the Dominican Republic, the young boys would surround her lodging and yell teasingly: "Hunnah! You are oogly!" But she would reply: "Thank you! That is so nice of you to say that!" and they, unsure of their English skills, would walk away confused. All dads can be relied upon to overstate their children's attributes, but suffice it to say that she is, by no stretch of the imagination, ugly, let alone oogly.

 

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