This blog is brought to you by 18-year-old Max from Singapore who visited one of our Transitional Homes in Myanmar.
It is pouring by the time we settle down in the shelter—four wooden poles supporting a corrugated zinc roof. The benches have been arranged in a wonky pentagonal shape and are packed with kids sitting shoulder to shoulder.
We’re all looking expectantly at the lady standing in the middle of the circle. Aunty Lucy says she has something to share with us, but we can barely hear her voice over the sound of water crashing onto the roof. (It sounds like this: ZZZZSSSHHHHHH!!!!!) So we bide our time playing a game, shouting, “ZIP! ZAP! ZOOM!” against the backdrop of the ocean falling to the ground around us.
And by the time the clouds clear, our ears are ringing and our jaws are aching from laughing so hard. When the translator gets to his feet, we are rudely reminded of the language barrier that had been demolished by the sound of our laughter. But he stands up anyway, so we sit in silence with our ears pressed flush against this metaphorical wall.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Aunty Lucy shares two passages I’ve read countless times—Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 29. She shares truths that I know like the back of my hand—God has a plan and it is good. But this time, I share the moment with youths who have hopes and dreams and aspirations; kids who are desperate to make a difference in the world, to serve God, and to have life in abundance.
These are young people who have lost either one or both of their parents, many to Cyclone Nargis that struck Burma in 2008. These kids live in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere, hours from the nearest town. Some will not graduate from high school, and many will not make it to university. Most have never been to the country’s de facto capital, Yangon, and may only do so much later in their lives.
And yet, for all the differences that emerge, I fit right in where I am seated among the Burmese youths. I fit right in because the girl across from me wants to be a lawyer too. I fit right in because I can’t wait to get my hands on the guitar being passed around. I fit right in because like everyone else there, I’m desperate for God’s plans to unfold in my life.
And in that moment, it strikes me powerfully that I could so easily be one of these youths— and yet, I am not.
“For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” -1 Corinthians 4:7
Standing on the threshold of this gap year, I have the world at my feet. I can pursue any interest, chase any dream, try anything. Standing on the threshold of adulthood, the world is my oyster. I can apply to any university, to read any subject.
So this evening, I lie in bed considering the blessing of Opportunity. Questions are swirling in my head, as mosquitoes buzz overhead: what will I make of these opportunities? How can I make the most of what I have? Will I have the courage to use the freedom I enjoy in a way that serves others and honours God?