I finally arrive in Myanmar last night. My plane odyssey was Omaha-Atlanta-Houston-Moscow-Singapore-Yangon-Mandalay. About 36 hours total. I slept on the planes a lot, but still arrived pretty tuckered out. This morning I will be attending church services, but not preaching. There is a team here from a church in Jacksonville, FL, a church that supports Myanmar Bible Institute. They have come for a visit and to encourage the wonderful folks here. A couple of quick reflections on what has changed in 10 years since I was last here:
1. The school, Myanmar Bible Institute, is now fully recognized by the government. It is not underground in any way. That does not mean they receive any help or respect from the government, but it is a step in the right direction.
2. Technology has had an impact. I am writing this from my room using the hotel’s wifi, but I get the impression that this does not happen very often. Still, all the faculty members of MBI have cell phones. I had the jarring experience of seeing an elderly Buddhist monk at the airport using an iPhone (cognitive dissonance?). But things are changing. Still, the experience at the airports was about the same. Hand stamped boarding passes. Attendants shouting out when flights were ready and herding people on. But it works.
3. I had an interesting conversation while waiting to get on the plane to Mandalay with a woman from Paris. Although she was a very normal looking French person in her 60s, she was in Myanmar on a Buddhist pilgrimage to visit holy sites. She was complaining to me of the lack of respect she had seen from Americans at some of the Buddhist shrines. Surprise! When I told her I was here to help at a Christian school in Pyin Oo Lwin, she was very surprised. “Not many Christians here,” was her comment. She assumed I was Roman Catholic and asked if my “order” sent me a lot of places. Very interesting. With the new freedoms now promised to the people of Myanmar, there may be a chance for growth of the church, but the Buddhist establishment will still be resistant, and they have a lot of influence.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I will try to blog a couple times this week.
Ceizu in ba de,