A letter from Amy Davisson Galetzka in Thailand
It has been a busy and wonderful year so far. I write from Thailand during the hot humid rainy season. The past few months have flown by and held some encouraging and exciting things. There have also been disappointments.
Challenges for people in Burma
Continuing violence and attacks in Burma, not stopped by the government in Burma but carried out by their army. It is a complicated situation, but things have not changed significantly for the better for the people we work with in the war zones and even temporary ceasefire areas.
The relief teams I help to coordinate have seen continued displacement in Kachin State as well as ongoing human rights violations and difficulties for those in other ethnic states of Burma. Our teams will continue to serve the people in need through emergency relief in the form of medical care, shelter, and other practical ways as well as encouragement that they are not forgotten by God or their neighbors.
Here is an excerpt of one relief team report, sharing the story of one lady who received material help and hopefully some encouragement from the relief teams (http://www.freeburmarangers.org/reports/):
On 30 November 2011, the families in Zin Lu Ka Gi Village quickly packed what belongings they could carry and fled their village. The oncoming Burma Army troops had 600 soldiers and horses and mules for carrying supplies. One resident interviewed by our teams, Nam Bauk, together with her husband, Ma La Mai Zau Tu, packed what she could. However, they were limited by also having to carry the youngest of their seven children, only one year old. They walked for an hour until they reached a road and then were able to make their way by foot and motorcycle close to Maija Yang, where camps had been set up for people fleeing attacks. But November is cold and they realized they needed clothing and other things, especially for the baby. Ma La Mai Zau Tu decided to go back and see if he could safely retrieve some of their belongings. At some point after he left, his wife called him—only to have the phone answered by a strange voice, a man’s voice, a voice that spoke Burmese. The man laughed; he said he was having a drink with her husband. He hung up. After several days of hearing nothing more, she called again. This time there was no joking on the other end: “Your husband is dead.”
Later Ma La Mai Zau Tu’s father went back to see what he could find, to look for any final sign of—or maybe from—his son. All he found was a pile of the baby’s clothes strewn by the side of the road, where they had been dropped. Nam Bauk is now left with questions: “Why did they kill him? He wasn’t a soldier—he was a pastor.” She lives now in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp, in a 3-by-3-meter cubicle, separated from her neighbors on three sides only by a thin sheet of plywood. New to this situation, she is disbelieving that it can last long—she says, “This cannot happen in the future. The future will be better.”
Nam Bauk was just one of thousands of people who came to eight Good Life Club programs conducted by the new relief teams on this, their first mission. She and the many others like her whom we met and interviewed both challenged us in our mission and also deepened it as we were forced to go beyond simply providing help and consider what it really meant to give hope and love.
Many local partners, some international volunteers, and I are working to start a foundation in Thailand that will serve as an umbrella organization for the projects I’m already working on. All the paperwork has now been filed!
The name of the new foundation is PanRak Foundation (the meaning of PanRak is "Sharing Love"). The vision statement for this new foundation: To share love in tangible ways that bless people. The mission: To bring help, hope and love through the support of education, health, relief, leadership and spiritual development and culture.
One way the foundation will share love is in the support of two boarding hostels for children that allow them to live in an area where they will get a better education. Near one of the hostels, in a remote jungle area, the foundation will also support a medical clinic, which hosts periodic eye surgery and teaching by guest doctors, as well as a church.
Prayer would be appreciated for a smooth application process, and approval in God’s timing. This will not change my involvement in support and coordination of the relief work.
I was blessed to attend a gathering of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission workers from Asia and the Pacific during May. That was a time of refreshment—learning, meeting new friends, and enjoying time in a beautiful place. I was inspired to learn about the wide variety of locations and ministries that are taking place in this region by people highly skilled, committed and full of God’s love.
Johnny and I are getting excited to meet our new little girl—less than six weeks until we get to meet our precious new family member. She is due October 6. We are still praying and thinking about the perfect name for her.
To keep in mind for PRAYER
For my mom (Beth) who just underwent surgery for recurring lung cancer; prayers for recovery
For healing a co-worker (Shannon) who has necrosis of her left temporal lobe (she does an amazing job helping me manage finances for work)
For Johnny’s safety and blessing as he travels in Nepal (his work as a geologist continues to take him to Nepal, Taiwan and other places in Asia, as well as Mexico and South America)
For wisdom and the right words as I’m preparing midterm reports for donors and articulating what the relief teams do for people interested in supporting this work. For continued and increased support for the needs of the displaced communities
For peace and justice in Burma, a stop to the attacks and persecution there
I will be in the U.S.A. through January 2013 to prepare for and have our baby, and then have some maternity leave. I hope to see some of you while I am there and introduce you to her. In December and January, I will also be available to speak at your church or group or chat by Skype or phone if you are interested in hearing more about Burma and Thailand. It is always a blessing to hear from you!
May God Bless you richly,
Skype: amydavisson / USA # 626.807.1976 / Thailand # +6681.034.0454
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 183