You are our greatest gift–our family, our dearest, lifelong friends. We’ve known this. After returning from Burma, this realization has gone deeper than we knew it could.
Our time was well spent in Burma; we grew great relationships, shared love from family to family, waged some peace, and saw some beautiful places. It wasn’t until we returned home and met with our friends and family here, delivering gifts, photos, and greetings from Burma, that we realized how special was our trip there. In processing our time and relationships, new and old, we’re left speechless, but this is our best attempt at describing our heartfelt emotions and enormous experiences in Burma and Saudi Aurora.
Recently, UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) hosted its annual Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony to honor someone who has shown particular dedication to the plight of refugees the past year. At the ceremony, Lebanese-Swedish singer Maher Zain performed a new song called One Day, where he artfully and passionately reflects on the emotions that every refugee must endure.
You can watch a video of his performance here. If you imagine yourself a refugee when you listen, these lyrics are powerful:
One day I can reach that rainbow
Watch the sweet reflection
Shining off my first home
I’d give anything to see my family again
And say how much I love them
That’s all I imagine
Our friends in Saudi Aurora would give anything to see their families again, and say how much they love them. It’s all they imagine. And their families half-a-world away feel the same longing. It was a great privilege of our life to have the opportunity and relationships to be a familial extension of one family branch to another, perhaps bringing new life to family trees once cut down.
Whether it was a lonely, aging mother fervently praying over us or goofing off with the college-aged siblings of our brothers in Saudi Aurora, our days in Burma moved us. From hearing parents say “I feel like our children have come home at last,” to showing our friends, with tear-filled eyes, the photos of how their young siblings have grown into adulthood on the other side of the globe, our blessing of family was deepened in Burma.
Many of you have heard us speak of our desire to apply our mission and vision to new communities in the developing world. In some ways, this trip was preparation to fulfill that call. We don’t know where we will go or what, specifically, we will do, but we did advance some thoughts during our trip.
We’ve seen and felt on a deeper level the pain experienced in the hearts of our friends in Saudi Aurora and in the hearts of their families abroad. Thinking of that pain and our plans to leave the U.S. and all we call ‘home’ and our ‘family’ for a time (how long, we don’t know), brings a great deal of apprehension and fear into our minds. How can we possibly leave you behind, our most beloved? The thought of missing even one year of our niece and nephew growing up brings buckets of tears to our eyes. And that’s just at the thought of separation! We see and feel the persistent emotions our friends endure here, in Saudi Aurora; and we know we can’t accept the gift of our family without paying it forward to those without (“Freely you have received; freely give.” – Jesus). We can’t keep feasting when others are starving. We can’t keep getting love dumped on us without pouring it back out. We need to be willing to go, no matter the cost.
In the meantime, the holiday season is upon us. Whether in its presence or in its absence, family is felt most deeply at this time. And as we’ve done in years past, we’ll spend the holidays with family and attempting to be family to those who have been uprooted. Will you join us on this trip?
Until next time, peace, we love you.