They made forts in the living room which I had to fix every two minutes and they threw play-dough “snowballs” at each other and ate strawberries and cereal for lunch. We danced to the “pink CD” as Aiden calls it, filled with God songs, and by danced I mean I twirled them until we were dizzy.
And at night, when the kids were in bed, I sat on the couch in my flannels and ate chocolate and watched Portlandia for the first time. I began imagining a show about our hamlet, Neerlandia. I began picturing dancing Dutch reformed clowns and it scared me.
So then I found a documentary about Burma. And it wrecked me.
They Call it Myanmar, this “Burma,” this little forgotten country squeezed between India, China and Thailand, and I cried. For the faces of the eight and nine and 13 year old boys hauling rocks and working in factories and serving tea to tourists.
And when asked about school, they say they had only made it to grade one. And when asked why they couldn’t go anymore, they said it cost too much.
It costs $5 for a child in Burma to attend school for the year. Five dollars.
And they’re all hunched and sunken and sad, and “When you’re hungry,” the narrator says, “you’ll do anything, including send your children out to work, or even sell them.”
I thought about my sons. About their full, round bellies and the way I can stay at home and teach them their ABCs and their numbers while Trent works as a teacher, and how my biggest problem is figuring out whether to send Aiden next year to the local Christian pre-school or keep him home, because he’s a November baby.
I was angry. I was angry at where I lived, at how many five dollar bills sat in my wallet, at how I could sit on my couch eating chocolate while families across the ocean have to send their children to the streets so they can eat. And most of those families? Eat one meal a day, or less.
My kids have five meals a day. Mostly snacks, but still.
How do I change this? What can we do?
Well, I’ll give, financially.
And I’ll teach my sons about Myanmar, and we’ll watch documentaries together about the world’s hurting, and I’ll hold them when they cry into my heart over the pain they didn’t know existed.
And at night, as I lean over my boys, I’ll pray, “Dear God, please use my children to help your people.”
It’s a start. Sometimes I ask Trent if we can move overseas. He always laughs and pulls me close and messes with my hair but I’m not laughing.
For now, I’ll urge my sons to get their education for those eight and nine year old boys who can’t.
And then Go, I’ll whisper to them. Go, and change the world!