Our flight in was late, so we changed our meeting arrangements. Orm, the staff worker and a translator were all waiting for us at the airport. Orm's mom was not able to travel with her, so we didn't get to meet any of her family.
Do you notice how Orm is holding the staff worker's hand? She would not let go of the staff worker's hand and tried to stand behind her. (for the life of me I can't remember this woman's name...)
Now I would consider myself a kid person and would say that I know how to relate to kids and get them to interact with me. I've been teaching violin to kids for over 20 years, I teach Sunday school, I homeschool, I have kids of my own....interacting with kids is something I know how to do.
But Orm was a tough one. I would ask her questions, and she would look to the Compassion staff worker who would answer them for her. In fact, I only heard her voice a handful of times. When I asked what she wanted to know about me or our family, she just shook her head and looked away.
See...this is not a great story of connection. It was awkward...disappointing even. Big sigh....
After meeting up at the airport, we headed to the zoo for a couple hours.
It was sweltering hot, I don't know how she could keep this jacket on as long as she did! After a couple hours she started walking a bit on her own. Sometimes I would go up and just hug her. Do you see how sad she looks? I was not expecting this.
One thing I noticed was that her shoes were about two sizes too small...I'm so glad I took her a pair and that they fit perfectly! I didn't want to overwhelm her too much by taking too many photos - that's why quite a few are of her back.
The language barrier was HARD. Thai is such a hard (impossible) language to understand and imitate. It's so tonal, so unless you are pronouncing it correctly, you are likely saying something completely different. For example, you use the same word for horse and dog, but the difference is in how you say it. The translator would translate for us, but didn't go out of his way to help us connect us. This was also a bit disappointing.
After the zoo, we went to our friends' house for dinner. Our friends have lived in Thailand for more than 20 years and speak Thai fluently, so there was more conversation. They are even familiar with the Burmese tribe Orm's parents come from (the Wa). Culturally these children tend to be more shy than usual, but our friend admitted he's never met such a sad, quiet child. He tried very hard to engage her in conversation, and she did talk to him a little bit.
He told her several stories and shared the gospel with her. He even prayed with her and for her. Her parents are Buddhist (which is the predominant religion in Thailand) and so she's on her own when it comes to growing in Christ...well, not completely on her own...she's got Compassion, but she only goes to the project once a week (Sundays, all day).
I guess this is the silver lining...by meeting her, I know better how to pray for her. And although she seemed indifferent about our visit, I'm praying she will know just how much we love her. Another reminder that sponsorship isn't about us or what we can get out of it...it's about the children and how much they need God's love and hope in their lives.
I know this visit can be a launching point for a deeper relationship through letters.
As we were saying goodbye, I got a couple last photos...and a half smile.
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