• Malialani Dullanty

Myanmar :: Day Four

This picture is life.

It's Day Four.

"Now that we're friends, do you wanna hear me rap?"

We are up early again. Talking and laughing. And this time Ross has joined us for pre-dawn shenanigans. Cooler words have never been spoken and I am amazed. I expected to enjoy the show, I did not expect to need to pick my jaw up off the floor. I needed to. There is music and laughter floating in the thick air.

Breakfast is still milk tea and pad thai. We are telling our feelings. Kenton hears us saying... We are anxious about our last day with the large group. There is some concern about repercussions of teaching without understanding the culture. Being a team is difficult and messy and hard, but good. We are trying together, learning together, hoping together, moving forward together.

Kenton is preaching. Daniel is preaching. We are humbled to be with these people who do nothing but welcome us. Again and again we are welcomed, with more than words. They invite us in. We are beloved. We are bare foot, we are on the floor, we are surrounded by men, women, and children, we are shoulder to shoulder, we are pressed together body, heart, and minds. A unknown little boy lays his head in my lap and drapes my hand over his ear. Vibrant ordinary life.

We are breaking into two groups. The men disappear and the women and children spread out further, grouping up as instructed. I am recognizing friends and family members, becoming familiar with certain rhythms here. We are making bracelets. Talking about cycles and stringing beads. All the women are laughing and the little ones are sleeping or asking for help with beads. There is warmth in the room, and not just from the temperature. Our spirits are high and our hearts are full.

Becca is scribbling pictures and words phonetically, trying hard to grasp bits and pieces. Attempting to pick up on patterns. She is valiant and deciphers that study and cat are the same word with different emphases - or something. She scribbles down names and takes photos of as many women and girls as possible. We rewrite the names time and time again, and still it isn't perfect. But it is good.

Thanaka is a wood paste that is painted on smiling faces, they ask if they can paint it on ours. A sixteen year old girl uses a single finger to swipe it across my face. It is to help with the sun and acne and wrinkles and really anything. It is cold and gentle on my skin. Initially I feel like I'm wearing a mask, but then it dries and it feels like nothing. I forget it's even there. On my pale skin, it is hardly noticeable. The patterns look so much more interesting across their tan cheeks. And yes, I notice my skin is clearer after wearing it - make up companies be damned.

We are coming together again, the men dispersing on the street and bringing in lunch for the women and children. We are eating noodles in styrofoam bins. There has never been a better meal. Tiny bodies are climbing over us, smiling and asking questions. I'm drinking aloe and peach juice. It is perfection.

We are in groups again, making some magazine paper thing. I don't remember what it's called, but it doesn't matter. These women are better at it than any crafting party I've ever been to, holding strands between their toes or balanced on their laps. I love sitting on the floor. I play with kids as their mamas roll paper and create. I am content here. I could be here in this room forever.

This trip is not what I expected. This corner of the world is not what I expected. You would think I would know better after all my time in new cultures, but still I am surprised. Still I am enlivened. Still the world has new things to offer. Still I feel this is exactly who I am and what I want from my life. Still I am learning.


I hope I am always learning. I hope I never stop learning.

I am amazed by the hospitality, by the warm hospitality. The food fills my soul as well as my belly. Everyone touching me constantly is heaven. I am enamored by all the babies being handed to me. I laugh every time we pose for a picture and everyone's smiles disappear. I adore thanaka. The language sounds like the humming of hymns. I am content to be where I don't know where I am or what I'm doing or how to speak - and more than it is frustrating, it is perfection.

We are done with this section of our trip. We won't see some of these people again before leaving. Our hearts ache, but we know this is not the end. There is always more.

We buy gifts and longyis. We are debriefing. We are sharing from our hearts. We are tired and frustrated and excited and angry and joyful and sad and so so tired. We are together. We are walking to dinner. We meet Kap. Kenton has known him since they were at university, but they didn't know it. These are good moments. Beautiful moments.

Dinner is delicious.

We are debriefing again. We are sharing pictures and stories. We are sharing ourselves. We have made mistakes and we are allowing them to change us. To shift us. To help us learn.

We are always learning.


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©2015 The Dullanty Tribe.