I love these two people. I'm really not sure how I've been living without them constantly in my space for my entire life. They hate this picture. This fact makes it even better. We are living in the intensity that is culture shock and cross-cultural partnerships. We call ourselves the Snuggle Church. It's a catchy name. This hot-culture-climate fits perfectly with our level of crazy.
I'm still focused on my dream home. Walking dirt roads and watching children swing from trees, contagious laughter in the air. Giant pots of water and taro growing as tall as I am, pan fried fish and rice balls, laundry hanging in the sticky air and wooden slat floors eternally on my mind. But today is something new.
Today is Sunday, sabbath. And we are in new places. More coffee, more Milk Tea, more pad thai for breakfast. This is the flow. We are with Daniel and Oo in our majestic gray van, weaving through traffic. The city opens up, the landscape taking back what belongs to it. Roundabouts and bicycles, trucks packed full of people and scooters loaded with groceries. Alley ways that turn into foot paths line the procession, shrines and cornerstones light the way. We arrive at a five story building with razor wire, carefully stepping over broken cement that drops to sewage, but we can already hear the singing floating down like the sweetest heavenly chorus.
We stack our slippers and shoes on top of forty other pairs and crowd into this tiny apartment where men, women, and children are snuggled together singing. Bare feet and seated on the floor, I am soaking it all in. There is music and prayer and a serenity settled over the room. I'm content.
Experiencing what life is for other people in other cultures with other languages, this is my most magical place on earth. Every time I have the opportunity, in every different place on this earth, with every different kind of person. I see our shared humanity and I love it, in all its various forms.
Now we get to it. The kids, climbing all over one another, all over us. The Instax camera is maybe the best thing we have and every kid wants their own photo. There aren't enough translators, but the soft Burmese voices all piled on top of one another is calming rather than overwhelming. The women laugh at us as we pantomime animals and colors and other words, we laugh harder. The men are asking questions, playing hacky-sack, sweating profusely.
We are living life together. From places of understanding and miscommunication, through messy and imperfect but deep unconditional love, we are building relationships. We share ourselves and each of these beautiful souls shares a piece of who they are. So much laughter, healthy and unhealthy moments of living real life. I belong here.
The van ride to lunch is both quiet with reflection and bursting with conversation. Daniel shares his heart, who he is, his hopes and dreams with us over thirty different dishes I cannot name. I see him as he is, or I hope I see him. His heart for people is immense, his desire for them to feel love is deep, his care for them is unmeasured and abounding. This man is my brother.
We are debriefing, alway debriefing; highs and lows, "I feel" statements, discussion around discussion around discussion. Trips like these are always riddled with intensity, this one is no different. I will long for this after it's done. Why don't we take the time to debrief everyday always?
Becca is introducing us to people from her past. We are riding bikes and zipping past Buddhist Temples with flashing neon lights and cotton candy dispensaries. I don't feel good in the ritzy bar they drop us at. I prefer the slums. I want to sit on the floor with people stacked on people. I want everything and everyone to have equality. And that seems impossible on the deck of this yacht hotel. I'm struggling. I don't belong here.
More debriefing, and snuggle church is good and affirming. But I go to bed exhausted by feelings of un-belonging. Confused and frustrated by where I fit in the world.