Friday, October 1, 2010


Our latest adventure took us to Myanmar which is pronounced, "Myanma". In their language they always drop the last letter of the words or names. So for example the city we were in is called, "Yangon" but drop the "n" and the word is pronounced "Yango". There are 40 million people who live here with about 4 million of them live in Yangon which is the capital. There were about 60 members of the church in attendance at their Sunday meetings. The membership is growing. For example they have a baptism that should occur today as well . There are no young missionaries in the country but we have 2 couples who serve in Yangon. They live in a beautiful apartment that looks out over the landscape of the city and is clean and would compare to any apartment in Canada or the USA.

The people are wonderful in the country. Kind, considerate and full of all the energy you can imagine.

The thing that has amazed me the most in our travels is the connection between wealth and happiness or should I say, "lack of connection". In all of these countries they live on very little. For example a teacher earns about $50 USD a month. If anyone needs food they have access to it either by purchasing it for very little or they have plants or chickens that are available to anyone who is willing to harvest.

In all cases the people appear as happy or happier then most in North American cities. They create the life they live vs. wait for someone else to do it for them. They don't fear the person next door so to speak. To date I have never seen anything that would be close to violence or crime. No one is under any form of threat that I have ever seen. It almost seems contradictory to the way we have thought in the past. I'm not sure that the North American way of life would bless these people.

Now they do have some "unique" elements in Myanmar. The country in lead by military rule. The General is in charge and everything you can think of, goes with that. They control communication and movement. For example you can't mail or courier anything into or out of this country. I mean nothing. So for example we were replacing the computer equipment for the couples and had to carry it with us. Part of that was this huge box with a new multi-function printer in it. At customs they would not allow it enter because it had a "fax" function. They can't control a fax signal. So our box remained at the airport until we departed back to Thailand with it in hand. The couples who live there need written permission to enter any public building (school, hospital etc.). All electronic signals are monitored and screened. So email is blocked in many cases. If you get beyond this stuff the rest of the experience is like any other country in the area. It looks a lot like Laos in my opinion.

Now the other twist, the USA has sanctions on this country so they have no banking systems with the outside world. No money can come in our go out so to speak. You can't use a credit card in any situation. No ATM, no check cashing, no access to money of any kind. The only thing you can use is "crisp $100 USA bills". If it has folds or winkles they won't accept them. The couple forgot to tell us this point so fortunately we had just enough money to pay the hotel and with meals costing as little as $1 a person per meal we made it.

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