NoSa, ZarZar, ThaZin and TinSay arrived on Thursday evening, August 23, around 6 PM.
Despite 3 days of travel from halfway around the world, everyone seemed upbeat and enthusiastic. Smiling faces and handshakes all around.
Kyaw Kyaw (it's pronounced Ja Ja), their case worker, drove the Lams to the apartment. Dianne went ahead, meeting up with Jill at the apartment. Within minutes after Jill and Dianne went inside, Kyaw and Kyaw and the Lam family arrived, quickly followed by ZarZar's sister (JuMaBee), who arrived in the US as a refugee just this past month, and many others from the local Burmese community. Kyaw Kyaw translated while Dianne went over the basic things in the apartment with NoSa and ZarZar. Little ThaZin and TinSay were happily beaming and bouncing all over their room, hugging the baby doll, playing with their blocks, and they quickly attached themselves to our Jill. Friends and family overflowed the living room couches. What a tumble of joy and excitement as the Lams were warmly welcomed into the embrace of the Burmese already here.
ThaZin and TinSay were dressed in their new American outfits and were even more beautiful than yesterday. They're very curious and friendly, though just a bit shy. Too cute for words. The Burmese are a stunningly beautiful people, and of course, the children more so.
A Burmese friend at the same apartment complex, HlaMynt, came along for a trip to Walmart to buy some essential clothing items. HlaMynt is a young man who has been here a month and already speaks a bit of English, so he was able to do a little translation...just a little. HlaMynt was very proud to tell Dianne that he speaks Karen (an ethnic minority in Burma who are a main target of the persecution), Thai, Burmese, and now English. Dianne asked if watching TV was helping his English, and he told her that he didn't have one. That helped to explain the crowd gathered around our little bitty TV last night!
ZarZar made a beeline to the little girls department and picked out 2 sweet little dresses (Muslims seem to prefer to dress the little girls in dresses). NoSa had a hard time choosing a pair of pants - he finally settled on one. They shopped for him in the boys department and he chose a size 12 boys. It was the right length, although we're thinking it would have been better if we could have convinced him to buy size 16 (Dianne told him not to cut off the tags until he tries it on at home and is sure it fits). He'll wear the longyi (Burmese wrap-style skirt) at home, but western pants when going out.
Lastly, ZarZar shopped for herself. The smallest size they could find at WalMart was a 4, so we're hoping it's not too big. ZarZar chose a red polo shirt (she very definitely wanted the red one!) and a pair of casual capri length pants. Thank goodness for capris, as they won't be dragging on the ground.
Kyaw Kyaw will be taking the Lam family to many appointments to get all their paper work in order. He's confident they will be working within a month; in fact, NoSa already has a job waiting, pending his papers. They will take ESL classes right at the apartment complex. Kyaw Kyaw already explained our money to them, and they seem to be very quick learners. Dianne left a map for them with the local grocery stores, Walgreens and 99 Cent Store marked.
So how can we help?
Our main job is done - we've provided a home with all the basics, but we may yet be called on in the weeks to come. And of course, please keep them in your prayers.
Following this very busy week with Kyaw Kyaw, they might need us to take them for basic food shopping. ThaZin will need school supplies and perhaps a backpack. They might need to be driven to appointments, like the doctor or dentist.
When they start their ESL classes, they will surely benefit from frequent, short practice sessions with some of us. They'll have study materials from the ESL classes, so if this sounds like something you'd enjoy doing with them, let us know.
All political asylum refugees are required to pay back the cost of their transportation to the US - payback starts quickly, at their 6 month anniversary. The good news is that NoSa seems to be outgoing, quick, enthusiastic and independent-minded. We envision them making a good adjustment.
Grace has done an amazing job providing everything that was needed for the family's arrival. We'll continue to keep you updated as to what is happening in their lives and where you might be able to help.