We want to thank Julie for providing us with an insider's look into this meaningful experience. The purpose of this Friendship Tour is to strengthen existing relationships and create new ones by meeting with Baptist leaders and congregations in these countries. We are thrilled to hear about the wonderful relationships already being formed on behalf of the BPFNA.
We arrived in Yangon on Friday evening, Jan 19. On Saturday we spent the day with [Burmese exhile] Ko Ko Lay and staff at Karen Theological Seminary. We were received warmly by Ko Ko Lay, staff, and students. We visited the campus, including spending some time talking to the students in their dorms. We then went to a nearby teashop where we sat and began to discuss the current political situation. This was a great experience - I was well aware that people in Myanmar (mostly the men) go to the teashops and spend time discussing current events, politics, etc. So here we were in a similar setting doing the same - however, more openly.
Later in the day Ko Ko Lay, Ms. Maureen Shwe Ba (Seminary Auditor), and Dr. Ai Doh (Seminary VP) took us to Bogyoke Market (the central public market) and to Shwedagon Pagoda.
On Sunday, we attended Ywama Baptist Church, on the invitation of Dr. Maung Maung Yin, Vice Principal of Myanmar Institute of Theology, Pastor of Ywama Baptist Church in Insein, and longtime friend of the BPFNA. In addition to us four from BPFNA, there were two additional groups of Swedish Baptists. Prior to the church service, we visited the charity clinic operated by the church. On Sunday mornings for 4 hours they see up to 100 patients. Everyone is welcome at the clinic and they pay nothing to see a doctor.
While at church, we learned from a Swedish journalist that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was expected to give a public address on Monday morning at the office of the National League for Democracy located in Yangon.
On Monday we visited HOPE International Development Agency - met with staff to discuss the work of HOPE. The majority of their work is centered around building the capacity of civil society, and they use many of the materials developed by Eastern Mennonite University.
Our second visit of the day was to the office of the National League for Democracy to see if we could catch the speech by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. When we arrived, we observed a lot of people milling around openly wearing NLD buttons, shirts, and selling NLD newspapers. Eventually we learned that there was not going to be a speech after all at the time earlier given, and no one knew exactly what was going to happen. Even though we did not see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, it was interesting to hang around the NLD office and observe the people coming and going.
Our third visit was to Myanmar Institute of Theology and Dr. Maung Maung Yin. We discussed the Peace Studies Program that he directs and had lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Tuesday we are going to Pathein by car with Ko Ko Lay. Pathien is located in the delta region that was hit badly by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. We will visit a Bible School and a typical village.
Read the following for more information about the current BPFNA Friendship Tours!
FT to Burma/Myanmar & Thailand
FT to Tijuana, Mexico