Sunday was a day long awaited for me. I've been wanting to go to Myanmar for years - since college in fact, but one thing after another and every time I went to Asia, there were problems in Myanmar that made it impossible for me to go. So, I guess I wasn't surprised that I couldn't really even sleep on Saturday night. We had to get up around 4:30 so we could get in a cab for 5 and make it to the airport for our early morning flight.
A few months ago, through some googling on-line, I was connected with a woman who connected me with another woman who has learned a lot about Ann and Adoniram Judson and she's started a touring company based on their lives. I hired her for $30 to give us a tour around the city and it was great. She arranged for the car and all and met us at the airport in the morning.
As we drove out of the airport and towards the city center I was actually pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and tidy things were. Below are pictures around one of the large lakes in Yangon with these beautiful walkways and greenery all around the lake. I later found out that all the greenery going into the city center was only 6 months old as it had all been added to spruce things up for when Hillary and Obama came to town. Rachael, our guide, does think that they will continue to care for and tend to all the beautification that they did.
Our first stop going into the city was the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. This is a pagoda thats about 2500 years old. When the Judson's started their work in Myanmar, they started with a little booth/house right on the road going up to the pagoda. Adoniram would teach the Bible as the people went up to pray at the pagoda and within about 6 months they actually had seen their first convert who would come everyday to hear the Word and ask questions.
This is Burmese writing on the walkway going into the Pagoda.
And inside the Pagoda. There are booths all over inside that people build and then put their names on and upkeep. People will walk around and then just chose a booth to worship in.
This is Rachael and Rachel... :)
If you notice the yellow "paint" on the small boys faces.... Its actually a tree that they take the bark, grind it up and mix it with water and then put it on their faces as sunscreen. Its crazy though as people will do all kinds of painting on their faces and I don't even see how it acts as sunscreen when it only covers a part of your face?
There are these big bells on all the corners of the pagoda and when you do a good work, you go up to the bell and hit it three of four times with the big stick. People are then supposed to yell a response of congratulations to you that you did something good. Depending on what you did dictates how many times you hit the bell. Kind of completely opposite of what we're supposed to do as Christians - it kind of made me laugh to think how sometimes we do have our own "bell" :)
Around the large temple in the center, there are 8 pedestals, one for each day of the week, and then Wednesday is actually two days (I don't know why, but it is). When you come to worship, you're supposed to go to the booth that is the day of the week that you were born on and you make an offering there.
Before you enter the pagoda, you have to leave your shoes outside so all you see are barefeet everywhere. AND, skirts -- everywhere -- the men still wear the traditional skirts that they wore hundered of years ago.
The little glass kiosk thing in front of the monk is a booth where they sell these little leaflets of gold, about an inch in diameter. You can buy those leafs and then apply it to various areas in the pagoda as a good work.
Back outside the Pagoda.
In our cab driving towards the river front, you can see Sule Pagoda in the distance. The water used to come up right to the Sule Pagoda when the Judsons first came in the 1800s and this was the first site that they saw from their ship.
This is the jetty that the Judsons came to in the 1800s. According to Rachael, our guide, its the same jetty that they came to (I'm sure it has changed slightly.... :)).
Back in the town looking at the Sule Pagoda, with the Muslim mosque in the background, while we stand in front of the First Baptist Church, across from the Catholic Church :)
The capital building of Myanmar.
U naw Baptist Church named after the first convert in Myanmar, U naw (can't remember the rest of his name and I gave my Judson biography to Rachel so I can't look it up :))
Thought I'd throw this in for those of you who are job hunting.... Theres a position available downtown Yangon!..... :) I know its for a "sale assistant", but not sure what the details are.....
In the market.
I don't want to know what they're selling the cute little puppies for.... :(
The old railway station by the market. Its such a beautiful building its a shame. Rachael said there are so many beautiful old buildings but the government just doesn't know how to keep them up.
This ones for my brother.... its Aung San Suu Kyi's compound, the leader of the National League for Democracy. This is where she was under house arrest for 15 years.
We needed to eat so we stopped at Sai's Tacos. Its a restaurant thats the woman who connected me with Rachael owns. Its part of an outreach they have. They're from Texas and so the food was actually really good even though it was some Burmese people that made it. They're from the Shan tribe in Burma and its the people group that the Texas people are working with.
Rachael is at the end in the purple, she was our tour guide. She's from the Karen tribe of people in Burma. Sara from Texas is by me.
These were our waiters and the restaurant manager, again from the Shan tribe.
This is the restaurant on the outside - it was actually really pretty and well done.
Our last stop was the Judson Church that was founded in the early 1900s for Adoniram Judson.
Driving back from to the airport after our fun-filled, site-packed day.
Racheal our guide and our taxi driver for the day (notice his skirt :))
At the airport.
The next day, Monday, I needed to go back to Rahan Ministry in Patpong. Patpong is the "red light" area.
Patpong. Looks calm and peaceful in the morning.
This is Patpong in the afternoon, the booths are being set up for evening business. They put all these touristy, cheap crappy souvenir booths all up and down the area so that people will come in and look and then they see all the other stuff and get drawn into the bars and dance clubs.
I had the opportunity to be there during a time when they were doing one of their Bible studies during their break. It was cool to see these women, some of them whose stories I had just been told about.
And then I had to share this. One the way out, we were waiting for the elevator and I started reading my friend's son's shirt and I had to double take.....
I looked at my friend with this look on my face and then she started dying laughing and said when her mom had come, they had found the shirt at this store that was like Wal-Mart. Such a kid-friendly shirt?.....