Burma in Auckland [Guest]

Stilt houses at Lake Inle, Myanmar.

Stilt houses at Lake Inle, Burma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A guest post by Sam Kilpatrick.

My wife is awesome. Of course I have to say that because I’m married to her, and she is sitting across from me in the lounge!

We’ve been talking about some of the ways in which I’ve made a difference in ministry or teaching or work and then it occurred to me that in all of these instances of my brilliance, skill, and change making, Laura has always been involved in one way or another.  So I thought I would tell you a story about the amazing difference my seven and a bit months pregnant, mother of two pre-schoolers is making in our world.

This time last year Laura decided that she wanted to do a bit more with her time that was focused outside of our family life. Obviously, as a mum with two small kids she is pretty busy already and there are cetain limits as to the kinds of activities, places, and people you can volunteer for who are happy for you to drag your kids along. However, one place that loves it when a family is involved together is Refugee Services. So off Laura went to train as a Refugee Resettlement Volunteer.

The course ran for six weeks and then Laura and two other volunteers were placed with a Burmese family who had just finished their own six week stint of English language, life skills, and Aotearoa culture lessons at the Refugee Centre in Mangere, Auckland. The family she was placed with had three young children and had spent over ten years in a Displaced Peoples Camp in Thailand before finally being given the chance to come to New Zealand as refugees.

Over the next six months Laura visited the family most weeks, taking the boys along with her. She dragged me along too to help with some gardening and maintenance, and she roped in other friends and family to donate furniture, tools, clothing, bedding, etc. Laura helped the family to enrol their kids in school, sort out medical records, manage their finances, sign up at the library, use public transport, fill in WINZ forms, and go grocery shopping all without speaking more than a couple of words of each other’s language.

Mangere Lagoon 17 Jun 2010

Mangere Lagoon 17 Jun 2010 (Photo credit: itravelnz™)

The difference Laura made in that family’s life is awesome. Just a couple of days ago they had a Burmese friend of theirs call us to say that they would love another visit from Laura so that they can catch up and see how our boys have grown and how Laura is going as she heads towards baby number three!

Laura being involved in this family’s life has also made a huge difference in our lives. It has made us far more aware of some of the issues people are facing in various parts of the world. It has helped our boys to see how we are called to love people who are different from us. It has helped to educate those around us who have asked about why Laura is volunteering and why New Zealand tax payers should be supporting these people anyway? And finally, it has helped Laura and me to talk more about some of our own priorities and commitments in this life as we seek to serve Jesus.

I reckon everyone who can should become a Refugee Resettlement Volunteer. What better way to demonstrate Christ’s love and care for our neighbours than to help them settle in to a new life, with new possibilities here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

What kind of things have you done with your household to make a difference together? When has someone shown this kind of radical hospitality to you?

Sam Kilpatrick is a Baptist minister who currently spends his time working at Carey Baptist College, studying business at AUT, being a homiletic homie, and building community with the awesome Laura and their now THREE kids. This article first appeared in the New Zealand Baptist newspaper a couple of months ago. Laura has since delivered Baby Greer into the world. Congratulations, Kilpatricks!

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0 comments on “Burma in Auckland [Guest]”

  1. Esmee Reply

    lovely to read, thanks Sam (and the host Thalia). Certainly Laura is awesome and amazing, but so are you for recognising this!

  2. Pingback: Other People’s Grandkids [Guest] | Sacraparental

  3. michelle MacManus Reply

    hi, I would love to be able to help any refugee families settle into nz, we have 3 young children so lots of hand me down clothing up for grabs, and any other support they need

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