By Doug Pettit

LLydia at Hopeydia is from the Putao area in extreme north of Myanmar, where you can gaze on the Himalayas. It is a primary Christian region that started when missionaries came in the late 19th century. Whole households came to belief in Christ, literally duplicating Scriptures.  There are numerous accounts of ” he believed and he and all his household were baptized.”

Lydia’s mother was single & it could have been the result of the continuous armed conflicts between the KIA (Kachin Independent Army) and the Burmese Army in their ongoing civil war.  It could have been rape, the father could have been killed in the fighting, he may have abandoned the family or died from malaria, or other preventable diseases.  I didn’t ask.

Whatever the reason, being a single mom is an almost impossible task in north Myanmar. To work in the rice fields or other similar labor is required in order to just survive, so many have to send their children to relatives or others.

Add to this NO schools are provided by the government in many of these villages. The only schools in most of these remote areas are set up by the poor villagers, those who have some education teach the children. So most do not have ANY education opportunities and the cycle of poverty continues.

Josiah says lack of both of these: education & daily supervision/care was why Lydia came to Hope Home orphanage near Yangon.

She was very sickly as a young child and has some developmental issues. She is 13 years old but is only in 4th grade since she had very little education prior to arrival at Hope. This not uncommon as some children have to start at first grade though older.

She has been at the orphanage for about 3 years and is now thriving in this loving, secure home of approximately 40-45 children. Josiah shared that the kids with living parents do phone calls with them when possible.

We decided to highlight her story because after we arrived and were resting in our room, several of the children started peaking thru our curtain door and giggling, girls but a few boys too. The girls were intrigued by Linda’s blonde hair and height, not sure my bald head impressed, as they see many bald monks.

Soon the bravest one, Lydia came in and started warming up to us, first singing us a few songs. Then a few others came in giggling, a couple of the smallest were challenged to sit in a chair near me, they did. They started trickling in till about 30 were welcoming us, mostly trying to impress Linda, the tall blond haired lady.

Braiding hairLydia, was charming us and started massaging Linda’s swollen feet & legs. Her hands are strong and she was good at this, I suspected this wasn’t her first foot massage. This inspired one little girl and she took on the task of braiding Linda’s hair. Warming up !!

The welcoming committee soon cranked it up with song after song and they were good and singing in harmony. Thought it couldn’t get any better till the choreographed dance routines started with band music from an smart phone…wow ! They were very good, both boys & girls. This lasted for an few hours as this was a Sunday afternoon, so no school homework.Hope dances

Then it got physical when I also got the foot massage treatment. Next I was challenged to a arm wrestling contest by Lydia, no choice but to accept as 30 little ones watching would think me a wimp. I’m sure each of them had gone down to Lydia previously and expecting the same for me.

First right handed, it wasn’t easy but I prevailed. Next the left hand and I was a little apprehensive, as this arm doesn’t even get exercised doing email/facebook, but let the games continue. I barely pulled it off after sweating, whew ! She is STRONG ! I complimented her and felt her hard little biceps.

Hope with BallsNot to be outdone she said let’s go play football (soccer)….I’m no fool so I declined & so glad I did as we watched her take on some pretty skilled boys and prevailing !!! She was good !!!!

Will NEVER forget Lydia and will be praying for her to continue growing into a godly young lady within Hope’s loving environment !!

A big thanks to the dedicated small staff of Hope orphanage who are day in and day out mirroring Christ & all the short term visitors who inspire these sweet kids !!!