Category Archives: Refugees

Labels, Housewives, and L2F

I am part of an organization, L2F Needs Network. Actually, a best friend (the director of L2F) and I spend the majority of our non-essential-household-taking-care-of-time (there has got to be a better way to say that) running L2F. Well, her more than me- It’s her baby. But I like it too, partially because it categorizes some of my life under a label. I like labels. After studying things like psychology, sociology, and anthropology for so many years I am excellent at analyzing, categorizing, and labeling things. Ironically, we who study the social sciences proclaim the evils of stereotyping and labeling,  but that is pretty much what we do.

I’ve been thinking about labeling because sometimes I want another label in life. Typically I am labeled as a stay-at-home-mom, also known as a homemaker, housewife, domestic engineer. . . or my personal favorite (which is on my business card): domestic goddess. Lots of people understand this label as really meaning one (or all) of three things:

  1. Housewives are too stupid to do something else.
  2. Housewives are obsessed with their kids.
  3. Housewives are super traditional.

Of course, this is only my opinion of what others think, which might not be true at all. Regardless, I don’t like being stereotyped as such because I don’t feel as though I fit into any of these categories. Now, before you cynically remark about why I do fall into category number one, beware, before the character war begin! Case in point: these are the dangers of stereotyping. People only like being labeled into some categories, and not others.

In short, being a stay-at-home-mom is not my dream job. Raising my kids and managing my house are part of my dream job, yes. But, in addition to that I have been consumed with a little thing which I crave from the deepest part of me: Changing the world. I really want to reply, when someone asks me what I do, by saying “Oh, you know, I am a professional world-changer. For the better, obviously. What do you do?” If you really must ask, yes, my business card says “world changer” on it too.

I have spent countless hours psycho-analyzing why I am like this. Nurture, nature, life experience, etc. . .  might all go into it. I could write my life story here, if you really want to know why I am like I am. Thankfully, I will spare you this time.

I am pretty sure that having a label helps you change the world better. For years I have wanted to go back into an official position at an organization, church, non-profit, NGO, or have a profession, in part, just to have a label. People respect you, consult you, or consider you an authority when you have a title. I guess I don’t think people take me seriously otherwise, which annoys me because I think it hinders me. I wrote up the hours I spend doing various activities this week. Trust me, doing dishes and laundry were probably lowest on the list. Which explains why they are not done (and I don’t care). But, time spent trying to make a dent in the world was definitively at the top of my hours-spent worksheet.

Another benefit of the label is the accountability that comes with it. There is a set of responsibilities one has when they are a professional. Professional engineers, spys, dry cleaners, trash men, worm catchers, and even bad guys all have a standard they are expected to meet. Helping out on the side typically has minimal expectations and accountability. Even being an official contract signing volunteer, one has just a few standards to live up to. Yet, as a professional, with a title, the responsibilities and pressure to perform is actually there. I know most people view this as negative, but if you think about it, there can be a lot of positive motivational value as well.

I have semi-successfully been raising a family while trying to serve God by loving others for a few years now. Even though my label might not be what I prefer, I should only be thankful that I am able to raise my kids, that I am able to manage my own time, and I am therefore able spend so much of my time putting into what I believe matters. I might not feel fulfilled in having a dream job as a professional, but I am at least trying to be the first to admit how overwhelmingly blessed I am. I am content in my blessings; blessed by God and my husband, notably.  Regardless of whatever our label is, we can at least still make a difference where we are.

Hence, I wanted to introduce you to L2F (click here to see our blog, still in development). It is part of who I am, and its cool (so I think you should like it). In a nutshell, we pretty much find out about needs, communicate those needs, and try to meet those needs. It’s like we are Robin Hood, but we don’t have to steal from the rich. Which is good, because I would probably have some moral qualms about that. The vision goes beyond just helping people, it is really also just as much about giving others opportunities and teaching them to be world changers. Of course, I am the only one who is a little too ahead of the game, caught up on the phrase “world changers.” Most of us are just excited to be making a difference in Ashburn.  Our motivation is because we love Jesus, and we feel that this is the way He has guided us right now to show His love to our community.

A lot of what we do is through the local schools, but its kinda been all over the place. This week I delivered a bunch of diapers and formula to a social service organization, did some social media stuff, got school supplies for some kids,  talked about assisting a refugee family, helped plan a backpack program for hungry kids at our schools, and packed backpacks for the homeless. See, I told you its a bunch of random stuff! Personally, I love working with immigrants and developing contacts and relationships with those in need, as well as those who are already active in the community. Yet, there is always more to do! In fact, through our church (J10 Church), L2F Needs Network was really able to make a difference in an area that had no assistance directly after the earthquake in Haiti. I’ll conclude by showing a video of that experience below, and here is a link to some pictures a friend, Herb Looney, took while on this trip to Haiti.

Question: I know culture typically considers it morally good to want to change the world. But I have come to realize a lot of people don’t have that urge. Do you, personally, have that passion? What do you feel your responsibility is to your family, community, and the world as a whole? What is one practical step you can take right now, to make a positive difference?

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Pray for a Recently Attacked Village in Burma

This makes me sad, knowing this is just happening. This sounds like a typical genocidal displacement the Burmese Army has been conducting with regularity for years. They target villages of minorities and/or minority religions (like Christians, as in this village) and randomly attack them, trying to kill or at least hurt those in the village. Can you take a few minutes to pray for those in this village today? I don’t know much about this ministry, although I have received their updates for awhile.The idea of making cards and sending them to encourage those who survived seemed to be a cool idea. I haven’t researched the organization enough for me to recommend donating to them. Below is the email I received (Somewhat in thick Christianese).

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Brothers and sisters,

   If you are reading this, I am confident in the Lord in you, that the recent events of which I shall describe will be prayed over fervently.  On July 22nd an entire village was assaulted and razed to the ground in E. Burma.  This might not mean that much, perhaps a blip of news from a faraway country that has problems like this all the time, I pray and trust it means not so to thee.  As I prepare to send my team leader in before the sun shines this very moment, hiding in the jungle are countless men, women and children.  The casualty total is not known just yet, nor will it be soon.  The very pulpit of a church in which my Pastor, Joe Tuccinardi, myself, and other brothers have preached in is ashes.  The very schools that were built with men’s hands through the donations of some blessed brethren stand no more.  As I write and hear the monsoon rains I know our brothers and sisters in Christ are burying their dead, hiding in the forest, wet, cold and hungry.  This is one of the brazen attacks recently, and there shall be more.  As I met with some strong brothers in the Lord this evening/night, as they prepare to answer God’s call on their lives going back “home” tomorrow, we lose not hope.  We are not discouraged, we are not destroyed, we will not give up in believing that God shall use this according to His Will, that His sovereign hand was upon all the comings and goings of the Burmese Army.  We prayed for the “enemy”, knowing that they are just in darkness, blind, needing love, compassion and grace to touch their hearts now.  We prayed for all those who are mourning, who have lost more than loved ones, who have no other desire but to till the land and worship Christ peacefully.  More than likely this very moment that you are reading this someone is being raped, someone is starving to death, someone is burying their child but they, nor we shall lose hope, for our hope does not disappoint.  Now is the time to pray more than ever, if I am a voice crying in the wilderness, so be it, I shall call upon the God of Jacob, the Lord of Hosts for only His arm is not shortened, it can save.  Until I have official clearance to release the full report of this massacre, God knows its name and more importantly His sheep that dwell within it.  Pray with us please, your prayers change things.  I am unworthy and so blessed to be laying next to my “miracle” son, and my wonderful wife right now.  I don’t deserve to have a roof over my head for my Savior had none, I don’t have a right to breathe if not for Christ.  As the faces and voices of the brothers and sisters in Muthraw District play over and over in my mind, only smiles, laughing, praying, worshiping, working hard with our hands, enduring hardship without a single complaint are their personifications.  I know not which ones I will see on this earth again, but I am confident that right now some are in a glorious new body, in the presence of the glory of the throne of God. 

   Weep with those who weep, yay, rejoice with those who rejoice, but I encourage thee ne’er to be tween the two, ne’er be in doubt, for our God is mighty, holy and the great I AM.  Please direct your prayers towards Muthraw District, E. Burma, specifically as the Holy Spirit imparts unto thee, or don’t if you have not the time, we still love you the same only because He loved us first. 

    I am writing this as fast as possible, and prayerfully tomorrow the first load of relief will arrive, but God is there and here now, so pray, I beseech thee, as you have been so faithful before to do.  If you feel like writing I will make sure whatever you send (letters, postcards, a hand drawn picture) will be hand delivered to a weary soul in search of a cold cup of water, good news from a far country. If you are moved with compassion to be a part of giving immediate assistance, please don’t hesitate, bibles, rice, plastic tarps, pots, baby clothes and medicine will get to those who need it, and we will rebuild the schools, the churches and the homes, so after the landmines are cleared and the SPDC retreats, warmth and love and fellowship in Christ will continue.  All information is below, all wisdom, power and authority is above, go boldly before the throne of God.

Unworthy to die for Christ,
P. James and the Love in Action team E. Burma
“Please don’t pray that God takes away whatever sufferings He has for us, we thank Him, please pray we may be steadfast and have strength to be faithful until the end”-  Thera Doh **** **, Karen Pastor of the main church that was burnt down when I asked him what does he want prayer for.

Mailing address:
LIA c/o James Garwood
P.O. Box 67
Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son
Thailand, 58110

Paypal donations:fordomosake@gmail.com

In USA email Pastor Joe Tuccinardi for more details thaicalvary@aol.com

Love in Action
5353 Steamboat Way
Boise, ID 83713

In Search of the Refugee Resettlement Office

Today I tried to carry out an ambitious idea that I had last Sunday, June 20th, on Refugee Awareness Day. I got the kids ready, looked up information about the nearby refugee programs, and took off. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know their office hours and no one was answering the phone. Yet, luckily, while on my way, I was smart enough to call multiple times before I actually went too far. To my disappointment, no one ever answered the phone. I made a few pit stops, hoping to eventually hear from them. Finally I recognized I probably shouldn’t drive out to their main office in Arlington without at least knowing if they were open.

So, I guess this adventure will have to be completed some other time. I wonder if what it will end up being. Will we end up donating things? Or will it be more of a commitment, helping someone learn English? Or maybe our church’s ministry, L2F Needs Network can adopt a refugee family. At least I can explore the options, right?

Maybe you guys can hold me accountable to following through with one of my many ideas!