Monday, November 18, 2013

Missionary Profile - Zama and Pam in Myanmar / Burma



A big warm welcome to Pam and her family for being on Sunshine to the Square Inch. I've known Pam since I was in elementary school. The ministry in Myanmar / Burma holds a special place in my heart because my husband and mother-in-law have taken medical missions trips and served with Pam and her family over there. I loved reading about what God is doing over there and I'm sure you will too.

Name: Pam Lindsted - no last name change after marriage because Myanmar people have no last name
Location Serving: Myanmar (Burma)
How long have you been there? I started coming on short term mission trips in May of 2000 but moved here full time in June of 2005
How did God call and lead you to the country you are in? Actually, I wasn't interested in coming here at first. I only came because my dad had been here first and helped to start an orphanage. He promised the workers that he would send me over to help develop a school within the orphanage. My first reaction that he was sending me there was, "Burma, who wants to go there? That's the armpit of the world!" I was interested in Russia. I had lived there previously for almost 2 yrs and loved it. I wanted desperately to go back but my visas were denied over and over....so, I went to Burma. I loved the kids but hated the climate!!! I love Russian cold winters not hot, sweltery year round summers!!!! I didn't plan to go back but I kept going back every time there was a break from school. I just fell in love with the people. Finally, I realized that everything that The Lord had put in front of me in my life had been preparing me for just what would be appropriate for the work in Burma. I told my parents that I felt like I was created just for this purpose. I haven't looked back since. I love being here and getting to do what I get to do....I still don't like the heat though and would love to go for a couple weeks to Russia for a visit!!!! Someday I hope!!!

What specific ministry are you involved in? My husband and I have started a school for the lower middle class Burmese children in Yangon. We have approximately 87% Buddhist students of our 250 students in Nursery-7 th grade. We add one grade each year and hope to go right through high school! We also are involved in a Sunday school work in our neighborhood on Sunday mornings.
Do you serve with other missionaries? Nope, we're all alone. But we now have a staff of 40 local Believers working for us at the school!
What does a typical day look like? A typical school day. Students start arriving around 7:30 in the backs of pickup trucks. School is from 8:30-3:30 and teachers stay till 4 and later. Wednesday after school we have teachers prayer and Bible study. Thursdays are especially busy for me because I teach a teacher training class from 12:30-3 along with my regular history classes. We also have always had people living with us so once school is out its busy helping with homework of our extra kiddos and cooking dinner for our family and often up to 5-6 others.
What do you most enjoy about your work? Being around the people. I especially love working with the teachers who are training for a classroom of their own. They have a genuine love for learning new things. I love to see their excitement. I love people and I love God's Word and I'm thrilled to be involved with both of those things all day everyday!
Tell me about raising children in a different culture. Advantages? Disadvantages? Whew, I don't know if I'm an expert on this since my kids are still young. I don't know how they'll turn out yet. There are a few things that we try to be strict though. One, we try not to let our kids be treated differently than other kids outside of our home. This is a challenge since people want to treat them special but I really don't like it! Especially at school...I want no special treatment because they are the only foreigners or the principals kids. Another thing is, we have a house helper to help around the house but I do not let her clean any of the kids toys....I want them to learn responsibility of cleaning their room doing their chores etc... Another thing we've found because daddy has one culture and mommy has another is that in our home we've created our own culture. We have a little of America and a little Burmese.....it's unlike any place on earth. Our kids are really 3 culture kids but don't know any different so it's okay. We've found what is extremely difficult is as the kids get older it is harder and harder for them to come back from the States. They enjoy their cousins there, there are so many things to do there...fresh air, wide open places for playing, playgrounds, parks etc... None of the things we have here. Both of our children say that as soon as they grow up they want to live where their cousins live. Of course, since the kids speak Burmese we pray that they will stay here and help in the work once they are older.
Tell us something about the people of your country? They are very simple people who have been shut off from the rest of the world for so long. In many ways, this gives a sense of innocence but that is swiftly changing because now that things are opened up they are swallowing everything from the "West"....good and bad!!!! I love their sincere smiles and their curiosity about life that they have only EXISTED in for so long....not really LIVED!
What is your favorite food to eat from the country you are living in? I like something called San Pew. It's kind of like a chicken and rice soup. San means rice and pew is soft. We eat rice everyday..usually twice a day and then I cook American food once a day.
Can you tell us something interesting about the culture? Everything.....there is not much similar to the American culture. I just am surprised everyday even after being here for so long at something unusual that I see. I think one of the hardest things to understand is the way that Buddhism is in every tiniest aspect of life. For example, even the position your bed is in has to be according to the stars. They are terrified of so many things because of spirits and ghosts etc. They are in such spiritual bondage. It still surprises me constantly.
What is the main religion there? Buddhism
How do people respond to the gospel? That's a tricky question. Burma is not a place that street preaching would be very effective since most people here have NOOO biblical knowledge of Jesus Christ! There is nothing Judeo-Christian about the culture so it is tougher than even when I lived in Russia. There, even though communism ruled for so long they still celebrated Christmas and Easter and had orthodox religion that taught about Christ. Here, Christmas has only become something to celebrate since I've lived here and to most, it means Santa Claus. With these things being said, I believe that it takes the Gospel a long time to penetrate. I also believe it takes a testimony of Biblical teaching being lived out. Long-term investment is the way to go. Many Buddhist here now say they believe in Jesus once they spend time with missionaries. I believe this is true! They do believe Jesus! They believe he was a good man and respect him because of his teachings of love and peace....very similar to what they like in Buddhism. The problem is, they add Jesus to all their little Buddha statues. They don't believe Him the way He asked to be believed in...."I am THE way, THE Truth and THE life." Not a way, a truth and a life. This is very hard to convey since there is no equivalent word for The word,"THE" in Burmese! So, when you meet people and they know you're a Christian they will tell you they believe in Jesus. I always have to ask WHAT they believe about Him. We enjoy the work at school because we have the opportunity to work with the same people 180 days a year/8 hrs a day for 15 yrs. They hear it, see it and know it so well and we teach all subjects from a Biblical world view soooo they also begin to think it. This is the most effective means of evangelism in a Buddhist culture!!! We are excited to say that most of our students receive The Lord around 3rd grade! This thrills us because it makes sense after 5 yrs at school they are ready. They truly believe. We feel the thirds grade year is important and the curriculum we use also really promotes the Gospel in third grade. One of the most effective things is the final reading book they read at the end of the year, "Pilgrim's Progress". After they read it we also show the movie. We have seen many of the kids come to know The Lord through this!!! Very exciting to see them saved before they reach their teen years.
Please tell me of someone whose life was impacted with the gospel and the change you saw in their life or is there something specific that God has done for you that you would like to share. There are many kids that we see changes in their lives and we see them stand up and share with their parents. This is when the problem develops, the parents don't like the decision that the kids have made. Some still force their children to go into monk for a month every year!How can we pray for you personally as well as the ministry you are in? We ask for prayer for health since we live in a place that there isn't anywhere to go for good health care. If we have something wrong we need to fly to Thailand. It's only a 45 min flight but there are only a few flights a day and then is the hassle of getting a new Myanmar visa before we can come back home. Since we work around little kids it seems that there is always some kinds of sickness traveling around. It is a constant fight with dengue during rainy season. The other thing we constantly pray about is for our family. It is important for Zama and I to keep a strong marriage and for our kids to grow up well disciplined as a testimony for the parents of our school. Another thing we ask prayer about is that we could find a property for school. Right now, we have all the students in 2 two-story houses. We are very crowded!!! We are praying for a place that we can grow all the way to 12th grade but because Myanmar is opening up and many sanctions have been lifted, westerners are coming in. This has caused rent prices to more than triple. To buy a property now days is out of reach even if you go 10 miles outside of the city, an acre of land will be more than a million dollars. Our rent prices now are higher than Tokyo. This is an ongoing adjustment for our family and the school.
How can people encourage you? I think the hardest thing about being here is being away from family and friends. We also have no church family here...only a Sunday school. Although things are much easier now compared to when I first moved here since we have internet in our home now I still miss people. I so appreciate FB and emails and skype. It has made being so far away much easier. I love getting any kind of correspondence from home. I also appreciate when I know people are praying for us. We are in a place surrounded by idolatry and sometimes I feel the weight of oppression. When we know people are lifting us up it really makes a difference to get through different situations.
What ministry spots need filled on your team? So many!!! We can't offer a business visa as yet so foreigners can only come and help us on a tourist visa(28 days). But, I would love to have teachers come and just help train our present teachers. As we are getting up into middle school I want to see subjects like art, music, PE and science really develop. These subjects are hard to train how to teach because the locals that we have teaching don't have much experience we these things themselves. The education system here has always been purely rote memory. It is very difficult for me to break my teachers away from this style but if teachers from the states come and model good, creative hands-on learning it is very beneficial.
What do you most miss from home? The Chapel (spiritual bonding and teaching with fellow believers), Family, close friends (seems very un-Asian to be close with anyone), Christian radio and music (our internet is too slow to stream any radio), Walmart, Mexican food, Dr Pepper and 4 beautiful and different seasons (specifically cold weather).
What would you like to receive from home? Anything!!! Mail can't get thru to us though so we only get treats when they're hand delivered. I guess I should say that what we like most is GUESTS!!!!!!
How can people stay updated on your ministry? The best way is through Milk and Honey newsletters and FB. We haven't said too much elsewhere because things are still so restricted.
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I don't know about you but I loved reading and learning about what God is doing over in Myanmar. I'm also a bit humbled that they are so grateful for everything and don't get mail aka care packages! Those were my saving grace in Korea and I never realized that people went without them. Also, please keep Pam and her family in your prayers. I know she mentioned some things to pray for but Zama and Pam are needing some extra prayer for health. Pam is recovering from a surgery and their son, is ok, but fractured his wrist. I know they could use some time being lifted up to God in prayer. If you would like to send Pam and her family a word of encouragement please feel free to leave a comment or to e-mail me at sunshine2thesquareinch{at}gmail{dot}com

2 comments :

  1. Wow. It's so inspiring to read about the missions work that's going on. Sometimes I feel like I'm not contributing at all to the greater mission. Thanks for sharing! I will be praying for them. I'm sad they can't get mail there!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing amazing. Thanks for sharing! I'll be praying for them.

    ReplyDelete

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