A KNOCK ON THE DOOR WAS A PRAYER ANSWERED

Roses at a market on Sin Min Street in Yangon, Myanmar.

Let me preface this post by saying I’m okay. I don’t need money. I’m taken care of, and am so thankful to be where I am. This is simply part of the adventure. So, please don’t worry. I want to be vocal and vulnerable about this for a reason. I know many of you reading it can probably relate.
I have no money.

And for the past four days I’ve lived off of 40 cents. And the 40 cents went to buying flowers so I could take a picture.

Priorities.

Just a few months ago, I had thousands of dollars after teaching in South Korea for two years. But, I chose to spend it all on traveling and visiting my friends, my family, and treating myself. Everything I bought or spent was a conscious choice. I know I should’ve saved more than I did.

I make enough money to pay my bills each month; however, there’s no easy way to send money home from Myanmar. This means I’m in a huge financial mess. For the first time in my life, I missed a credit card payment. And for the first time in my life, reality has hit.

Hard.

I’ve lived an incredible existence. As if I’ve been dreaming all along. Reality reminds me I have problems, though. I struggle with the same things most people do. I forget that sometimes.

A few nights ago I prayed to find money. I looked through everything in my apartment. Thumbed through books. Checked under the bed. Rummaged in bags. Felt every pocket. Nothing.

The funny this is I already looked for money the night before.

I forced myself to go to the market to buy flowers. I hoped to take a photo of the person selling them, but he was too shy. I knew he would be, but I tried anyway. I settled for a shot of his roses, and ended up with a bunch of flowers I really didn’t want.

After my failed photo attempt, I walked all over the neighborhood with those darn flowers. Determined to take the perfect photo. I even trekked along some old railroad tracks I probably shouldn’t have been on. Picture a really sketchy back alley. The kind of place you think to yourself, Gee, I really shouldn’t be here right now, especially as it’s getting dark…

The tracks were covered in trash. Basically, I walked on top of trash. At least I met some cute children, and a really nice family on the way. However, I never found a good photo opportunity. It doesn’t matter. I had an interesting experience. And I survived.

Shortly after I returned home from my impromptu excursion, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find my landlady’s youngest son holding a container of food. “It’s for Chinese New Year,” he said.

My prayer to find money was answered in a roundabout way. I also have little to no food at the moment. I’ve been living off of rice, eggs and butter. The rice and eggs aren’t even mine, and the butter is almost gone. Right before he arrived, I was actually force-feeding myself salty, dried beans.

“Give it back later,” he said, about the container.

Not only do I plan to give it back, I plan to give it back with much more than I was given. I feel so cared for, so provided for. It’s amazing I’ve been able to live without having to pay a cent the past few days—all because of simple acts of kindness and personal discipline.

My principal provides lunch for me everyday. Honestly, she’s the most generous person I’ve ever encountered.

I’ve been walking to and from school instead of taking a taxi.

I’ve been foraging through my cupboard and fridge to find any remnants of sustenance.

I’ve been filling up my water bottles at school because we’re out of drinking water at home.

I’ve been staying in my apartment instead of going out.

I’ve been using the terribly slow Internet at school instead of paying money at a café.

Every little bit adds up.

I get paid soon. It’s going to be okay. I’m actually doing really well. I’ll find a way to transfer money home, somehow. It’s going to involve many people, and banks in several countries. But, my life is crazy like that. Always has been.

This experience has made me think a lot about people who literally have no money. I understand what it’s like now. I get it. It’s not fun. It’s stressful. It’s difficult. It’s embarrassing.

I could always ask someone to lend me money. My roommate, Don, is very willing. My family is too. Not everyone has that option. I’m blessed. And I got myself into this mess. I need to live through the consequences, and find a way to get out. Life is a series of lessons learned. Isn’t it?

If you’re thinking about teaching in Myanmar, ensure you’re financially stable before coming. Have money saved in your home accounts to pay your bills, if you have debt. Although change is happening fast, at this time, unless you go around the system or lie, there isn’t an easy option to transfer currency to banks in the United States (and/or various other countries).

Comments

  1. I would really advise against sending money home unless it's a large amount. Maybe do it every 6 months or something...the transaction fees are insane, and especially, if you need money, you don't want to lose $10-$20 in transaction fees. If you have family willing to lend you money, take them up on the offer. Pay them back when you send a lot of money back or when you get back to the States. I'm the same way. My family is willing to more than help me out, but I don't want to ask for help. Well I did ask for help when I first got here and had to pay deposits I wasn't expecting and for staying longer in Hua Hin. Then transport, and just other incidentals. And luckily, I mostly got money for Christmas, which was put in my bank account, but I haven't been able to touch it because both of my bank accounts were compromised about a month into this journey (card reader at an ATM...at least, after paperwork, I got the $ back!), so I've been living off my Thai salary. I wiped out half my savings getting here to Thailand, and well, it's expensive to be in a foreign country, especially if you want to travel around, etc. Definitely have a lot of money saved up...I don't know how people who come to Thailand make it at first with only a few hundred dollars!

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    1. Paula, thank you for your advice. Unfortunately, I have to send money home every month to be able to pay my monthly bills. I have too much debt. I definitely know about the transaction fees! Terrible. I send money from a bank in Myanmar to a bank in Korea, and from my account in Korea to my account in the United States. That means I get charged THREE TIMES for sending the money. Such a rip off! I'm glad you're getting by.

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