Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When the Jehovah's Witnesses knock on a refugee's door...

I know, I know. Sorry about all the reposted stories and photos from my Christmas trip overseas. There's a few more to go, but I'm jumping in with a story.

Last night we went to the Burmese refugee's apartment for what they call "school". At the end of it I picked up a little book that was on their table that was written in Burmese and had smarmy/creepy looking pictures on it of too-happy families and thought, "This has got to be either Jehovah's Witness or Mormon literature." I nonchalantly asked Tee Reh where it was from right as I opened the front cover and spotted "Watchtower Society" as the only English words on the page. Tee Reh went on to explain that on their second day in the country they got a knock on the door and two people came in and told him they were Christians and asked him what language he spoke.

Isaac and I burst out laughing at the thought of two Jehovah's Witnesses laboring to communicate with two bewildered and semi-terrified Burmese refugees that were brand new to the country and had no idea if what was happening was normal or not. Tee Reh said they'd come back after three months and brought that book with them, which he has been trying to read.


Tee Reh asked us who they were, and we tried to explain - we talked about how they were a different religion, not Christian even though they call themselves Christian, how most of them are very nice people but they are required to knock on peoples' doors and try to convert people. We explained that it happens so often that it's like a joke here in the US. At the end of our explanation Tee Reh was laughing too, thinking of it all being sprung on him in his first days. He also asked, "So, when they come again, what do I do?" We told him it's always okay to talk to them, they're usually nice they just want to convert you. We also told him it was totally okay to say they're too busy or they don't want to talk and to not let them in.

Tee Reh's face lit up and he said, "Oh yes, because here we are democracy and we have rights and we don't have to talk."

That's right. I bet the refugee resettlement organization talked about their rights in their adjustment seminars with the refugees. That's an excellent idea, because most refugees have lived without rights. When the majority people group comes to your home, they can force their way in, take things, etc, and you can do nothing. You are not allowed to protest.

So... it was interesting to see Tee Reh taking hold of the idea that he had the right to privacy.


Jaimie said...

Awesome story.

Alice said...

That is hilarious. Once the Mormons accosted me in the parking lot of the public library. I had the two kiddos pulling on my legs, so I didn't have time to get into a protracted discussion. I just said, "I went to Moody Bible Institute. I really don't think we'd see eye to eye on religious matters. Have a great day!"

Anonymous said...

puke, you take yourselves too seriously!

Togenberg said...

I love 2 of his responses: his awareness that it was funny that this person was trying to communicate with (and convert) him, and that he was cognizant and appreciated the free and open society.