Mi Mary's Story
(Mi Mary told me her story and I recorded it using her words and style. Though there are grammatical errors, especially in verb tenses, I wanted readers to appreciate her ability to communicate in English, a language she did not know at all when her family arrived in Fort Worth 2013.)
I was born in Myanmar in l970. I have two sisters. My father pass away when I was three. My father was Mon and my family was Buddhist. After he died, we moved to Karen state. I went to school only four grades. I didn't go to fifth grade because we didn't have money. In fifth grade you learn English alphabet, so I never learned English.
In l992 I went to Malaysia. I didn't know how to speak Malaysian or English. I didn't have Christian friends, only Buddhist. I didn't like Christians. I worked in hotel for a tailor. At hotel I met Christian friend. One day I had no apartment to stay in. She asked me to stay with Pastor Winnie. I bring all my Buddhist pictures and stuff and I pray. Pastor Winnie didn't get angry. She very good to me. I was helping her--cleaning house, cooking, washing clothes for her because she so good to me.
Pastor Winnie went to Burmese Christian church. The church celebrated one year. Many church members there. She tell them about what I do to help her and tell them, "And she don't know God."
I work then at night time, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., at factory making pens. I moved to factory. All staff lived there. Pastor Winnie gave me a Bible. She tell me, "When you are scared, call to Jesus." I working very hard, making 50 kgs. pens every night. After three months they said, "You not making 50 kgs. of pens." They say that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. They think I take the pens to sell. They tell me to bring pens back, or they send me to police station. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I cry and pray to Buddhist gods. Friday night I cry out to Jesus, holding Bible in my hands. After that night, I sleep well all night in peace. The next morning my friends say, "Go to office. I have good news." I was not scared. I went to office. They tell me other worker stealing pens I made and hiding them. I told manager, "Don't send man to police. He has three children." I forgive him. I very happy because I receive Jesus. On Christmas Day, 1994, I went to church to be baptized, but police stopped the way. They arrest illegal Burmese people. I didn't know Malay, but I speak Malay to police and they let me go, so I was baptized that day. Jesus show me many things.
In 2004 I married with my husband, a Mon Buddhist. He strong Buddhist, I'm strong Christian. He didn't know God, but he help people from Myanmar to find jobs. He was chief cook in famous Chinese restaurant. Later he and another man had four restaurants in Malaysia.
In 2008 I had my son, Abednego. I love that name. Many people choose name Daniel for sons. Nobody name son Abednego. In 2011 I had a girl. I wanted to give her name Esther, but I had a dream. In my dream, she said, "My name is Angel." When she was born, she looked like the baby in my dream, so I name her Angel. I pray all those years for my husband, but he still not Christian. I pray to God to touch my husband's heart. I want a very happy family.
Three months after Angel was born, my husband had accident. He finished working at 1 a.m. and was riding motorbike home. His motorbike slide and fall on him. He broke his arm. He went to Chinese doctor, but his right hand got bigger (swelled up). It got bigger and bigger and was black. He couldn't work. His friends didn't come see him, but my Christian friends came and gave us food. Then he went to UN clinic. The doctor there said he would have to amputate it. (She made the motion and I gave her the word "amputate.")
When my husband came back from clinic, he carried Bible and cried. His hand very painful, so he took 15 pills to try to die, and hid the bottle under the pillow. He called to Jesus. At 2:40 a.m. we heard loud crack, like a bamboo tree breaking. Everyone in house woke up. My husband pointed to the light with his hand. He thought he was dreaming, but we said, "No, you're not dreaming." The next morning, he threw all his Buddhist pictures, the food tray, everything away. His hand was still black, but he could move it. He knew God not let him die.
He went back to UN clinic. The doctor said, "Why you not go to hospital (to get arm amputated)?" My husband said, "I don't need to go to hospital. My hand okay." Two weeks later his hand was okay, not black. My husband gave testimony. Twenty Buddhists trusted Jesus in one day.
We come to America September 10, 2013. We cannot speak English. We didn't have car. My husband followed railroad tracks to Fiesta to buy food, two hours going, two hours back. Catholic Charities pay rent for six months. 2013 very cold, and our apartment didn't have heat. My husband had hernia surgery also. My husband couldn't work. We had no car. We prayed to God. A family in Austin gave us a car. First he working in Arlington for one year, making $9.50 hour. He work there for one year. Then he start working at nursing home for $8 hour because he wants to help people. People not understand why he change jobs for less money. He always helping at the nursing home. One day the chief cook saw my husband working in kitchen and ask him what job he had in Malaysia. He told her he was a cook, so they gave him job as cook for $12.50 hour. He can't read recipes, so she show him how to prepare food.
In October Abednego go to kindergarten. He not do his homework. I don't know how to teach my son. He cry. I call to God for help. One day old woman came and tell me God ask her to come to our house to teach Abednego. Her name is Grandma Cherry. She also teach me English five days a week. Until now she help take care of my family. Now, thanks to God, my children have three grandmas- Grandma Cherry, Grandma Allen, and Grandma Terry. God answered prayer about Abednego having difficult time in school. It's not easy to get into Lena Pope Academy. They select names. Abednego got to go to that school, and now Angel also goes there. Last year Abednego played piano at EGA (Ethnic Group Academy). They put my husband's story in a Texas Christian newspaper last year.
When my husband had hernia surgery, a translator say to him, "Doctor made mistake. He cut tube. No more children." But my husband want another child, so he prayed to God. I was surprised, not expecting to have another baby. I was 45. Then we found out doctor said maybe his tube would grow back together. God answered my husband's prayer and gave us another son. June 30, 2015 Abraham was born.
My husband works on Sunday and can't go to church. He takes his violin and goes to Benbrook Lake to praise God because people always around our apartment. He plays his violin and sings loud. One time he came back to his car and saw four police cars and nine policemen there. A man saw him carrying violin case and called police. They handcuffed him and checked all his car. He showed them Associate of the Month card from nursing home. They said they were sorry for mistake.
I met Stu (Share Pastor at Southcliff Church) at Fountains Apartments. He invite us to go to international class. My children love Southcliff. Abednego very quiet, but he goes to children's choir. I learned about ESL classes, and I began citizenship class because we already here five years. Soon I will take citizenship test and become American citizen.
Mi Mary and Her Husband, Nai,
Helping in the Kitchen at Thanksgiving
Mi Mary with Angel and Abednego
Mi Mary and Friends at Thanksgiving Dinner