Then we got into our first conflict as we went through the schedule he had planned for me. I had asked him to connect me with some refugees, thinking we would visit three or four families over my three days in Denver, but I found out that he had on his list about a dozen families, squeezing up to seven home visits into one day. I protested, “No, no, I can’t meet that many in a day!” I told him that too many visits would confuse and tire me out when I had a tight deadline for this story.
Thang pursed his lips and looked disappointed. Every family has a different story, he told me, and each story was worth hearing. I soon realized that Thang didn’t just schedule these visits for me—he was making his typical rounds, and I was to follow along on his normal day. In the end, we compromised by decreasing the seven visits a day to five.
We then climbed into my rental car and drove around the city to the various families whom Thang visits on a regular basis. Several apartments we visited were in an old, rundown building that reeked of the grassy odor of marijuana. Kids played ball on the dirt field, yelling in a mix of English and Burmese. Some children recognized him and scrambled upstairs to their mothers, trumpeting our arrival. I saw that Thang loves little humans as much as the big humans. He joked and teased the kids, eliciting giggles and shy smiles out of wide-eyed stares, and mothers let him rock their tiny babies in his arms.
Thang carries a whiteboard and a backpack stuffed with his Bible, sermon notes, and whiteboard markers. If the refugees are willing, he conducts a 20-minute Bible study with them, and unlike me, doesn’t seem fazed even when the kids are screaming and laughing and running around, pulling at their parents’ hair and shirt.