Keh Keh with her mother and Marcia
Shannon with Duane and Marcia on her graduation day
We hope this update finds you doing well and enjoying the summer.
Our life is generally a series of trips with brief periods in between to try and catch up. Right now we are preparing for a particularly long series of trips that will keep us away from home from now until August. It is always hard to keep up with correspondence while traveling so if we are quiet over the next 8 weeks or so, that is why.
Here is a quick look at our upcoming schedule:
June 17 – 27: We’ll be going to the CBF’s General Assembly with stops to speak in churches on the way there and on the way back. If time allows, we’ll visit some Karen along the way as well.
June 30 – July 8: We’ll go to Cairo, Egypt to collect our luggage that was left behind in January and to visit our son Sean. Maybe this time we’ll get to see the pyramids!
July 8 – 11: Visit Chin refugees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and some of the agencies working with them.
July 11 – 20: Visit Thailand and three of the refugee camps and some of the related agencies
July 22 – 24: Attend the Karen Baptist Churches in the USA’s annual Youth Conference in Houghton, NY
July 30 – August 6: Attend the Conference for Missionaries put on by International Ministries.
With that much travel and with few days between trips we are sure to fall way behind in e-mail and other correspondence so please bear with us until we can catch up again.
Some highlights of the past couple months include Shannon graduating from High School with honors and getting all registered and set to go to Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN in early September. Erin finished her first year at Judson University making the Dean’s list both semesters.
We mentioned previously that Erin is in the praise band at the First Baptist Church of Elgin, IL while she attends Judson U. The leader of the praise team recorded Erin singing a song that she wrote. If you would like to hear it, go to: http://franciskaggwa.blogspot.com/2011/05/introducing-erin-binkley.html?spref=fb. She did all the singing, including harmony and played the guitar as well. Of course we’re biased, but we think she did a great job.
In addition to Shannon’s graduation, we are excited to report that the first three Karen in Akron, Ohio completed high school and have graduated. So many Karen youth came to the US with the dream of getting an education so they can help their people. It is a real struggle for these Karen that speak virtually no English to be thrown into the US school system. But in spite of the challenges, some make it through and are now in a position to take advantage of new opportunities for higher education, something that would have been impossible had they stayed in the refugee camps. In the coming years, there should be increasing numbers of Karen graduating from high school.
To encourage the Karen youth in our area to remain in school and to aim for college, we helped organize a special program on Memorial Day weekend. We invited Saw Kapi and some of his friends who are former refugees that have been in the US for a while to come and speak with the Karen youth in Akron. Like the refugees in Akron, they came to the US not knowing English and not knowing American culture. But they struggled through until they now have college degrees. Saw Kapi works in the Admissions Department of the University of Maryland and is well versed in the US college system. Others in the group completed college and have now started their own non-profit organization to help the Karen and others from Burma. It is great they can present the information in the Karen language and that they are willing to be an example to other Karen youth trying to find their way.
Since we last wrote we have also visited Karen/Burmese congregations in San Diego, Phoenix and Erie, PA. We also spoke in English services in Ohio and Illinois. So we continue to travel to try and connect the refugees from Burma with churches here in the US.
We thank you for your prayers and support that make our work possible. May God lead and bless you in all you do.
Duane & Marcia Binkley