Category Archives: Bangladesh

Do we ever feel worthy?

Hey readers!

So today I’m going to address a question that a lot of people don’t really like to face… I know that doesn’t really narrow it down, I’m gonna ask “do we ever feel worthy?”

Worthiness is defined as being deserving of effort, attention, and/or respect.

There is so much to unpack in a 6-letter word: W-O-R-T-H-Y. It seems to me that there are a couple different questions: are we worthy? can we feel worthy? how do we know when we’re not worthy? is it possible to not be worthy? Well, lemme break something to you: you are and you aren’t. You are worthy, because you are a living creature of God. You are worthy of love and safety and peace. You are worthy. But you also aren’t worthy, you will never deserve the attention that God gives to you, that’s kinda why its called grace, because you aren’t worthy, but I mean think about it- isn’t the idea of having a God that is so beyond comprehension that you can’t even begin to think of what it would take to be deserving of its attention- isn’t it kind of compelling? Do you really want a God where worthiness is an obtainable goal? Okay, I can see why that might also be compelling but its also dangerous- what would you do after you reach the goal?

So we are worthy and we aren’t- which is probably why its hard to feel worthy sometimes. To feel is to experience, and part of us is constantly seeking that experience that is unobtainable. There is also a sad reality that many people are taught  from a young age that they aren’t worthy. They aren’t given the other side of the story that there are ways to be worthy. These people are taught sometimes in very overt ways through overt abuse, others are taught more sub-consciously- little things are internalized until the conclusion finally hits home, that they can’t be worthy. To feel is to experience but its also to be aware, these sub-conscious lessons can’t really be successful until they become conscious.

Our society (the capitalist, Westernized dream) teaches us that worthiness is earned, and fair enough- in a lot of cases it is. But what about inherent worth? Technical rationality would have us treating each other as means to an end instead of ends-of-ourselves. We have inherent worth, power does not define our worth as humans- our existence does. When people say that “someone will be worthy of your love”- what do they mean? Is love earned? or “never tell the truth to people who are not worthy”- is trust earned? What if I told you that both those phrases and others like them are actually perpetuating a self-involved culture? What if I told you that while you can give a person reason not to trust you, or even not to love you; that you cannot take away a person’s worth, nor can you lose your own. “You are infinitely worthy, and unconditionally loved” — now that’s a phrase I can stand by. Give me a scenario- I’ll tell you why they’re worthy.

Can we feel worthy? It’s hard but its also possible. Are we worthy? Yes- straight up Hallelujah! Can we be unworthy? No- we can’t.

*RECORD SCRATCH SOUND*

Wait Wait Wait… I thought you said that we will forever be unworthy of God. I did, but here’s what I meant. You can’t be worthy of God because it is God who doles out worthiness. God gave you your worth, your worth is because of God… before you were worthy, God deemed you worthy to give worth to. Make sense?

I have felt unworthy many times in my life. Unworthy to pursue my calling, unworthy to stand up for something (because I’d be called a hypocrite in other areas), unworthy to be asked my opinion in class, unworthy to be respected, unworthy to be accepted, unworthy in so many ways. But here’s the thing- just because I felt unworthy, doesn’t mean I actually was. I was worthy the whole time, and my worth did not hinge on anything- you name it- anything.

You are worthy, but it’s not actually about you. Us being worthy is way to realize that everyone else is too- even the people who have hurt you. You are worthy- and they are worthy. If you ever feel unworthy remember: we’ve all been there- we really do understand, you’ll get through this feeling, seek that feeling of worth- it is called seeking truth.

Strangers

This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. — Ezekiel 16:49

Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ — Matthew 25:45

godspeople

It amazes me sometimes the varied reactions one can have towards a stranger. Everyone meets this person in the same context, hears the same words from their mouth. Some retreat in fear and some embrace in kindness. The sin of Sodom was that they were inhospitable. I have seen people with next to nothing share what they have, I have also seen people with much to give but they hoard it away. I have seen this happen with money and resources, but I have also seen it with kindness and trust.

When I was in Bangladesh there was an instance that stuck with me. One day I was with a group and we were walking when we came upon a stranger, although being Caucasian he looked as out of place as any of us. He started a conversation with us and I enjoyed chatting with him. He seemed kind and knowledgeable… at least to me he did. To some of the people in my group he ignited suspicion. To this day I don’t know why, but I remember it made me very uncomfortable to see how they had received him. In a country where we wished to assimilate as much as possible be treated equally… suddenly they were treating this man as though he was devious.

strangerdanger

What if we treated every stranger like that? We’d never make any friends, and we would be very lonely. We also wouldn’t be living out God’s Word. Now this man was not poor and needy, he was not in need of assistance (at least as far as I could perceive). He was on the other hand a blank slate that was treated by some as a crumpled up piece of paper- worthy to be thrown away and forgotten. To anyone who knows me well this might sound like the pot calling the kettle: black. I will admit that I haven’t always been the most trusting individual. I’m proud of how far I’ve come though, I’m proud that I can see someone as a person, and not judge them on things I don’t know.

Imagination

Imagination- it’s such a crazy and wonderful thing. Believe it or not, it is also a way of prayer.

Also called “Ignatian Contemplation” (in short… Ignatius is an old dude who talked a lot about theological stuff). In other spiritual practices “contemplation” can mean something very different but in this case it is God speaking to us through our imagination, one of the many gifts given. So not the removal of all thought kind of contemplation (also known as “Centering Prayer”) but rather the release of control and allowance for a flood of images.

When using a scripture, imagine the scene unfolding before you, then place yourself in the scene- God is speaking to you by making the stories of scripture to become personal experiences (in a way)- don’t worry if the scene goes off track a bit, after all with an inserted character (you), it can’t go exactly the same way.

Another way of prayer referred to as “imagination prayer” is when you are aware of what is blocking your relationship with Christ, but somehow words fail to express what you need to let go. Delve then into your mind, let the emotions and everything else take manifested form in your imagination. Then imagine a cross… or God… or really any other symbol that resonates with you. Take the manifested form of the block, be it a garbage bag that you’re dragging, all your suitcases (“baggage”), or for me it was an oily second skin covering me and almost suffocating me. Lay it at the insert resonating symbol here. For me, I didn’t fell like the cross was appropriate– I just imagined white pure space, almost making me feel guilty about leaving my oil there. The oil slipped off my body and I became clean– never the less the oil was still there, lying on the ground. Jesus came, with a bucket and a soapy rag- I initially started to bend down to clean up the mess myself but Jesus held out his hand to stop me. He bent and cleaned where the oil was.

Side note for a minute… when you take a rag and try to clean oil what happens… generally (at least at first) the oil just spreads around, not really getting clean just less concentrated.

When Jesus cleans the oil though the space becomes pure white again.

Being Blind

On May 20th, in Bangladesh- we studied one of the more famous passages of the bible: Acts 9: 1-31… The conversion of Saul.

For this post– it is the beginning (verses 1-9) that I want to pay attention to (in particular the bolded text)

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

It is one of the more famous passages… and yet when I studied it this time I couldn’t pull anything significant from it to take away. My experience though, reflecting back on it, gets a little eerie.

 

For the sections in italics:

Now I see that passage and I think of how Saul relied on his friends to lead him when he couldn’t. I think of how Saul was angry and afraid of the early followers of Christianity and so he persecuted them, maybe because it was unfamiliar– isn’t that what often scares us? Let’s be honest- Jesus wasn’t any ordinary guy, he was a radical, a life- changer. And these followers of his- well the authorities probably thought they were radicals too!! When you see a radical on the street corner- shouting things out into the world for all to hear– what is your first reaction? I’m willing to bet its not– “Gee that’s probably a really nice guy there! He’s probably just heard all about this new way of living that is better for all of us!” 

Those are both good things to take from a passage like this. Lean on your friends; it’s an especially good message for me since that is still an area I find hard. Community– that’s a thing, but not one that everybody is comfortable with– and speaking from experience, if you are the person uncomfortable: give it time, it will never be perfect but it will get easier. If you are the community: don’t rush it, and don’t try to force someone to be all over a group of people just because you think its good for them, you might be right, but pushing it on them too soon isn’t helpful. And the other message: don’t be scared of something and start discriminating or looking down upon something just because it’s unfamiliar- take the time to get to know it better and you will see the light without having to “see the light”.

Now the eerie part:

3 days later after studying this passage about Saul going blind… I embarked, along with a subset of our team, to the Rajshahi Regional Camp that took place in Dinajpur. We still don’t know if it was an allergic reaction to something or what but on this trip my eyes started secreting some weird fluid while I slept (and throughout the day but it wasn’t as much of a problem when my eyes weren’t closed for extended periods of time) and then it would harden and basically I woke to find my eyes effectively glued shut. During the day my eye was red and itchy and still secreting something that made my vision extremely blurred.

Now obviously I wasn’t full- on blind. However not being able to open your eyes on command when that is something you’re used to being able to do- is still pretty scary; and for all intensive purposes my vision was impaired because it was blurred by this fluid that wouldn’t go away. Looking back I find this an eerie parallel to Saul going blind, and even eerier (is that even a word… more eerie?) because we had just studied that passage a few days prior.

I don’t think that I am a murderer like Saul– but I’m not completely unlike him in some ways too. I get uncomfortable and sometimes scared by things that are unfamiliar to me. For years I have built a tough facade so people might know I’m uncomfortable but they won’t know I’m scared… but makes me wonder most is: what am I so scared of? I was reading about the experience of someone else in a crossing cultures situation and it made me think… maybe I’m not scared at all but jealous. I’m jealous that the Spirit seems to move so vehemently through these people, and I’m worried that it won’t move that vehemently through me. Which when I think about it is foolish– because I’ve felt the Spirit move within me before, I shouldn’t need to worry about not being moved by it– because I have been… but I’m not immune to insecurity.

It was also a scary time of learning to trust. Saul had to trust his friends. I had to trust that if my eyes got really bad then the team (and more specifically my staff) would take care of me. They wouldn’t let me blindly stumble down the road- they would lead me by the hand.

Being blind is scary… or at least to the extent that I’ve experience it it is… but it is also a time to learn… and learn I did.

#ACTS

ACTS… its more than a word… it literally is action. It’s also the book of the Bible that we chose to focus on this year on the Bangladesh GUP. More than that… its a style of prayer I learned while on the GUP; one that I find is really kind of awesome (I mean all prayer is in its own ways). 

ACTS prayer is made up of 4 parts (one for each letter- who would’ve guessed!?):

A(doration): to worship God, name praises, and fulfill the commandment to love God with all of our being.

C(onfession): when we repent and clear away all the obstacles that are preventing a healthy relationship between us and God.

T(hanksgiving): when we give thanks for all that God has done in our lives, and the ways He has pushed us to be better.

S(upplication): when we ask for what we need from God.

We did this prayer one morning in our journals (thanks to our Director Archi for showing us this style!!). It was through this prayer style that I was able to face parts of myself that I don’t really like to face and so usually just avoid. 

The Adoration section was easy… I love God, and I love to name all the ways that He is amazing. He is Comforter, All-Powerful, Healer, Grace-Giver, Sovereign Lord (which says more than two words might seem), Creator, Sustainer, Nurturing Father… and so much more.

Confession was harder. Confessing and repenting that I have trust issues was not, and is not an easy thing to admit… because in a way admitting it is almost like knocking it down a peg. To trust people with the knowledge and vulnerability that you have issues in general- let alone trust issues- well it almost seems crazy to think about. I used to say that I trust God, I just don’t trust people. But I think I’ve mentioned this before, one thing I realized in this experience is that’s not really possible… I believe there is a piece of God in each and every one of us, a small glimpse at the amazing entity, its what makes us good, and loving, and compassionate, and why we are so uncomfortable with sin- because engaging in sin is like stabbing at that piece of God in us. So if I trust God, and God is in people, then I kinda need to trust people– otherwise I can’t really say I trust God. I also worry that there is something about myself that drives others away– like the leper that Jesus healed, I believed there was something inherently wrong with me, and so I believed that people hated me and that I was a burden much of the time. But Jesus healed the leper, and sent him back to the community. I need healing too– and actually in writing this I think I just got an answer to a question I’ve been struggling with- IVCF is the community I need to go back to, because they are the community I felt rejected by in some instances, even though I wasn’t… I was never actually a leper, I just thought I was.

Thanksgiving … this part of the prayer makes me cry… I think because I can’t really express in words how thankful I am to God for all that he has done in my life. My heart decides that tears will convey it much better than words. A few things I was able to articulate were: I am thankful to God for pushing me in directions that make me uncomfortable. I am thankful for the wisdom in myself and others that God has granted us to use in order to discern throughout life. I am thankful for friendships God has placed in my life and for God having people show they care.

Supplication was hard as well… because as hard as it is to admit you have issues, its even harder to admit you need help… and then to ask for it. I need strength, I need courage, I need trust, grace, perspective, patience and so much more. And I pray to God that he grants these things unto me, so that I may use these gifts in ways that better his kingdom.

This is not your battle…

Another installment in the Bangladesh series:

What are the things you need to surrender and entrust to Jesus?

What are the things you need from Jesus?

I am a strong independent woman. At least in this earthly world I am, but sometimes that interferes with my relationship with Jesus. I have always felt a very strong connection to St. Joan of Arc… she was a young woman, fierce and strong- willed, she was a warrior- some called her the Maid of Lorraine. She had her greatest victory in battle on June 18 1429… the battle of Patay, which was the turning point for the French in the Hundred Years War- exactly 562 years before I was born. Dates aside, I’ve always felt a piece of her spirit alongside mine… urging me on. But what if “this is not my battle, it belongs to God” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

I could take a lesson or two from Joan. No matter how strong-willed she was, she was also fiercely dependent on God. She attributed all of her victories to God and God alone. Like Joan, I need to learn to choose my battles carefully. I know that sounds like a line from someone who plays the devil’s advocate, but I’m actually referring to the battles within myself. Invisible battles… depression, anxiety, emotion-based battles. God is fighting for me, so maybe I need to drop the sword and let Him do just that… fight for me.

Musically- its kinda like Hunter Hayes song “Wanted” … one of the lines says “I wanna make you feel wanted”. Well- I want to BE wanted. And God answers that prayer/desire… by wanting me, and fighting for me.

What do I need to surrender to Jesus… well for starters, the battles I face. He can’t fight them for me if I lock him out of the room.

What do I need from Jesus? I need grace, and love. And thankfully for me…. He gives both freely.

It all comes down to trust… I used to say “I trust God, I don’t trust people”. I realized that is a bit of an oxymoron. There is a piece of God in everybody– even the strangers you meet on the street. We are all connected in some way or another, and further connected by the piece of God within us all. And a lot of the time, I was neither trusting the piece of God in people, nor was I trusting God as a Father.

Thankfully I can say that has changed…

 

“If you try to fight you will fail. God will fight for you, and it might hurt but He will always win.”

“How you react defines you, it is a test of character.”

sometimes I feel a little conflicted about this second statement. A lot of the time I feel like if I run away, then I’m a coward. But if I trust in God to fight my battles for me, that means in the fight or flight model… flight. Am I a coward for trusting God? I don’t think so- I think sometimes letting someone else fight for you, and turning your back on the battle can be the bravest thing possible.

Sometimes, I’m not gonna deny, turning your back is the act of a coward… but even if it was- one act of cowardice, or half a dozen, or a million don’t define your life– it makes you human.

#Vision

So… As I mentioned in my previous post, when I do listening/ contemplative prayer I revert somewhat. My default self- imagining is to see myself as around 7 or 8 years old (that’s my best guess at least).

This time was different, there was an eerie feeling about it. I started walking beside a white robed figure (God I’m assuming) and I reach up to take his hand, when our hands connect though- I look up and suddenly it’s not a white robed figure anymore, it is gradually morphing into a giant mass of black-blue ooze and there are lightning-esque flashes coming from it. The ooze started to crawl up my arm and I was filled with terror. I turned and ran in blind fear, and in that blind fear ran into the arms of the real God, where he held me safe.

At that point I was somewhat afraid to take naps or anything but completely exhausted so I kinda had to.

vision_eye

The next day came the rest of the vision… or a second vision but it felt like it was kind of like a sequel in any case.

This time, when I ran in blind fear, I still ran into the arms of God but alongside God there was a whole crowd of people- including my friends and family not physically fighting the evil ooze (for lack of a better term we’ll call it a demon) but rather adding their strength that kinda just emanated from them like coloured light.

Sorry I should clarify: they were adding their strength to warding it off, not adding their strength to the demon.

With this second vision also came an alternate ending- and if I thought I was terrified in the first, well… I was more terrified by the second alternate ending. The alternate ending was when I didn’t choose to be protected and supported, when I blinded myself to the evil that was standing beside me until it was too late. The demon ooze crawled up my arm and began to take over my body bit by bit… and I was aware of the evil but was incapable of fighting it on my own, I was aware of what it was doing to me until it took over my heart. At that point I wasn’t looking from my perspective anymore, it wasn’t me- but it was… I was a demon. I was un-save-able and I couldn’t control anything I did, it was all evil but it felt like I was doing the actions, especially when I hurt people.

Imagine that for a minute… Imagine having to run away from what you thought was safe… Imagine the terror… Imagine being consumed by so much evil that you are un-save-able…

 

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I have some thoughts on what it meant, but I’d love to hear yours– also I’d love to hear your story if you have received visions.

#YouKnowBetter Than I

To continue with the story…

On May 17th it became official- I had heat exhaustion. I had a huge ring of heat rash around my neck and collarbone, I was delusional at times, very sick, and couldn’t help but sleep- though it wasn’t particularly restful.

That morning, we did listening/contemplative prayer. I imagined a lush green garden– at this point in the trip I was really starting to miss being around nature. I felt caged into the middle of a concrete city. There was a trip planned that afternoon to the botanical gardens- and while I will soon have my pictures- I wasn’t able to physically be there because of being sick. Whether out of extreme graciousness or mutual feelings of exhaustion a few people stayed behind so at least I wasn’t alone. I may not have been able to go to the botanical gardens but God gave me my own imaginary one that morning.

Contemplative prayer is a strange and exhilarating experience at times. Often you are sitting and waiting, rather than talking and asking something of God- you just wait for what He has to tell you. Sometimes when I practice it I appear in some way next to the figure of God, and because I have often reverted to the body of a 7 or 8 year old, I reach upwards and take His hand… and we walk. It is then that is one of the happiest feelings I have ever experienced- you’re just happy, no reason needed.
Sometimes… the picture can be scary. It’s not because God is trying to frighten you for the sake of scaring people– watch closely, it may be scary but there is something for you to learn- effectively scary can mean that it is vital to your journey or that it will be hard.

One thing that consistently helped me through this trip is knowing that I am human, I don’t have all the answers, and sometimes it is best to just wait and listen. Summed up in a beautiful song:

I thought I did what’s right
I thought I had the answers
I thought I chose the surest road
but that road brought me here
So I put a fight
and told you how to help me
now just when I have given up
the truth is coming clear

**For you know better than I
You know the way
I’ve let go the need to know why
For you know better than I

If this has been test
I cannot see the reason
but maybe knowing I don’t know
is part of getting through
I tried to do what’s best
And faith has made it easy
to see the best thing I can do
is put my trust in you

**

I saw a cloud and thought it was the sky
I saw a bird and thought that I could follow
but it was you who taught that bird to fly
If I let you reach me,
will you teach me?

**
For you know better than I
You know the way
I’ve let go the need to know why
I’ll take what answers you supply
For you know better than I.

To wrap up this post: Heat exhaustion did bring one good thing… because I was up at 3 or 4 in the morning… I saw a Tik-tiki… which is a small gecko. They are adorable, and I just sat there and had a staring contest with it for a few minutes… I talked to it and decided he probably didn’t understand… but it was funny because he would open his mouth, stick his tongue out a little, and I swear I heard a little sound… almost like he was talking back to me. That evening Suji, Audrey, Candy, and I went up to the roof and just chatted… there was a beautiful cool breeze and it was the perfect end to a long day.

#stones #stonestory

So… a nice thing when you are halfway across the world is to read a note from home.

A friend, who had gone to Bangladesh before, wrote notes to a few of us on the team that she knew. One for when we’re having a good day, one for when we’re having a bad day, and one for when we’re missing home. I cherished these notes, but the last one ended up turning into a rather funny story.

Stories… not stones… how could I have read that wrong? Also… it makes a lot more sense.

Anyway, at the end of the note on missing home, it says “bring back some stones”… or at least that’s what I thought it said. I also thought it was weird. Some of the things that crossed my mind were: Is this a metaphor that’s going over my head?; or does my friend have a hobby that I don’t know about?. Maybe I was meant to read it wrong, maybe she was meant to write that ‘r’ and ‘i’ a little too closely together. No matter, it was thought provoking. I was growing in respect for the insights she had, and I figured if it has meaning then I better figure it out, so as not to let her down. Or if it’s literal and she actually just wants some stones, then I better bring some back.

Through the trip I thought: maybe it means that I’m shedding my old stony skin, and bringing back the precious God-formed jewel underneath; or maybe it means that I will be moved so much by this experience that sometimes what I learn will seem like a stony burden. I pondered these throughout ideas throughout the trip and came to the conclusion that while it was a weird metaphor, it could work, at the very least it made me think.

Just before we hopped in the van on our way to the airport, just in case it was just a literal request, I grabbed a couple stones from the alleyway. They are still sitting in my camera bag. I was a bit worried that Bangladesh might be one of those countries where you’re not allowed to remove sand or things like that– like I was gonna be questioned over a couple stones (paranoid I know). I figured no matter what, the worst  case scenario I toss them in the trash. I didn’t, my camera bag was not searched, we made it back all the way to Canada… me and those stones.

So… I meet up with my friend once I’m back in London, and we’re chatting, having a better conversation than I think we’ve ever had. Recalling experiences and epic language fails, I imagine she knew exactly what to ask because she has lived it, and she also knows me better than I often give her credit for. And suddenly I ask her… “why did you want a stone?”. she looks at me confused, and I say “in one of your little notes… at the end you said ‘bring back some stones’ -why?”. Suddenly it dawns on her that I read the note wrong, she blames it on her handwriting, and I say “no no- I have trouble reading a lot of people’s handwriting”, she explains it probably says “stories”… and we can’t stop laughing. She wants the stone now, although I’ve yet to get it to her.

When I’m back at my apartment I look at the note again and it does indeed say “stories” not “stones”.

But when I think back on how much thinking that it made me do… I think I was meant to read it the way that I did. And it really is a great metaphor for cross-cultural experiences. Things that seem like common pebbles (things we take for granted) turn out to be precious gems that we give new value because of our awakening, and the things we think are precious gems (things that have surface value) are really common rocks in disguise.

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#Firstweek

There are two kinds of #firstweek experiences to talk about: first week in Bangladesh and first week back. In the spirit of chronos (sequential time) I will go in that order.

There were so many firsts to experience… although those lasted throughout the entire trip. The first  day however- that’s special. As I said in the previous post, it was a little nerve-wracking going through immigration but we all made it through without a huge amount of trouble. The traffic was something I had been worried about- I had heard that it was… well different… and I have been known to get car anxiety sometimes; thankfully God answered my prayers and even though I could still feel the anxiety it didn’t become overwhelming- and with the help of music and conversation with team members (not about the anxiety- about other things that helped distract me) I got through it.

In the early afternoon, despite our extreme exhaustion and jet lag, we split up into small groups and took walks around the area. I was a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect and stuck very close to the people in my group. Some of the local Bengali people took pictures of us which we were told to expect but it was still a little surprising when it happened- I never did become comfortable with that aspect of the culture. It was hard to walk around, partially because when I say we were exhausted I mean I was ready to just pass out on the street #noexaggeration and partially because there was SO MUCH to take in and so much heat- it was a bit overwhelming for my at-the-time limited capacity sensory data intake. We had lunch, rice-dal-vegetables-and I can’t remember but there was probably chicken as well. That afternoon,(probably) due to the combination of exhaustion, heat, and very oily veggies- I officially became the first team member to get sick. This stirred up some fear in me because I was afraid even before we left that my body wouldn’t adjust well (it’s not something I’m known for) and I would be violently ill the entire trip– thankfully though I was able to adjust. I avoided super oily foods and monitored my body’s reactions closely. The first evening prayer we decided to do in groups of roommates; we went through a litany and shared with each other our first-day-experiences. I felt it was a truly great bonding moment.

The first Sabbath- for us Saturdays were our sabbath, the first one was more busy since we got into Bangladesh on a Friday. We had 3 Bangla lessons and went shopping for showaler-kamis (local dress) and had a guest speaker come in. Some of what was said didn’t sit well with me and it is something I struggle with when I think about it even now, haven’t resolved that one, but I’m still trying.

First day of placement: well… communication… that’s a thing. It turned out there had been some communication issues somewhere in the line (I’m not sure where) and the placement I was in (Children’s Uplift Program) was not expecting us. That said, they were very gracious and accomodating- they gave us a tour and we got to meet all the kids before going back to Grace House. That evening we had small group and team discussion about how everyone is doing. There was some tension in the room at points but overall it was a good talk with resignation points.

The next morning we started off with sending a part of the team off on their trip to Khulna (both my roommates were on that trip- it was then that I went to have a few nights of sleepover in one of the other rooms), then after breakfast we had morning prayer, that morning was done in Lectio Divina… if you don’t know what that is see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectio_Divina

We went through it with Psalm 116: 1-9 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+116%3A+1-9&version=ESV)  It was very moving (as the Psalms usually are for me), and a nice familiar comfort of doing prayer in one of my favorite styles. We had placement again (every Sun-Thurs) and the kids were a bit more shy, I also worked in the upstairs with Basha Ltd- a social business. In the evening we did manuscript-style scripture study… I’ll be honest (after all the title of this blog IS “if I’m being honest”) I was not a huge fan of manuscript style study for a number of reasons… but it was starting to grow on me and that evening it felt better.

The next morning (May 13th) it was my turn to lead morning prayer. I read a piece of scripture and then opened the room in prayer, inviting the group to silently reflect (and journal if they so desired) on the message God was speaking through them, closing with a prayer of commissioning we headed out for placement again. One of the older girls at C.U.P. was withdrawing and it was disheartening to see that so early on- I wished I could bring stability and simplicity into her life. That early evening we had our first kola (banana) walk where we purchased a bunch and went out intentionally engaging with people in the community (it’s also a really good way to practice Bangla). It went very well although ended early when we got caught in the downpour. ImageAs you can see we were very wet. Photo credits go to Alice Ws Kim.

On May 15th I decided to award my dear friend Melina the titles of “unnaturally early riser” “wake up all your roommates EXCEPT the one who would sleep next to fireworks going off” AND “her very first cockroach kill” not to mention “tiniest cockroach kill” **note it was the same cockroach…. all of these earned at about 4AM. That day at placement I matched old sari material to be made into blankets and went down to see the kids in the last bit of time. One girl that had been clinging to me immediately ran up to me and would not leave my side… it turned out to be a habit of hers for the rest of the trip. That evening part of the team left for the Chittagong Regional Conference… we prayed over them in the same fashion as we had over the Khulna group. It was beautiful but it left a strange feeling because we were now half a team left in Dhaka. That night we all ended up wandering into Suji and Candy’s room and just gabbed, answering random questions of each other.

First Bengali church service. OK- admittedly it is an English-speaking church, but the passion present was beautiful. We had also had morning prayer before church and it involved singing and Isaiah 53 and more singing and reflecting on who God is to each of us. We also got to meet Max… a local student who has become famous across the years to the various teams. He is very charismatic and friendly. We visited North End cafe in the afternoon and saw Max again … because he works there. There was free wi-fi there and I was very happy to receive a message from my sister… it was sweet and touching. I was also getting very excited for the visit to the botanical gardens the next day… nature-nerd that I am.

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My first week back in Canada has been a whirlwind. There were certain people I contacted right away but for the most part it was busy because of arrangements regarding my summer job… had to clean and pack up my room at my parent’s house and 1 week and 1 day back I moved back to London… now I’m sitting in my new condo writing this. I also had to get a wheel on my car de-seized, summer tires put on, and gas up… meeting with the prof I’ll be working for… and well… I’ve been busy but now I have a little time to transition more. I miss Bangladesh, people keep asking me if I’d go back- and my answer remains the same: a resounding and definite yes.