Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It feels wonderful to be home.  I feel so.. happy and peaceful.  I don't think I can remember a time in Bangaldesh where I ever really felt quiet, restful or peaceful.  Now that I've stepped out of that world I can see it more clearly.  I can see how hard it really was.  And I am so thankful now to be back home and for all the little things I keep seeing and realizing I haven't had for the past year.  It's so nice to look up and see my beautiful nieces sitting there beside me.  To be surrounded by people I love.  To go crawl into bed and actually sleep well.  To wake up and be excited for the day.  To get my Bible and a cup of coffee and a warm blanket and feel quiet and peaceful.  To be able to walk outside and go for a run when I want to.  To feel sun on my skin.  To be able to drive.  To go to church and be able to understand it!  To feel cold!  Hot showers and dishwashers and nice smelling soap, salads and good food, independence and freedom, american clothes and how it feels not to be different anymore.  Yeah, I'm really glad to be home. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This morning I got up in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Its funny to think about how Dhaka seemed like the end of the world when we first got there, now it seems so...normal. I ate in disgusting restaurants, ate off of the street, walked through dirt and trash and filth, heard that  the bathroom was full of cockroaches, brushed my teeth in the tap water and thought nothing of it. I wear my three-piece, carefully keeping my orna on, as i walk past thousands and thousands of people. Not even the crowds and noise and business is strange to me anymore. And even  Dhaka seems like re-entering civilization compared to Coxs Bazaar! As I walked around I even wondered why everything about Bangladesh had ever really seemed so strange, because it has become so normal and familiar to me. It's just not shocking anymore. 
This morning as we flew away from the familiar landscape of Bangladesh, I tried to take it all in. The crumbling buildings all crowded together, muddy rivers, vivid green trees and grass and the red dirt. It felt strange to leave. And to leave so changed.
The real shock came though, when we entered the Mumbai airport. I think my mouth was hanging open. Seriously. I saw a stand selling Lindt chocolates and I actually skipped and giggled. I know.. but seriously, I can't believe this place. I just sat down and stated and tried to wrap my mind around this and could have cried. This is normal? Instead of feeling like coming home, like I expected. I feel so confused! The cleanliness, no one is watching me, everything smells like perfume, everything is shining. I went from being treated like royalty to actually being too embarrassed to go into these shops. I feel.. embarrassed and uncomfortable, shabby and poor and uncertain.  I feel people looking down on me. 
It is all so strange. It feels like I have stepped out of time and out of the world and then suddenly stepped back in. Like I have been to the moon- and nobody here knows, or could possibly understand. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

We are just wrapping up our final day here in Cox's.  It feels pretty strange...  cleaning, shopping, packing, laundry, goodbyes.  I keep having these "duh moments" where I'm like, "OH MY GOSH. We are getting on a plane and flying away from here!!"  haha.. I don't know.. it's just a really bizarre feeling!
Yesterday we went to the beach, played volleyball went swimming, ate jhal muri, had bengali food for dinner....  It was a really nice day.  I wonder what the things are that I will miss when I'm gone. And I wonder what things I will see totally different in the States now.
We leave for Dhaka tomorrow night so today and tomorrow are going to be packed... but I'm excited.  I can't wait to be home!! :D

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"There is a lad here, which hath five loaves and two fishes:
but what are they among so many?"

   Just thinking this morning about the many,many times that the need of the moment has far outweighed what is in my ability to give.  As in like- a daily occurrence!  The many times when I give it my all, give it my best- and it still comes up short.  When all I have to give is simply - not enough.
   In those times of realizing and coming face-to-face with my own lack and inability.  My immediate reaction is to feel discouraged, hopeless, condemned, guilty, despairing.... and maybe even to just give up.  My question is also, "What is so little going to do with so great a need?"
   And yet, this is the place that it seems God is continually bringing me to. It is true that God brings us into circumstances that are difficult. He asks us to do things that He knows we cannot possibly do.  Why?
  Not with the purpose of discouraging us.  He shows us our own weakness and inability yes, but not with the intention of us despairing or giving up. In those places He wants us to look beyond our inability to Jesus.  He brings us here with the intention of showing the power of God in our lives. He takes us to places that are beyond us so that He can show us that they are not beyond Him. 
   He can take the boys five loaves and 2 fishes and feed the five thousand.  And He can also take what little we have to give- worthless and pathetic as it may be- and, when He uses it- it is more than enough to cover the need.
  "This is the work of God: the ye might believe on Him
whom He hath sent."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's another rainy day here in Bangladesh.  I am incredibly thankful for these cool, cozy days.  And for nights where I actually wish I had another blanket!
Yesterday, I decided to go through all my things - I say that like there is so much! ;)  I sorted through it all, packed up everything that I won't need in the next 2 weeks and put it in a suitcase. It's kind of... surreal.  Only 2 weeks left!  It's strange- coming to the end of something.  Kind of sad.  But I have decided not to allow myself to be focused on the sad things so that I can really enjoy the good things.  It's easy to jump ahead to how hard it will be when my family comes back here without me and things like that, but I have to remind myself that that is not today- and I don't want to be so focused on some far-off difficulty in the future that I miss out on today.
I have been reflecting a lot on the past year here.  I can't believe it's been a year!  Thinking back to when we first got here, how ridiculously challenging it was. I am sure we still have a lot to learn, but we have really come so far!  We've actually learned how to survive in this crazy country! haha..
I guess I had a lot of ideas in my head about how things would be here, things we would be doing, how things would feel and how things would look like.  It's funny now because it has been so other than what I expected...  but it has been really good.  Really, really hard- but good. It has been incredibly humbling- if not humiliating.  I have been pushed beyond what I can handle in almost very way, come up short, failed... totally missed the mark.  And, that is not a bad thing because I now see Jesus in a totally new light.
I have been reading through the Gospels lately.  It's strange to read through them now because the way New Testament Israel was is so comparable to how Bangladesh is today.  The religious self righteous people, the poor, the sick, the crippled, the hungry.. everyone being needy. The hypocrisy and lies- people trying to take advantage of Jesus- just to get a loaf of bread or a fish. The constant crowds.. Everyone looking to you for something.  I can't help but compare how we have dealt with similar things (on a far lesser level of course), and have really been at a loss as to what we should do , how to do it, who to help, who to trust... we have been pushed beyond what we can handle so easily!  And yet, Jesus always knew exactly what to do, who to help.  It amazes me.  He could walk through a crowd of people who all wanted His attention and His help- and he would heal one or a few...   It's hard to describe the constant pressure and guilt you feel here because it seems like everyone is looking to you for something.  But it didn't phase Him- He just did what His Father told him to do.  While it has been a humbling experience for me to see my own lack and inefficiency...  I am definitely more amazed by Jesus.  And, that really brings meaning to the entire experience here. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bangladesh is just a crazy country. It's ridiculous.  I mean- you spend all this time here and you still are constantly being surprised and still trying to figure things out.
A few weeks back mom and dad were walking on this hill nearby.  There was a big group of guys at the top and dad asked them what was going on.  They told dad that 4 guys had dragged a girl off into the jungle and they were looking for them.  But, they were too afraid to go into the jungle I guess.  They even tried to stop dad when he went looking for her, telling him how dangerous it was.  Finally, Mom told one of the guys, "My husband must do what is right.  He must go to bed tonight and know he tried to help that girl.  He must know that he did what is right before God."  Which, I guess he understood.  But, nobody seemed too concerned or really upset about it... the whole thing was just strange!  And just shocking that they wouldn't help that girl. Even when we told people about what happened they say, "Oh yes.. very bad men.."  But, it's like it's not ... abnormal...  It is bizarre.
Last night, mom and I were walking on that same hill and we passed a woman dressed in a sari walking up the hill.  There were a few guys there.  As soon as she walked past us one guys said something and they all jumped up and started following her.  So mom stopped and was like, "Didn't that seem weird?  We should make sure she''s okay."  So we stood there and watched for awhile.  The woman walked of onto this dark path into the jungle.  2 guys saw us watching so they stopped and watched us.  Then mom and I walked back up towards the path where the woman went and stood there looking.  The other two guys came and stood right behind us.  Then they walked a little ways away.  Finally mom said, "We need to just walk back there a little ways to make sure she's okay."  As soon as we stepped onto the path those 2 guys came running up right behind us.  So we walk into the jungle a little ways.  It's totally dark and all we have is mom's phone to see.  There are two or three guys- we couldn't see what was happening really but as soon as they saw us they all stood up and started going, "Oh sorry! sorry!"  Mom asks where the woman was... they told us that she was right there.  So mom starts asking is she's okay.  Those two guys are standing right behind us still.  Finally she walks into the light a little bit and mom asks her if she's alright.  She says that she was.  All of the sudden mom just turns around and starts walking out of the jungle.. and she turns around and says, "Caley!  I think that was a man!"
Shockingly enough, that's not the first cross dresser we've seen and the entire situation was extremely bizarre!  Standing in a dark jungle with 5 or 6 guys and... I don't know.. apparently a prostitute of some sort, she didn't seem to want any help anyways..
That's Bangladesh for you. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"I have held many things in my hands,
and lost them all;
But whatever I have placed in God's hands,
that I still possess."
~Martin Luther