Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I could be done.

Letting down. IM ready to be done here. I do not know if its the Holidays or the fact that in 36 hours I will be leaving here for two weeks or what it is...but part of me is just ready to be done here. WHo knows what God has planned for me? DO you? SOmetimes I think He is ready for me to go somewhere else? Sometimes I think I am ready to stay here? Sometimes I feel like I am doing no good? SOmetimes being over here is a wonderful experience? Sometimes its heart wrenching and torturous? Live as a missionary is not easy, and I GET to see my family at christmas. Please pray for all of us.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sabbath after noon walks

Today we went for our customary sabbath afternoon walk, and it was once again splendid. We laughed and walked through the cut rice fields as the children ran barefoot behind us. We made our way to the soccer field where all the villagers came out to meet us. I used my limited Bangla and communicated the best I could, as they spouted off anything that came to mind in Bangla, and I had no idea that was being said.

Today I tried 2 new Bangle things. One I learned how to do that game where you run alongside a tire and keep it upright and spinning, by hitting it with a stick. It is sometimes seen in old time movies (I will put up pictures soon) and I rode of the back of a peddle bicycle while Britney wheeled me around!

Also kids are So honest. The girls swarmed me and one pointed right at my pimples and said what is this? And they were demanding me explain what was on my face and why. I just had to laugh. Even the caregivers have asked us about out pimples...LOL They have been called bug bites, bumps from not drinking enough water, or from dirt LOL people in Bangladesh just have amazing skin. Its not my fault I don't :)

Sabbath is such a wonderful day here in Bangladesh, I hope its great for each of you. Prayers, love and GODS Blessings from Bangladesh!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Today I drank Hot Cocoa with my Roommates and watched the movie 21. God is better than that.

I’m learning patience. Tonight I feel like God has given me a big list of things to do, and I was complaining and thinking…GOD I just want to go to bed…

But that made me stop and think. How big of a list did I give to God today? How much did I just ask Him to do? And How much time did I spend thanking HIM for all the things HE has done? I can be pretty selfish sometimes…

SO I ask you…How big of a list have YOU given God today?

How much time have you spent accomplishing the one HE gave YOU?

And how much time do YOU spend thanking GOD for all HE has already done and is yet to do?

I have realized this is something I really need to look at. Thanks God for being patient with me, and for teaching me things that are seemingly so simple… Now can I get some sleep?! Yes.

Today I drank Hot Cocoa with my Roommates and watched the movie 21.

I’m learning patience. Tonight I feel like God has given me a big list of things to do, and I was complaining and thinking…GOD I just want to go to bed…

But that made me stop and think. How big of a list did I give to God today? How much did I just ask Him to do? And How much time did I spend thanking HIM for all the things HE has done? I can be pretty selfish sometimes…

SO I ask you…How big of a list have YOU given God today?

How much time have you spent accomplishing the one HE gave YOU?

And how much time do YOU spend thanking GOD for all HE has already done and is yet to do?

I have realized this is something I really need to look at. Thanks God for being patient with me, and for teaching me things that are seemingly so simple… Now can I get some sleep?! Yes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eid. Henna. Laughs. Pictures.

Sick. Today I spiked a fever have a stuffy nose and woke up with a splitting headache. SO I will be spending the morning in bed: sleeping, watching movies and catching you all up on my last few days here. It seems that everyday I should write a long inspiring blog because when I really think about it almost everyday here is one I hope to remember, and God teaches me something so new. But I am not that dedicated or gifted enough to translate ALL that I am learning into blogs. So I will just continue to do what I am.

Yesterday we went to eat at a Muslim families house in honor of the Eid Festival. It was So fun.This family was so hospitable. We arrived after a 30min. drive. My bum was sore, from the ride in the back of the pick-up. My freshly washed clothes were slightly dusted, from the dirt swirled up by the truck tires.

Stepping out of the truck we were once again in Ponchbibi, the streets are starting to become familiar and I recognize the best stores to buy things from and which to avoid. We are greeted by a nice looking man who leads us away from the main street and into a maze of narrow dirty streets. The sewer runs openly below my cautious feet, the dirt streets are swept clean in front of the nicest houses and garbage piles high in all other places.

We finally made it to our destination. A small complex of houses. We were greeted by the man of the house who was still in him Lungi (kinda like a male sarong!!) We were shown to a bedroom and told to sit! We removed our shoes and promptly sat. The room was quite lovely, clean, many hand made decorations and lots of color. It soon became packed with people wanting to meet us and see us. There were 3 boys about our age who also came to meet us, I think they must have used up all the memory on their phone camera taking pics and videos of us!
(here is one of the boys! YES! HE had a major unibrow!)
We were brought some snack. In bangladesh everyone feeds you, and it is expected that you eat. Man did I have to eat. First we were give a sort of trail mix snack, then some oranges and apples, then some sweets (sugar balls basically...not a big fan) then came the fried things: Chicken, potatoes, and deep fried breaded cauliflower. Then another sweet thing a pudding cake...which I was too full to even try. I just ate everything as slow as possible so that when they came around for us to take more...I could just claim I was still eating the previous thing! We thought this was our meal...So we are as much as we could. BUT come to find out these were just appetizers!! I seriously thought i was going to be sick if I had to eat more...

While we were visiting with the people a girl about my age, by the name of Polly, asked if she could Henna our hands, we of course wanted this...but didn't know if it was acceptable to have at the our Christian orphanage with children around. SO we didn't know quite what to do, but we were told it was okay for just this once and to go ahead and do it. It was priceless to see Polly's face light up as she ran to get her Henna and carefully illustrated our hands.

(all us girls with the Artist Polly)

We were soon told to "ASho Asho Asho," come, come, come. We were lead into the dining room where there were big plates of piled high food for us to try to eat. I knew I would NOT finish...but I attempted. I did not finish and they kept trying to get me to, but I said in the best Bangla that I could.."I am sorry, I cannot eat more!" They were so hospitable and we had such a fun time. It was a wonderful after noon, and I could not have eaten another bite.

(here was my next meal...)
(here is Polly trying to "help/make" me finish!)

After we returned to the orphanage Jehanna, Popri D, and I all decided we needed a walk! So we took about a 45 minute walk to a Indian Fair we saw on the way back to Bangla Hope. It was really fun just to walk around. I bought some hair clips, a toy, and an Amazingly cool ring= ;) but right after that it broke...!

(Jehanna and I at the fair)
(The fair!)


We were invited to this families house for dinner, yet they did not eat with us. They only brought us the food and then watched us eat it.

Shoes are always taken off, and you walk barefoot on the floors...no matter how dirty!

Laughter, love and Hospitality are the universal language.

Remember These Commandments.

Keep them because YOU LOVE YOUR GOD.

I was doing my devotionals and was inspired to just go back and reread the 10 commandments. And yes, they were exactly as I had thought and heard thousands of times, it was the verses after them that caught my attention.

"Remember these commandments of the Lord as long as you live. Keep then because YOU love YOUR GOD. Teach your children to love the Lord by obeying them. Talk to them about Him whether you are at home or traveling with them, in the morning and in the evening. Do whatever you need to so as not to forget what the LORD has SAID, even if you have to write them on the backs of your hands or on your forehead, on the doors of your houses or on your fence posts and gates."

That really made me think. I know the 10 commandments, but have I memorized them, do I really KNOW them. Which one is what number? The full instructions of each commandment.. Now they are written on an orange piece of paper and taped right to my wall.

The seemingly simple things for me, always seem to surprise me with how difficult they can become when neglected.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving: Finally my blog is caught up!

I woke up this morning and it really didn’t feel like thanksgiving.

I was not rushing to the mirror to make sure I had not been pranked during the night, I was not waking up to the smell of my grammies fresh fried spuds, my family was not all gathered near the fire place having morning worship while the cold air swirled around outside, Lori was not trying to get me to drink some “pond water,” and I was not nestled up with my family at the ranch.

Thanksgiving will never be quite right with out all my family together, the anticipation of freshly baked pumpkin and apple pie, a yummy turkey dinner, and a taffy pull. Being away I realize how much I value all the little traditions and time with my family. You guys have made my life so full, but today I am still happy. I am so thankful just to have you all in my life and know that in a few months I will be able to see you all again.

I finished talking to my Dad, Mom, and sister right before I went to class and they inspired me to do something new. Today we talked about Thanksgiving and made videos on my photo booth so they could practice their English, they had so much fun. I realized in that moment, that yes Thanksgiving should be spent with the people you love, but I am so lucky just to have so many AMAZING people in my life, and even if I cannot see them face to face…they are with me in my heart. I love you all so much.

Eat LOTS of yummy food for me, and all my family wherever you are…don’t forget to say what you are thankful for: that is one of my favorite traditions. We all said what we were thankful for at my mothers worship last night. I love you all SO much. I am so thankful for all of you.


Cram them, smoosh us, its dirty.

Yesterday was my first trip on a Bengali bus. It was intense. We were headed into Panchbibi, a largish town about a half hour away for a little shopping. Today we would venture into the unknown: Public transportation. Something two months ago I had sworn I would never do. Those busses were nothing but death traps on wheels, but yesterday I was up for some adventure. So Jehanna, Banni, Brittni, Polimool, and I all boarded a bus to Panchbibi. When we first got on it was really nice. Brittni and I choose seats un front on the left side and Banni and Jehanna took seats in the very front. I though man this is not too bad! We were leaded to Panchbibi and that is when I started to get a taste of the bus system. People started pouring in at every stop, more and more people. Men filled all the seats, women were crammed into the front. There was one time when it felt like a man was actually sitting in my lap!! The buss was coop muela (very dirty) and the smell. There was definitely an unpleasant smell. But this adventure was exactly what I needed. We laughed and laughed, bartered and shopped, Banni and I have so much fun together! I also got another interesting look into Bengali culture. I came to find out that women were only allowed in one part of the bus.: the front left. Men are given the rest of the bus. I also noticed that the men smiled there toothless red stained teeth grin, while the women rarely make eye contact. One really sweet lady tried to ramble something to me in Bangla and I could not understand, I just smiled and said Tu me kay mon nacho? (How are you?) She timidly replied, “Balo” meaning good. My language skills are not good, but it was great to be able to make this woman smile.

I love it here. I finally am feeling comfortable, I can joke with the people, I can haggle like a Bengali and I can laugh and really mean it. Today I went for about an hour walk. We walked through the rice fields, past the mud huts, and passed by the cows, goats, sheep, and pigs. Things are so different from when I frist arrived. No longer and I scared to make eye contact, to walk outside the compound, to be silly and laugh. No longer are the rice fields brillant green, they have all been cut and brown stubbs replace the once tall, swaying, green fields.

Time ticks on. Life always moves. Seasons pass. And we have no control over them. All we can do is live each day the best we can. Make memories, enjoy the little things, pray more, worry less, and love unconditionally. Bangladesh finally I am falling in love with you.


Today I played doctor.

My roommate Brittni thought she just cut off the nail of her pinky, turns out she cut off all the skin that went with it.
I stayed pretty calm, cleaned it, put some Triple Antibiotic ointment on, and bandaged it! Then called my mother and she confirmed I did everything right! Now were praying for quick healing and no infection.

11-17-09 Happy Birthday Brock!

Rice. The staple food for Bengali people.

I love the rice fields. They are so brilliant green. From the moment I arrived, I have loved the way they embellish the flat land here. Today I did something I never thought I would do! I harvested this beautiful rice. Yes, a sickle and me. Together we harvested three fields of rice. All the Bangla Hope staff was out in the field working. Also we brought out the KG and Grade 1 class, they were so cute and loved to help! Many of the Housemothers are very fast at harvest rice because they used to work out in the fields. Harvesting rice, gave me a new appreciation for ever rice grain I will ever eat, it is hard work!

You much bend down and hand cut each bundle, then you must lay them neatly in piles and come back and tie each of them. And this is just the beginning of the process, the rice must then be thrashed, dried, boiled, sent to the mill, and then it is FINALLY ready to be cooked!

I worked out there for about 3 hours, and by the end I was getting fast! They were impressed with my cutting skills; I have some of my mother’s competitiveness in me…I finished first once!!...But I did have the fewest rows of rice to cut LOL. It was a really great experience and I will never forget my morning of harvesting rice! My legs were SO sore for about three days to follow!

Only bad news: My roommate Brittni cut her finger, those sickle’s are SO sharp!


Banni Boo.

Banni I love her. Today we threw her a party. Her very first surprise birthday party. She was tickled pink. Her smile was radiant, and she was so happy. This was the first time anyone had every baked her a cake or planned her a party. She turned 18.

Jehanna and I baked a cake. We when to Hili and searched and searched for all the ingredients. We looked for about 2 hours to find everything. We were given Aspertain in place of powdered sugar, baking powder and flowers instead of flour, but finally we found everything. We even found some cocoa powder! Many laughs later, we were back at Bangla Hope making our cake, with only a 1/3-cup and powdered milk! Surprisingly the cake was wonderful and Banni was very surprised! A wonderful birthday in Bangladesh!


Clothes, Clothes, Clothes.

I love to shop. I love to shop for myself, for others, for gifts, for food. I just love it, I love to see all the new things, the excitement on ones face when they receive something new and I love to find a good deal. Shopping in Bangladesh is nothing like the states. There are no shopping malls, no department stores. Most are just street venders, with small stores that have everything from nail polish to saris…Don’t get me wrong I still shop here, but its just not the same. For children here at the orphanage they “go shopping” twice a year: once to exchange their summer clothes for winter clothes, and then again to shed their winter outfits. This “shopping” is done out of the storeroom and is a HUGE JOB. The children line up with all the clothes they have and one by one come to us and we go through all they have, decide what they keep and then give them new things, everything is checked, undies, socks, shoes, t-shirts, dresses. Everything.

My job was to help with this Large “Shopping” event. I picked out new church dresses, undies, shoes, church socks, you name it I got it. And you know what? Seeing the Children’s faces light up was better then any shopping trip I have ever been on. They were content, so appreciative, yet unique and opinionated. Some girls loved pink others hated it. Some boys wanted a truck on their shirt and some preferred buttons. We laughed and giggled, and after three long days we had 104 beautifully dressed children, many smiling faces and a huge mound of clothes to refold!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Catch up!

Man I have been bad about blogging, but truth be told I just didn't want to write about my last day down south, now that that is over Im back!

SO much has happened since I have last written I have to catch you all up :)
We will start one event at a time. Here is what my calendar has looked like this month. Yes it has been busy, and very fun! I promise to up date you all soon...I just have to go take a shower and wash all the grim from work off! :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Down SOuth Day 2

Breakfast: To eat in Bangladesh is a challenge. Yes, for many locals here it is a daily struggle just to have enough money for food, but for us it is also a challenge. Not because we cannot afford the $1.00 is costs to have a decent meal, but because finding food that is clean to our standards is nearly impossible. You can walk down a street and see many food vendors, from a distance their food looks edible, but when you get up close you realize how wrong you are. Flies, Garbage, dirt caked spatulas: all ingredients for very sick foreigners. This morning finding food was once again a challenge. WE finally settled on eating from a local Jepatti shop. Litton and Jason instructed them on how to make our food. It was pure ruckus.

1. 1. Fresh new Dough must be made, with clean water and oil

2. 2. When rolling the dough, roll it on Newspaper so it does not touch your countertop

3. 3. Clean and “sterilize” your wood heated (the last time we had Jepatties the cook top was heated with Dung… YUCK!) Cook top and spatula.

4. 4. Let the oil heat up on the cook top as to kill germs

5. 5. Then once Jepatties touch the cook top, DO NOT TOUCH THEM WITH YOUR HANDS.

6. 6. When they are cooked flip them on to newspaper in the foreigners hands!

Man this seems pretty straightforward…but it took almost an hour for us to get our Jepatties and when I saw the “fresh” dough come out with dirt chunks I was nervous to say the least. My Angel is working over time here, and nope! I didn’t get sick. Jepatties for you who are like me and have no idea what they are…are like a cross between a tortilla and pita bread…somewhere in the middle…not super tasty by themselves…but at least SOMETHING~! We had some peanut butter and Jelly I ate mine with and it was quite filling!

That little Jepatti shop was so packed that morning: 10 in our group plus the other 50 men when came out to see us. I swear if we could just charge admission to see the foreign girls we could make a killing ;) It was so bad at one point that our WHOLE van was surrounded by men with their faces practically pressed up to the window! Our driver Nickel came over and started chewing the out, saying “come on they are just eating!! Leave them alone!’ The men wondered off for a few minutes and then were back again.

After breakfast we were off to go see the village schools. We all piled into a small rickety boat. The bottom of the boat leaked. The few slates holding us above this leaky bottom were broken and creaked with each step we took. The edges so close to the water, one had to perfectly balance the weight in the boat, and one false move would send everyone in to the water. Perched on the edges of our tiny boat, we headed down the river. The sun was high overhead and the heat was pounding down, pulsating with every move of the boat.

(this is the boat we took..yes all 10 of us!)

We visited three schools. All were well maintained, but not much more then a small corrugated tin building, with a chalkboard, bench desks, and a few “posters.” These schools are very nice by Bengali standards, yet shockingly primitive to my jaded eyes. All the children were dressed in their crisp maroon uniforms, all heads are shaved short, Hindi dots positioned on most girls foreheads, and big, bright, dark, eyes analyzing my every move. Each school greeted us with flower leis and sweet bouquets.

The first school was visited was called Malikhali. This was the original place that the Waids were hoping to put their orphanage. Here there are many beetle nut trees and coconut trees. WE got fresh coconuts...and man were they odd. They cut the tops off and we drank the “coconut” water and then they cut them open and we ate the gooey coconut stuff inside. For any of you that know me well, you know that I do not like Juices and such and this was very hard for me choke down! I only took a few sips and then discreetly passed it off to a child! Jon I think you would have really liked that Coconut water…and I would have liked you to drink it for me!

(this smile, is just because it is something new..not cause I actually liked it!)
All of the village people came out to see us too.

The second school we visited was a boat ride away…passing on the river we got a non intrusive look into these villagers lives. I quietly observed a weathered old woman washing her dishes. Mud caked around her ankles, her sari wet with worn seems, and her wrinkled hands methodically washing her dishes in the murky water. I gazed in disbelief as a young girl tosses fishing nets into the water, and giggles as she toppled into the water to cool herself off. Life here is hard. These people get up everyday and work just to live just to survive.

The boat ride to the last school was miserable. IT was SO hot and I didn’t think that I could take it anymore. My orna draped over my head, my body begging for a breeze. I could literally feel the sweat dripping down my back. When we finally made it to the muddy shores of the last school I was so relieved. All the children greeted us. Complete with a welcome song, memorized greetings, the school song and motto, and I was even asked to say something to them! Here we enjoyed a fabulous lunch (well at least it was for me, Jehanna ate a whole Chilly thinking it was a green bean!! LOL), with three different types of Bora and we give hand made fans!

AS we headed back to the car I was beat. I literally felt like I had been beat up. But the 2-hour van ride back helped me recuperate and the day was finished with a little shopping and some dinner. Sleep came quickly even though I was curled up on a hard bed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

South: Day 1

4:00AM my alarm beeps. No. I don’t want to get out of bed. Too bad. Life calls. I roll over, my eyes crusted shut, and fumble for the lights. I’m packed, clothes laid out, ready to go. I schlepped down the four flights of stairs and into crisp, damp morning.

Jehanna, Banny and I climb into the back. My Selor Kamis smells clean, like the American laundry soap I used. This van is newish, cleanish and I am by the window. Sleep is calling my name. I have never been able to enjoy quality sleep in any vehicle in Bangladesh…but I was hoping this trip would be different. 10 hours. Some sleep must find me.

We made our way down the familiar road, winding around through the rice fields and putrid ponds. There were 10 of us in this 12-passenger van. Sleep never came. The roads were just as terrible as usual. My legs are curled up, propped against the seat in front of me, my head is bobbling in the neck pillow I have, my hips are knocking against the walls as my teddy is trying to protect them. This trip seemed much longer than 10 hours. We stopped a few times. Once for fuel and propane, (Vans here run on this sometimes, its much cheaper) Once for some food, and once I had to use the bathroom.

Using Squat Pots out in the villages or in the remote areas is terrible. The first one I used I actually gagged. To reach them you have to walk past all the men peeing. I hiked up my pants hoping to avoid dipping them in whatever could be in the floor, held my breath, and used that hole as fast as possible. Let me tell you this was terrible. Anyways. All day we traveled. We visited one school the Waid used to be a part of. This school was run down. So many kids. It did not feel like a happy place. I was so tired. But it was good to see one of the Adventist Schools there. We finally mad it to where we would spend the night. Our beds were hard, pillows SO thick, so hot, mosquitoes, but I didn’t care. I just pulled out my sleep sack and gladly welcomed laying down, starching out, and not bouncing around.

These Ladies do HandiCrafts. All day they sit here and embroider in hope that these things will sell in the US
The start of our LONG Drive
KMMS Cooking. Jeppaties and Curry. This looks like such terrible, hot, smoky work.
These Signs were all over campus~! We had no problems following this rule :)
The gate to KMMS

Writers Block.

Jehanna is much better at this update thing. I glanced at her blog and realized that she has posted much more then me. Oh well. So much has happened since my last blog. So much has changed. I have changed. It was just last week that I had my 1 year anniversary, that Tuli left, that we picked up baby Amber. But those events feel like they happened months ago.
I have a Calendar taped to the door behind my bad, everyday I jot down what has happened. And last Friday was Wonderful:

Today was a relaxing day: Art in the morning errands in the afternoon and housekeeping in-between. Once of my goals for today was to prepare. Prepare for my trip South, prepare for organization, and to prepare for Sabbath. This I did.

Art Cleaned up? : check
All Laundry done? : check
Room clean? : check
Emails written? : check
Attitude…Good? :

Dirt. Sweat. Bangladesh smells. Hot. Sticky. It was finally my turn to get into the shower. Here I always seem to feel dirty. Even when I know Im clean. I closed the door and flipped on the light. I’m so ready to FEEL clean. The showers are always cold here, but tonight I was craving a warm shower. Its funny the things you miss over here…! As I tiptoed across the slippery floor, I could feel the cold water under foot. Left over water pooled on the ground from the last person’s shower. I silently wished for hot water. I turned on the “water heater” and stepped under the water. Anticipating warmth. I was hit with Ice. The cold water was enough to make me jump. So much for the water heater…Oh well. I just kept thinking. Just get clean. I reached for my yummy smelling body wash…(So glad I brought some from America) and stepped back into the frigid water. But I was pleasantly surprised, the water was luke warm. Slowly the water started to heat up. By the end my shower I almost felt as if I was in America. Enjoying a truly HOT shower. It was wonderful. I FELT truly clean. All my clothes washed. Room clean. I am clean. I am prepared for the Sabbath.
I step out of the shower and walk past the steam covered mirror. I laugh to myself as I realize this is the first time I have seen a steamy mirror after a shower in Bangladesh. Steamy mirrors used to be such an annoyance to me, but today I saw them differently. Today I had the urge to run over and doodle in the steam filled mirror. I did. Then wiped it clean. A smile glued to my face. Nothing could make this day better.
As I stepped into our Air Conditioned room, a rush of cool air and Jehanna’s beaming face were waiting for me. “Elle, we got a package” My heart leapt. A package? How? What? When? I followed her pointing finger to my bed and saw the envelope. We got a package from WWU. I was shocked at how excited I was to get a SM new letter, the school newspaper, and a birthday card from people I do not really know. But it was wonderful. I have never read a Collegian so closely, looked at the WWU calendar more carefully then I did this day.

What a wonderful way to enter into Sabbath. Sometimes I miss home so much the reflection of what I am doing here is hazy and covered with steam. But sometime, sometimes I get the strength to doodle to make something good out of something I usually count as bad; to allow God to wipe my reflection clean, and I realize this is were I am supposed to be. This is what I am supposed to be doing right now. That I am learning so much, and God is so good. Whatever is steaming up your reflection. Whatever is clouding your judgment. I hope we have the strength to doodle in it, make something good out of something bad: and let God wipe us clean.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chalk me up.

Art #3 Sidewalk Chalk. They can sure create.