There has been lots of injuries and sickness here in the short time I’ve been here. It has been extremely fun helping out in the clinic. One of the SM’s just graduated with her RN license and has taken the clinic over since she has been here. One of the smaller boys named Abraham had mumps. The poor boy had a swollen neck for a few days, but then was better within a week. Praise God no one else got it. There is always someone who is sick or hurt, mostly minor things. However, not too long ago, one of the men working on building the girls dorm was carrying a large rock on his shoulder and somehow it fell right on his head then rolled off. He came to the clinic with blood all over his head. We cut chunks of hair off to see what the damage was, then cleaned it. That took a long time because there were bits of rock and dandruff from not washing his hair. We put some ointment on all the cuts and scrapes. One of the cuts was really deep, but we decided that it wasn’t bad enough to do stitches on him.
Another time the older boys were playing Kabaddi a fun tackle tag kind of game, and three of them collided with each other. Mikey somehow landed wrong and totally broke his clavicle. The bone was concave causing excruciating pain. I could see it poking out of his back under the skin! We got him to the clinic in town, but they sent him back to the orphanage for a couple of days until the surgeon could fix it. He’s healed up nicely now.
One of the older girls has been sick off and on with difficulty breathing, racing heartbeat and blood pressure. She’s been in and out of the hospital. We are still trying to help her.
Many of the women staff here are always asking about getting their blood pressure checked. Many of them have all the symptoms of diabetes. Unfortunately one of the staff went to the hospital one night recently and died the next morning from kidney failure due to uncontrolled diabetes. Lots of people were devastated. It makes me mad that their diabetes could have been controlled and taken care of, but people here are so poor and don’t understand or know how to keep their bodies healthy. We are hoping to get a health screening going soon to help with this problem
Of course we’ve had lots of minor cuts and injuries too.
Bangladesh is polluted, there are trash piles everywhere you look. Driving out of Dhaka, were mounds upon mounds of trash. The air is thick with rotten and sewage types of smells. Dogs using their paws and digging for any kind of sustenance. An old, frail, shirtless man sitting on a pile of trash with an umbrella, shielding himself from the crippling heat. People looking around for anything that looks like it could be reused.
On the way back to Bangla Hope, from SAMS, I couldn’t believe my eyes but we passed two huge ELEPHANTS on the road. Robyn said that he has only seen about nine elephants and he has been here for six years. I couldn’t believe it! Only the second full day of being here and I have already seen these magnificent beasts.
After church and lunch the first Sabbath here, we took a van and headed out to an Adventist boarding school called SAMS (Seventh-day Adventist Maranatha Seminary), holding about 800 students. A long time ago when Bangla Hope was working on having a school on its campus, they were only able to have up to 6th grade and some of the older kids had to be sent away to SAMS. Bangla Hope now has up to 9th grade and hopefully 10th grade by January at the beginning of their new school year. There are approximately 25 students who are from Bangla Hope at SAMS and we try to visit them often. Some of the Bangla Hope students were getting baptized, for that reason we went over on that Sabbath. SAMS has a ginormous campus. And it was great to meet the older Bangla Hope kids too. The coolest surprise of was to witness how many students gave their lives to Jesus.
We arrived late afternoon on a Thursday, student week of prayer, at Bangla Hope. The kids had a week off from school because they had exams the previous week. The guest speaker’s names were Elder Shin, Dr. Joo, and Pr. Lee from Korea. It was comical because Elder Shin was speaking for Friday night vespers in Korean, Pr. Lee was translating it into English, and then one of the Bangla Hope members translated English to Bangla. That was a very long sermon or should I say sermons.
The first morning I was in Bangladesh, I decided that I would write things down that I found interesting and/or exiting. Observation #1 - As we were heading out of Daka the first morning I saw not just one but multiple people washing their vehicles with a water hose. I found this interesting because all the streets in Bangladesh are dirty whether that be mud or pollution or... People in Bangladesh often do get dirty, but they do value being clean as well. Taking showers, doing laundry, and even cleaning muddy feet is important to them.
The first few days were harder than I thought. A lot of the kids have brothers and sisters with two parents at home, but were convinced to send one child to Bangla Hope for a better life or the family didn’t want one of their children. Because of this there is a lot of pain and with that comes anger that tears people down. Many of the kids will be sweet for a minute and then decide they hated me just because of something microscopic. Everyday I never know who is going to love or hate me. It’s hard when all the kids need love but you only have one voice, two eyes, ears, hands, and feet. I pray everyday for wisdom, patience, and most of all love.
Usually there is never one on one time with a kid because there are always kids using me as a tree, screaming, and shouting anything and everything to you. “Look over here! Play with me! Listen to me! Help me! Look at me!” This is just the way it is, and now my voice has been out for a week.
The sounds, smells, and commotion of this new country was something that made me snap out of my exhaustion and feel alive once again. Robby, the Bangla Hope treasurer, met us at the door and helped us load our luggage into a van. Then we piled into a second van and headed for the former Adventist dental clinic in the heart of Dhaka. I have been on some wild car rides in my past, but let me tell you, nothing came close to this one. Lots of swerving from left to right, honking horns, speeding right up to a bus, on the opposite side of the road, and then a quick turn back into the lane just in the nick of time. I give the drivers around here a lot of respect. Now that I've been here for awhile, I’m not at all worried, it’s just how they get places. Traffic accidents are one of the top leading causes of death in Bangladesh due to the heavily populated areas. Lots of the land is rural which means even more people will be in the cities causing more traffic. Bangladesh has a population of 164.7 million people and is geographically about the same size as the state of New York.
The next morning I awoke to many sounds of the city. Birds chirping, people talking, and lots of different horns honking. While getting ready, I smelled the most amazing aromas coming from the kitchen and was excited to see and eat my first Bangladesh meal.
I went to the deck to watch the daily bustle of people and then was able to go up on the rooftop, which was even more amazing.
The van ride to the orphanage took about 9 hours with lots of things, people, and places every way you look.
We crossed what the Banglai people like to say, “the longest bridge in the world” which isn’t true, but could be close because it was fairly long. We stopped a few times to get a bite to eat and gas. Around 4 pm we made it to my new home.
The guard opened the gate for the two vans and then I saw them, ALL the children and staff in a moon shaped circle waiting and excited to greet us. We stepped out of the van and right away they sang us their welcome song and then handed us each a bouquet of flowers.
I’m safe! don’t worry!
It has been a crazy first two weeks since I left the States. Every morning and night I wake up hoping I’ll start to write, but then the day goes by too quickly. Now that I have a routine starting to form, I have made the time.
The night before I left the States, I hadn’t even packed any of my bags. I stayed up until about 2 am and then finished when I woke up that morning. My parents took me to Tri-Cities, WA where I met with the director of Bangla Hope, (who stays every 6 months in Bangladesh), the founders, and a few of the office staff. Then we headed for Seattle and stayed at a hotel to catch our early flight to Singapore. We got to the airport and met up with another student missionary (SM) who was traveling with the director and me. We successfully got all 36 bags, things for the nearby villages, orphanage, and building projects, checked in and through security with a few minutes to spare before our flight boarded. I love to fly which is good because our flight was 16 hours long. We landed in Singapore in the early evening and had about two hours before our flight took off for Dhaka. We went to the gate it said on the screen, but then was sent to a different one across the airport. We walked around for a bit, looking at the beautiful Singapore gardens, then went through security. About 20 mins later the announcer said that the plane landed late and would be at a different gate. We all got up and went through security a second time. We boarded for our four hour flight and made it to Dhaka at about 1 am. Once we got through customs, we exchanged some money and then went to go get our 36 bags. Putting all the bags on our 5 carts was like piecing a tedious puzzle together. I went first, pushing one cart and then running back to get the other one and the other two the same way. Getting to the front door is quite a challenge, first because sometimes the guards want to check what you have inside your bags with the machines, and second because there were piles of people pushing and shoving their way through the small opening. I couldn’t keep running back to grab the second cart, but I was able to push my way through with the first without any scanning. The other two however had two carts each they had to push through. I felt bad, but I couldn’t leave the one sitting there in front of the door. Once we all made it through, we walked onto the open ground of Bangladesh for the first time, thanking Jesus for the safe journey through this first part.
Within this past month I have been able to finally get my visa, which took quite a lot of work. I wasn't sure if there would be enough time before I left, but why do I worry because God always comes through. I will be leaving the states soon. It's becoming more and more real. I have had one amazing summer and it has taught me a lot about myself and preparing me for this next year.