Monday, March 30, 2009

Dance Video

So, to raise support for missions I'm filming a video of me dancing in each country and making a list of people who pledge a certain amount (like $10 for each country I make a dance video in) to receive the links to the videos. This gives you something fun to watch and challenges me to step out of my comfort zone to ask strangers in other countries to dance with me on film.

If you want to be on the list just let me know with the amount you want to pledge. Then I can let you know where to send your donations.

(below in this blog and another blog are some other videos I've taken in Bangladesh)

This was the welcome party to the children's home we visited in the north of Bangladesh. They held our hands and led us into the field where they surrounded us with singing, which was awesome : )

This is some video in the last hour of our all-night train ride from the south to the north.

This was a cultural dance some of the children performed for us at a children's home in the capital city, Dhaka.


We just listened to the testimony of a man (pastor) who had just escaped from an attack of Hindu radicals. Others weren’t as fortunate. His shirt was torn and he has bruises on his body.

Apparently he was sharing the gospel in a Hindu community for the past 6 months. People began coming to him asking to know more about Jesus. Today 180 people were supposed to be baptized.

The Hindu radicals heard about the baptism and disturbed the people while they were worshiping that morning, waiting for us to arrive to be there with them during the service. One reason was because they were upset at what the belief change could do to the unity of their community.

The Hindu men told this pastor, Gotum, as he was talking to them that he would be beaten for each word he spoke if he didn’t shut up. He was pulled out into the street, his bike broken, and was beaten. He escaped then with the list of the people who were there to be baptized, a very important list that if taken by the Hindu men would be very bad for the people there.

Gotum expressed that he believed the church would grow bigger because of what happened. He has prepared the people for this reaction from the Hindu community. They knew they would be persecuted.

Unfortunately this isn’t over. He gave the list to another person in case he was taken by the radicals to ensure they wouldn’t get it because now he may be hunted down.

[A Variety of Responses]

One man from the US talked with the spiritual leader of the pastor who had been persecuted about pastoral care the spiritual leader said, “Don’t worry. We know how to handle this. I’ve been beaten before, and so has that man over there as well. We know what to do. We’ll take care of him.”

Those from the US gathered around the man and were very concerned and compassionate. One of the people in our group from Myanmar didn’t make the persecution such a big deal.

He explained that it’s a part of life. He’s been beaten and had rocks thrown at him multiple times, and it’s normal part of life.

My personal response was kind of like the guy from Myanmar. I had compassion and concern for the pastor, but I knew that he was prepared for it, that he knew it was a part of what he was doing in His own country and he knew that God was with him. So I was interested in listening to him tell the story of what happened and I wanted to encourage him, but I didn't feel like making it into a huge ordeal.


We went around in a circle and were supposed to share our name, where we live, and what we do. When it came to me I didn’t know what to say about where I live. I guess this hadn’t really hit me, that I don’t live anywhere. I don’t have a place that I can call my own. I don’t have a home. I'm relying on brothers and sisters around the world, which is really encouraging. It's like everywhere I go I have family who will take care of me.

My home is made in God’s call on my life each day. My home is made in wherever He guides me. Thinking about this reminds me of the part of the New Testament where the writer of 1 Peter tells his readers to live as strangers in the world. So even if I had a “home”, a familiar place where I lived, I should not place my hope in that being my home. My home is beyond all of this and I will find myself there when I die.

Cultural Stuff

Rickshaws, three-wheeled motor cars, flipped light switches, little hoses next to latrines, squatty potties, cabotas (men’s skirts)…Bangladesh is a very different country from the United States.

The power goes out fairly often considering it rarely goes out in the US. I was talking with a man on the bus yesterday who does not have internet where he lives in Bangladesh, 20 kilometers east of Dhaka, the capitol city.

Many of the buses run on natural gas, which keeps the pollution down. The traffic on roads is very fluid. It’s less like a road and more like a river. Drivers can drive on any side of the road (generally the left side) as long as no one else is there. Where there are lines, they don’t mean much. There are bicycles everywhere carrying people, goods, etc. They share the road with cars, which from what I’ve seen, dangerous.

The country was once East Pakistan, but in 1949 it fought for independence and became Bangladesh. It used to be all together with India and West Pakistan, but because of religious issues between Muslims and Hindus the British government created the separate countries of India and West and East Pakistan. So Bangladesh is mostly Muslim while most of India is Hindu.

Since I’ve learned a descent amount of Spanish, from hearing Bengali, I have recognized some similarities, which surprises me.

“What?” – in Spanish: Que? - in Bengali: Qui?
“Shirt” – in Spanish: camiseta - in Bengali: camis
“Key” – in Spanish: llave - in Bengali: llavi

I’ve only learned a few words and phrases that have come in handy in my time here. Even my Hindi has come in handy because it’s close to Bengali.

The man who I spoke to on the bus the other day explained the cultural custom of choosing a wife in Bangladesh where the families negotiate before marriage. It is best to have a matchmaker bring the families together and suggest marriage. There is a dowry as well that the family with the daughter must give to the family with the son.

Customs such as using the only the right hand and not touching peoples’ head is normal. People will take off their shoes when entering another person’s home. Sandals are normal footwear, even for businessmen (one of my favorite parts of this culture), though they often wear shoes as well. It is not uncommon for men to hold hands, which I don’t mind either. I’m actually very comfortable with that. I also like the music; and the food...mmmmm, yummy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flight to Bangladesh

"Patience and perseverance are two words that should be intimately connected in our lives. Together they are a peaceful understanding that God is with us and He is Love." - journal March 25, 2009

I've already learned a good deal simply as I begin this year of travel. This one-year journey that has intersected with my journey of learning to listen to and follow God's "voice" is only a small piece of my mysterious life.

I was thinking about how I was leaving everything familiar behind. I've thought of the people who I left back at home, but there's more to it. I was reminded that this is not home. 1 Peter came to my mind when the author talks about living as strangers here. Understanding this gives me more peace in leaving everything that feels like "home" for this year.