Good things coming to an end

Sorry to those faithful who have been reading our blog—our last Bangla-blog has been a bit delayed due to our being “in transit.” We left the hospital on Tuesday morning after saying our goodbyes to fly back to Dhaka (capitol city), and then flew out to Dubai on Wednesday morning, where we stayed until early Saturday AM, when we FINALLY flew home.

Our last week in Bangladesh was as enjoyable as all the previous weeks, and we got a chance to pack in more fun elements of Bangladeshi culture. Last week we showed you some market pictures—a good friend had taken us to the only place most Bengalis go to get their food. Hundreds of stalls are packed together under little bamboo walkways (with ceilings too short for Eric by about four inches) and men (rarely women) haggle for spices, rice, lentils, vegetables, fresh fish, and live chickens, as well as other small items and packaged goodies. On our way back to the hospital we passed by stands selling Iftar snacks. Now, for those of you familiar with elements of Islam, currently we are in the month of Ramadan. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for four weeks, and the specific dates change yearly based on a lunar cycle. Every day at sunset the fast is broken by a sort of celebratory snack or meal called Iftar. While we never participated in the fast, we did enjoy the celebratory snacks! For one taka each (69 Bengali taka to the dollar) we could buy fried patties of spiced lentils, deep fried battered eggplant, spicy chick-pea salad, and our favorite, deep fried batter in a pretzel-ish shape soaked in a sugary honey syrup. Do you notice a theme (mm, fried foods)?? Supposedly they also sell deep fried hot peppers…no wonder everyone here has stomach ulcers!

We also got a chance to ride a rickshaw (see picture—like a bike taxi), visit a safari park to see barking deer and a Royal Bengal tiger, eat one last meal with our hands (goat biryani!), try on a sari (Rachel), learn to play the tabla drums (Eric), and actually buy a set of the same. Yes, we hand carried two large drums onto four flights and around three cities with us. All in the name of buying cool international percussion instruments, I guess. We also included some “medical” photos of us so we can prove we did SOME work this month!

But in a final moment of introspection, many people in Bangladesh wanted to know if the trip was what we had expected. Difficult to say—we tried to come with no expectations but that’s never truly possible. We learned tons of medical aspects, and Rachel got a chance to do a number of fistula repairs, but the biggest surprise was probably the non-medical learning that took place. We really feel that God was using this time to help us think through a number of issues regarding where we’ll end up, what kind of hospital we should work at, how we should approach language study, and call schedules, and what we should focus on for the final two years of training. It was a really blessed time. Who knows if we will return to Bangladesh or not? We certainly didn’t get strong calling one way or another. But we did receive incredible hospitality from all the long termers at the hospital, as well as all the people of Bangladesh we met. And we believe that Acts 17:26-28 was true for this month: “He determined the times set for them and the exact places they should live. God did this so that men would seek him, and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.”

Thanks for your prayers and support. We would love to connect with each of you in the months to come. And we plan to keep our blog going, just with little things that come up in our lives, so check back from time to time! Love, Rachel and Eric