It’s 4 in the morning here in Dhaka, Bangladesh and I’m wide awake on the one day that we actually have time to sleep in. Isn’t that the way that it goes?! We’ve heard about the tornado-forming storms crossing the east coast of the United States, and I can’t help but wish that despite my hatred of bad storms, I want to be home with my family to weather it. But I’m not, and I won’t be for 2 more days, so I sit here clear across the world in the dark room, holding my computer tight as I view the red tornado warnings for home…and my friends and family held loosely in hands towards heaven. Father, please cover my family and my home with your protection and your presence.
It’s all a trust fall. Coming here has been a trust fall. You take one look behind you to make sure that someone is back there to catch you, and you lean in with all that you are to a fall that hopefully doesn’t leave you flat on the ground, aching and hurt, and doubtful of trusting so fully again.
It’s happened to us all…the lean and trust and fall onto the ground. So we know that it can happen, but I remind myself of the character of my God, who has goodness and mercy for me. One who loves so much that he put his own son on a trust fall high in the air on a cross. His own son who looked and fell backwards into the arms of His Father all for me. I know He is good…but it’s still hard to be far from the things most precious in one’s life.
I was talking to my amazing new friend, Lauren, last night at dinner about how now is the time for she and her husband, Max, to travel, to explore, and to try new places and things. Not that you can’t do it once you have kids….obviously, because I was sitting in an Indian restaurant next to her halfway around the world from my family as I said it, but that once you do, your heart feels it all differently.
When I actually get out of bed, it’ll be Thursday and we’ll be leaving in less that 12 hours to begin the insanely long journey home. On the way here, we somehow completely lost a Friday into the vortex of time travel it seems. On the way back, it seems that we’ll pick up an extra Friday along the way. So weird.
I’ve been trying to process all that I’ve seen and done here. Processing the women who have been given hope and education through the presence of FH in their villages. Processing the children who, because of the FH child sponsorships can now get good education and eventual jobs to better their lives and the lives of their children. Thinking of young girls, who because of this incredible organization, have hopes and dreams to make something of themselves…and parents who don’t want to push them into marriages and family life before their young bodies are even ready.
I’m processing women who’s native tongue is so foreign to me, but who’s eyes I’ve learned to read like never before. We’ve talked over explanations of bamboo handicraft making…
And they’ve shared with me about their lives.
They’ve told stories of loss and harsdhip, and of hope and education brought to them by a bunch of foreigners who for some reason even bothered to care. I’m not sure that they still even fully know why we care, but they are all….ALL…grateful that we do.
And in this community we visited yesterday where 2 years ago, FH finished the process of education and empowerment of the locals to run these new programs themselves. We saw people who’s lives had improved, and continued to do so because of the things that FH was able to teach and share with them.
I keep wondering about the big personal “take-away” for me from this trip. The thing that when I come home makes me want to be different or live differently. And I can’t help but think that maybe there’s not a thing I take from this, or an idea so much to be different. Maybe now, I just am different. I feel different.
Before this trip I found myself asking the Lord to “open the eyes of my heart” to see the things that He had for me here. And throughout this week, and even reading back through my own blog posts of this week, I see the process of how he has done that. He took a woman who felt somehow out of place and trapped inside of the way he made me, and showed me that he brought me here to be the way that he made me. And in celecrating who He is to me, and how he’s created me to be…to love, and to sow into people…I’ve begun to see people like I never have before.
I have found that when the walls of language are built between us, the walls of the heart must come down if we want to connect.
And so we look deeply into the eyes of people who’s mouths we don’t understand, and somewhere in the gazing…somewhere in the moments of fixation, it’s like something snaps…something changes, and I can see them. I really see them, and they see me. And somehow in just the exchange of looks and expressions, they know that I care. They know that I love. And whether I have had the chance or not to tell them that I love, because HE loved…they still feel loved.
I think that’s why I came here.
To love. To relearn what that looks like when you strip everything else away.
And to look deep into eyes, and to see souls, and to tell stories of this beautiful people that I have so much more in common with than one might think at first glance.
Our language and our dress, our customs and our landmasses, are all so different, but in the end, we all have hopes and dreams and struggles and triumphs. We all want to love and be loved.
This week, I’ve been able to be a part of that process. We’ve seen the processes and methods that FH brings to impact entire communities. And, I am astonished by the needs these Food for the Hungry programs meet, the hope that they bring, and the ways that they show love and are the hands and feet of Jesus in real, life-altering ways.
But I’ve realized it’s not just that Food for the Hungry is engaging in processes of information or of learning with people. The process that we’ve been a part of entering into here is really the human process. It’s the process of people. It’s the way that we love and the ways that we can tangibly enter into a place to show love.
That’s what we’ve done here. That’s what Food for the Hungry is still doing here. And I for one, will be forever grateful for this opportunity to be a part of that process.
And it’s funny as I have the clarity, that sometimes only comes in the middle of the night, to realize that our final day, we shared a hilarious experience with friends both Bangladeshi and American that I think is symbolic maybe for me.
We met a precious woman named Eti yesterday who’d had a bit of a rough go in life. Married at 16, she was arranged into a really bad marriage. Her husband left her for a period of time, and during that time FH staff sowed into her children, and into her and her education as well. She became a part of a local village savings group, and through connection and investment with these women and training provided by FH staff, she was able to start her own business. She realized what would have been an otherwise impossible dream, and my new friend Eti opened her own beauty salon.
We were able to talk to her and learn her story, and in doing so, we learned about some of the services that she provides in her shop. She told us that she does hair and makeup. She paints fingernails, and does facials, and threads eyebrows.
WHAT?! Threading?! I’ve heard of that before! So I asked our translator, and Bangladeshi best friend Shefa, to ask Eti if she’ll do the threading on me. My eyebrows were getting a little raggedy, and it opens your eyes up so much more when they’re not creeping down towards your eyeball! Eti made the cutest face and then said she’d do it!
WHOOT! We ask one of our leaders if we had time and he said yes and then left. Afterall, a salon is a place for girl time! Plus, i figured that the worst thing that’d happen would be that I’d come home without eyebrows. A small price to pay for an unforgettable adventure.
So I hopped in Eti’s chair and she got down to the business of threading…
Please forgive the awkward angle of my 17 chins! But really…seriously… don’t my eyes look so much more opened up?!
We had such fun doing my eyebrows, that we engaged Eti’s services for all of the girls on our whole team! And it was an absolute blast! Eti became more and more animated with each subsequent threading, and before long we found ourselves all laughing and connecting despite the language barrier!
And somewhere in the threading…amidst laughter, and compliments, and Joy’s uncontrollable tears and facial contortions during her session, we bonded with each other and with these 3 women from this beautiful foreign land.
In the process of eyebrows…in the process of “opening up our eyes”….the Lord did just that. He opened our eyes and opened our hearts to one another. And I hope that when I get back home, I keep on living with those same eyes wide open.
** I know that we can’t all visit Bangladesh, but we can all be a part of the human process that is happening here with these incredible people through Food for the Hungry child sponsorship. Please join me…it’s a small price to pay for a great adventure in learning to really see people with the eyes of our hearts!