Monday, May 25, 2009

With All Your Heart

"...Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." Matthew 22:37-

This is a verse I shared with my 6 of my 14 year old girls after school today. We went out to a coffee cafe for iced coffees and strawberry milkshakes so we could have some time together before school breaks up for the summer.

After our fun drinks-my iced latte was so artsy looking one girlie took a picture of it with her camera phone-I shared some thoughts on how we girls need to give our whole hearts to the Lord, as that is the most precious gift we can give Him. I encouraged them not to think of themselves as untalented or not pretty, but to know Jesus wants them just the way He created them because to Him they are perfect gems. Then each girl shared a little about what she was worried or stressed about in the coming summer and school year. These girls face so many deeper, bigger problems than the average western girl as they live as foreigners in unique, often difficult circumstances in a third world country. We finished with sincere prayer.

It was beautiful to catch a glimpse of their hearts, though, as they opened up in ways they never have at school around their guy classmates.

Spending this afternoon with my sweet girls was truly a blessing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Four bus accidents in one day

Frankly, as I write this I can barely keep my eyes open. School today was too adventurous for my taste, which is a shame because my day started out so nicely with an early morning run and a yummy bowl of hot oatmeal.

What actually happened was pieced together after it all happened, and I am still shocked by it. Pretty much, one of our school bus drivers went crazy.

On the drive to school as he picked up students he crashed into a parked car, making him late to pick up me and my students to take us to swimming. On the way to taking us to the pool he got into another “incident.” While we were at the pool he picked up the next swim group and took them to the pool, getting into another accident on the way. After I was done teaching the first group their swim lesson he collected us again to take us back to school. His driving was erratic and he was talking nonsense to the student closest to him, so already I was nervous and keeping a wary eye on his driving.

When we got close to school he sped up through an intersection and broadsided a brand new fifteen day old Nissan. He actually accelerated into it. No emotion on his face, no shock or apologies. He kept driving, but Phil, a teacher on the bus with me, jumped up and ordered him to stop. We quickly evacuated the students from the bus and I walked them back to school while Phil stayed behind because now the driver of the Nissan had pulled his car in front of our bus. He was angry. We were afraid a riot would start amongst the crowd, so I got the students out of there as quickly as possible.

This man actually turned the bus around and tried to go pick up the last swimming group still at the pool, but the Principal called and ordered them not to get on the bus with the crazy driver.

I am in shock that the driver would put the lives of so many students in danger in order to save his face and his job. Where is his value for human life?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chameleon Girl

I left my living bubble and ventured to the other side of town-Mohamedpur-yesterday afternoon after a woman's conference. My destination, the home of a couple, one from the Philippines and one from Germany, who have worked with Pakistani refugees at a camp for the past eleven years. Since I arrived at my friends' house a few hours too early for dinner, I went out on a shopping adventure with their daughter, who is one of my students. This eleven year old girl I'll just call by the oh-so-creative pseudonym "Girl." She took me first to Source, a handicrafts project run by the Eastern Mennonite Committee. We had fun digging through the fun homeade paper gifts, like cards and paper lanterns, and fingering the bright fabrics. Girl bought a little box covered in random images of dinosaurs, dancing ballerinas, and fire trucks. She also took a strong disliking to a paper mache bowl decorated with fruit that I wanted. She convinced me not to buy it.

After Source she led me to a bazar so we could look at beads, Girl's obsession. She's my new decorator, since she just made me an anklet and then last week made me a cheerful pair of dangly blue earrings that I adore. Next Girl mentioned she knew where to find fresh mint leaves in the fruit market, so we walked past the symmetrical piles of oranges and apples and the baskets brimming with mangos and litychees. On the way I explained to her how to cut up a star fruit and how they are perfect for neat looking fruit salads.

On the way through the fruit market Girl remarked on how it is so boring for her to shop in Germany (where her Mom is from) because people shop in boring supermarkets.

"That's true," I agreed wholeheartedly, "people push their little carts around and pull boringly packaged products off the shelves. Bazaars here are open air and so colorful!"

"Yeah," she said seriously, "here people are always doing things and so much is going on."

Her attitude was so fresh compared with some foreigners, who tend to view their home countries as superior to underdeveloped Bangladesh.

Next we went into a funky shop filled with oddities that you'd never go looking for, but once you see them you have to have them. Like coconut shell totem heads or huge peacock feather earrings.

By that time it was late and we had to catch a rickshaw back to Girl's in time for dinner. But I couldn't help but love watching Girl morph into yet another person once we stepped back into her home. She does a wonderful job of doing that, of adapting to whatever situation she's in, be it on the street with local kids, at school, or at home. She's like a chameleon, easily slipping between speaking German, Bengali, or English.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"Where one or two are gathered in my name."

On Wednesday evening I gathered in an apartment with 12 or so expatriates for a night of worship. The power was off in one of Dhaka's many rolling blackouts, making the air heavy and still in the room. Sweat dripped tiny paths down our foreheads and I could feel my jeans sticking to my legs in the humidity. As we reeled through the songs, belting out praise and worship above the deafening generators in surrounding buildings-we were not lucky enough to have a generator in our building-we came to this Matt Redmond song:

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You
It's all about You Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I'm weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath

I'll bring You more than just a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You
It's all about You Jesus

Its all about you

In the States I'd adored this song and it's lyrics were beautifully meaningful to me, especially this part:

"Though I'm weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath"

I gazed around the room at each person in turn. They really were bringing more than a song to their Savior. We all were bringing our hearts, our lives to Jesus, even though we had to traverse half the world to get here to Bangladesh. We'd given up our old lives in favor of Him.

The Finish girls my age had left their beautiful homeland, Finland, where I've heard "their language is that of the gods."
The Australian had left her well-paid job to labor in a literacy and Bible translation office on a scruffy Dhaka street.
Another woman had left her family and friends in Vienna to sweat in this third world country with her missionary husband.
A Brit had left her London home to minister to prostitutes from South Asian brothels, although she'd kept her posh British manners and accent.
I'd left my old life and loving family in Florida in favor of dirty, loud Dhaka.

Our skills, our serving, truly what we few diverse individuals have to bring to God is worthless, but it is so much "more than a song," it us our very essences, our lives.