Two weeks ago Kayla came home from school and said one of her friends, who also goes to our church, said she had a paper to write in her honors class. The subject? Bangladesh. Well unless you are family or a really, really close friend of mine, you probably have no idea what that would have to do with me. So, I am going to tell you of course! :)
You see, I once lived with my family in Bangladesh. In fact I was my daughter's age. My world travels have always fascinated Kayla, so when she heard about her friend's report, she volunteered me to help. At first I was a little nervous, for it was a long time ago that I was there. I was wondering if I would even be able to answer any of her questions.
The truth? There were a few things I didn't remember, but over all I was a "BIG " help. I managed to scrounge up my old doll collection, a few coins, pictures, pieces of jewelry for her to show and then I made a phone call to my parents and got her a few books and clothing items as well. The fun part was when I took the items to church tonight to give to her. I had ten 6Th grade girls huddled around me fascinated with all the little goodies I brought for the girl to use. Then the questions came from everywhere...random questions...off the wall questions! But I answered each one the best I could and I can honestly say Kayla was beaming at having the "cool" mom for the moment. (Who would have thought my experiences in Bangladesh would ever be considered "cool." I certainly didn't think so while living there!)
But here is the thing... as I started answering her questions and showing my pictures and telling her my little stories of Mathias the cook, going to an International school and my "Iya" (my babysitter/nanny) I had a little regret that I didn't see the BIG picture while living there. I didn't realize what a great adventure I was truly on...
I will not lie, those years in Bangladesh were not easy for me. I had blond hair and blue eyes and the Bengali's all wanted to "touch." I couldn't play in my yard without hundreds (and I do mean HUNDREDS!!!) of people hanging out their windows gawking at the young American girl. I wore a back brace at the time for scoliosis and it was extremely hot and uncomfortable at times. I spent most of my time in my room reading. I didn't have many friends because other girls my age were preparing for marriage, not hanging Tiger Beat posters of John Stamos on their wall (Oh, but I thought he was cute!!!) I didn't like the food very well, the smells of poverty were strong and for a 12 year old girl it could sometimes be a very lonely existence, BUT... and I do mean BUT...I wouldn't change that time in my life for anything!
There were many good memories too! First of all...I still wish I had a cook, a live-in babysitter (for my kids of course! :) ), a man to come do my laundry and clean my floors and someone to take care of my yard! Those were the days... What you think, Mom?
My missionary family. Lots of wonderful and fun memories there! You couldn't find a better friend than a fellow MK (Missionary Kid). Miss you guys!
My dog. I had the best little dog. Frisky. Loved him.
And of course the adventure of just living there. Whether it was the BUCKETS of rain that never let up during the Monsoon season, rose water we drank for communion at church (UGH!), the ferry rides across the river, mission meetings at a deluxe ocean front hotel (Hee! Hee!), rickshaw rides down crowded streets (AND I DO MEAN CROWDED!!!), the snake charmers in my front yard and sharing the area that would be a sidewalk if they actually had them with COWS! Yeah, those were the good old days...
But you know what, they were. I didn't need a textbook to learn about the world...it was my life! Everyday I saw the struggles that people less fortunate than myself face. I saw first hand the differences in religions and the animosity between some of those. I learned what an honor it is to live in a land we take for granted, because I have lived in places where there wasn't the freedoms, opportunities and riches that we take for granted as Americans. I think because of where I have been and what I have seen, it brought me compassion for the world, if nothing else. It made me realize at a young age that God created a beautiful world with many beautiful people, no matter their color or race. I had an education that you simply can not receive while living your whole life in the borders of the good 'ol USA. And for that, I am truly THANKFUL!
When my daughter and her friends looked at me with eyes of "awe," I was thankful. I was thankful for those few moments of broadening their minds. Showing them that there is a world to be traveled out there, that there is more to life than cell phones and Ipods and television. I'm no public speaker (stage fright and panic attacks keep me from going there) but I did enjoy my 30 minutes of opening my Bangladesh treasure box and encountering my past.
Thanks for listening as I rambled on...
This is a picture of my dad, me , my sister and my mom back in the day. (1984?)
"AbAr dakhA habe!" (Till next time!)