April 9, 2020

Bangladesh Trip Update

This Trip blog will follow pastors Wendy & Mark Olson as they travel to and visit Basha, in Bangladesh. We will update entries as often as energy and technology allow. Check back often to see what we have seen.

Wednesday 5 February

We are at the domestic airport in Dhaka, about to board our flight to Jesshore, where we will jump on a bus to Khulani, then board a boat for a four day trip through the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world.

Mark and I and Peter will spend these days reading, praying, pondering all that we have seen and experienced.

There is so much to savor. We thought the beauty and quiet of the forest would be the perfect place to “go away for a bit to pray “.

I doubt we will have any wifi available, so we will hold you in prayer and ask that you hold us in prayer as well.

We said good bye to the fine people of Basha yesterday, with tears and full hearts.

Monday, February 3

oh, we have been off our posting game! It has been a very full week. Here are a bunch of pictures to cover what we have experienced, namely, finishing up the workshops in Mymensingh (north of Dhaka), travel back in Dhaka, a tour of Old Dhaka with our wonderful hosts of Basha staff, a day of rest because of election day when all traffic was haulted and shops and offices closed, and the next round of workshops. Phew.

Tuesday, January 28th

I am covered in a thick layer of dust from the day’s activities. Dust that coats my coat and grits between my teeth. Dust kicked up by the hundreds of cars, the motorcycles, the people walking and the women sweeping in front of their homes. But today the dust that clings to my face was mostly put there by the pounding, running, skipping feet of children; Basha’s children.

Listen for their laughter. Watch for their joy. Catch their trust. These children have all these things because they are children of Basha. They run and jump and laugh and eat and nap and learn in a community of love. These children do not know the cold and fear and danger of the streets or of abuse. These children do not spend their days looking for food or running from harm. These children LAUGH and PLAY! These child have mothers that work in a safe and dignified workplace right across the street.

This is what Basha does. In this one place in central Bangladesh, 50 children have this. God be praised and applause for the teachers and the artisans and the mangers and the mentors of Basha. All that and we celebrate Robin’s birthday!!

Monday, January 27th

We spent the whole day in workshops today. We did things, like rythym games, tossing a ball, making puppets and dancing. Each of these things, on the surface, seem trivial or silly child’s play. The funny thing is, child’s play can be powerfully healing.

The staff of Basha work with women who have faced extraordinary trauma and hardship in their lives and have lived where they were not safe. The dedicated staff spend thier energies and hope in walking with these women. So, each silly game and activity is designed on a foundation of healing and recovery. We are helping them to explore ways to weave joy and healing and love into their work in new ways.

I can not believe how much I have received from these women. After only three days with this group I am changed because of them. So much wisdom.so much resilience. So much beauty.

Can you see it too?

Sunday, January 26

We spent the whole day in workshops today, exploring ways to use movement and storytelling to bring healing and empowerment. We ended the day with a walk and a boat ride.

I have been happy, in my life, to complain about all sorts of things; a pile of dirty dishes, forgetting to fill the car with gas, a long line of traffic, too many bills to pay. At the time they all seemed important. Today, they do not. Those things do not seem important at all. They each are things I have allowed to take up too much space in my soul and psyche.

The people I have met, the things that they hold on to, the struggles they face and the grace with which they face them, are redirecting my attention to more important things. I am being challenged to not let my attention be trafficked by small matters.

Saturday, January 25th.

Welcome to Basha, the people of hope. So much hope. I have so much to tell you, but with just a few minutes before our next meeting, I leave you with this…

Basha, house of hope.
A seamstress is wearing a cowel made by the Chapel by the Seas’ kntting group.

Friday January 24.

Today Robin took us to her church for a joy filled service of worship and we met some wonderful people serving Christ in inspiring ways. Then, after a delicious lunch, we explored a sparling open market in downtown Dhaka.

For hours we walked the stalls, with chickens, fruits, fabric, shoes, watches, paint, pants, bangles and hats and more. The crowds were thick and the noise was constant, but what was most amazing was the warm and welcoming spirit of the people. Every time we stopped, even for a minute, the people would gather round, to chat and smile and make a connection. There were very few shared words but so much shared laughter, so much kind curiosity, so much of the image of God in each face.

I THINK its Thursday, because it’s Singapore but it might be Wednesday if its Oregon…

Amazing gifts… we have had sleep, we are switched to this time zone, the team has wonderful chemistry and we have seen some beautiful sights in this amazing city. We will board our final flight later today. We will land in the dark of a Dhaka night and ready to be embrace the Light of God in this place.

Inside the amazing Changi airport in Singapore. Mark, Wendy, Peter Olson (the Puppeteer) and Angela Watts (the photographer).

Friday, Jan 17, 2020
Lincoln City, Oregon

They are precious in his sight.
Mark and I are doing the final prep work to be gone for three weeks, traveling to Bangladesh, to meet new people and share experiences with the women of Basha.
I got this clay today to use in a Bible study about how God blew breath into the mud and made of it a living being. I will use this clay in Bangladesh, with women and girls I have never met. Women with skin tones of beautiful browns and tans and blacks. Beautiful women who have been bought and sold like things. Paid for with money, just like paid for these packages of clay.
With this clay that I bought, we will ponder God’s making of humanity. How God shaped a lump of earth (clay) into the shape of you, and I, and them and blew holy breath into it and turned the “thing” a someone.
My plan (prayer) (hope) is that as each woman handles a bit of clay, forms it into her shape, as she hears the story of God’s breath, she will hear the power of love, God’s love for us and our true love for one another, and how that power means that we are not, never were, never could be, anyone’s thing. Instead, precious someones!
Please join us on this journey; our journey to Bangladesh, but also our journey to meet beautiful women and to remember, with them, the breath of God.

Good morning Dhaka.

Its our Friday morning and it is a beautiful morning indeed. Such a good landing in such a vibrant city. Off to worship and exploring today. May your day be a blessed gift and may your arms be free to receive it.

A room with a view! A glorious view.

Chapel by the Sea

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