Wednesday, July 6th
by Cindy Morgan
We’re here! The pilgrims are now with us on our ‘home turf,’ Christian Mission Hospital (CMH), where we lived from 1993-2006 and still work as advisors. It’s the place our children knew as “home” in Bangladesh.
We began the day praising God along side CMH staff and nursing students in the hospital chapel. After a breakfast of chapatis (traditional unleavened flatbread), potato baji (thin strips of potato sautéed with onions and turmeric) and fried eggs, we joined the staff doctors to round on the patients on the wards. In the children’s ward, the pilgrims put crazy bands on the wrists of all the children and Chris and David became instant friends with young Lucas and Rasel, Santali boys suffering from severe anemia. Rasel’s liver is markedly enlarged and his spleen stretches well below his navel—investigations are pending.
After tea in the hospital library with Martyr Chowdhury, the CMH Acting Director, Dr. Christopher Baroi, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and doctors Lokkhi and Moinul, we headed next door to see the Elizabeth Conan Memorial Nursing Institute which offers the government-accredited three-year senior nurses’ training course to 50 young men and women from across the country.
The students hosted a lovely welcoming ceremony for the pilgrims, complete with Bengali songs sung to harmonium, tobla (local double drums), cymbals and tambourine. Female students dressed in elaborate saris, adorned with flowers, bangles and ankle bells danced several dances in welcome. The students also showered the pilgrims with flowers and gifts. Madeline stood up on behalf of the group to express their gratitude and to extend greetings on behalf of First Presbyterian Church and PC(USA). We then were treated to a chicken curry feast in the female students’ hostel.
At three in the afternoon, David and Chris joined Drs. Sarkar and Baroi for an inguinal hernia repair operation. Though the operating room is quite basic, the surgery was quick and successful.
At four, we gathered to encounter the amazing national fruit: Jackfruit (in Bengali—Kathal). Over two feet long and a foot wide, the massive thorny fruit, yielded its golden locules to David’s expert wielding of a boti, a curved culinary blade. He then pried the “belly” apart as the other pilgrims oiled their hands and reached in to assist in the delivery of 200+ golden locules, each encasing a single seed, akin to a Brazil nut. With its distinctive scent, flavor and slimy texture, along with its unusual way of growing not only from branches but from the very trunk of the tree as well, jackfruit in the favorite fruit of most Bangladeshis. David took the gold by downing almost twenty pieces of it while the rest of us stopped after 1-5 J!
While exploring the backyard of what once was our home, Anna, Madeline and I were invited to go upstairs and visit the home of Jesmine, the CMH accounts assistant, who lives in what were once our family’s bedrooms. On the back of one of the doors is a picture of our three children, left from when we moved 5 years ago! On our way out, we were invited into the downstairs home of Rintu (the CMH driver) and Sukhi and their two sons, Obhi and Jeet, in what were our living and dining rooms, kitchen and school during our thirteen years in Rajshahi.
We’re still working out sleeping and bathing arrangements for the pilgrims—to provide an option to bucket-bathing, a shower head is being installed today, mattresses needed a little more beating, and one needed to be covered with extra sheets to tame whatever it is that is causing skin reactions. And, of course, there are the mosquitoes. By the time the trip is over, our pilgrims will be expert mosquito net tuckers!
The pilgrims are handling so well all the challenges that Bangladesh has to offer! We are so happy to have them here to share in our life and ministry with us!