Day 3 – Driving, driving, and more driving
Today started out early as we had a long drive to a Compassion project near the Bangladesh border. While here, we have been driving in small mini-van/suv like vehicles that fit 6 people including the hired driver. We piled in, our whole group plus the LDP students, and began our trek to the Raghabpur Baptist Church Compassion project. And trek it was. First off the driving here is, how shall I put this…very different. It is very aggressive and seems to not to have any sort of rules or regulations other than the horn. The horn here is a staple to driving. If you don’t have one you better not get on the road. Indians use the horn like Americans use (or should use) their turn signals. It is blown to say they are moving over in to your area of traffic and you better watch out as well as when passing other vehicles or just when they want you to move faster. There are not many if any lane markers here and at times there can be 5 vehicles next to each other on a road not bigger than a two-lane highway. Cars are not the only vehicles here but they share the road with buses, rickshaws (three wheel motorized carts), bicycles, man pulled carts, and motorcycles.
You know the driving is kind of bad when the Indians in the car are eating a nausea preventing candy because they are starting to feel sick! We finally arrived and as Ryan put it “that felt like a 2 ½ hour roller coaster” and Becca responded “yeah but it wasn’t any fun and I like roller coasters!” We shook off the nausea and car sickness and began to walk toward the project. This project was in a rural, town like area. We were welcomed by children playing the drums and scouts saluting us (this project also has a scouts program); and then by being handed a rose boutonniere. We were ushered into seats in front of hundreds of children in school uniforms waving and smiling at us. The pastor and program director welcomed us and informed us about the program there as well as introduced his staff. The children then performed for us – a little girl sang a song in Bengali, an older boy sang a worship song in English, and a little girl dressed in traditional Indian dress performed a dance. After that we got to meet the students in smaller groups and ask them questions. Most all of them come from Hindu or Muslim homes (mostly Hindu) and they only heard about Jesus when they came to Compassion. A few have Christian parents but not many. We taught them songs/dances such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and Father Abraham – we were giggling as much as the kids were! From there we had lunch – rice is a staple here plus some sort of chicken dish and vegetables. Chicken is the main meat of choice here as they don’t eat beef (Hindu’s believe cows are sacred) but mutton (adult sheep meat) and fish are also commonly eaten. We then split into groups to visit some homes. At each project we would go to a student’s home to meet their family and see where they live. These homes were all one room buildings with just the necessities. It was very surreal to be in a home smaller than my bedroom where 3 or more people lived. The families were very welcoming to us in their homes and after learning their story we could pray for them. This particular day my group was at a home where a middle school girl lived with her mother. Her father had been killed in a motorcycle crash seven years earlier and her older sister had recently gotten married so it was just the two of them. The girl’s older sister was only 17 but had to get married because the mother could not provide for any more education for her and there was not much hope for her with out it. Wow. Heartbreaking. There is hope for the mother and younger daughter though because Compassion is providing education for her as well as food and spiritual guidance. Compassion usually only sponsors one child from each family because the sponsorship benefits the whole family – many times it takes the burden off the parents for the child being sponsored and they only have to worry about providing education and food for their other children – also Compassion has classes for the parents and when a sponsored child receives gifts they are shared with the whole family. So Compassion did take the burden off the mother we visited for providing for her youngest daughter but she was still unable to fully provide for her eldest daughter so they decided marriage was their answer.
We prayed for this family and then headed back to the cars to begin our long journey back to the hotel. Once back we changed and went to a mall for dinner – this mall was 4 stories and had lots of nice shops. You have to go through a security check before entering any mall here – so that’s a bit different than in the U.S. We ate dinner at a place called Ivory – a mix of Mediterranean and Indian food. It was good!
Funny story to finish off this post – so I forgot to get cash out for the trip so was just planning on using my credit cards if I wanted any souvenirs or anything. Well after dinner we passed a Citi Bank ATM and I was like well maybe I should get some money. So I got 100 rubies out, thinking that would suffice. I went to tell Audra and Angela my great news that the ATM worked. After I told them they started laughing…you see 100 rubies is the equivalent of around $2…and we are assuming the ATM convenience fee was more that $2…hahah oh well – I’m always good for a laugh J