For the past few years Nathan Charles has worshiped with us. He recently decided to serve with Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh for the next three years. Below is his latest letter.
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Kemon Achen? Ami Besto (I’m busy)
This past month has felt very full. Between language study, Thanksgiving, trips around the city, and all staff training in Mymensing, life kept moving. Thank you to everybody who sent me birthday greetings. I appreciate those little reminders that the world goes on. We had our first real holidays this week in the form of Eid. This was the festival of sacrifice and cows and goats were slaughtered in the streets. The screaming of goats as they die is not a pleasant sound.
Life has started to fall into a pattern. It starts by waking up, checking my email and making my first cup of tea. Language study starts at 9 am and for the next 2 hours I try to pay attention but stop for the second cup of tea around 10. After language study finishes for the morning I spend some time doing computer work. A project I’ve gotten involved with already has been the design of the new site in Bogra where I will be working. I’ve been playing architect, designing a guest facility and shop. Lunchtime rolls around at 1. This is actually early for Bengali’s who tend to eat lunch around 3pm unless they work in an office and dinner round 9pm. After lunch I generally walk over to the MCC office. The walk is a bit of an adventure right now since the roads are torn up for a new system for water run off. The construction technique is impressive in that if you took a black and white picture of their methods, there is nothing that would tell you the picture wasn’t taken 50 years ago. All work is done with hand tools and manual labor. At the office I try to speak Bangla with the staff and drink my 3rd cup of tea. Most of them speak passable English, but the guards and cooks don’t have very much so it’s good practice. After I’ve worn out my vocabulary and subjects of conversation I wander back for another hour of Bangla tutoring and another cup of tea. Afterwards, I might run some errands before dinner or might just go back to work for a bit. Dinner is generally around 7 and afterwards I generally work on homework/read/watch movies/listen to music and generally relax. It’s amazing how tiring the mental gymnastics of learning a new language can be. One thing that has been very disorienting is the fact that the week ends on Thursday. Because Muslims worship on Friday, the weekend becomes Friday and Saturday. Come Sunday it’s back to work. It’s amazing how something as simple as having your weekends shaken up changes your perspective.
Dekha hobe (See you later)