16 October 2012

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 16} ~ she came from the Land Down Under

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." 1 Peter 3.3-6
When I met this gal, she, her husband and their three small children were working as missionaries in Bangladesh. They were part of the expat community in Dhaka at that time, and from my perspective, she was the quintessential mom! She thoroughly appeared to enjoy that role, delighting in the things her children did and said, spending hours playing with them, she'd home schooled them while they'd lived in the village (if I recall correctly). Her children were lively, polite and all around fun kids - I loved babysitting them when they'd give me the opportunity and take me up on my offer for a mummy-daddy date. This is also the same lady who taught me how to use a sewing machine... and even though it isn't one of those things I really like doing, I'm thankful it is a skill I learned.

Her kids taught me the cutest little Sunday School song that I've now passed along to my crew:
There once was a man as mean as could be.
If he could take two then he tried take three.
Then one day he took Jesus for tea.
Jesus helped him to change.

'Cause Jesus helps meanies and goodies and baddies.
Jesus helps lazies and happies and saddies.
Jesus helps lonelies and mums kids and daddies
and Jesus wants us to help, too. That's true!

Blind Bartimeaus as all will agree 
was wise to keep shouting as loud as could be.
"Oh please Son of David have mercy on me."
Jesus helped him to see.

Once a poor lady who no one could bear
cried as she washed Jesus' feet with her hair.
She had found someone she knew really cared.
Jesus made her so glad.

There are some days when humming that song as I drive the streets of Niamey is about all that helps me hold it together...

It was only for a period of one year that the paths of our lives traveled the same road, for I left Bangladesh and returned to the States. It was a tearful goodbye on my part because I think I knew at that time that I probably wouldn't see her again, at least not this side of heaven. A few years later, her family left Bangladesh to return to their home country, Australia. We've corresponded from time to time... and I'm Facebook friends with her two daughters... It has been 20 years since I waved goodbye, leaving Thailand for home, and then hid my face so no one would see the tears.

I will never forget one day I spent with their family. They invited me to travel out to a village with them... that was not a frequent experience for me, because most of my time was spent in Dhaka. I'll never forget careening in a rickshaw, weaving across the dikes separating rice fields and clinging to each other hoping we didn't both end up soaking wet in one of those rice paddies while the driver laughed at the two females squealing hysterically behind him. I'll also never forget watching young guys shimmy right up the mango trees to bring one down for us to eat or sharing rice and sauce in a huge platter while everyone ate with their hands. 

But the most memorable moment of that trip... and one upon which I've reflected too many times to count over the years was when one of the Bengali village men came carrying the little guy into the hut where we were sitting. He was crying and sputtering and spitting dirt out of his mouth. His face, his hair and his neck and chest were absolutely covered in mud. His big sister came in and announced, "Mummy, ******* slipped and tumbled right down the hill where all the cows were going poo."

My friend didn't cringe... (that 's okay, because I cringed more than enough for both of us.) Of course, she and her husband were concerned for their little guy, and there is always the risk when you haul your kids out to the village for a visit that something will happen... food poisoning, water not potable, snakes, scorpions, malaria, or too far from medical care in case of a serious emergency, etc... but most of us tend not to think about that. It would have been so easy to look at her husband at that moment and say, "It's time to go... now!" regardless of how that might be perceived by their hosts. Had it been me, I think that might have been my default response. 

I was impressed, however, by what she did do... she gently cleaned her child off the very best she could. She washed out his shirt in water that looked almost as dirty as he did. She helped him clean out his mouth, held him on her lap for a little while, and then when he was ready to get up and start playing again, she let him run back out and start playing some more. Meanwhile, I'm thinking: "But what if he falls again!" or "Boy, is the car gonna stink all the way back to Dhaka," as well as a few somethings even more selfish and less flattering. I knew I wanted to be a missionary, but that day, that moment, was the first time I considered that becoming a missionary didn't just involve costs I'd have to pay... it also included costs I'd be asking those I loved to pay. 

My friend's gentle, quiet response has been the model that I've set before myself each time one of my children has been ill in the clinic... or one of their classmates has hurt them... or something I deem scary and dangerous has happened to them. Her gentle acceptance that the Lord had allowed her baby to fall and end up with a face full and mouth full of really dirty dirt contaminated with who knows what without visible anger or fear or frustration spoke of faith and trust that could move mountains. Her example is still the bar I have set for myself - but I'm not there yet. Every time one of mine gets really sick or the scary unknown rears its ugly head, I'm ready to hop a plane home. Maybe someday... but frankly, I hope I don't have to verify positively or negatively.

And, for the record, I'm pretty sure his parents gave him some anti-parasite meds as well as an antibiotic (I remember them saying that's what they'd do) and as far as I know, nothing ever came of his face first mudslide through the "cow poo."

What I do know is that  Lord taught me through her example.

And I still hope that somehow, someway, our paths will cross at least once more in this lifetime.


  1. Richelle, what a lovely blog you have and what words of wisdom you share! Thank you for stopping by my blog today. I wish I could fly over there and have a chat with you, learning from your experiences. I hope that headache went away. I am praying right now that God's healing comes to you quickly.

    1. Thanks so much for your visit... it would be fun to have a chat in real life, wouldn't it? the headache did leave, too. thanks for your prayers.

      hope you'll pop in again sometime.


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