Visit to School – “Hope of Children’s Home” – about 70 students who attend, I think maybe 30-40 live at the school as well. All the teachers are men – it was a little odd eating lunch with all men.
We did a ‘storying program’ for the kids. I told the story of Shadrach. It was a little long to start with, but the kids really liked it. I tried to get a retelling, but that didn’t go too well – I think they are like Indian kids. They want to be told what to say – and are afraid to try their own ideas. The same was true when I asked the questions like, ‘what did you like in the story’ – I’m sure they would have excelled if I had asked a simple question like, “did the 3 men burn in the fire, or not?”
I explained in the last workshop in "Kahan" in South Asia, how this second type of question can maybe give us an idea of if they understood the story, but it does not give us anything deeper. If they can retell the story, this is the understanding/comprehension check – the questions are to get a little deeper, without being too direct or controversial. Anyway, the kids did okay…but not as well as I had hoped. I’m not sure if it was the setting, the kids, me, the language barrier, the weather or what…anyway, ZL did a good job of translating.
One thing that was interesting was that when the girl was trying to retell the story she said that the King was going to throw them into the ‘lake of fire’ – I have yet to confirm this with Zar Lawm. I’m not sure if it is how he translated what I said to her, or something she herself got from the story and told back to him. Very interesting. In English I would see this as Hell, which it clearly isn’t Hell in the story – but I wonder if a “box of fire” would be similar to a “lake of fire” here? Oh, I love language and culture – I wish I could spend more time to figure it out!!!!
Anyway, after telling the story and the questions, we then acted out the story. The headmaster of the story said the kids weren’t used to drama and may not know what to do- but we went ahead and tried it. They did really well, and I think the drama really helped them understand the story better.
After Shadrach, I told the story of the demon possessed man and how Jesus healed him. This was a slightly shorter story, and they did better with the retelling – possibly also because they knew more what the retelling entailed. We then acted it out, before I asked the questions. They did great with this story, and got even more into it than the first. One half of the class were the “pigs.” :)
Afterwards, I asked the questions again, and they seemed to have a better grasp of the story, and thus able to answer the questions a little better. I then asked one last question, “Will you tell this story to someone else/who will you tell this story to?” They all said yes- and I challenged them to practice both the stories with their classmates, then in a month or 5 months, when their parents come, they can then share the stories with their parents. They all agreed!
The headmaster of the school then spoke to the children for a while. Zar Lawm translated for me. One thing that was really encouraging was, “In the past we have had other teams come to visit us. Sometimes they brought toothbrush or toothpaste, maybe some shampoo. And those things are very good. But they run out. They finished after some time. Today, we have had something very new and different brought to us. We have had something that will never run out. These stories shared by Miss Elizabeth are good for your life here and in Heaven. And it is very good that you can share them with your parents. We thank Miss Elizabeth for coming so far from America and sharing these things with us that we can have forever and will never run out.”
"Muu Village Visit"
Zar Lawm has two national Workers working in a Muu village not far from the school, so we went their to visit it. It was a steep hike down and a bit muddy, but thankfully, I did not slip.
The village was like the other one – bamboo houses, bamboo floors – about 5 feet above the ground. Something interesting is that the men can just spit right through the cracks in the floor. No need to go to the window. I saw 2-3 men find a fairly large crack and just spit right through it! I know that I should be careful if ever I needed to walk under a Muu home!! And, you can just wash your hands right over the floor- well, maybe not in the house, but on the porch area – which is also bamboo floor…the water just seeps through the bamboo. The kitchen area is similar to a Kahani kitchen in that there is like a mud cave where a fire goes- and the pot sits on top. The smoke can fill the room. But unlike the cement houses in the villages in Kahan, these bamboo houses have much better ventilation- and it’s not a smoky. Honestly, I like the bamboo style very much.
We got to the village, and I sat in a house with about 10 men, 3 kids, and a tiny white cat. I felt fine, but in all my time in South Asia, haven’t been surrounded by a group of people that was just men. The Workers wife came in a few times…I wanted so badly to go out and watch her or help her – but only knowing how to say thank-you in the language, and ‘how are you’ in another dialect of the country, that wouldn’t help me a whole lot.
ZL actually said he could only understand a few words in the Muu language. That shocked me. Only about 1 hour from town- the language is so different, even a national can’t understand the language dialect. Wow.
I watched the village life happen outside the door. An old woman without a shirt on came to the door to look in and see the foreigner. She had a child following her around. Oh, and something amazing about this village – the women and kids have huge earings and they put leaves in their ears! I saw one kid without any earings, but just the leaves. I got one picture of a woman with these bell type earings and the leaves. I wanted to take more pictures, but felt a bit shy – and it was probably better I didn't. On the way out of the village, I tried to take one woman’s picture, and she got really scared and starting running away. Later Helen said that some of the people in villages think that if their picture is taken, their spirit will be captured in the picture. I felt bad about scaring her. I asked ZL to find out how to say ‘goodbye’ to her as we walked away…and I said it, but she didn’t look up. Her son/daughter (I’m not sure if it was a boy or girl) was with her. I was able to take some pictures of her before and the mother didn’t mind that. Maybe their spirits get captured only after a certain age? I don’t know.
It is true that a smile says hello in many languages…but I don’t think it says hello in all languages. Or perhaps it’s the combination of being a foreigner and not knowing even a single word of the language…In this Muu village and the Bam village, people would stare, but when I smiled, they generally smiled back. But not everyone. Some people just continued to stare, and even seemed afraid of what might happen next now that we had made eye contact.
This is something I haven’t experienced as much in India. People stare, for sure – but if they are Kahani, I can communicate/break the ice, and before too long we are laughing or at least at ease with each other. Somehow, I didn’t feel the same warm welcoming feeling as I’ve felt in India. But I’m trying so hard to remember our first days….did the people also seem cold, and uncertain before we could communicate with them? When I went to Ganga’s village the first time, I had to go through various people’s homes…did they stare and show some uneasiness with me being there? You know what – I think they did. They weren’t sure who I was, what I was doing, or if I could speak the language or not. And in the beginning, I couldn’t speak very much. It took a while to warm up...
I wonder if it would be possible to live in one of the villages I visited so far. I don't know what's ahead, but I’m just trying to picture how life would work, how a foreigner would affect things, and how long it would take for the villages kids and people to warm up – and how long it would take to learn the language!!!
It’s a good reminder that my 2 years in India didn’t just start off easy. It took time, relationships take time. Language takes time. It’s good to remember His faithfulness during my time in India – and ask Him in advance to be faithful in the place He may call me to next.
Oh yeah, the police again talked with Zar Lawm about the program for today. He told them. They said they wouldn’t come, but to inform them when we got back. Everything went well, though we did have to cross two more police check points. At one, we had to sit, and wait for some important commander to come and ask me some questions.
At one point he said, “How many times you will stay in Bangladesh?” I tried not to insult his English, but I just couldn’t figure out what he was trying to ask…did he want to know "How many times I will come back in the future?" Or, "how many times I had come…?" Finally Zar Lawm confirmed what he was asking – it was, “How long will you stay in Bangladesh.” Anyway, he was fairly friendly as were the other police guys at the other post.