An Unexpected Journey

As many of you know, Vence and I traveled to Bangladesh earlier this year. The journey getting there was a bit unexpected, but God’s protection and guidance were evident throughout. We were to have originally left January 23; however, due to some unforeseen issues in their country, our host felt it would be wise to postpone our travel. Amazingly, we were able to do that without many repercussions. The most amazing part is that we were able to find a two week window late-April to early-May that worked for the entire group of travelers. So, it was with a heavy heart that I emailed all on my list of family, friends, and prayer warriors that we would not be traveling in January, but in April. I had been ready to go in January. My suitcase wasn’t, but my heart sure was! Time passed. Three months sped by, and suddenly the trip was coming up fast, and I wasn’t ready to go. I hadn’t had time to prepare. Scratch that. I hadn’t TAKEN the time to prepare. I was unsettled. There was so much to do, so much to set in place so that things could/would continue without me being in this country. I told Vence maybe it would just be better if I stayed home so I could finish the year at our home school co op, take care of Minnie Mouse, get her where she needed to be, etc. During this struggle in my heart, I was driving alone (which does NOT happen very often) so I was praying aloud, as is my custom when I am alone in the car. I was putting all of this out there to God, searching for an answer. I was saying something about how inconvenient the timing was and how much of a sacrifice it would be for me to be gone for 15 days RIGHT NOW. In my heart God replied, “That is exactly why you need to go.” And, peace came over me. I knew I had to go. It occurred to me in that moment that I don’t have many opportunities to make a true sacrifice. I live in mid-west, small town America. My life is pretty good. No, my life is really good. I don’t have to make many sacrifices on a daily basis. I have plenty of food (too much, if the truth be told); I live in a beautiful, large home; I have a loving, supportive, fabulous husband; I have a beautiful, smart, funny daughter; we have two vehicles that get us where we need to go. My list really could go on and on with the blessings and abundance that are part of my life. So, when God asked me to sacrifice my time for this trip, I knew I had an opportunity in front of me. I chose to make the sacrifice. And, don’t you know, it all came together just fine. Minnie Mouse was better than fine (with Grandma & Grandpa), co-op ended smoothly without me (and my boxes were taken care of!), and my committee for the Tri Kappa event (that took place the day after I returned) was amazing, and the event was fabulous.

I write all of that to say THANK YOU. Thank you to each and every one of you who helped the trip to become a reality. Some of you helped us financially, and we could not have made the trip without your generous contributions. The majority of you prayed. You prayed that the trip would happen, you prayed for safety getting there and back, you prayed for us while we were there. And I am here telling you now that your prayers were felt, and your prayers saw us through. The trip went so smoothly because of our amazing God, and the prayers that were being said by all of you. I have incredible stories and pictures to share, and I will be doing so through the blog.

I will certainly tell you stories about the people we met and the way we witnessed God moving and working in the country of Bangladesh. But, for starters, I am not going to go that deep. A common question upon our return was, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” The obvious answer is the people. And, a lot of people will add, “Other than the people.” I don’t have to skip a beat to answer that question! THE FOOD! If you know me well, you know I am a self-proclaimed foodie. I absolutely love trying new food. I love all kinds of food, and when asked what my favorite food is, it is a struggle for me answer. No, really. It is a struggle. So, is it any wonder I loved the food? Probably not. But, I mean, I REALLY loved the food. I was not tired of it after 15 days. I dove right in by ordering the traditional Indian dish on the first flight over, and I ended my trip by ordering the traditional dish on the return flight, knowing it would be my last authentic Indian meal. Here are some fun pictures of our airline food. (Incidentally, Vence, unfortunately, does not share my love of Indian cuisine.)

IMG_1139 IMG_1141  IMG_1156 IMG_1155

(The top pictures are our first meals, which were lunch. The bottom meals were breakfast. Mine is on the left, Vence’s is on the right.)

We had a 13-hour layover in Doha, Qatar on the way to Bangladesh, so our wonderful travel agent/companion, Andrew Lyon, arranged for us to have a tour of the city, which included an amazing Mediterranean meal. This was authentic! And, it was delicious. The flavors popped with brightness and depth. It was better than any Mediterranean food I have had here. (Granted, The Nile is good, but it can’t beat fresh flavors!)

IMG_1169 P1050686a

Then, on to Bangladesh. We ate at a couple restaurants here, and the food was good. I liked what I had. But, then we traveled to the northeast corner of the country for a few days and stayed in two hotels with restaurants. Bangladesh has fascinating cuisine, because it is this melting pot (pun intended) of flavors and traditions.  Menus include Indian items, Thai items, Chinese items, and Bengali items. I wanted legitimate immersion, so I chose Bhuna Chicken from the Bengali page of the menu at the first restaurant. Oh. My. Goodness. It had heat. It had flavor. It was rich, yet not heavy. I have never had anything so delicious. Thankfully, it was on the brunch buffet the next morning!

At another point in our travels, we spent several days in the northwest corner of the country.  Here we were fed by a wonderful young lady who is a part of the Lalmonihat Church of God, so we enjoyed homemade, authentic food. Again, delicious! She cooked fried eggs for us every morning. I don’t know how she did it, but they were perfect little round circles of sunshine every time. Dinner had more food than we could possibly eat and included dahl, rice, vegetables, chicken dishes, and many other local dishes. My favorite was something called Lady Fingers. No, they were not cookies. I have since discovered that they were okra! But, they weren’t fried little rings like we eat here.  And, they weren’t slimy either. They were cut lengthwise, then sauteed with magnificent flavors, and I am not kidding, I could not get enough of them!

We did eat at an Indian restaurant while in Dhaka. Although the food was similar in flavors to the Bengali food, there was a difference. However, I loved it too. The dahl was different, but still yummy. Of course we had naan everywhere. Who doesn’t love fresh garlic naan?! One of our travel companions makes many trips to India, so she ordered for us all. I don’t remember what all the dishes were called, but there was chicken on skewers with a dipping sauce, there was chicken in a sauce, and some other chicken that was cut in cubes.  Everything was distinctly flavored and wonderful.

I found myself disappointed when we would end up at an American-type restaurant! Thankfully that only happened twice. Sadly, because Vence doesn’t share my love of the food, I don’t cook Indian cuisine at home. I am missing it. I have been craving it for weeks now. I am on the look-out for a good, authentic Indian restaurant in the Indianapolis area, if you know of one. I think I will make a date with myself, and relive my time in Bangladesh while savoring the flavors!

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