Update #1 Dhaka, Bangladesh July 20, 2013
Dear TATENDA friends-
We have arrived safely here in Dhaka and what a trip! We did not make our first connection but ended up taking a later flight to NYC and caught our flight to Istanbul. Then we got to Istanbul and were told our flight was loading immediately. So we had to cut the line of passport control and run pellmell through the airport for the “last call” to board. BUT the sisters were here waiting for us and we are now very pleasantly ensconced in the new building on the compound of the Religious Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions in the (get this) only 2 bedrooms that are air-conditioned on the property. WE ARE SO GRATEFUL because it is beastly hot and humid here.
The first day we arrived (5:00 a.m.), the rains came in the morning and we all celebrated that the “visitors” had brought good luck. It cooled some of the air (it is all relative, though), but by evening it was heavy and sultry again. We don’t know how they do it. Especially the construction workers (at the right) who are out in the heavy heat carrying stone and brick on their heads! They work so very hard with no respite from the temperatures. We so gladly take refuge in our rooms periodically to get away from it. They really have no break.
The RNDM sisters have built a new building to house their sisters for major events like retreat and Chapter meetings. Their Chapter is going on right now and so we have freedom during our day today to rest, tour the compound, and …eat. Yes, they are feeding us a lot. Nicki is slowly getting used to the curry again and Jackie is savoring the special vegetables and chicken/fish they make that is milder. We have also had time to visit some of the sick and elderly sisters and renew friendship with those we met 2 years ago. There are over 82 sisters here from the Province for the meetings. The names are overwhelming to remember, but everyone is so gracious.
Our first retreat starts Monday 7/22. We already have a young sister, Shumi,(right, with Jackie), who is attending to us. We came back from a gathering last night and our rooms were completely prepared with mosquito nets already set up and fans going. Nicki found her taking our laundry out this morning to do for us. What amazing hospitality! Never seen anything as gracious and generous in our lives.
There is a 10 hour difference between East Coast and here. So right now it is 12:50 P.M. here, and it is 2:50 A.M. there according to Nicki’s 2-time-zone watch. It is Ramadan here, a major month-long Moslem fasting period. We hear competing muezzins on microphones blasting out the call to prayer 5 times a day. The nasal chant bounces off the buildings all around us, many of which are under construction. They build “up” here since there is so land to add onto. There were photos of the tragedy at Savar on the school walls where we toured today, too, sad reminder of construction standards here.
That’s it for now. Love to all of you and we will keep you posted.
Blessings, Nicki Verploegen and Jackie Dombrowski
The two photos above are Nicki and Jackie with students and the teacher from the SummerArtSchool.