Hello TATENDA Friends-
Thank you for your patience in waiting for this final Update from our Bangladesh trip. It took Nicki quite a while to recover from that nasty bug and Jackie had to jump back into her practice, so we are now able to step back and reflect a little more leisurely on our experience.
There is always a little grieving that goes along with coming home. Relationships have deepened and in many ways the team is pushed beyond normal limits to meet the needs of those they serve. Letting go of the faces and friendships with those we have ministered, knowing that we may never see each other again, ratchets up the sadness. But what richness we carry home.
The retreats are the reason and the passion for this wonderful opportunity to go to Bangladesh. Every other experience is an added blessing. The theme of the 2 eight day retreats was Finding Balance in Ministry and the Spiritual Life. A total of 59 Sisters from 4 communities attended. Religious of Our Lady of the Missions sisters were our hosts, all Bangladeshis except for one Irish missionary. We also served CIC- Catechist Sisters and PIME – Missionary Sisters of Immaculate, represented by a Chinese, an Italian and two Eastern Indians. The Sisters came from various missions in Bangladesh and all came seeking renewal, rest and quiet time.
One of the challenges for us as retreat directors was tuning our ears to the various English accents. The Sisters, in turn, had a challenge understanding our English accent. God was at work though. Regardless of language and accents, the Spirit worked in marvelous and inspiring ways during the retreat. Sisters absorbed the various presentations, group discussions, prayer times, music and meditations. One Sister having had Ignatian guided retreats before, asked “what kind of retreat would you call this?” They came to call it a holistic retreat with a feminine perspective.
We were able to offer the opportunity for one-on-one consultations and many took advantage of this. We learned that Spiritual Directors and Therapists are non-existent or very hard to come by throughout Bangladesh. We were humbled and honored to sit with them as they shared their stories, cried, laughed and prayed. These experiences live on in our hearts.
What Jackie will miss from our Bangladesh visit:
- Looking forward to instant coffee in the morning.
- Crawling under a mosquito net at night and getting tangled up trying to get out in the morning.
- Drinking room temperature bottled water.
- Seeing the Sisters use a dainty handkerchief to wipe their brow from the heat and humidity
- Eating rice twice a day every day.
- Eating hot spicy food.
- Seeing sandals all in a row outside the chapel entrance.
- Hearing Moslem chant mingled with the Eucharist prayers.
- Observing mother cat nursing her three little kittens right at the entrance of the dining room. It was meal time for them too.
Here also is a photo of another gift we were able to bring. BEANIE BABIES for the orphans of St. Benedict Nursery down in Chittagong. 43 stuffed toys were donated by Sr. Marty Dermody of Cincinnati and these little pleasures brought big smiles.
As we let go of our time abroad, we thank you for making it possible. The sisters want us back in Bangladesh in 2 years. With the political instability increasing there, we will see how things go there. Please keep this little, densely populated country in your prayers as they face a very difficult election this fall. Women and Christians could really become oppressed if the election swings toward the militant Moslem opposition.
Thanks again for everything you all did through prayer and support. Glad you were with us. You’ll hear from TATENDA International again when we begin the planning and fundraising for the next international sojourn.
Nicki and Jackie