My mission trip to Bangladesh was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I already know that no matter what I write on this site, I will never be able to fully convey to you how special my experience was in Bangladesh. I will attempt to share some of my experiences through pictures to hopefully give you a small window into this wonderful experience. Pictured here is our whole team. We were sponsored by the mission organization, Mission to the World, and we worked alongside the Presbyterian Church in Bangladesh. Our main goal was to provide medical care to as many people as possible, while also sharing with them the love of Christ and connecting them to the local church. Despite the fact that we were only there for three weeks, we were able to provide much needed and quality medical care. Even more importantly than that, we were able to support the church's mission of sharing the love of Christ in this predominantly Muslim country!
Here is what a typical day of clinic looked like. I would call it controlled chaos at best. As you can see, they were very eager to receive medical care. I can't blame them though, many had never seen a doctor before in their life.
There were several patients that touched me in a special way, but none more than this beautiful 6 year old girl named Malsawm Par. She has been very sick her whole life and required numerous blood transfusions. When she was 4 years old, one of these blood transfusions gave her Hepatitis C and devastated her liver. The only way she will survive is with a liver transplant or a miracle. Due to the lack of medical care in this country, there is no way she will get a liver transplant and she will die from her disease. I treated her for an infection in her stomach and our team rallied around her to provide her and her family with lots of love and support. We prayed with them and shared the love of Christ with this family in the midst of their suffering.
The first half of our trip we provided medical care in the cities of Khagarachuri and Rangamati, but the second half we made our way to the extremely remote Bahm tribal villages, the first of which was call Pankhing. This village had never had any doctors come before. They expected us at 8 am the day we were supposed to arrive, but due to difficulties with traveling to such a remote village we did not arrive in the village until 5 pm that day. When we drove up, the entire village was waiting on us and lined up all the way from our land cruisers to the church at the top of the hill. We shook every single villagers hands in the receiving line. As a sign of respect and love for us, after they shook our hands, they always put their hand over their heart. It was very humbling to be received in such a warm way and there were very few dry eyes among our team members. Who were we to deserve such a reception? We were nothing more than a bunch of medical students with a few medicines. Often times, we were the ones being blessed by the people of Bangladesh when we were supposed to be there to bless them. They were one of the most gracious, respectful, and loving people I have ever met in my life.
This picture is also from the Pankhing Village where we were received so warmly. They presented us with flowers when we got to the church at the top of the hill and performed one of their cultural dances for us.
Halfway through the trip we were able to take a day of rest at a "resort" before we moved from the cities to the tribal villages where we slept in huts and had no running water or electricity. When we got down to the river, we came up to the village of a tribe that speaks a language that few outside of the tribe actually speak. Dr. Kuhn, our team leader, said this was one of the last tribes in Bangladesh that has not received the gospel of Jesus Christ. I thought it was such a unique experience to be on the beach of this river interacting with one of the last people groups in the whole world who have not heard of Jesus. When we got to the river, we chartered two of the village's canoes and floated down the river. It was a very relaxing and fun experience.
We always slept in mosquito nets whether we were in a hotel in the city or sleeping on the floor of a hut in one of the villages. Malaria is a very real danger in Bangladesh!
A typical meal consisted of rice, rice, and more rice! I got a little bit tired of rice by the end of the trip. The rice fields made the countryside very picturesque though.
The most trying part of the whole trip for me was probably the travel from place to place. The roads (if you want to call them that) were almost never paved and provided for an unbelievably bumpy and dusty experience.
If we weren't riding in the back of a truck, we always had the very best buses that Bangladesh had to offer:)
We had a lot of help from missionaries, pastors, and teachers in Bangladesh. About 20 of them went everywhere we went and served as translators for us in clinic and were very passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with their fellow countrymen. Going through a translator could be frustrating at times as you might expect, especially when trying to explain complex medical issues. There were several times when it took 3 translators to understand the tribal dialect a patient would speak.
Thank you so much for all your love, support, and prayer! Without each of you, I would never have been able to go on this trip. God worked in amazing ways and it was such a privilege to be a part of the work He is doing in Bangladesh! I have many more stories I would love to share with each of you when I see you next. I've included a few more pictures below for your viewing enjoyment.