Thursday, November 22, 2012


Made apple pies with Shati using our hands and a sickle knife.
Curled up in a plastic chair in the corner of the kitchen with my feet resting on the edge of the counter I sit reading One Thousand Gifts, nibbling on a piece of fresh coconut. Wafts of cinnamon and apple float past as Shati boils the two on the stove and Ben Howard plays in the background. Little brown hands and eyes peek around the corner to steal a glimpse of this white girl reading in the corner of the kitchen. I smile to the pages as I steal my own glances of their curiosity. A day of U.S. national thanks has come with the clock's reading. But to this girl who sits in the corner of the kitchen reading a book, it's just another day.

Another day where I teach the letters T, U, and V to kindergarten. Another day where I get to kick a soccer ball around the yard with the older boys. Another day where you find a crying child sitting on the ground. Scooping him up and wiping those tear stained cheeks, his body relaxes against mine.

At home this past year I was blessed to live with and around people who intentionally gave thanks for little everyday gifts. I witnessed the quiet change in their lives and as I left home and came to my new home here, I was determined to live out my life in the same way where everyday is Thanksgiving.

Four summers ago I worked in Big Lake's kitchen. Once a week Baker John would go around the little corner of the kitchen where we sat and asked us when we had hung out with Jesus in the past week. Now, when I go to bed each night and recount the small everyday blessings they seem much more significant than before and I can see through these simple gifts that Jesus was with me all day long.

Yes, today Americans at home and around the world are giving thanks on a preset calendar date, but I've learned God doesn't have a calendar. At least not one that looks like ours. And here in Bangladesh where I am and there where you are sitting with your computer, just inches away from you are wondrous, simple, mind blowing gifts for you and I to discover, name, and give thanks for. Everyday. Some days are harder to write down the thank you's than others, but that doesn't mean that there weren't any gifts given that day,I just wasn't opening my eyes enough to see them. Everyday is a thanksgiving day. A day for eucharisteo.

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Friday, November 16, 2012

Baby Kenzie

Waking up early and watching the sunrise from my desk at the window I knew this was going to be a special day. Walking down the stairs at 7 am I waited for Mrs. Waid to come, so that we could go for a morning walk. After about 15 minutes and no Mrs. Waid I heard Shati calling to me from the front walkway, "Kenzie, asho!"(bangla for "come"). I followed Shati to the kitchen where I watched the whole kitchen crew prepare breakfast and lunch.

Hearing the breakfast bell ring, I walked around the corner of the kitchen with a bowl in hand and plopped myself down in the middle of class 4 girls ready to eat some dahl. Scooping the rice and dahl onto my fingers and trying ever so hard to gracefully shovel it into my mouth which caused the girls to giggle as they found entertainment in my attempt to eat Bangali style.

About a hour later I sat down to my 2nd breakfast of the day with the Waid's and the other 9 missionaries who are here from the U.S. as a medical team, Mrs. Waid said to me, "Kenzie, today you are not going to teach, because we are going to get a baby girl." Normally, I am not a person who squeals. At all. But, today I squealed with delight with the thought of getting a new baby to bring home.

Dr. Becky checking her out
Climbing into the van with Dr. Becky, the pastor, and Mrs. Waid we drove to a small village about a hour North. Upon arrival we immediately noticed a girl about my age holding a small baby whose skin was in bad condition. The girl holding the baby we learned was the oldest sister who was taking care of her after the mother had died about a month ago. She had one younger sister and the father was going to school. Taking the baby, Mrs. Waid asked for some warm water and soap to bathe the child. we knew something wasn't right about this baby, because she hadn't cried at all until we started washing her. Dr. Becky held her in the sunlight after Mrs. Waid had clothed her and examined her skin and feet and brushed the black dot from her forehead (the Hindu symbol for good luck). The baby's feet were swollen! "Malnutrition is probably what caused the swelling," presumed Dr. Becky. She handed the little baby off to me. As I cradled and sang to her I noticed how beautiful her big brown eyes were. My heart started melting. Bringing my hand away from the baby's head I found pieces of dark flaky skin on my hands. The poor baby's whole body was pealing so badly from some sort of fungus or sickness.
Baby Kenzie's oldest sister

As we were leaving the older sister came over to me. I handed the baby to her and as she cradled the little girl in her arms for the last time, tears started cascading down her cheeks. Mrs. Waid then told me I needed to take the baby from her. My heart ached as I reached out to take the baby. I struggled to make eye contact with the sister as I let her kiss the baby goodbye and bent down so the younger sister could do the same.

Getting into the van, the baby began to cry as I cradled her close and looked out the window at the family and villagers as we drove away from the village. As we drove, the baby fell asleep to the rhythm of the van's movements and Mrs. Waid said, "We're going to call this baby Kenzie." Looking down at baby Kenzie in my arms as we drove towards home I was filled with a mix of emotions, but mostly happiness as I said aloud, "Just think! This baby gets to know who Jesus is." To give a child that simple and beautiful gift along with care, food, and shelter had never penetrated my thinking before in such a powerful way. Baby Kenzie gets to know who Jesus is. And I thank Him for making Bangla Hope a place where that is possible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beauty in Community

November 12, 2012

Flat. Land unfamiliar, but strangely comforting. Looking towards the horizon an ocean of silence stands tall, still in wait for the harvest. Its stalks of green turned yellow confidently confirm the coming change. The change that is happening. Slowly, but persistently it comes like the crowing of the rooster morning and noon. It's inevitable and it happens. Lush fields yield crop and community lives on for another season. Survival of the fittest or a thriving people? You decide, but I know the answer. Brokenness drives them to the fields. From dust you are from. To dust you shall sow."...for dust you are and to dust you will return." So, take heart and thrive! Choice is borne from Love. Gratitude from sickles swung clean and through. Eucharisteo gives life for one who tills dust. Community is the blossom of dust tilling. Patience, perseverance, power in numbers unified. Mouths are filled and thankful stomachs are the result of this blossoming, hard working community. Everyone sows seed, all reap a harvest of gratitude and unity. Lush green stalks turn yellow. Good comes from the absence of green. Beauty from ashes. Beauty from dust.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reincarnation of Love

The scent of smoke and polluted water filled my nostrils as I sat watching the shallow flow of the river looking for the answer to my question. My senses had just registered an unfamiliar smell. I looked up from the river and over to an altar-type platform where a stack of logs sat with an object covered by orange flowers and a sheet which had just been lit on fire by a woman who had placed a smoking stick on top of the object. There was my answer: burning flesh.

I was watching a Hindu cremation ceremony of a four-year-old boy who had recently died at a temple called Pashupatinath in Kathmandu. His mother had just laid a burning stick on his body. The rest of the boy's extended family stood a few feet away hoping his spirit would be reincarnated. As a follower of Jesus this was one of the most devastating things I had ever witnessed. I realized in that moment I had never been to a non christian funeral before. I have no idea what God decides in these situations about salvation, but I do believe Christians won't be the only ones in heaven. Sitting there watching this ceremony take place and listening to the wailing of a family whose hope was put in the cycle of reincarnation, I felt sick. This boy had never heard the name of Jesus.

As followers of Jesus, our hope is simple and beautiful. We believe in one Being who extends a gift of grace. Grace in its fullest sense: "Mercy. A manifestation of favor." as the dictionary puts it. Love is here! All we have to do is exist, become vulnerable to Love's embrace and soak it in. Simplicity. Soaking in and looking into the face of Love we become a reflection where Love starts streaming out of us like clear, refreshing streams of water. Beauty.

Annapurna range
Standing to my feet as I walked away from the wailing and smoke I talked to Jesus and my heart still ached. But, maybe that's part of the reflection of Love. And I'm okay with that.


-My trip to Nepal was successful! My visa was extended till February and then I can reapply in Dhaka for another one. Thank you for all of your prayers!

-Enoch is adjusting well and has the most beautiful smile. Plus he took his first steps last week!