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Thank You!

Hello everyone!

A quick thank you to everyone who read this blog during our trip. It was a great comfort to know people were connected to our mission and were praying for and thinking of us. We returned safely on May 3rd at 12:30pm an enjoyed PIZZA at the airport with both our families.

For me, Alicia, jet lag hasn’t been too bad. I’m having an interesting time adjusting to life here, but it’ll all come back soon enough. I haven’t driven or been to Wegman’s, and I think I’ll keep working in the house for a while. I’m constantly converting US dollars into Bangladeshi taka and constantly being blown away.  When I walked into my house, I stopped and said “it is so beautiful” and started to cry. The immense gratitude I have for my position in life is beyond description. God has blessed me with so many wonderful things. Family, home, being born in America, an education in a system that works, etc. etc. etc. WOW!

Here’s a picture of Boo and I at the ariport. We were so happy to see our families. We tried to walk at a normal pace from the terminal to the doors, but I kept walking fast and as soon as we saw them we started running!

 

So thank you again for everything! We are getting used to the time, the food, the lifestyle. Soon I’ll be going back to work at Wegmans, Boo will start Grad school and life will return to “normal”.  I’m not really looking forward to it. I miss B-desh with a passion and pray and hope that the experience will not soon leave my heart and mind.

GOD BLESS YOU!

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we’re home :)

And we’re off!

Hey everyone!

Just a quick update to let you know… tonight around 10:30 / 11 pm we will be taking the bus overnight to Dhaka. We will be in Dhaka from Monday – Thursday. We have plans to visit Mr. McIntyre’s student and friend, Saifur and his wife. Also we will be meeting more Holy Cross brothers and spending some time with Sr. Adeline’s family who we stayed with last time we were in Dhaka. We will be staying at the CBCB Centre- which is where our journey began! It will come full circle for us!

On Thursday May 1st we fly from Dhaka to Kolkata. We spend the night with Aru’s parents, Auntie and Uncle Ray. May 2nd we get up bright and early and fly from Kolkata to London (10.5 hour flight with a 5.5 hour layover in London) then London to Boston (7.25 hour flight with a 12 hour layover that will be spent with Boo’s sister and brother-in-law, Catie and Matt). That is more than 24 hours, but it is all on May 2nd thanks to the time changes.  May 3rd we fly from Boston to Rochester!!! PRAISE GOD WE’LL BE HOME! We arrive at ROC at 10:21am :)!

Please keep us in your prayers especially during our bus trip and our flights. Thank you all for being such an amazing support system for Boo and I while we’ve been overseas.  While in Dhaka, we will have our mobile until Thursday at 2:30pm our time, so Mom(s) please call us before we go! I’m not sure if we’ll have the chance to get to a cyber cafe in Dhaka, so this may be the last post!

Saying goodbye is busy and difficult. This is our 2nd home and 2nd family. So many people, so little time. Please also pray for our smooth transition out of B-desh. The tears will be many – thank God for tissues!

We love you all and will be seeing you soon!

Homeward Bound

Hopefully we won’t run into as many problems as those three dear animals in “Homeward Bound,” though that is how we feel.  Tonight we leave Dinajpur, our home, our family, and our friends (alone by bus).  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are Dhaka days, and Thursday we leave for Kolkata about 5:15pm Dhaka time.  One night at Auntie’s in Salt Lake ( hopefully with no problems grabbing a taxi and getting to her house, we’re not quite sure where, but hey, a way has always been provided by Him), then British air carries us all the way to Rochester via London and Boston (yay Caitie and Matt!!)  By the way, Caitie, I’ll let mom know what time our flight gets in at Boston, she always has all the information. 

Soon we will see you!  No more for now – these days are too bitter-sweet to be writing about.  Much love to all!

Alicia’s update :)

delicious tea at every meal!

Hello dear friends and family! I am sorry it has been so long. It seems the closer we get to leaving, the busier we are.  We have begun the packing process – and it truly is a process – and our rooms are both in disarray as we try to organize everything we own into two or three bags. I’m very thankful I brought an extra bag! Deciding what to leave behind is hard, but not as difficult as it could be. I’m no longer attached to jeans and t-shirts!

So – where did I leave off?? I guess I’ll start with our trip up into the Himalayas (wow!). As Boo wrote, the journey was long BUT beautiful! I love the way I can see God’s hand at work in nature. The magnificent, glorious, gorgeous scenery is the ultimate testimony to His greatness. He never ceases to amaze me everyday. Not only is He utterly evident in nature, but His guiding hand led us to the Bishop’s house!!! On the second day, we were walking around Darjeeling, up and down, up and down, and stumbled upon (quite literally) a beautiful building. We asked the gardener what it was and he said it was the BISHOP’s HOUSE! How awesome to find our home in the Himalayas! We met Bishop Stephen of Darjeeling and had a wonderful chat with him. He was impressed by our smiles and laughter. What a kind compliment and witness of God’s joy in us.  

Darjeeling is home to wild monkeys! Such a great thing to see! We were hoping to see some in Sundarban – but were not as lucky. But in Darjeeling, they roam the streets, fighting over people’s left overs and trash. As long as you don’t make eye contact they are harmless. But do not stare at them, they hiss and come at you with incredible speed. A yelling monkey is a scary thing!

We stayed at Hotel Seven Seventeen for 800 RPS /night. Which is about $21.50 USD. Not bad. It was cute and cozy. Wooden planked walls and a nice view of the city from the 4th floor. It had a restaurant downstairs, which we ate at every morning of our trip. We enjoyed milk tea, porridge, mango juice, bananas, fried eggs, and toast with peanut butter. They were great in the service department and bargained with us for the room’s price and helped Didi and I get a shared taxi to Tiger Hill for the sunrise for only 70 Rps / person! We liked that hotel very much, if you ever get to Darjeeling, check it out.

We visited the Orange Valley Tea Estate, Ghoom Monastery, and the Rock Garden on a “three point tour”. It was a wonderful afternoon, full of beauty and awe. We also did a lot of shopping, the gifts there were more abundant and of better quality. I was happy to find some things that I couldn’t find in Dinajpur – and finished my gift shopping.  The amount of foreigners in Darjeeling, even in this off-season, is pretty large. I enjoyed this very much because for the first time in 4 months, I wasn’t stared at by everyone and every shopkeeper bargained in English! I thought it was odd though that only 2 or 3 foreigners looked at me and smiled or said hello. Most travelers kept to themselves.

            While Boo was away on her trek, Sister DiDi and I went to Tiger Hill. A beautiful sunrise with 100s of people! It’s been turned into a tourist farce, but we bought into it too. It was worth it! The sunrise was gorgeous and I took over 100 pictures of just the Kachengunga and the sunrise! We got up at 3:30am to leave at 4, but the taxi didn’t come until 4:30am. We made it up the hill within a few minutes of the sun rising – I was praying for God to keep the sun down until we got to the top of Tiger Hill! We returned to the hotel, ate breakfast and went back to sleep! We got out around 10am and didn’t find Boo until 3:30! She’d been back since 12:30 or so! It’s hard to communicate without telephones!

            As Bren mentioned, our trip back was hectic and rushed. But I had to get back to Dinajpur. I missed “home” and didn’t want to waste the precious days we have left here. We are filling our schedules with visits to the many friends we’ve made and booking our bus tickets for Dhaka. We’ll leave Sunday 27th in the evening and spend 28th-1st in Dhaka. The next 6 days are jam packed with packing, visiting, celebrating, saying goodbye, crying and the like.  We are so excited to be coming home and also sad to be leaving.

Time has really flown by, and has only been accurately measured by the amount of malaria pills Boo and I have left J, and the number of pages I’ve filled in my journal. Another good measure of time here is the word document called “blog update” where we write our updates before going to the internet to paste them into the blog.  It’s 20 pages long! Just now the song from “RENT” came to my mind. “How do you measure a year in the life… how about love? Measured in love…. seasons of love.” (The lyrics might be a little off because I don’t have the song on my I-pod! blasphemy!) It is true that the time here can also be evaluated in this manner. The love between friends shows the time here has been well spent and has been an extraordinary journey of emotion. I will never forget this place, these people and these experiences. Please pray for our smooth separation from our family here and our safe travel home. We will be in the air on May 1st – May 3rd. We are arriving at ROC airport on May 3rd at 10:30am.  It is so close I can taste it. It is so close I can feel my mom’s hugs already! The plane ride home is longer than the one coming, with longer lay overs as well. This will be torturous because home will be so close, but yet so far!

I love you all – see you soon!

 

p.s. I am just pondering the name of the bog – Best Friend’s Journey – and realizing how fitting it is. This has truly been a journey of grand proportions, of which I’d never expected. We’ve been through a lot together and have (thankfully!) grown closer because of our trials and hard work. Thank God for His mighty guiding hand and love! Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts of us! This journey is coming to a close, and although I am so desperately heartbroken, I have grown so much from this experience and am looking forward to coming home to a new chapter in my life. Much love to you all who have supported us through our journey!

 

 

—“I am leaving enough anti-itch cream for a small army.” –Boo– (She is also leaving behind almost her entire mini-pharmacy- two gallon bags filled with anything we’d ever need. I doubt the health insurance policies we bought were even necessary!) —

Boo’s Bit

 

 I believe our last week has shown us not only God’s magnificent beauty, but also His guiding hand.  What a singular experience we’ve had, traveling to my beloved Darjeeling!  The entire time I was thinking of my family, all of whom are tea and trekking lovers.  Reillys and McIntyres – Darjeeling is the place for our next joint vacation – it is our paradise! 

The journey to Darjeeling took 11 hours, a private car, a wagon, a local bus, and travel bus, and a jeep.  The journey home took 9 hours, a rented car, a taxi, and a private car.  Needless to say, the journey home was quite a chaotic rush, and an experience none of us ever wish to repeat – but what memories we made!  We were supposed to leave the beautiful cloud city on the 21st and have a nice relaxed journey back, but my trekking friends informed us that all the Siliguri (the city we drive to before the border) taxis and jeeps were going on strike the following day, and wouldn’t let anyone in the city.  So, at 1:30 pm we, with the help of my friends, arranged a private car to rush us to Siliguri and beat the strike.  However, I wasn’t aware that the border closed, and after the three hour drive down from Darjeeling, we reached the bus station in time to find out we couldn’t make the border before it closed.  Wanting to try anyway (hey, God guided us by providing friends with knowledge about the strike, He can do anything), we paid an arm and a leg (in rupees, not dollars) to have a taxi driver rush us to the Indian/Bangladesh border.  Of course, because God was protecting us, the driver knew people at the border, and during the 2 hour drive was in correspondence with them, urging them to keep the border open, we were coming.  We reached the border, rushed out of the car, and went through all Indian and Bangladeshi customs etc in 1 hour, instead of the previous 2 ½ hours.  The guards are all so pleasant, and again we made more friends – such generous people always willing to help.  So, we left Darjeeling at 1:30, and were home by 10:30, amazing time by anyone’s standards.  No one can deny God’s merciful hand there. 

I have been to Nepal!  YES!  No visa, no trekker friends, no knowledge of Nepalese, but still I trekked (briefly) in the Himalayas and spent a night on Nepal soil!  Of course there are too many stories to write in one blog update – I hope you are interested because I’d LOVE to share them in a week or two, IN PERSON!!  Every corner I turned while walking with Alicia and Didi seemed to have some kind of trekking/tour agency, and with so much selection I could not ignore the intense pull I felt.  I searched around, talked to a million people, and worked in figuring out what my best options were.  A one day hike just wasn’t enough, and Ali and Didi preferred not to do any trekking at all.  Granted, just walking around town was hiking, the entire city is built on the steep Himalayas.  I chose a company I felt I could trust, and became immediate friends with the two men that worked there.  I expressed my desire to go, and also my concern that I was only one person, and a female at that.  The boss, Mr. Sankar, was truly sent by God, for he understood and reassured me in every way.  He promised a good guide who spoke some English, agreed to my bargaining, and later called the guide various times to ensure that I was ok with him.  He, by the way, was also the one that jumped to help us find a car for our requested price, and ended up renting out his company car, as well as helping us pack and leave the city.  Oh, also, he’s offered me a job at his school in Nepal, and mentioned if I come he’ll help me trek around Nepal. Oh how God took care of us!  So, I embarked with Mr. Amir Tamong to trek to Tumling, Nepal, and then back to Manebhangang via Tonglu, India.  We took a jeep about 29km from Darjeeling to Sukhia Pokhari, changed jeeps for the 7 km drive to Maneybhanjang, supplied the necessary passport info etc, ate breakfast, and began walking – uphill (or upmoutian).

  Here is a good time to mention that all public transport (share taxis) seat about 5 normally, and drivers don’t move unless there are at least 9 “seated.”  People wondered why the weird American girl was laughing, but I couldn’t help it, when strangers were sitting in my lap, and 5 grown men share 3 small seats up front!  On the ride up to Darjeeling from Siliguri I was smooshed between a vomiting girl, and a man who was sitting on top of the gear shift – haha, every time the driver had to shift I laughed because we all have to adjust to whatever gear he needed.

Anyway, the hike altogether was only about 13 km to Tumling, so it wasn’t too long, though very steep.  We passed two tea houses, and stopped for soup/lunch at one.  I met some more American trekkers who were going all the way to Sandakphu (where I wanted to go).  We hiked together for a short time, maybe ½ hour, before my speedy guide passed them, and I wearily followed.  When you are only one person with the guide, you feel the need to keep his pace!  If I had been with a friend perhaps I would’ve set the pace, and saved my poor heart – I don’t know that I have ever been so physically exhausted.  Even climbing Devil’s Tower doesn’t compare, because there were huge breaks between each belay.  To Tumling was just one great huge mountain.  The path traveled along the Indian Nepal border – I was constantly in two countries! 

I’m writing too much, I know, I’ll cut it down a bit.  We spent the night a little lodge in Nepal, it was very cold.  I stayed in the kitchen with the workers, made new friends with the sherpas, and attempted to learn some Nepalese.  It was one of the best nights I have experienced.  There No power in the mountains, cold, windy, cloudy – and beautiful.  I woke at 4:45 hoping to catch the sunrise on Kanchandzonga, though all the previous days/weeks the weather had been too cloudy for anyone to see anything.  But, again, God blessed me – the day was crystal clear, blue sky, and I was able watch the sunrise on the largest mountain range I’d ever seen.  Even to the side I could see Everest range!  Family – don’t get too excited, Sandakphu was in the way of Everest, so only the tip of the range was viewable – but still I saw part of the range with my own eyes!  I was SO CLOSE! 

Of course the trek down was much quicker, and also much more painful.  Only from going down did I become incredibly sore.  The roads were too steep for my poor knees.  Enough from me.  Now its time to begin packing and saying goodbyes.  Leaving here is leaving family, thus a week is certainly not long enough.  There is no way just break from Bangladesh, part of me is here with this family now.  A few of the brothers and sisters are coming to Dhaka to see us off on the 1st, its very difficult to think about now.  I’m feeling disorientated!  Much love – bye for now.

Ali’s missing post

HI all,

Here in Darjeeling, everything is beautiful. I really like this place! Last week I did not update – I apologize. I usually write beforehand and copy / paste into the blog, but without my own computer, I am writing this quickly and without revisions. Please excuse me.

 

Our last day of class with the sisters was very nice. They performed thier dramas, sang a song, did some dances and presented us with some gifts. They were super sweet women and had become like our own sisters. It was sad to see them go.

We celebrated the eve of “Pohala Boyshak” (First day of the Bangla New Year) at the compound and I attended a celebration at the seminary as well. Dancing, dramas and singing.  On April 15th, the first day, we celebrated by traveling around to 2 or 3 parishes. It was nice to finally see the priest we met at their home churches. It was a tiring day.

We will update more about Darjeeling soon. I am sorry it is short – we pay by the halfhour of internet. I will blog more about last week when i find more time.

GOOD NEWS GOOD NEWS!!!!!  I have been blessed by God in a major way! I have recieved notice that I will be on eof the GRAs at Nazareth College this coming academic year!  PRAISE GOD! Thank you for your prayers regarding this matter.

much love to you all! -ali-