Saturday, November 18, 2023

Bangladesh - November 2023

I always ask the Lord and request prayers for safe and "uneventful" travels. You see, I've had my fair share of "eventful" journeys that have caused some disruption and frustration over the years. Imagine a bus breaking down on the side of the road for several hours, resulting in a late arrival, throwing off the whole schedule, and not having the time to teach all the lessons I had prepared! It's kind of a domino effect of disruptions that can drive a guy crazy. I consider myself to be someone who usually takes things in stride, but I prefer to stay in control of the situation whenever possible. Thus, the reason for my prayer for "uneventful" travels.

On the other hand, there is also a desire to have a rather "eventful" trip when it comes to work that the Lord has given me to do. In fact, I feel some pressure sometimes to produce some amazing events to share with the folks back home. There have been times when I have returned from a trip to some seemingly exotic place on the other side of the world, and people seem disappointed if I don't have some amazing stories to tell. But oftentimes, that's the way it goes. I come, I teach, I preach, I visit, and I go home. Sounds rather uneventful and uninspiring, doesn't it? 

I was giving this some thought as I was wrapping up my time here in Bangladesh and preparing to write this blog post. I arrived here about two weeks ago to the news that the opposition political party in the north of the country was closing down roads, and all transportation in and out of the region had been shut down. My flight from Dhaka to Saidpur was canceled, and so were our plans to visit BLCM congregations and preaching stations in that area. That meant an unexpected overnight in Dhaka and a different flight to Jessore the next day. No big deal, we were able to schedule a couple outreach seminars in the Jessore district instead. The rest of the trip and schedule were rather uneventful and have gone off without a hitch. We have been blessed with the opportunity to conduct uneventful two-day outreach and Lutheran Theology seminars in three separate locations, and we just concluded an uneventful five-day pastor and church worker training seminar yesterday. Today (Saturday, Nov. 18), we enjoyed an uneventful "church worker excursion" to the Sundarban Mangrove Forests and Tiger Reserve in southwest Bangladesh in the Ganges River Delta on Bay of Bengal. I'll preach for worship services tomorrow. We'll visit a couple preaching stations on Monday. And Tuesday, we'll visit one more preaching station on my way back to Dhaka to catch an early morning flight to Kathmandu, Nepal, on Wednesday morning. From a practical, earthly standpoint, it was an uneventful visit to Bangladesh. Prayers answered!

All of this got me thinking about that word - "uneventful." When you think about what God has accomplished through the "foolishness" preached and taught through His saving Word in my own sinful heart and the sinful hearts of men, women, children, and even infants throughout the world and throughout the years since the fall into sin, "uneventful" would have to be one of the last words you would use to describe it. Just think, our Savior, because of nothing other than His undeserved love and mercy, gave forgiveness, salvation, life, and an eternal home in Heaven to this cold, dead, sinful, wretched heart. He accomplished this through nothing more and nothing less than the Gospel in His Word and Baptism. And what gives this word and sacrament its power is the greatest event that ever took place...namely, the sacrificial suffering and death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ! Sometimes, in my quiet moments, I am just overwhelmed with awe and joy by the "events" that have taken place in history and in my own life, which have called me out of the darkness of unbelief and death and into the marvelous light of my Savior. The idea that I should called a child of God and have the privilege of preaching, teaching, and sharing the foolishness of the cross, which is the power of God for salvation with so many people around the world, is amazing, to say the least. It is truly humbling to realize that our Savior can use a bumbling, low IQ, sinful, wretched fool like me to bring Jesus (the Way, the Truth, and the Life) to others! What a privilege to serve Him!

I have decided to modify my prayers a bit. Going forward, I will still pray for "uneventful" travels, but I also intend to thank the Lord for all the eventful outcomes of His love and mercy in my life and the lives of so many around the world!!

If all goes as planned, I will fly to Nepal on Wednesday, where I will meet Raju, and the two of us will travel to a district in the west to visit an HCLCN congregation that was affected by the recent earthquake. 

Please pray for uneventful travels and an eventful visit to Nepal over the next few weeks. 

And please keep Beth, her dad (who went on hospice care last week), and all our family in your prayers. Thank you!

Here are a few pictures and a couple of videos of some of the "events" that have taken place over the past couple of weeks here in Bangladesh...

BLCM Preaching Station in the Jessore District - Outreach Seminar with New Christians

Apostle's Creed Seminar at St. Thomas Lutheran Church

St. Thomas Lutheran Church

St. Thomas Lutheran Church

Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gopalganj

Immanuel Lutheran Church
Pastor Monotosh and the BLCM Pastor and Church Worker Training Seminar

Student Books

BLCM Pastor and Church Leader Training Seminar 

My daily commute to and from the BLCM Church Worker Training Seminar in Gopalganj

BLCM Training Seminar

Pastor Monotosh Addressing the Seminar Participants

Pastor Monotosh, His Wife Elizabeth, and the Seminar Attendees

Rather loud and "eventful" Diwali celebration that lasted until 2 or 3:00 am and began again at 5:00 am the first five nights I was in Gopalganj

Hindu Temple across the street from my hotel

Hindu Idol in the temple across from my hotel in Gopalganj

Boarding the boat that took us to the Sundarban Mangrove Forests

Entrance to the Sundarban Mangrove Forest Preserve
Armed ranger to protect us from Tigers...we saw paw prints but no tigers :(

Trekking through the World's Largest Mangrove Forest

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