LETTER FROM THE MANSE. email@example.com February 2015
“Thank you for your ‘Brave Heart’ Scottish message. We are ready to welcome you on 25th at 8 am”. With these words, received 48 hours before we were due to leave for Bangladesh, the trip was on! For the previous week there had been a real possibility that the work camp might not take place. Political unrest in Bangladesh with opposition parties organising road blockades in Dhaka and other places, 2 and 3 day strikes being called for, and a number of deaths from buses being subjected to arson attacks it seemed our plans would not come to fruition. I had sent an email saying that we were all still willing to come, even if it meant that our original aim to help in a village had to be changed to doing something more local in Dhaka.
We discovered at the farewell session in the village where we were staying that it was this email that initiated the “Brave Heart” response. And so we arrived in Dhaka on Sunday morning 25th January to be met by Jonarson (who was organising the work camp), Daniel and Martin (who had made some of the arrangements for our stay in Dhaka). Instead of staying in Central Dhaka at the Bishop’s House, we were put up in a lovely hotel 5 minutes from the airport and near the road on which we would travel north to the camp. We went for a walk and found a lovely rooftop café with spectacular views over Dhaka where we enjoyed some luxury with Café Lattes and on our final afternoon in Dhaka, after 10 days of rice and curry, Café Lattes with French Fries!
The work camp exceeded our expectations. Together with 12 wonderful young people we built a road in the village of Pirojpur about 45 minutes from where we were based. The land had been gifted in 2009 by an elderly couple who had hoped to build a clinic, but nothing had happened and they had both since died. However, their daughter and her family still hoped that work would start – which is where we came in. While some of the villagers dug holes round the perimeter of the area for concrete posts to support a fence, we and the young folk from Bangladesh worked at moving soil from the field to the side where an earth road was to be made to allow access from the main road to the clinic. Using “kodals” (a type of spade) the soil was put into baskets and working in pairs we moved the soil to make the road.
It was wonderful seeing the road develop, and we were all delighted when on Wednesday 4th February (a day ahead of schedule) the road was completed. During the week, others had helped – the local development workers gave us two days of their time, as did local people, and even school children who had stopped to watch what to them was a strange scene, helped and on one occasion their teacher brought about 60 of them to have a chat with us and some of them helped too.
Each day began and ended with prayers led by different groups, with local visits, games and a few hours at the Annual Revival meeting this year in Katolmari about 4 hours from where we were staying and attended by about 500 people (slightly down because of the strikes) and time spent together with the young people.
There were many tears on our final evening and the following morning as we left for Dhaka, but we left many friendships. One of the hymns we taught the young people during the Bible Study was “I am the Church, you are the Church, we are the Church together”. As we sang that on the final night, and as we linked arms in a circle, and as the tears flowed, never were these words more true and meaningful.
Thank you from the Manse. My family and I would like to thank everyone for cards, flowers and emails sent after the death of my mother on 3rd November just three days short of her 90th birthday. We were touched by the number of people who attended her funeral service at Parkgrove which was conducted by Wilma Pearson, her minister in Cathcart Trinity and grateful to her friends who made the journey from Cathcart. Mum had been baptised in Cathcart South (as it was then) in 1924 and it was so good that Wilma was able to come through and in a sense complete the circle. I have also been moved by the love and concern expressed by members of the congregation in the weeks following which has been of great comfort at what has been a difficult time for us. Thank you one and all. Matthew.