As referenced in my previous blog entry Healing, it’s taken me a little longer than I thought to process through my overseas experience this summer. I think perhaps that instead of processing Nepal & Bangladesh one bit at a time, I felt compelled to process it all at once. Thus, anytime I tried to write about any of it, words would not come to mind, and I’d become so overwhelmed about all of my emotions that I would choose just to stuff down my thoughts.
Now that I have some good break time over Christmas, I feel moved to finally sort through the beauty of my Nepal & Bangladesh experience piece-by-piece. I want to reflect on the loveliness of the places I encountered and the hearts I came into contact with.
If you’re reading along, I hope you enjoy my descriptions of the places and the faces that have truly become some of the dearest memories of my healing heart.
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I believe I must begin with my dearest Smita, whom I met while staying at a children’s home in Bangladesh.
Smita immediately captured my heart with her sweet smile, her bright eyes, and her insistence on asking me to “gan gan” (“sing” in Bangla) Disney songs. She especially loved when I sang songs from Frozen.
I would sing “Let it Go” to her numerous times, as well as “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and other songs from the movie. For the three weeks I had the pleasure of getting to know her, I would continually urge her to sing for me. I had heard her singing in hallways, and I knew she had a beautiful voice. Repeatedly, she communicated to me that she was too nervous to sing for me. I told her that it was okay, but I made her at least sing along with me as we heralded the anthems of Elsa and Anna and Olaf the Snowman.
Through each day’s activities, Smita began handing me sweet handwritten notes filled with encouragement and detailed drawings of anything from ducks to Disney princesses. Each time I received a letter from her, I would hug my little princess and tell her how much I appreciated her. Whenever I praised her for her thoughtfulness, she would always blush, give me a shy little smile, and utter, “Oh Auntie!”
One afternoon while I was talking to her and some other girls in their dormitory-style bedroom, I noticed that Smita was playing with some Scrabble tiles. Before long, I realized that Smita was arranging her tiles into the words “Smita Loves Laura.” Oh, how Smita’s tender heart filled me with such joy and happiness.
On another day, I was singing the song “The Call” by Regina Spektor, which has been popularized by being on the soundtrack of Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Because she had watched this movie with the other children at the home, she recognized the song and was beyond excited when she found out that I knew many of the lyrics. Within the song lyrics, the phrase “No need to say goodbye,” is repeated. She always appeared to delight in these song lyrics. I believe that they resonated with her ten-year-old mind.
At the end of my three weeks with her and the other children, I knew my goodbye with Smita would be especially challenging because she had become like a little sister to me. After a sweet “goodbye ceremony” that the children at the home conducted for me and my other three team members, it was time to pack up all of our luggage to head towards the capital city of Dhaka.
As I reflectively walked through the halls of the home for the last time, I saw Smita walking towards me with tears in her eyes. For the first time, she sang boldly before me without any fear. Though shyness was still present in her voice, her sweet tone resonated through the halls as she sang “Let it Go.”
As I knelt down on the floor to look her into her eyes, we shared a tearful embrace that lasted several minutes. Neither of us wanted to let go, and neither of us wanted to say “goodbye.”
She handed me a final hand-written note, in which she mentioned that she would pray for me day and night. She decorated the note with Disney princess stickers and with her own drawings of tiny flowers. I read the last line she had written in her note: “No need to say goodbye.”
I made an agreement with her that we would hold to these words, knowing that as we hold onto each other in our hearts, that we will never ever truly say goodbye.
I love you, my Smita.