From Birmingham to Bangladesh in three stages
A BMS World Mission family shares the ups and downs of leaving for mission and starting life in another country
“Six months doesn’t seem like a lot of time,” say BMS mission workers Cassandra and Luiz Marques. “However our semester at BMS’ training facility, the International Mission Centre, was sufficient to change the course of our journey towards Bangladesh.”
The couple, originally from Brazil, flew out on 2 July to join the service branch of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha (BBCS), where they will be involved in development and advocacy work. Leaving the friends, family and community they’ve called home for half a year was neither an easy experience nor one that’s simple to describe.
But here are the three stages of the Marqueses’ departure from Birmingham to Dhaka.
When moving to another country, there are feelings of excitement and trepidation for the unknown future as well as a deep sadness at leaving the familiar warmth of home and loved ones.
“During our time in Birmingham we met incredible people with different backgrounds and histories. It was precious to us to be with people who finally knew what we were going through. People whose journeys were intertwined by the eminent departure and uncountable and painful goodbyes to come.
Seeing the remaining few mission personnel and members of staff waving to us, as the car slowly reversed and manoeuvred towards Birmingham International, was enough to give us lumps in our throats.”
Their journey, not including time spent sitting in terminals or travelling to and from airports on each end, was ten hours long. This can be stressful and tiring for the most experienced of travellers. Now imagine doing it with a six and two-year-old.
“We learned some very useful lessons in those ten hours.
A six-year-old is fully capable of going to the toilet on his own. However, you can guarantee he will spend twice as long, flush the toilet three times, use every single available product to wash his hands and come back with his shirt soaking wet shouting, “I couldn’t close the door and still locked myself in!”
Friendly children get you free child care in an aeroplane. Air hostesses will take them from your seat, dress them in their uniform, take their picture and return them 30 minutes later with faces painted with chocolate and holding a half-eaten chocolate bar.
Prepare yourself for unexpected feelings. Like the surge of happiness you will feel when seeing part of your luggage appearing on the conveyer belt. You will share this moment with the strangers around you regardless of language barriers.”
“It’s hot here!”
The Marques family left the UK just as the summer was heating up. And though they missed the our mini heatwave, temperatures in Bangladesh have more than made up for it. They were not ready for the humidity. “It gives you a claustrophobic sensation of almost drowning with every breath. The humidity reaches almost 100 per cent according to some sources, which for me would mean breathing water not air,” says Luiz.
The weather, however, wasn’t the only shocking thing about their first few moments in the country.
“Landing in Dhaka was like opening the door of a time machine. It felt a bit like revisiting William Carey’s journey centuries ago.
"There was a crowd outside of the airport’s gates. A mix of people waiting for arrivals and some who appeared to be asking for help. We left the airport as quickly as possible. Just enough time to check if all the seven large suitcases were inside the car and a last minute glance to be sure all the children were there as well. We arrived.”
“We were interested in going to Bangladesh because we believe that it’s our role as Christians to make a difference in this world,” says Cassandra, “and we feel it is a call from God to be in involved in speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves and defending the rights of others.”
Cassandra and Luiz will be working with the Social Health and Education Development (SHED) Board of BBCS, and are excited to begin their development ministry and language study. Please keep them in your prayers as they embark on this new mission adventure and follow God’s lead, through their lives and work in Bangladesh.
You can support this family and journey with Cassandra, Luiz, Ulisses and Elena in Bangladesh by becoming a 24:7 Partner. Find out more about individual or a church giving today.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission