Thinking about this sort of stuff is always humbling because it sets me firmly into my historical context and forces me to realize the uncomfortable fact that I am finite. My life is “like a morning mist that soon vanishes” as the Bible says and someday, long after the memory of my small, seemingly insignificant life has faded from memory, another twenty something year old sitting in the exact same pew might marvel about the same thoughts I pondered last night. And the cycle goes on.
Moths. The church service ostensibly began at 5:00pm (This, of course, actually means the service starts at 5:30. This is Bangladesh after all!) and it was soon dark outside. The building was lit by archaic electric lights that looked like they belonged in a WWII bomb shelter rather than a church building and, when combined with the fact that the windows and doors were left wide open, a few large moths began to flutter around, happily swooping down on unsuspecting hymn-singers. I am honestly unsure why this sticks out in my memory. It just does.
Battle of the Religions. As we were singing the first hymn of the service, the call to prayer from the neighboring mosque started blaring from the loudspeakers. The organ and our voices singing “Oh come let us adore him” competed with repetitious chants of “Allahu ahkbar” as the muezzin chanted the ahdan. For some reason, the competition struck me as hilarious and I was glad when the organist played a bit harder as the din conveniently covered up my laughter.
I met briefly Mikhail Hopcef Martirossian, the elderly caretaker of the church, and, although I didn’t realize it until after I traveled home, he has an amazingly interesting story as the last Armenian in Bangladesh. If you’re interested to learn more, check out this archived BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2645617.stm