Bangladesh Adventures

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas in Noakhali

We went to Nita’s bari (homestead) on Friday, 22 December. It is always great to get out of Dhaka! We went to church in Dhaka in the morning then headed to Noakhali straight from church. Nita’s mom was ready for us with plau (special rice) and chicken curry for the boys to eat. We park our van at the Catholic Church then take a rickshaw for about 10 minutes to a dirt path that lead beside Nita’s bari, about a ten minute walk. From the path, we take a little muddy trail to Nita’s house.

Nita, CJ and I share one bed and the boys plus cousin Joe share another bed; Prova went with us and shares a bed with Mom Mendes; in the house we stay- Nita’s brother Morris and his wife Pana share a bed. There are only four small rooms and each room has a bed in it.

Stouts continue the tradition of steering between two cultures in giving gifts to the boys for Christmas. We give two gifts per boy. Most Bangladeshi Christians give one gift of clothing for Christmas- that’s it. We give one toy and one piece of clothing. The boys seem happy with it and we have been doing this for the last 3 years now. Even when we lived in the USA we tried not to go overboard with presents for the boys. However, in Bangladesh with over 50% of the people living on $1 or less a day it just seems inexcusable to shower gifts on each other when we already have so much. The boys’ cousins in Bangladesh get one piece of clothing from their parents and we give them a toy. When you are truly poor, (material wise) you don’t have money for anything extra- its hard to imagine that being from the west but it is true. Nothing extras- no gifts, no eating out, no cement floors, no extra portions of food, no healthcare, no cars, no phones, etc.

Bangladeshis truly practices the four ‘R’ that is: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Refuse! As a westerner, I think it would be good if all of us thought about the four ‘R’ in our daily life- “May the Peace of God disturb you!

We played plenty of cricket, soccer, and American football at the school’s playing field. That is such a plus compared to Dhaka where there is no place to play. The pugar (pond) was cold so we only took one bath in the pugar. The rest of the time, we took rower pump bucket baths. CJ loved playing with two new puppies in the bari- one named Tiger and the other named Lion.

On Christmas Eve, we took three Catholic Sister and one Father to a small parish about 30 minutes away for where the main church is and had a wonderful Christmas Eve service with people from that village, which includes many cousins of Nita.

Christmas day we went to church with about 400 people at 8:30 a.m. Then we went to the cemetery to pay respect to Nita’s Father, grandmother and other relatives by putting candles on their graves and saying prayers. After that, we walked to different relative houses for pitas (special types of cakes and pastries) and tea- it is a fun time. Christmas afternoon we had a big dinner of plau (special rice) and duck curry! It is very damp in Noakhali so even thought the temperature does not go below 45’ it feels cold at night time- we needed to use a quilt.

We visited, played sports, and hung out at the bari on the 26 and 27 plus the engagement party.

We leave this Saturday, 30 December for India. We are taking a holiday in India. We will fly to Kolkata then take trains to the Taj Mahol (Agra), Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan for a 3-day camel safari. It will be interesting and a good family bonding time on trains across India.

Pray you had a blessed Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Engagement and Pre-Arranged Weddings

On Boxer Day, 26 December we had an engagement party for Nita’s Uncle’s Daughter, Rolu. It was a fun affair with a band (loud) and food for everybody involved. The boy is from Noakhali. What makes this so special to you is this was the first time they had ever met. This is an arranged marriage by the parents. The engagement party was the first time the girl and groom-to-be met. After the initial ceremonies and business of negotiations over saris, gold and TV set were over the girl and boy sat beside each other for the first time for snacks. Rolu is 20 years old and the boy is 30 years old. I was amazed as they sat there talking and giggling. I was thinking of my two nephews, both have engagement and marriage in the near future. They know their betroth so well already- they both have been dating the same girls for 4 and 3 years respectively- they have spoke thousands of words to each other- in person, over the phone, over the internet. But here was a guy and gal meeting for the first time and will be married in one month. It was blessed!

I’m a firm believer that arranged marriages and love marriages (that’s what we have in the west) have the same success rate. After eating snacks, the groom and bride-to-be went to the church to sign some official documents cementing the engagement and setting the wedding date. Nita went along and was a witness to everything; and even had to sign her name.

Different cultures- different practices. Makes you think.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Greetings 2006


CJ- 3 years old in Pre-school one: In CJ’s Christmas Play for preschool: Norton was Joseph, Adokarley was Mary and CJ was a shepherd- he wanted you to know. The play was based on the Nativity and numbers up to 21. They went together but I can’t explain how. CJ likes preschool and especially his teacher, Mrs. Waddell. In his own words, “I like to read books for Jesus and pray God and make drawings. I like walking but ride bus number 2 with bus monitor and brothers. My favorite food is frenchfriesandketchup and chips and juice (soda) that Mashey (aunt Prova) gives to me and I can’t eat it until I get home. I like sports of soccer and basketball.”

Chad- 7 years old in year 3 (grade 2): My favorite subject is math. I like playing with my friends, David from Ireland and Joug Won from South Korea we all have long hair and love to play soccer. I really enjoyed going to a WWE event in New Jersey this summer- my favorite tag-team is DX. I’m playing Joseph in the school’s Christmas production- I have the second longest lines behind Mary. I’m taking piano and vocal with Mrs. Dawne- not my favorite. My brothers are mean to me, especially CHASE. Last January we visited a volcano in Indonesia and I got a lava rock!

Chase- 10 years old in year 6 (grade 5): My favorite thing to do is to play soccer and I really enjoy scoring goals and being goalie. Almost every week I try to sleep over at my friends’ house or have them sleep at our house. I’m friends with almost all of year 4, 5, 6, and 7 in school but my best friends are Niloy from Italy, Josh from Turkey, and Jee Hoon from South Korea. I liked visiting Stonehenge in England this summer. I miss donuts from America the most, other than family. I’m a Hawaiian/American dancer in our Christmas production this year- go figure!

Charles- 12 years old in year 7 (grade 6): I’m in middle school and part of a church youth group. In Indonesia (Jan 06) I liked Mac Donald’s, the volcano- walking on hot rocks, New Year’s eve on the beach, and snorkeling in crystal blue water. In the USA, I enjoyed my Mimi, relatives and the food. In England (Aug 06), I liked the underground, Stonehenge, London and staying at Dad’s friend’s 400-year-old pub! In Darjeeling (Oct 06), I liked seeing 3 of the 4 highest peaks in the world, all the monkeys, and the winding roads going up and down the mountains. I enjoy technology in school because we are making our own backpacks and ICT (Information Communication Technology- Mr. Issac). Chase and I are still playing guitar and piano respectively- we play/practice together with Mr. Issac from our school on Monday afternoons. This year we have learned Stand by Me, I Walk the Line, Let it Be, Rockin Robin, Folsom Prison, The Weight, Proud Mary, All Along the Watchtower, For What its Worth, Johnny B. Goode, and All Star.

Nita: I’m working on a Needle Stitch right now. The big, big difference in my life this year is for the first time in 12 years I don’t have a little one around my legs. I have 3 hours a day, five days a week with nobody in the house! My daily routine with this time is: I walk for an hour, take a shower, devotions with the Bible, read the Bengali Newspaper front to back, make lunch then go down to get CJ off the bus. CJ is usually fast asleep on the bus when he gets home. My sister, Prova continues to live with us. She has a good job with a non-profit in the Perinatal Care Project as a Data Management Officer.

Kevin (the old man): There’s not much left for me to tell you about. I continue to try to be a Godly- servant, husband, father, and employee. I enjoy the boys tremendously, and Nita and I love to do things with them. Work with Compassion International continues to be fulfilling- we are currently serving 8,000 children in 60 projects throughout Bangladesh. My theme is “Bangladeshi Children- Touching Heaven and Changing Earth.” With the current political problems in Bangladesh- my believe continues and is in the future generation. We are in a deadlock between the opposition party, party in power, and the caretaker government that is suppose to pave the way for free and fair elections in January. Moreover, to make it worst the caretaker government has called in the Army to restore peace and justice (??????). We have had numerous nation wide strikes and transportation blockades opposing the caretaker government and there does not look like any end in site. All this makes life in Bangladesh interesting, difficult, and dangerous at times!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!
Please come and visit us!
Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

You can contact us at:


Stout Family
c/o Compassion International
12290 Voyager Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80921-3668

Red Letter Day!

I have been asking you to pray for Kini. Well, I had a Red Letter Day when Kini, two other sponsored children and the Social worker from Kini’s project, Azampur showed up at my office with smiles and a 3 foot by 4 foot homemade Christmas Card for me!

Kini was all smiles- it made me so happy to see her. She is in the pink dress. Please continue to pray for her as she will need another surgery on her heart.

Please Pray for Sri Lanka

In November I spent four days in Sri Lanka with my County Management Team and Teams’ from South India and East India Compassion offices. It had an impact! The reference person challenged us in many areas of our life and ministry. Moreover, the leader of ESCAPE brought us up to date on what is happening in Sri Lanka with children. We all made a covenant to pray for Sri Lanka, especially:

1) Sexual abused children
2) Abused children (1 in 4 children in SL are abused in someway)
3) Incest is very high between fathers and children- they feel they have a right. One father made this horrible statement, "I planted the tree, I can have the fruit."
4) Children in the military on both sides of the conflict
5) 23 year civil war which is getting worst and tearing the country apart- Reconciliation is needed!
6) Alcoholism (one of the highest in the world)
7) Children using tobacco (50% of all school age children smoke)
8) Child Labor (one million)

Most of the above stems from the civil war. Please pray for peace in Sri Lanka.

I also, spent a day with a good friend from Graduation School, Chandran Williams. He leads a local Non-Government Organization in Sri Lanka dealing with development issues. I spent a day with him at his office talking about development issues from a Christian perspective. He wanted me to give my reflections on 18 years in Christian Development- I’m getting old! It was a great day of discussions.