Saturday, May 26, 2012


When I first moved to Greece in a few years back, I remember sitting in a meeting with one of the leaders of our organization.  He talked to me about the difference between thriving and surviving in a new culture.  That talk has stuck with me, especially now that we are living in a culture that is even more different than Greece was.

This past week has been a roller coaster for me(which unfortunately means for Ryan also :( ....  One day I feel total peace about being here.  I feel pumped for another day of language, excited to figure out how to make life work here, and long to be a blessing to our community.  Then the next day I will wake up and feel like I have been smacked in the face with how different everything is and the thought of sleeping all day and watching netflix sounds more appealing than the thought of leaving my apartment.

It seems as if I have been in the surviving stage for much to long.  I want to skip all this and get on with the thriving, the doing.  I know God has lead us here for a reason and I want to get to it!  Do you ever feel that way? Like, all the details of your heart changing and becoming more humble and patient are slowing you down when you want to get on to the important stuff!!  Yeah, that is how I feel.  I know God is using all this to humble me, but I am going down kicking and screaming.  I am not a quick learner and most people probably wouldn't describe humility one of my highest attributes.  It's not really an character trait I have longed for...I(honestly) don't pick up books on humility when I want a good read.  HOWEVER, God seems to think it is a very important thing and Jesus took the most humble form possible and walked in constant humility.

So, I am realizing how not Christ-like I really am.  It is not a fun process, but a good and purifying one.  I would love your prayers in this.  I think it is going to be a long, character changing process and under all my pride and selfishness, I do really long for my life to glorify God.

Right now, still in the surviving stage.  Not sure what the thriving stage will look or feel like, or if I will even know when I am in it.  But, I will cling to the fact that God is a good and loving Father and Jesus has inaugurated(yes, I have been reading N.T. Wright lately :), a new kingdom of light and peace.  I am also pretty sure that kingdom will be full of humble people.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

the hardest part...

What was the hardest part of living with an Indian family?  Was it the 100 degree weather with no AC, the long stretches of no electricity each day, the lack of control over what we got to eat, the bouts of diarrhea, the lack of water?  Nope, no, and nope again.  These things were hard and they did wear on us and grow us, but by far the hardest part of the whole experience was not being able to communicate.

There is something so deep with in us that longs to be understood and to understand.  Yes, you can connect with someone over a smile, a hug, or a kind gesture to a certain extent.  But deep life sharing, the kind where you feel truly connected comes through language communication.  Try only smiling at your best friend or your spouse for a day and see if you feel like you know what is really going on with them in their heart and mind. 

We have been in India almost 6 months and for about 4 of those months we have been doing language pretty hardcore (the two months of no language are breaks we took during Thanksgiving, Christmas, moving, searching for a home, and a trip to Thailand).  I am amazed at how much we have learned in these 4 months, but there is SO MUCH MORE that we want to learn and to be able to share in life with the people of India. On a daily basis someone in our Indian family tried to tell us about something and we just could not understand….they were really gracious with trying to repeat and trying to simplify their language, but many times we just ended knowing we understood some of what they were staying, but didn’t really understand, if you know what I mean. 

I have been thinking a lot about how children learn to speak and communicate and I think about how when kids can’t get their point across (hungry, tired, ect) they will cry or fuss or disobey.  It is crazy how I have found myself reverting back to these things.  Riding on a rickshaw crying or feeling so frustrated that everything seems horrible, all because I just want someone to understand me, or I want to understand someone.  Language is so much more than just sounds and words that have definitions, it is the window into people’s hearts and it is the ability to know and be known.  It is really an amazing thing.  I am just now starting to see how much God is using this to refine and shape me to reflect more of him, if only I could stop whining so much….

Monday, May 7, 2012


Before moving to India, we told so many people that we wanted to live with an Indian family for the first month in our city.  We dreamed about what it would be like and prayed that God would give us the opportunity to have insight into Indian life in this way.  After about a week of asking anyone who would talk to us on the street about living with a family, we met a sweet high school girl who invited us to come meet her family.  We met them and after about an hour of drinking chai together and eating snacks they invited us to stay with them. 

They are a family of 9, a mother and father, 6 daughters and one son.  Their home consisted of two large bedrooms, a kitchen, 2 latrines, a shower, and an awesome terrace.  We were given one room and they all stayed in the room next to ours, separated by a curtain. 

There are so many things we learned by being with them.  So many cultural insights that we saw, but still don’t completely understand.  I have been challenged recently to not prematurely to jump to the “why” of cultural observations.  It is so easy to observe something then in my mind try to figure out why it happened, but the truth is I am such a baby in this culture and it will take a lot of time to understand the deeper meanings of the things I experience everyday, so I will abstain from trying to explain too many things now and try to grow into understanding as I spend more time here and learn more language.  So those blog posts will come later J

There is one thing that we experienced that was unmistakably different about the culture here.

Social life revolves around FAMILY. 

For the month that we lived there (granted we weren’t there every second of the day), I can think of 2 adults (a mullah and a man who distributes the Quran in Urdu) who visited that were not family.  There were many different visitors who came, but they were all related in some way. The family network is so large and extensive.  Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and on and on.  Instead of calling their first cousin “cousin”, they will call each other brother and sister because they are that close.  More like brothers and sisters than cousins, usually living in the same house or building.  Many times, it is hard to keep track of who is related and how.  

It is such a shift from western life.  I don’t even know many of my cousins, I have no idea where they live or what they are doing.(thanks to facebook that doesn’t happen as much as it used to J ). 

There is something really beautiful about the proximal closeness of family here.  It makes me long for my family and Ryan’s family to be close…..which makes me long for God’s kingdom to come quickly where we will all live together in a beautiful, perfect redeemed city.  In that city, we may need some tips from our Indian friends on how to live life so close to our families, haha.