As before, get comfy, and settle in to read and fellowship. It's chilly and rainy and blustery here today, so, I don't know about you, but coffee is just what I need! I posted some discussion questions last week, and here are answers to them.
First, from Erin:
Please pray I can let go of all bitterness, things/people that draw me away from Christ...true friends... and direction for next year.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds," "He has made everything beautiful in it's time..." I also read the OT prophets and Jonah (as part of my Bible reading plan) and felt better.
well funny language stories... I forgot that in Thai "mai" in a certain word is like a question mark in English, so I used to shout, instead of "See you later!" as I walked out the door... "WILL I see you later?" I also kept mixing up the Thai words for "buy" and "fight," so sometimes I would try to say "I want to go buy something," and it sounded like "I want to go fight something," (no wonder I would get strange looks). I also (remember thai is a tonal language) would mix up "spicy" with "diamond" and "duck" (all same words but different tones)... So instead of saying "I don't want spicy," I would say "I don't want ducks," or "I don't want diamonds." Yay me.
From Sarah, with a photo of her kids in Costa Rican dress as a bonus:
I have a recent, funny, cross-cultural kid story to share:
Last month, we had a visitor from the States staying with us, and she asked our son, a first grader, if he was learning “American history” at school. I knew what she meant was if he was learning any history of the United States. I simply explained that since he goes to a Costa Rican school, he’s learning mostly Costa Rican history this year.
But, then my son piped up that he actually has learned about some history of the United States. He went on to talk excitedly about a Costa Rican hero, Juan Santamaría, who, in my son’s words, “kept Costa Rica from being taken over by the American army.”
Awkward silence… (that wasn’t really the type of “American history” the visitor was thinking about)
… because in our “American” first grade textbooks, we don’t really learn about William Walker, the crazy American who formed a mercenary army, took over Nicaragua in the 1850’s, and then invaded Costa Rica. They also don’t teach us about the young Costa Rican drummer boy, who in an act of bravery, lead to the defeat of this “American army,” making him probably this country’s most celebrated hero. The main airport is named after him, there are statues of him, our kids sing songs about him…
It was a bit of an awkward conversation, because, right now, our son looks up to Juan Santamaría more than George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. He’s lived in Costa Rica his entire life, and, right now, Costa Rica’s heroes are more significant to him. I think that our visitor was a little shocked by this. For me, it was a funny reminder of how our kids really are growing up differently than we did. They are immersed in a different culture, and, while I do want them to learn the history of the United States, I’m thrilled that they get to learn about other historical figures that are unknown to most kids back in the States.
Have other missionary moms experienced something like this? How do you explain this to people back home that might not understand?
When our oldest daughter was in the French equivalent of kindergarten in our place of service, a certain boy in her class took a liking to her. One day after school, he sat down next to me and told me how much he liked our girl. I asked him if that was because she was smart, funny, good at games on the playground, pretty, nice… He looked at me very seriously and said: “No. I like her because she is white.” Out of the mouths of babes, eh? It is funny, but it also reminds me of just how hard it was to step across the cultural divide – I never really felt like we were able to accomplish that in the nearly 15 years we were there. It is a sincere prayer that, as we transition to a new place, God will give us discernment and wisdom as we learn a new culture.
3 John 1:5-8 ~
"Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth."
Another few verses I treasure - because as a stranger - as one who has traveled to churches and visited people and places, literally in many places in this world - I've been, my family has been, the recipient/ of unbelievable/incomprehensible amounts of love, generosity and hospitality. This knowledge overwhelms me... it humbles me.
Huge transitions on the horizon. To read more, go here.
Next is Ashley:
Here are a couple of recent cross-cultural kid stories:
My Daughter was asking me about one of her friends who moved back to the US and asked, "Where is Sam from again? Colorado?... Is that why he has dark hair?" (She was confused that Colorado was a state and not different country!)
Here is another interaction between me and my youngest daughter who is currently in Russian pre-school, and just starting to really pick up the language.
Me to her while driving home from preschool: "Элси, Ты понимаешь когда я говорю по Русский? (Elsie, do you understand when I speak Russian?)"
Elsie to Me: "Да (yes)... Wait, did you just talk to me in Russian or English??"
A verse that has recently encouraged me was Roman's 4:18-19 "In hope he believed against all hope,that he should be the father of many nations, as he had been told, 'So shall your offspring be.' He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead..." This verse has encouraged me for personal reasons related to our process of coming to Russia. I was studying Romans at a time when it seemed many things were falling apart with regards to our being able to come to Russia to serve. I knew we felt called to come here, but the obstacles were many. God really used this verse to call me to hope and faith with regards to what the Lord had called us to, despite our circumstances. We are now studying Romans with our church, and this verse was part of our study this week. Every time I read this verse it is special to me, especially now that we've been here in Russia for over 8 years and I can see how God has fulfilled what He had put on our hearts and how He continues to do so.
As for prayer, I'd love prayer for time management! That is such a boring prayer request, but I have so many things going on that I need to be wise with my use of time. Thank you, friends! I look forward to praying for you too!
And to finish, a few answers from me:
I don't usually share potty stories, but that's not the focus of this one, and it's not gross. So, for my funny kid story.... After being sick a while back, our little guy decided that he needs prunes daily. Today he asked me for his prunes, and I told him that we had run out. His quick response: "Oh. Then chocolate would help instead!"
Instead of a specific verse that has encouraged, I'll just share two topics that keep jumping out of my Bible readings: peace (for my own heart and for this country), and the idea that we are blessed when others curse and revile us.
Prayer requests: I've just been tired and busy lately! Ashley asked for prayer for time management; you can pray for me to be disciplined enough to get to bed on time.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this! Please carry on the discussion in the comments. Be sure to chime in with your answers to Sarah's question. Also, what suggestions do you have for later on in this space? Have you enjoyed these "coffee chats"? And take some time to pray for each other now, too.