Monday, October 15, 2012

Upside, Downside

(Subtext - There:)
There's always water. Always. All the time.

(Free water from the heavens.)

There's toilet paper AND tissues.

(You learn not to be so OCD.)

There are no fish in the supermarket that haven't
 been descaled, skinned, filleted and apportioned.

(You get to have the Whole fish. All of it.)

There are seasons where
no bloodsucking insect is to be found.

(You learn not to be such a wuss.)

Electrical wires are squirreled away
safely inside the walls.

(Electrical wires are easy to work on.)

There's always food in the cupboard. And snacks.
             And a gazillion options in the store.

(You learn planning. And self-control.)

There isn't a line that starts forming at the hospital
at 4am, hopefuls for an appointment that day.

(A doctor's appointment costs $4 - $16 without insurance.
The medicine is usually even cheaper.)

There are seatbelt laws here.
And noise ordinances.
And small business licenses.
And drivers stay on their side of the roads.
And people lock their doors even when they're home.

(Make all the noise you want.
Sell whatever you want from your door.
Play "real-life" video game Indy-500!
Don't need to lock your door hardly ever.)

Children don't know how to use a
machete by the time they're four.
Nor do they take them to school for "work day."
Nor know how to cook for their family
by the time they're nine.
Five-year-olds are not "in charge" of their
one-year-old siblings,
And six-year-olds don't walk the streets
for six to eight hours a day selling fruit. Or nuts. Or bread.

(Children know how to be responsible.
And not complain.
And work hard.)

Walking is recreational, not transportational.

(People are thinner and for the most part healthier.)

Everything. Here. Is. Scheduled.

(People are more flexible and tolerant.)

Requests for loans/aid are not a daily occurrence.

(You learn wisdom. And generosity.)

Crowing roosters, barking dogs, rowling cats
don't wake me up at night...
            Yet sleep is more elusive.

(I sleep like a rock after a good day's work.)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cross-Cultural Love For All

If you ever want to bring a bit of "that home" back to "this home," here are some good tips that will help both you and others experience that "foreign land" feeling:

1. Whenever you drive up behind someone, just give your horn a friendly honk to let them know you're there and may be going to pass.

2.  Kiss people on the cheek whenever you meet them, see them, or bid them farewell.

3.  Throw your trash on the floor - no matter where you are. Church. People's homes. Riding the bus.

4.  When the light turns yellow, go right through and honk your horn in a friendly manner to let people know you're there.

5.  Throw your used toilet paper in the trash can. This brings cultural awareness like nothing else.

6. Use your shirt, or a child's shirt to clean their runny nose. If the shirt doesn't work (too tight? not soft enough?) use your fingers (pinch hard and then give your hand a good shake after) to get any extra snot off.

7.  Stand extra close to people.

8.  Laugh at inappropriate moments in conversation - humor almost never translates, so you don't even have to explain yourself.

9.  Got a river/ lake/ stream near your home? Just take your soap and shampoo right down there, along with your tub of dirty laundry, your dirty dishes and anything else you want to get clean.

10. Bring a radio to your neighbor's lawn and play any foreign music as loud as you can at 4:30am. This is a great way to get your morning started.

11. Got one? I'd love to hear it?

(Pictured: The cultural experience of having your moto license plate made right before your eyes. Cost: $6.25)

Silent Answers

I was praying today and asking God a question that hasn't seemed to have any answers for me for the past seven months... and He directed my eye to a small book of German poetry I have on the shelf, and this is the poem I got.

Aber der Mann
schweige erschütterter. Er, der
pfadlos die Nacht im Gebirg
siener Gefühle geirrt hat:

-Ranier Maria Rilke
from "Man muß sterben, weil man sie kennt"
Der ausgewählten Gedichte anderer Teil

I love that:

1. God knows me
2. God speaks German
3. Even in aching confusion, God can make me laugh - mostly because of #1 and #2.

I dunno if that's ever happened to you - those moments where you hear God say "Yes, I'm still here and Yes, I see you." So, even if you don't understand the context of the poem, the answer or anything else in this post, do understand that I am so very grateful to know a God who lives, knows - and loves.