Oh the stories we can tell, right? Today we’re in chapter seven of Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission ( by Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg) and we’re looking at the expectations of and for our host cultures. Before we get to the stories, this was another chapter I found myself marking almost every page. Which means the authors hit the nail on the head, but isn’t very helpful when it comes to saying anything succinct. This is what my notes look like:
121 — 3 cultures we function in: home, host, Biblical
122 — don’t fit in either place now
124 — I’d like to know how view of homosexuality are changing this (obviously will depend on context, but of all areas, this is one I’ve seen great shift in recent decades). Arrow down starting at “However, though single women might have more flexibility …”
*127 — also influenced by how my your host culture wants you in / accepts outsiders. Drew a smiley face next to “I unknowingly had this expectation that the nationals would be glad that we came! Ha!”
128 — element of TIME
129 — Need to figure out what’s wanted in return of friendship
133– point of tension: how much privacy many westerners want
135 — Ha! When you do it wrong
136 — Expectations based on western movies (oh yeah!)
I would imagine your notes look similar. It’s one thing to take notes, it’s another to live, isn’t it? I’d imagine your experiences fall into similar categories as mine.
I knew I’d committed a faux pas at a local friend’s house when every single person laughed at my response to was I hungry for dinner. “I am!” Cue the laugh track. When granny laughs at you, you know you’ve stepped in it :)! We all learned about each other as I mildly came to my defense saying my response saying in my culture it would be rude to tell a host I wasn’t hungry after they had gone to a lot of effort to cook for me. Thankfully, this logic made sense.
Lesson learned, however, and I never enthusiastically said I was read to eat. If only all lessons were so harmless.
Part of the adventure of living outside of our home cultures is to learn to do things differently. When a teammate and I were asked to be in a movie being filmed for the local provincial station we said, sure, why not? When else was I going to be in a movie? One Saturday morning we went down to the local train station and filmed being picked up by a taxi driver. In the story he had lost his white collar job and was in desperate need of money.
(Humorous side note: the actor playing the taxi driver didn’t know how to drive, so while he sat in the driver’s seat and we got into the back seat, the cab was pushed by stage hands.)
In the plot, we left our wallet in the cab when we got out at the hotel. The taxi driver really could have used the money but returned it to us. The director wanted my teammate, who was quite a bit thinner than me, to kiss him on the mouth in gratitude for returning it. We both balked and said it wouldn’t be appropriate to kiss a stranger on the mouth for returning a lost item.
Everyone stared at us.
But you’re loose western women, of course you kiss people on the mouth all the time, was palpably in the air.
We finally compromised with a heartfelt handshake.
I know you’ve got your good stories too. Share in the comments!
Confusing to Down Right Hurtful
The view of disabled people.
What is considered direct and indirect may be the opposite — it’s so confusing! I thought you were indirect, why are you asking me if I ate too much beef as a child?
I’ll never forget the time our local staff was so disappointed with the folks who were new to the field. My colleagues had labored over visas for months and when they saw the newbies were confused and hurt that they had worked so hard for “them.” As we tried to clarify what came out were the amount of tattoos and that the folks new to the field “walked around in their bathing suits.” Only prisoners and very socially low people have tattoos. They were not walking around in bath suits, but after running in the morning, went to the breakfast area in their workout clothes. Confusion and hurt go both ways.
I touched on it above, but as a single person I’ve noticed the idea of singles being homosexuals (especially as we age beyond when people “should” get married) is becoming a greater question / issue than it was in previous generations.
How about you? What did you mark in this chapter? What and how have you learned about your host culture? Any good stories? Where have you been confused or hurt? How has God grown you through your host culture?
Okay Book Club Buddies, was stirred in you?
P.S. Next week we discuss chapters 8 and 9: Expectations and God.
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