Cultural Experiences

Imagine yourself in a cultural experience that is completely foreign to you.  Maybe something you have heard of before, but never truly experienced or never understood.  I took an anthropology class in college, and I have to admit, the study of culture intrigues me, but experiencing differing cultures is much more exciting.

I grew up in a neighborhood that would be considered multicultural so I was familiar with people who looked “different” from many Americans, and even being a red-head I was used to being the one who was “different.” But it was still my culture. The children I went to school with all lived like I did, so honestly, it was not a different cultural experience.

My first shocking multicultural feeling was in the Los Angeles airport.  After I was near our terminal, I looked around and saw almost no one but Asians! I had a few Asian friends in school, but I was not used to being in a place so foreign.

Granted, I was flying to Hong Kong and should have expected it. Nevertheless, I was not used to being  in a place where EVERYONE else spoke the same language as each other, and I was completely unfamiliar.  Had it been Spanish or Creole, I would have felt at home and understood the general topic of conversation, but not Cantonese or Mandarin!

That brief moment passed and I arrived (after a long flight) to Hong Kong.  The sights, sounds, smells and faces were all very different from home.  I tried, at first, to be polite and smile at people much like people do in the South. Did not work! Apparently the feel is a little more like NYC, so I decided it would be more polite to mind my own business :)

Our trip to Hong Kong was to college age students to teach them English and be their American friends.  But after my initial impression of Hong Kong, I was terrified. I mean, if all the people do is avoid eye contact and ignore smiles, what was it going to be like to teach?! But I was super wrong to be nervous!

Teaching in Hong Kong was SUCH a BLESSING! I was able to teach some practical things, humiliate myself with games :), and share my testimony before dozens of students.  They smiled, interacted and were quite huggable once you got to know them.

That night, we had dinner at a restaurant with our Chinese students, and I got my next dose of Culture Shock…CHOPSTICKS!  We NEVER ate Chinese food growing up.  I’m not sure why, but we didn’t.  I must not have thought my trip out, because I had never even tried to use chopsticks in my life!  My graceful new friends, showed me how to use chopsticks, but that was not the end of the experience.

When they first sat down to the meal, the native Hong Kong residents started washing the bowls in a large container of water in the middle of the table. They proceeded to pass the bowls back out, and when dinner was served, everyone grabbed food out of the serving dishes with their own chopsticks.  After we finished all the food served to us, the waiter brought us more! The problem? I already ate my fill thinking it was all we were getting! How was I supposed to know? And my generous friends kept insisting I try everything! What a night!

Everything about that dinner was different than usual.  I don’t usually wash my bowl right before using it (although, this is merely a custom now, I was told they wash the dishes before serving them now:), there was absolutely nothing on the table I recognized, I was clumsy with the chopsticks (someone really should have recorded me trying to eat rice), and, where I’m from, we have special service utensils.  That is not even all the differences, but my point is, it was an amazing experience! You can sit in class and learn about different cultures, but you could never understand just HOW different they are without joining them.

To be honest, I have experienced culture shock in the States to some extent.  The humor in New Jersey is unfamilar to me, and that fact that many people in Pennsylvania do not even offer you sugar with coffee baffles me. But different cultures are not inherently wrong, different cultures are to be respected and enjoyed.

1Corinthians 14:10 – There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them [is] without signification.

11 – Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh [shall be] a barbarian unto me.

As a missionary, this concept is very important to me.  I will be living in a place where the people with think and behave differently from  me.  I am not moving to Namibia to teach people how to be Americans.  When I move, my first goal will to be ADAPTATION.  I will be learning to speak Afrikaans, and moving into one of their homes, shopping in their markets and eating their food. Pointing they way they do (probably with their lips?), waving like they do, conversing like they do and this list goes on and on. (seriously, if you have never traveled to another continent, you would be ASTOUNDED at just how many things can be different)

The point of my post? I am sure you are faced with different cultures all the time, see what you can learn.  Learning a little about a friend’s culture can bring you closer to them, it will help you understand them better (you  know, now that I think of it, men have their own culture and this thinking can benefit a marriage :).  Learning more about different cultures will also help you adapt to people, shape you into a more well-rounded individual, and maybe, just maybe, make you a more patient person.

What was your most most interesting or difficult cultural experience?anth

SVG map of Hong Kong's administrative districts.

SVG map of Hong Kong’s administrative districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

How to Make a Toddler Tie from 1 Fat Quarter

I made the mistake, AGAIN, of not bringing enough ties for my son. We will not be in town for quite some time, so I do not have access to a sewing machine! Here is the solution to my first world ‘problem.’

Snow Day!

We had a meeting on Sunday in VA, and when we were informed of the hurricane, we decided to leave to our next destination right away. So here we are in TN, in a tiny hotel with no where to be, and nothing to do. The McD’s in town does not even have a play place. Thankfully, this tiny town has a Walmart and I could pick up some essentials, but I also stopped by the craft section (seriously, it called out to me ;) and decided to buy some finger paint. Crazy me, I know, the hotel room only has about 9 square feet that is not carpeted. But I bought finger paint nonetheless.

It was not until I started to get the supplies ready, that I realized that the tub is the ideal place for finger painting. Both my one and two-year old loved it! They both mainly insisted on using the paint brushes, but when I encouraged them to feel it and play with it they began to paint on themselves…and all over the walls of the tub!

The activity helped my two-year-old understand how to mix colors (purple is her fav :) to get secondary colors.  I intentionally only gave them primary colors.  We had 2 sessions of painting today, and tomorrow I’ll bring out the other colors since the primary colors have been demolished.

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Do you have any rainy day ideas for a hotel room?

Quiet Book ~ No More Idle Hands!

While we are away from home for several weeks, I go CRAZY from a lack of creativity outlet.  There is no experimental desserts, entrees, sewing or scrapbooking! I have tried hand sewing while away from home, but I am not patient enough for that! Since I have realized that if I want my wiggly daughter to sit still, I need to have something for her hands to do, I have decided to make a quiet book.  Yes, the one craft I said I’d never do, has been done.  Here are my pictures of my quiet book in the making. While I did steal the quiet book idea off of Pinterest, I believe these simple ideas are all my own, and I have many more on my quiet book idea list.

My daughter loves them so far! They keep her busy, but I will have to admit, I have not been very careful as to when I give them to her. We have lost a felt doll shoe, her car-seat must have swallowed it.

I have enjoyed this new activity and much to my surprise, I am willing to work with felt again in the future.

Addy LOVES her “girls”

Apprentices

English: A young girl peering over her sunglasses.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I stared at my daughter, completely baffled, today.  “Is there anything I can help with, Mommy?”  That’s not a baby talking, that is a GIRL. So crazy! I remember being a little girl, and not long ago.  This made me realize how important my most recent discovery is.  God has given me a responsibility to train my children to be adults. The way I see it, I have a live in apprentice.

 

 

 

Do I want my daughter to be just like me? Not really. I want her to be kind, honest, a hard worker, and most of all, I want her to love Jesus.  I’d like to say that I am those things, but I want my daughter to exceed me in those areas.

 

 

 

How the apprenticeship mindset has helped me:

 

 

 

1. It helps me remember that my actions help shape her, for better or for worse. She is going to mimic me, so I must think before acting.

 

 

 

2. I am more proactive in involving her in my activities.  I talk her though tasks and whenever possible, let her get her hands involved.

 

 

 

3. My daughter will know she is a woman. Women are awesome and I want her to be well-rounded so she can do absolutely anything God calls her to do.

 

 

 

4. She is not in the way. She is supposed to be there, since she is in training.  She needs to learn to be ware of the stove and such, but chores are not just chores, they are bonding times! No, its not all fun and games, but we are still relationship building and the point of projects is no longer just to finish them. Every project has a side of character building. *I have also been using homemade safe cleaners for this reason*

 

 

 

5. She has developed a servant’s heart. Jesus Christ came to the earth to serve, and He is our Great Example of selflessness and service. There is no greater blessing than to be a servant. If I demonstrate this, and she copies it while at home with me, maybe it will come more naturally for her when she is grown.

 

 

 

6. I am also developing as a person! When your children start acting like you, you really get a good look at yourself! The first habit I kicked was, “yeah.” I answered that religiously instead of, “yes,” like a normal person. I have also refined my table manners, and my obedience. Yes, my obedience. I question everything! When my husband makes a decision sometimes it is necessary to interject as the wife and mother, but I should not question everything. I was setting a bad example.  There are other things, but no need to point out all my faults in one post ;)

 

 

 

These things also apply to my younger son, but mostly, my husband has taken him under his wings. We are very blessed to have a lifestyle where my husband spends a great deal of time with us. Traveling is not always easy, but God has blessed us with countless benefits that make up for it!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Carving Fail :)

Jeff and I have been pumpkin carving with his best friend for 5 years in a row. I have never been terribly wonderful at it; In fact, this is the first year that other people can tell what I was trying to create with my pumpkin.

My husband did Noah’s ark, mine is the initials with flowers on either end.

So I felt pretty confident about myself and thought that I would utilize my new-found creativity. This year I had my daughter draw on her pumpkin with pen. Last year she painted, but she has a mobile little brother and…well…You understand. :) I thought she would draw a swirls and interesting lines that would be interesting carvings…Here is her masterpiece.

I was right about the swirls and lines…

My little lefty!

And here is what I carved out of that.

My ‘fail’ pumpkin

See why I call it a fail?  All I could do was laugh about it because it was not what I had hoped.  But she had fun, and she was very proud to have designed her own pumpkin!

A Romantic Encounter

One day, I woke up at 6:00 ready to spend the day the way I enjoy it most, with my girls at junior camp. After nap-time we were schedule to play volleyball. I set up my little team and had them practicing for the last time before our game. As the game began I became very involved. I am not a volleyball player, but I really loved the opportunity to help these girls see what they were capable of doing. As I was cheering my girls on, I noticed a guy my age walk and stand behind the stands. Just his presence made me nervous, but I tried to just keep focus. I knew I was not playing his church, I already met the ladies from his group last year. ‘ What is he doing here?!’ I could not help but wonder.

Toward the end of the game I was so distracted I could not keep focused. I had junior counselors who played volleyball, so I delegated. And then I walked to the bleachers…to talk to my sister of course :). As the game finished it began to rain. *note: we were in South Georgia where rain is expected all.the.time*

“Looks like you got wet,” FINALLY, he speaks! Maybe he IS here to see me.

I wondered all week if he was ever going to speak to me.

“Really?” I pretended to be surprised. He then proceeded to introduce himself, and we began talking. A lot! In the rain, no less. It was an incredibly natural conversation, but it covered a lot of ground. We actually had quite a bit in common, and we were so intent on the conversation that we stood in a downpour for 40 minutes. The time came to get ready for dinner time and we both had responsibilities that tore us apart.

As I walked back to my cabin I was in a daze, wondering if I really did just meet someone. I had guy friends before, but this was different. Very, very different. My girls, (ages 8-12) couldn’t help but ask me if he was my boyfriend, if we were getting married, etc. All I could do was answer no with a very awkward I’m-trying-not-to-grin face. They then proceeded to ask if they could go play in the puddles. It was not lightening outside, so “Yes,” was the only answer my foggy brain could come up with.

I ate dinner with my girls, giving them a little less attention than usual, and tried ever so hard to not look around for my new friend. As I was finishing my meal, he came and sat down in front of me. I HATE eating in front of people, so I was officially finished eating.

Chapel after dinner had a few awkward glances back and forth, but since we had finally spoken I felt like I was finally allowed to notice him. After chapel the kids and counselors had free time and this young man found himself hanging out with me, my camp kids, youth pastor, and jr counselors. We had a blast, playing with children, and getting to know each other in a group setting. When bedtime approached he had to dismiss himself to prepare for the devotional.

That’s when it got awkward. Another counselor, Alyssa, could not help but ask me crazy questions and encourage me to give him my ‘digits’. NO WAY was I going to do anything forward. It was all going to be his initiation or nothing at all.

“Go on, just write your digits on your brother’s hand and send him into the boy’s dorm,”

I took my brother’s hand and wrote, “My ditgits,” Yes. I spelled it wrong, I really, really could not concentrate, and I thought that my sarcastic move would end the argument. Instead, Alyssa decided to write my number on my brother’s hand and sign her name. Her name just happens to be identical to mine. *sigh* I lost the argument, and the boy ran to the boys room to give my number to my new friend.

We had a blast the rest of camp and hated to say goodbye. Jeff, very sweetly, asked if he could have my number. It was a sweet gesture considering he already had it, and would not use it without permission.

He called the next day and admitted that it took willpower not to call me the first night. He called me every day after we got home for two weeks straight, and then arranged to visit me for a weekend. It was an awesome weekend, and the closeness we enjoyed grew faster than I imagined possible. He lived 4 hours away so he left and went home and packed his bags for a 2 week trip to the Philippines. The day before his trip when he called he asked me if our relationship could be exclusive.

There is so much more to the story that happened after, but suffice it to say, it did not take more than a month before I realized I was completely in love with him and we were engaged after 6 months of dating. We married 10 months after engagement and finished college together.