Sometimes it feels strange to be in a another place for long.
The cultural differences can get to you.
Patience can be hard with things that don’t work like they do at home.
Everything takes longer. And doesn’t function like you’re used to.
Things can seem to close in and make you feel cut off.
Longing for what is familiar. For what you know and are used to.
Your eyes can forget to see the beauty around you.
Forget to appreciate what’s right there.
But then. Then you sit over coffee with a dear friend and laugh about those very things. You make jokes about what is difficult. And you realize “Oh, they get it!”
You chuckle as you discuss home and the things you know so well.
From now on when you’re alone and stuck with a cultural frustration, you laugh out loud remembering that your friend too knows how this is. Knows how you feel. And it’s not so bad.
You pick up the Word one morning and realize it too hasn’t changed. You read familiar passages. You glean from them just as you have in other states and other countries all over the globe. They are familiar. They are unchanging. They apply to this culture. And your culture. And every culture. That’s pretty amazing to consider when other things rarely translate well.
You sit in a class of at least 5 cultures. Looking around, you seem to notice the differences. But as everyone begins to discuss issues and share what they’ve written, you hear common threads running throughout the room. Emotions. Painful times and times of overflowing joy. They are common to man.
And as you sit in church Sunday, you look around at the colourful faces. You don’t know any of them. You hear different languages being spoken, none English. There are various styles of clothing from all over this continent, none like yours. But you’ve noticed they all sit in the same section each week. They all worship similarly. They all seem to relate to what the pastor says. They all amen and agree with the points he makes.
As you leave church, you see the one familiar face you know from home in the crowd. Suddenly it doesn’t feel as if you are in a foreign place. It doesn’t feel as if you are so different, plopped in the middle of something unfamiliar. It just feels, well, normal. It feels like the oldest most familiar thing in the world. This doesn’t look that different in any country or culture. Sure, here you may see colourful dresses and head wraps. In Texas there was major bling and very big hair. At home there are sandals and flat-irons. But the people you are with anywhere….they all struggle with the same issues and same emotions. They read the same scriptures. They even sing most of the same songs. They know and love the same God who has delivered them from many of the same trials and loved them through many of the same heartaches. Halfway across the world and you have a flash of feeling….well….home.