Saturday, October 04, 2008

Landmark experiences

When you move to a new culture and speak a new language, you think in terms of landmarks--those events which display that you've moved to a new level. I remember in Costa Rica when I had my first conversation with a taxi driver. That was a landmark moment.

Tonight, we hosted Willy's birthday party--inviting about 10 kids from his kindergarten class. We forgot how parties work in Latin America, where kids come with their parents, siblings, cousins and maids. We ended up with about 40 people at the party. It was a lot of fun! At the party, I experienced two significant landmarks:

1. The party was a mix of English speakers and Spanish speakers--and they were all friends. It meant that we have jumped the cultural gap and have our feet firmly planted in both of our worlds (where we came from and where God has called us to). It's healthy to be able to enjoy both--without rejecting either. As such, seeing friends who represent both cultures, laughing and talking in our living room, was a very rewarding experience.

2. At one point, a group of us were conversing in Spanish around the coffee table. Then, the conversation split and there were two conversations around the table with a Nintendo game playing in the background. To be able to hear and understand a Spanish conversation, when their is background noise, is a huge landmark.

When you live in a new culture and speak a new language, you don't feel as strong as you used to in your home culture. As such, landmarks like these are foretastes of a new strength that is coming. Isa 40:31 says "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." I'm looking forward to soaring like an eagle, but until it happens, I'll savor every landmark that reminds me of the strenght that is on its way.

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