Daily Challanges and Joys

by Stacey
 
I met an American Peace Corps worker today who had also just arrived in country. When I asked her how she was adjusting she said that she goes through one emotional extreme of feeling like she is seeing progress in adapting to life here to the other emotional extreme of feeling like she is completely lost all the time. And, since the days feel so long, usually she goes from one emotional extreme to the other several times in a day. We both nodded our heads as we listened to her as we could very much relate. So, we thought we would share some of the things that we find difficult and some of the joys that we are experiencing.
 
Some of our Joys:

This is across the street from the house that we will be living in

As far as I am concerned, I just love nature and this country is absolutely beautiful. I love looking at the stars at night, being woken up by powerful thunderstorms, and more then anything I love the chickens and goats running around on the dirt roads. I love all the exotic flowers, plants, and all the different types of dead animals I see hung up on the side of the roads (sad, but still cool).

 
I LOVE the fact that people here wear full blown winter gear as I am sitting here sweating. I love the wool stocking caps worn by 20 year old guys and little babies walking around in puffy winter coats and I love that parents explain that their children are sick due to “the cold.”
 
 
Yep, that’s an infant driving a motorcycle.

As far as Dave (and myself a bit too), he loves the driving here. In America, we are so “constrained” by that little dotted line in the middle of the road, by the stop lights, and by all the rules of the road. Here, on the other hand, it is like driving in a river of motor-cyclists, street venders, and little children in their brightly-colored school uniforms. It’s like an extreme sport that gets your adrenaline pumping and makes a part of you come alive. Who needs video games?

Another one of our joys is the Christian community in the city that we are currently living in. Tomorrow there is a brother in Christ who is coming over to talk to us about how to share the Gospel in French in a way that rightly confronts the sins of the culture. Then Thursday, Dave is going to go evangelizing with him. Our housemates regularly serve as a “buffer” between us and all the people who want to come to our door to sell us things like chameleon eggs. They told us that we are “their missionaries” and that they have a duty to take care of us.

 
Another daily joy is celebrating the little victories. If I can drive to the market, not hit any pedestrians on the way, stomp through the mud, get hollered at by half the city, and come home with what was on my list, I am thanking God. I love that our kids cheer when the electricity is working and I love when a street vender looks me in the eye and warmly smiles.
 
Some of our Challenges:
 
I detest our celebrity status. We were already a little bit of a circus in the States and in France having Ethiopian children and all, but this hype has been greatly intensified. It seems to me like people cannot walk past me without exclaiming “oh my goodness, you are white!?” I am not saying they are malicious, but I am very used to being white and am very used to having black children, so it just gets so old. I go on jogs in the morning and I have had entire high school PE classes see me and scream, holler and yell. They even started jogging with me. Everywhere I go, people are trying to get my attention and often some of the men here are screaming out “I love you!” and other mildly inappropriate things. I cannot step out of my house without seeing at least a dozen children at my gate just watching my every move. I pray that the Lord will somehow use this for the advancement of the Gospel but until then, it is truly the thorn in my flesh.
 
 
Another challenge is being a “have” in a “have not” society. Malaria, typhoid, living without running water, and not having enough money for daily needs are the norm here. Yesterday a lady asked me to pray for her extremely ill baby. As I was holding the baby it was gasping for air and looked as if it were blind. It just broke my heart. We are facing so many sorrows here and frankly want to be a help to them all. In one sense, it is a blessing to be able to give rides to people, to help them with their kid’s school fees, and try to get them hooked up with the right medical missionaries, but on the other hand the problems and financial needs are often beyond us.
 
 
On a lighter note, Dave hates the roosters. He had previously been confused by apparently fictional accounts of roosters waking up the barnyard at dawn. It seems in reality roosters just crow whenever they want, and that usually means outside our window at 3am. I’ve on occasion heard him muttering to himself that he wants to zip tie their beaks shut.
 
Feeling lost is another daily challenge. We are able to celebrate the daily victories because usually they shine so brightly among our constant state of confusion. Today we got pulled over at a routine security check point and a not-smiling AK-47-toting police officer walked over to our car and said something to us and waited for a response. The only problem is that we had no idea what he said. When we first arrived I waved to a cute little kid. He then walked up to me and just stared, without saying and word and would not go away. It turns out that type of waving means “come here”. Our housemate went to the well one day for us and filled up our reserve water barrel. I thanked him saying, “You didn’t have to do that, that was so kind, thank you.” He responded that he was very upset that I would say something like that! He had taken my words literally and thought I meant “I really wish that you would not have done that”. We are constantly asking ourselves “what am I missing  here?” All the cultural bloopers may seem “cute” but in the day-in-day-out staining to understand and be understood feeling lost is such a burden.
 
 
So there is a small taste of our challenges and joys in adapting to our new life. There is much more that we could write, but we’ll save them for another blog post…
 
 
Our four constant joys…

Plantains are our new favorite food!
 
 
Giant hairy googly-eyed bee?
 
 

 

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Author: David M. Hare

Dave is currently still engaged in language learning and analysis of the Kwakúm language. His focus is grammar and discourse analysis. The Kwakúm language committee is planning to begin translating the Bible in the summer of 2019. At that point Dave will focus on translation.

2 thoughts on “Daily Challanges and Joys

  1. I enjoy reading your updates. Thank you for sharing the reality of your struggles. I will pray that you will be able to communicate clearly within the new cultural challenges. The kids look so happy! I wonder what they think of all the changes and new friends. I bet they are more "bendy" than adults would be.

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