Monday, March 12, 2012

Living Through Elevator Fiascos and Other Changes


The cross-cultural life is an adventure, but it’s not always comfortable.  You never quite fit in.  Things are always changing. When you’re in your foreign country, it takes years to learn the culture and language and make friends. You miss home. 

Then you visit home and feel out of place. You don’t even know how to push the buttons in an elevator. This happened to me the other day. In an airport elevator, I pushed what I thought was the second floor button, but nothing happened.  I pushed it several times before realizing that I was actually pushing a label. The button was the RAISED KNOB next to the second floor label, so I tried pushing it quickly and hoped the man standing next to me hadn’t noticed!  Every time I come home, I forget how to work the little machines at cash registers that take your credit and debit cards. It feels like learning to walk all over again.

Moving back and forth means lots of change, but one thing for me is constant: my relationship with God. He’s the same whether I’m in the Middle East, spilling my çay at a neighbor's house, or in the United States, re-learning how to use an elevator. I’ve been reading the book of Matthew in the mornings, and as I read, I try to imagine spending time with Jesus and learning from Him.

What stands out to me is Matthew 11:29: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” I see my morning reading and prayer as a time to take Jesus’ yoke upon me and get myself ready for the day.

Taking Jesus’ yoke upon me also means:

  • Accepting and embracing the life He has for me each day.
  • Thanking him for my joys and trusting Him with my sorrows.
  • Remembering that the daily events of my life are a specially designed yoke, made by a loving God, to bring out the best in me. This means that my crazy, cross-cultural life is part of his special design for me.


If I view the changes and challenges of life as part of Jesus’ perfect plan for me, if I trust in his unfailing love and faithfulness, and if I keep my focus on following him day to day, then I do find rest for my soul.

Can you identify with not fitting in?  What kinds of things do you have to re-learn when you return to your home country?


11 comments:

Creatively Content said...

Great post Olive. The 'fitting in' you described is something lots of cross cultural workers can relate too. You said it well. Also I pray you continue to enjoy your mornings in Mathew. ~ much care to you as you are in the States.

Rhonda said...

Wondeful post this morning! I can so relate ....I remember when they changed the gas pumps...I was so intimated that I would drive on empty soooo long until I could find a pump I "knew" how to work...silly isn't it ...

OliveTree said...

Rhonda, I am putting off going to get gas too because that is something else I can't remember how to do!

Thanks for the good wishes, Creatively Content.

Stephanie said...

Oh my! I so feel this every time I re-enter the States... I was so nervous going through the grocery line the first time back! :) ---watching and trying to figure out, how do I do this here??!

Linda said...

I got all stressed just reading your post!

One time, a long time ago, while I was in South America for a couple of years, grocery stores in the U.S. started using scanners that beeped as checkers ran groceries through. My first trip to the grocery store still sticks in my memory because I couldn't figure out what the beeping was and I couldn't figure out what the checker was doing. I panicked and wanted to run, but I'm so glad my mother was with me! After we left I asked her to explain it to me, and I settled down. Not fun!

Bless YOU as you adjust!

Linda

Alida said...

I can totally relate...totally. Last time I was in the states I couldn't figure out how to use the stylus to sign an electronic credit card receipt at Target. I am so used to using a real pen!!

Aunt Michele said...

I had one of those stylus moments. Sadly the dear little girl at the cash register had no pity for me and my credit card wouldn't work anyway since the company couldn't figure out why I was in America all of a sudden making major purchases of pajamas and junk food and not in Brazil.

OliveTree said...

The cash register/stylus moment is exactly what makes me nervous. And Michele, we've also had our credit cards blocked because of a "sudden" change of location. Happened just last week when we came to America!

momto8 said...

I loved reading this post. you have a great perspective!! I just read today in Uncle Toms Cabin where Tom tells his kids...don't worry about me..God is the same there as he is here..he'll be watching over me there too...

us5 said...

i forgot my manners!!! :blush:

after a lovely lunch at Panera with my sister (when i was home for a funeral), i got up to leave. i heard my sister clear her throat loudly behind me. turning to see what was wrong, i realized that she was pointing out my cultural blooper...i had left a fast food table without clearing my dishes. sigh.

great to see you in the WOTH Connection, Olive Tree!! ♥

Robin said...

I can so relate to this post. I'm still afraid to buy gas, much less try to use one of the self-checkout counters at the stores. They terrify me!