“It must be one of my daughter’s friends,” I thought. “I’ll let her answer it. “ But when the doorbell kept ringing, I went to the door. It was Nesrin, a woman I’d invited to visit our fellowship for the first time. One and a half hours early.
I breathed in deep before I opened the door. The last thing I needed was a guest one and a half hours early. I was already a bit nervous because we’d accidentally scheduled a skype interview with someone back home for the same hour as our meeting.
I invited Nesrin to pull up a chair at the kitchen table and tried to focus on talking to her while I finished cooking. (I’ve never been good at talking while cooking.) Then I disappeared a few minutes to slide on some makeup, brush my hair and change clothes.
At 5:00 a friend came in with a big pot of soupy beans, so I quickly got out bowls in additions to the plates I’d already set out.
“We need bread to serve with this, but I don’t have any change,” my friend said. “Can someone go out and buy bread?”
So my husband ran out to buy bread, and for the next half hour chaos reigned as I tried to open the door for guests, set up a skype call that wasn’t connecting, and serve food at the same time!
Do you ever have days like this? I’d like to say that I was peaceful and cool as a cucumber, but I wasn’t. Maybe on the outside I seemed calm, but on the inside, I was tense and uptight. (Okay, I probably didn’t look so calm on the outside either.)
One of the most important qualities a cross-cultural worker needs is FLEXIBILITY.
Somehow life back home is a lot more predictable and planned. In the Middle East, life is unplanned and full of surprises: guests who come early, guests who come late, people who cancel on you, people who wait to the last minute to plan, and friends who drop by for a surprise visit. You never know what might happen, and even the best laid plans can change!
Being Flexible Means:
- Being open to Interruptions
Why not look at them as serendipities instead? Especially if they involved an unexpected guest.
- Maintaining a peaceful, joyful attitude when things don’t go as planned.
I’m grateful for many Turkish friends who are gracious models of flexibility. Ready to change plans at a moment’s notice, willing to go out of their way to help someone, and open to receiving a last minute guest in their home, Turks are people I can learn from.
When was the last time you had an experience that required you to be flexible?