I Survived the First-Term Roller Coaster

Posted on: October 17, 2008 Written by
I Survived the First-Term Roller Coaster
Photography by: mjbs from iStock          

As I sit here at my laptop, I realize that we board a plane to return home in exactly 23 days.  It has been the best of times and the worst of times.  It has been exciting yet scary, amazing yet torturous, and fulfilling yet lonely…all at the same time.  In other words, it has been a roller coaster.  I personally do not like many roller coasters.  My husband and daughter absolutely thrive on such joy rides, but the mere sight of some attractions causes my stomach to turn.  This first term, however, has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Language acquisition always has its ups and downs, but we managed.  There were many times when we said the wrong word, verb, or phrase.  Like the time my husband said he was going to impregnate our son’s teacher when he meant to say hug her!  Or when I told another mother that I was looking for baby food that did not have any contraceptives added (I obviously meant to say preservatives).  I am so thankful that our first year in language school is now history.

And cultural differences always create a certain amount of stress no matter how adaptable you are.  I have yet to arrive at a church potluck with the right gear in tow.  At the first such event that we attended, I brought meat and a side dish to share.  We soon found out, however, that we were supposed to bring the entire meal for our family and something to share with everybody else.  But that is not all.  We were also expected to bring our own dishes and flatware (and no one brought paper or plasticware—only the best) and our own table!  My seven-year-old daughter is still confused as to why all the girls and women here ‘forget’ to put their top on when they go to the beach.

I will never forget the day our third child was born.  When I was ready to deliver, the nurse turned to my husband and said, “Daddy, where are the baby’s clothes?”  Since we were still learning the language, he thought maybe he had misunderstood her strange question, so he asked her to repeat it.  She said it again, but very emphatically this time, “DADDY, GET THE BABY’S CLOTHES.  AND HURRY…MOMMY’S ABOUT TO DELIVER!!!!!!”  So my husband hot-footed it to the top floor of another building and quickly sprinted back to the delivery room just in time.  After checking to make sure all ten fingers and toes were present, they lightly dabbed our son off with a towel and put on his clothes.  And since my mother had not yet arrived from the States with baby clothes (I was weeks away from my due date), my only baby outfit was swiftly ruined with a ton of ‘baby goop.’

However, these are not the only experiences we have had these last three years.  We feel very privileged to have been able to be used by God to plant a church during our first term.  We have also witnessed to many nationals with whom we do business.  For example, we invited our banker and his family to our house for dinner, and they have become great friends.  We have shared the gospel with some of the families from our kids’ school.  Besides that, we have made some very strong Christian friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime.

Were there days when we wished we could go home?  Yes.  Were there times when we wondered what we were doing here?  Sure.  Were there weeks when we wanted to give up?  Of course.  But were these times all-encompassing?  Absolutely not.  We also had tremendous days, days when we witnessed to a national in their own language.  We had glorious times, times when we became closer as a family and closer to God.  And we had victorious weeks, weeks when God used us to minister to others in unexpected ways.

As you can well imagine, we are very excited to go home for a little while and spend time with old friends and family.  But we are already anticipating our return to the field next year.  I know that God has not called every family to travel overseas and minister in the way in which He has called us.  But I am extremely grateful and feel immensely privileged to be part of His chosen few.

 

As I sit here at my laptop, I realize that we board a plane to return home in exactly 23 days.  It has been the best of times and the worst of times.  It has been exciting yet scary, amazing yet torturous, and fulfilling yet lonely…all at the same time.  In other words, it has been a roller coaster.  I personally do not like many roller coasters.  My husband and daughter absolutely thrive on such joy rides, but the mere sight of some attractions causes my stomach to turn.  This first term, however, has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

 

Language acquisition always has its ups and downs, but we managed.  There were many times when we said the wrong word, verb, or phrase.  Like the time my husband said he was going to impregnate our son’s teacher when he meant to say hug her!  Or when I told another mother that I was looking for baby food that did not have any contraceptives added (I obviously meant to say preservatives).  I am so thankful that our first year in language school is now history.

 

And cultural differences always create a certain amount of stress no matter how adaptable you are.  I have yet to arrive at a church potluck with the right gear in tow.  At the first such event that we attended, I brought meat and a side dish to share.  We soon found out, however, that we were supposed to bring the entire meal for our family and something to share with everybody else.  But that is not all.  We were also expected to bring our own dishes and flatware (and no one brought paper or plasticware—only the best) and our own table!  My seven-year-old daughter is still confused as to why all the girls and women here ‘forget’ to put their top on when they go to the beach.

 

I will never forget the day our third child was born.  When I was ready to deliver, the nurse turned to my husband and said, “Daddy, where are the baby’s clothes?”  Since we were still learning the language, he thought maybe he had misunderstood her strange question, so he asked her to repeat it.  She said it again, but very emphatically this time, “DADDY, GET THE BABY’S CLOTHES.  AND HURRY…MOMMY’S ABOUT TO DELIVER!!!!!!”  So my husband hot-footed it to the top floor of another building and quickly sprinted back to the delivery room just in time.  After checking to make sure all ten fingers and toes were present, they lightly dabbed our son off with a towel and put on his clothes.  And since my mother had not yet arrived from the States with baby clothes (I was weeks away from my due date), my only baby outfit was swiftly ruined with a ton of ‘baby goop.’

 

However, these are not the only experiences we have had these last three years.  We feel very privileged to have been able to be used by God to plant a church during our first term.  We have also witnessed to many nationals with whom we do business.  For example, we invited our banker and his family to our house for dinner, and they have become great friends.  We have shared the gospel with some of the families from our kids’ school.  Besides that, we have made some very strong Christian friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime.

 

Were there days when we wished we could go home?  Yes.  Were there times when we wondered what we were doing here?  Sure.  Were there weeks when we wanted to give up?  Of course.  But were these times all-encompassing?  Absolutely not.  We also had tremendous days, days when we witnessed to a national in their own language.  We had glorious times, times when we became closer as a family and closer to God.  And we had victorious weeks, weeks when God used us to minister to others in unexpected ways.

 

As you can well imagine, we are very excited to go home for a little while and spend time with old friends and family.  But we are already anticipating our return to the field next year.  I know that God has not called every family to travel overseas and minister in the way in which He has called us.  But I am extremely grateful and feel immensely privileged to be part of His chosen few.

 

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