India Chronicles, Part II

school room in India I've been thinking about language lately.

With all our western education and resources, the majority of people I know personally are fluent in only one language, and we could all lament improper grammar, spelling, and punctuation - my own included.

In a small apartment in New Delhi we met sisters, 5 and 7 years old, who speak five languages.

Five.

I had momentary visions of a mass-order of Rosetta Stone for our homeschool curriculum after we met, of foreign exchange students and intense language boot camps.

It was momentary, because my next vision was of revolt and failure.

There were just so many moments frustrated by language on our trip, moments shortened because there literally were no words. Over and over I met people who extolled the virtues of America and spoke to me in English (albeit a little broken), and all I could think was how english-centric we'd all become.

And how lazy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that there are English speakers in all parts of the world. But it's more of a lazy thankfulness, I think. I feel that way sometimes when I'm thankful for a hot shower, a soft bed, running water, or coffee, because life goes on without those things but my life is so much easier with them.

Lazily thankful.

Barriers

I struggled in India with laughter I couldn't join in and conversations I was outside of, and there were so many times when I let language barriers keep me out - me, with fair skin, light hair, shyness and one language.

When there was no interpreter available I sat in a lot of silence.

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On a Monday night I share with a small fellowship group, just like we have at home.  They sit on the bamboo porch of a house on stilts, and to reach the porch you climb a log with crude steps notched into to it - steps that the pigs and goats and cows can't navigate.

They sit cross-legged on the floor and I settle in a plastic chair, because they are gracious enough to know that I'm probably not that flexible. I'm probably not, but I want to be, because again they have elevated me and all that formality gets uncomfortable.

I share with them about thankfulness and how my attitude slips sometimes in piles of laundry and bowls of oatmeal. I tell them how looking at circumstances drags me down, but how thankfulness lifts my countenance and re-frames my attitude.

There's one wobbly fan above us that blows the hot air and  mosquitoes around, and I try to conceal my swollen feet under the chair.

I wonder what they picture in their minds when I talk about laundry.

They nod in agreement when I tell them that the enemy wants to steal our joy but God wants us to redeem all our time. The days are evil and this is universally known.

They murmur and I recognize surprise on their faces, and then smiles. They are laughing and giggling, chattering in one of the umpteen-hundred dialects of this land so near Babel, and I turn to my interpreter for help.

Did I say something wrong?

Did I cross some cultural line I didn't know was there?

Did they see my feet?

It's another moment where I'm on the outside. My interpreter is telling them something and they're nodding and raising their eyebrows and I just wait. All this waiting for grace and fellowship and I think I'm all alone here - one white girl turning red in the heat of this country that must be a million miles closer to the sun than Oregon.

And maybe they're laughing at me?

"They thought all American mothers had an easy life," he tells me, grinning big. They're laughing with surprise at the thought of me cooking dinner for my family and doing laundry.

Something inside me wants to smash all the satellite dishes that adorn most every thatched-roof hut, that portal of white-anglo-saxon America where everyone is always beautiful and leisurely. They stick out like the sore thumbs of the money changers in the the temple, selling imitations of things God has already freely given.

But I realize I do have it easy in many respects.

I laugh with them instead, and with big nods we cross continents. We fellowship in the common language, the mother-tongue of all moms who wash laundry in buckets and Maytags, who cook oatmeal and rice en masse, who argue with kids over schoolwork and pray over kids with attitudes just like our own.

Someone you've got to meet!

Later in the week our women's seminar begins and I have three different translators over the course of two days. In God's wisdom, this program that was supposed to begin a week earlier had been postponed, and during this week I've had several opportunities to get to know the women and their lives better. I come to understand their laughter better, and their tears water my own prayers.

They are grandmas grieving for prodigal children and grandchildren, wives wringing hands over drunken husbands, mothers praying fervently for their children's school exams, and sisters flooding heaven with liquid requests. Such as is common to man. 

Sunday morning Tim teaches from 1 John. He's talking about fellowship, and when he says that in heaven we'll all have one language, I scribble hard on the back of an envelope and fight back these tears that I wasn't expecting. He feels it, too - this longing to communicate unhindered.

All week I've had to lose the beauty of my language, to simplify my words and leave the embellishments to the interpreter. But truly, in every place I find myself, the Holy Spirit is the Great Interpreter and nothing is ever lost in His translation.

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Click to read:

India Chronicles, Part I

India Chronicles, Part II

India Chronicles, Part III

 

 

Linking up with Heather, Emily, SheDoesJusticeGrace Laced Mondays, MercyInkThe Wellspring, and  #TellHisStory

Friends {Five Minute Friday}

Tea Party The best thing about my best friends is that we don't talk much, and we're okay with that

That sounds harsh or sarcastic but it's not, it's really what I appreciate at this stage in life. I appreciate that we are friends when we have time for coffee or time for praying together or time for a weekend away. And I appreciate that in all those in between times, the months where we don't talk and lose track of each other's lives, in those times we are still friends.

It can be months in between. There's no hurt feelings and no pressure. No pouting or excuse making. Because Moms know this: that friendships change over the years and the ones that are meant to last are the ones that you don't have to work hard at, the ones that step aside for your family, pray for your family, and pick up wherever they left off.

That's the beauty of having friends in various seasons of life.

In high school there were unspoken rules about who you could really be friends with. Artificial friendships formed because you were all thrust into the same experiences and forced to endure them together - those aren't typically enduring or endearing relationships.

But real life? Real friends who pray in the in-betweens and who've endured births and deaths and diapers and empty nests along side you - those friends are the real deal. 

 

Sharing five minutes on the writing prompt Friends (which is a ridiculously inadequate amount of time but I'm trying to follow the rules) and linking up with Lisa-Jo and others for Five Minute Friday.

If you're still reading, let me just add that one thing I've learned over the years is that I don't have to be just like my friends in order for our friendship to be true and lasting. Comparison kills, and I never loved a friend because they were just like me. Rather, I love them because they are different from me in ways that I can appreciate and grow from.

People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die. ~ Plato

When People are Big {Overcoming the Fear of Man}

 

Of course it's a bad-hair-day.

We're visiting a church in another town, my husband speaking about training native pastors and the work of Master's Bible School, and we're all a little uncertain of what to expect.

Do I wear a dress?  Are shorts o.k. for the boys?  It's an outdoor service - is it o.k. for Tim to wear his Birkenstocks when he teaches?  Ethan wants to know if this church will be shorter than ours, and is there a potluck afterward?

I look like I rode in on a Harley, my big hair flying to the four winds in crazy curls.

On the drive in, Ethan also wants to know if daddy gets nervous when he has to stand in front of people.  "I like to be in the back, behind the people.  But everyone is bigger than me," Ethan says.

There is a God-confidence that is bigger than those social fears, the ones that plague Ethan and I.  Tim is prepared and Birkenstocks are o.k. and we even sing some songs we know, out in the beautiful little amphitheater behind a country church that welcomes us in the Lord.

I don't really think anyone is concerned with my hair or our clothes.

"Mom, can you find me some different swim shorts?" he asks later that night.  "Henry makes fun of the flowered-ones."

Another round of swim lessons tomorrow and another bout with the fear of man.  I don't laugh at his fear or look down on these worries because they are mine, too.  Flowered-shorts and wild hair and one huge pimple, all these giants we have to slay just to get out the door.

"Those flowers are called hibiscus and they're cool Hawaiian shorts, bud.  That's what the surfers wear,"  I appeal.  It's not the best parenting, I know, but it's all I can come with at the moment.

"Ya, but Henry would make fun of the surfers, too."

Good point.

Henry wants to make you feel less, and when you already struggle with those insecurities it doesn't really matter what surfers wear or what mom thinks is cool.

Henry will laugh.

Henry has also laughed at your pink palms and your brown skin that mommy thinks is lovely.  I want to send your big brother in the locker room with Henry, to teach him a little compassion and maybe put some flowered-shorts on him.  But Henry is just a little boy who is very observant and likes to talk, and Henry probably has his own Henrys  in his life.  So it's me, the one who professes Christ, that needs compassion for the Henrys.

The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe. - {Pro 29:25 NKJV}

This fear of man has never accomplished anything good in us, and most of our insecurities are just a self-absorption that takes us away from Christ and distracts us from serving others.

I've heard it said this way:  If you realized how little time people spent thinking about you, you'd spend less time thinking about yourself.  A little cynical, maybe, but isn't that the cure?  That we ought to trust in the Lord and put others first, thinking less of ourselves and making more of Jesus?  And truly, the ones who are laughing at you are probably the ones hurting most, the ones who have learned that it's better to hurt you before you hurt them.

The giants we have to slay today are not the Henrys in our life, but the value we place on other's opinions of us.  

And I'd really like to know - how do you help your kids (or yourself) overcome this fear of man?  Will you join us in the comments?

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This right here, the cure for Big People!

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! - {1Ch 16:8 NKJV}

 332.  Seeing precious friends before their firstborn leaves for college

333.  good neighbors

334.  finding my son on his bed with his bible 

335.  free summer weekends

336. new friends

 

 

{Linking up with A Holy ExperienceThe Better MomTitus 2sdaysScribing the Journey, Growing Home}