bird’s eye view

first off, i’m malaria free, in case you’re wondering…

and now for a story:

there’s funny lady from middle-of-nowhere illinois visiting some missionary friends of mine this week, and they asked if she could accompany me to english class. sure! the students are always eager to greet visitors and i’ll admit i love showing off “my kids” (in case you haven’t noticed). so last wednesday, cynthia came with me to porto novo, braving the bush van and all. she was a very good sport… the kind of visitor you actually want to have (which is far from everyone).

here are a few of the funnier moments that help point out cultural differences i’ve become used to and too often glaze over.

1. in the bush van, cynthia remarked that the metal bar going across the window along the inside of the van was hurting her shoulder… to which i replied, “it’s holding the van together.” she immediately appreciated the same bar she detested a moment before. and that’s how it is here. cars come here to die. for real. and so you thank God for the extra bars holding them together, even as they dig into your shoulder.

2. my kids were struggling with the word “astray” (as in, to go astray), and cynthia piped in, “like when your dog runs away!” i turned to her and said, “they don’t have pet dogs.” and while maybe a very few people do, for the most part all dogs are strays, many are beaten for fun, and some make a hearty dinner. so we instead settled on the example of your little brother running “astray” when you go to market.

3. next i was trying to discuss the difference between “hard” and “soft” and what it means to “harden your heart” (we were reading hebrews chapter 3). cynthia chimed in again, saying, “the Bible tells us that Jesus knocks on our hearts like you would knock at the door,” and she knocked on her desk to illustrate her point. mmmm… no. see, lots of my kids don’t have doors… and if they do, they’re always open to allow air into the room. a pagne (fabric) is draped down where a door would be to create some sense of privacy. so again, i turned to the students to explain cynthia’s point in their terms, “like when you say ‘ka-ka-ka!’ or clap your hands before entering a room.” ahhh, yes. that makes sense now.

when did these things become second nature to me?

and what will happen when i go back to the US and say “ka-ka-ka” before entering a room?

suddenly i’ll be crazy one and cynthia will be the norm.

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