In my office…
Lest anyone should think we are living a comfortable life, I assure you, we are not. This life is full of experiences that are anything but comfortable.
In the building where we have an “office”, there is no toilet. There is a squatty potty, but I don’t know how to use them. I don’t particularly want to learn. The nearest toilet available to us is a 5 minute walk away. Great, unless there’s an emergency and then the walk to get there isn’t all that comfortable either. There is lots of mud, streams of some ungodly substance (smells like raw sewage—you guess) and oil from an auto fix-it shop. UNCOMFORTABLE.
Our desks are in an office space with two other people. We don’t mind, but it is UNCOMFORTABLE. Know that feeling you get when/if you ever get a pedicure at a salon and the workers don’t speak English and they all start talking, looking at you and then giggling? Yeah we kind of have that feeling the entire time we are there, every single day, sitting across from these sweet people who speak a language we don’t know well enough to know all of what they are saying. In my heart, I know that they are not talking about us (most of the time), but my head keeps me guessing. No one chooses to speak English here. I know, we’re in another country, this is expected, but it is uncomfortable, nonetheless. When we are teaching at the Bible college, everyone speaks English. Here, not so much. It’s just us. It’s not that they can’t, but they don’t have to and they shouldn’t have to, I’m not suggesting they should, but it is still UNCOMFORTABLE.
I have been asked to teach English in two different forms here. One, to the adults that we work “with”. The class is every M/W/F from 11:30-12:30 and I readily agreed to teach it, though teaching English is certainly not my passion. I saw it as a “way in” to this organization. Trying to become welcomed members has been anything but…comfortable, easy, fun, etc… I am always well prepared and in the room by 11:25. Though I need a white board to teach, it is never there. I don’t know where it is stored because we have never been given a tour of the complex and no one would let me carry it in even if I did find it. So, I have to ask for it every single day and send someone else to retrieve it and carry it in, surrendering all of my independence. Though I need students to teach to, they are never there on time. Around 11:35, someone will poke their head in, notice no one is there and start rounding people up. Around 11:40, I have 2 students. Around 11:45, another 2. By 12:15, they’re all there. Yep, class is done at 12:30 and I do not dare keep them a second late. This is cultural. By their own definition, it is still rude and inconsiderate, but they do it anyway. UNCOMFORTABLE.
I also teach children that attend the school on the compound. There are 16-26 kids in each of the three classrooms where I teach. There is no teacher in any of the three classrooms during the period of time during which I teach. The kids are unruly. The walls are paper thin. I have to shout the entire 45 minutes that I teach. UNCOMFORTABLE.
Now, please understand that I am not whining and I am not asking anyone to fix this. There is no promise in the scriptures that we will be comfortable all of our lives. In fact, I believe the Bible is fairly clear that life will not be easy, it will be a challenge, there will be many uncomfortable moments, but what awaits us on the other side is worth the journey and the trouble. I am simply stating what life is like here. Sometimes, we post pictures of moments that appear comfortable. Even those are full of lies, or rather half truths and something very uncomfortable was going on at the same moment the happy picture was being taken. Shoot, sometimes just taking the picture feels really uncomfortable. Sometimes, we talk about short trips we’ve taken with our family. Those are more about survival of our mental capacities than enjoying life. Some days, the frustrations we experience from living in a different, sooooooo very different, culture mount to nearly unbearable amounts and we have to escape to survive. Literally. Yes, I do mean, literally.
Still, we are doing well. I don’t look forward to going in to the office, this is true. I pray, daily, that it will change and turn around somehow. We are doing all we know how to do to help make that change, but we are only a small part of the equation. This journey is definitely stretching and growing us as individuals, a couple and a family. Here’s hoping we are having an impact on those we come into contact with along the way!