Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cultural mixing

Yesterday I spent an agonizing 15 minutes listening to a woman in the park complain about Belize. She doesn't like the culture, the people are rude, and it's dirty here.

At home, Nathanael and I decompressed from this event. We have met with others like her. Untrained expats who are in culture shock. It isn't a pretty sight. They become bitter and ineffective. The current person talking to me was also from a distinctly "filtered media" country. That fact became apparent in her complaints about Belize vs her beliefs about her own country. If anything it was clarifying moment for me.
Nathanael hangs the Belizean flag on the back of our van to celebrate Belizean Independence day

I am thankful not to be in that place with her.  I am thankful that EMM prepared us for crossing cultures. (We highly recommend the book Foreign to Familiar) I don't think we always get right. There are times we experience culture shock. There are times we are bitter, dislike culture, or feel the sting of relationships we navigated wrongly.

Zion at church with one of her friends

It is also a decision making journey for us. We are grateful to have our home as a neutral ground.  We can decide what the culture in our home looks like. What in the culture do we enjoy and put into practice? What things do we disagree with? What things are not bad or good, just different?

Selah poses at the photo booth of our local supermarket

In the same breath, I realize I can't take my culture out of me. When we were celebrating Belize Independence day at Koinonia, the Pastor's wife spoke. She reminded us that even though she has lived in Belize for 20 years, she can't take the Guatemalan blood out of her.
praying at Koinonia

All of the cultures represented at Koinonia 

I am becoming aware that this is the same in the Deaf culture we share with those around us. We work with them, we visit them, but you can't take the "hearing" out of us. It's a delicate balance.
Zephaniah, Zion and Misael play Master Mind

What am I trying to communicate? Two years into this and we are still learning. We are still growing. As a cold culture family in a warm culture climate, we still experience culture shock on occasion.
Abigail entertaining children

Mid-September we celebrated all countries that attend Koinonia. It was a nice thing to stand in front and recognize that through it all, we are still from our passport country. We are also distinctly experiencing and falling in love with Belizean culture. Selah won't eat Mexican tacos. She prefers Orange Walk ones.
Abigail and a friend at Koinonia

We are still in a process. A lovely, hard, fun, sad process. We are growing. We are thankful.

Family photo with Belizean (and American) colors represented. Lucky us they are the same! 

Thanks for being with us on this Belizean, United States, mixed culture journey.


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