Going to the bathroom here is something you would be better off holding until you get home. There are several reasons why this is true, one being that there probably isn’t any toilet paper in there, and number two (no pun intended) is that you might never make it into a stall! In America we form a single file line and wait until a stall becomes available and carry on first come, first serve. My first cultural experience was in the Jakarta airport bathroom, waiting for a stall to become available. As doors would open and I would move toward them, people would just walk in front of me and take the stall I was headed to! At first I was confused as there is no apparent “line” or method to the madness, but I soon realized if I wanted to get “my turn” I just had to plant myself in front of an occupied stall and wait until that person came out, not allowing any room for others to get ahead of me – I wont go into detail about the stall I picked happening to be a “squatty potty”! It sounds pretty crazy and rude from an “American” mind-set. How could they not see that I was there first? Why are they cutting in front of me? But that is just the way it works here, and they are not the weird ones, I AM! They were probably wondering why I was standing in the middle of the bathroom apparently doing nothing! Now that I know how bathrooms work it doesn’t seem rude anymore – its just another part of life to get used to!
It’s a strange thing to have almost every aspect of your life change in a few days. We are adjusting to a new country, language, culture, home, food, friends, church, transportation, wildlife, weather, schedule, and the list goes on… When its all typed out like that it seems like we should have each had a mental break down by now but we are actually doing really well so far, thanks to God’s guiding hand on our shoulders. We love our new house and the food is great! We have an awesome leadership team here who has been amazing with helping us get settled and off on the right foot. It’s a good thing we both love animals because there are plenty to be found around here. Lizards run across our walls all day long eating the bugs and Nathan has acquired his first “pet” with a 4’’ long scorpion he found in our bathroom.
Right now we are in “warm-up” stage, where we try to meet as many of our neighbors as
possible and let them know we are new to the neighborhood and would like to learn their language and culture. We have learned some basic “survival phrases” to help us get around for now and soon we will begin language learning sessions with a local language helper. Everyone is SO friendly and helpful here, which we are so thankful for. It takes some of the awkwardness away when you are meeting people for the first time and can’t say much more than “Hi, our names are Nathan and Abby and we are new to the neighborhood”! Most of the time we are invited to come in or sit with them and have even been given small gifts. We will continue to build those relationships as we watch and listen to them in order to learn more language and culture. One great thing about this culture is the community aspect. Each neighborhood really depends on each member to function. Everyone has their own business and they buy and sell with each other. At around 4pm every day, most people are out on their porches or visiting neighbors. It is understood and expected for everyone to visit and interact during the late afternoon hours. These times have been perfect opportunities for us to mill about and get to know the neighbours.
Please continue to pray for us as even the small things can be hard to adjust to. We are preparing for our first Christmas season away from any family or familiar sights and sounds.
1 Corinthians has been popping up frequently these days and is so encouraging as reminder of WHO is doing this work in our lives.
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”