Thursday, May 26, 2016

3... 2... 1... Furlough!

Let it be known that I... Charity... have given in to the pressure.

Several of you have wanted to follow our adventures on our first furlough. I think it has to do with your insatiable appetite for reality TV shows. At first I thought... wow, that would be totally boring. But then I thought... you know, there are reality TV shows about everything from people losing weight to big families to people who have messy homes.

So, I guess following a missionary family around while they are on furlough would fit right in. Our house isn't overrun with clutter, but while traveling sometimes our van looks like a science experiment. We don't have a huge family, but when you try putting a family of five in a small hotel room our family certainly feels large. And losing weight? Let's just say furlough is a beast that few missionaries tackle successfully on the scale. But we are sure going to give it a try!

It won't exactly be a TV show, but you asked for it...
You got it!

Welcome to our crazy adventures!

3 kids...
2 parents...
1 minivan...


3... 2... 1... Furlough!


Tuesday evening we said our tear-filled goodbyes on the other side of the world in Asia. It is tradition there for everybody to visit you the day that you leave. We had everything packed early that morning and ready to go so that visitors would not disrupt our packing. We had food and snacks ready to go for everyone that walked through the doors.

And so many people came! One after another, they filed in to spend time with us and say their goodbyes.

That evening, Levi, our national assistant, told me, "Auntie, you have had many people come to say goodbye. That shows that you have made a difference in their lives. If you had not been a good missionary, they would not come." Yes, his words made me want to cry.

Another tradition... they all want to go with you to the airport. So as we headed out to the airport, we had a huge entourage leading the way. It made us feel special... but also made the tears flow even more. When we arrived at the airport, many more friends met us there. They helped us unload our luggage onto carts. Then came the final goodbyes.

I hugged all the girls and we wept. Then something happened I will never forget. In this culture, men and women have no physical contact in public. Even husbands and wives avoid touching each other. There are no handshakes between men and women. But for the first time since we arrived on the field, Levi said, "Auntie, I will hug you." There was no greater gift that young man could have given me. He truly has become like a son to us. After he hugged me, another dear friend and pastor reached out to shake my hand. Then another Bible college boy followed and reached out his hand to shake mine.

Even now, the tears swell within my eyes as I think about the love they were conveying by neglecting their culture to embrace showing affection as they do in my culture.

After we completed the long line of goodbyes and wiped away the tears one more time, we turned away and walked into the airport.


You always wonder when reverse culture shock will begin.

Let me tell ya... It starts in the airports.

We landed in Doha for our first layover, but it was a short layover. We rushed quickly to our next gate. When we got there, we had just a few minutes to sit down and rest before the next flight. The problem was that there weren't five seats available together. We spotted an American sitting in the center of a long row of seats. He noticed our dilemma, and kindly moved over to give us five seats. I smiled and said thank you.

Then he asked, "Is that enough?"

I bobbled my head "yes."

He gave a puzzled look and then asked, "Um, so is that enough?"

Slightly confused by his repeated question, I repeated my head bobble "yes" and then said "yes" just to be sure he understood.

He looked at me funny, paused briefly, and then hesitatingly asked, "Are you sure?"

I assured him it was plenty and then we all sat down. I could tell he thought I was strange, but I assumed he was the one with the problem.

My husband handed me a bottle of water for me to chug down quickly before boarding the plane. As I took a huge gulp, the light came on in my already jet-lagged brain. It was only then that I realized the source of the miscommunication.

I had done the head bobble "yes" instead of the American head shake "yes." Americans shake their head up and down to say yes. I, however, had been bobbling my head side to side for the past three and a half years to say yes. The poor man had no idea if I was saying yes or no or maybe or "whatever, you mean old seat hog."

Somehow over the last few years, I have lost the ability to shake my head yes.

This is going to be tough...

The Plane Landed...

A huge "thank you" to those who prayed for my sweet Granny. I have no doubt that your prayers are why my Granny is still here and why I was able to get the hug I so desperately wanted. We visited with her and sang and prayed for her. What a treasure! 

Welcome back to America!

Trying on clothes at the store...
Me: The shirt is a little big.
Gabe, my 9 yo son: (Disappointed) Aww... Well... We can have it sewn down.
Me: Gabe, we are in America. I can walk over there and grab the right size.
Gabe: Really? Great!

Gabe: Do they really do free refills here?
Me: Yes, and you can even walk right over there and fill up your cup as many times as you want.
Gabe: (shocked) As much as I want?!!

Let the humbling begin...
Cashier: Do you have a rewards account with us?
Me: Um... I don't know.
Cashier: Would you like to sign up for an account?
Me: I don't think so, but I don't know. (All these decisions were stressing me out... I just want to pay for my stuff! By now, I am dripping with reverse culture shock sweat.)
Cashier: Well then your total is $....
Me: If I had an account already, what would it be listed under?
Cashier: Your phone number.
Me: I think my number was .....
Cashier: (Types in number) is your name Charity?
Me: (huge sigh of relief) That's me!
Cashier: (obviously suspicious of me and how weird I am acting) You have reward points and saved $5.
Me: Well, that's great!
Cashier: Your new total is $....
Me: (staring blankly at the card reader) Um... I have no idea how to use this.
Cashier: (slight pause... now convinced I am a nut job) Well, you stick your card in there and it tells you everything you need to do.
Me: That sounds easy enough. I hope I remember what my PIN number was!
I don't even want to know what was going through that cashier's mind...


Just for laughs! I thought I left squatty potties in Asia! This is too bizarre!


So I guess furlough isn't boring after all! Adventure seems to chase us around.

1 comment:

Sally Stensaas said...

Too funny! I love your stories, and they are giving me a heads-up of what to expect when we land in 2 months.