June 17, 2010

Reverse Reverse Culture Shock and more Missionary Training

Culture shock is what happens to you when you are immersed in a new culture. Reverse culture shock is what happens to you when you return to your culture after being immersed for a long enough time in another culture. Reverse reverse culture shock is when that other culture comes to live with you in your culture.

{Okay, so I made that last part up. But it should have a name - because it's real, too.)

So I mentioned we had visitors from the southern hemisphere for five days. Reverse reverse culture shock. Totally. We had a great time. But they're gone now. And I'm enjoying not having to eat dinner at 10 o'clock anymore.

Paul says, "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1 Cor. 9:22)

Ah, yes, couldn't be more true when I think of Argentines. Adapt, adapt, adapt!

Key word here.

There were many instances that I came face to face with this issue this past week. I couldn't number them all, but yes, situationally being forced to eat dinner at 10 o'clock would be one. You get used to it if you live there, but we live here, and my baby and my stomach are used to eating by 6pm. Ah yes, choosing to become all things to all people in the hopes to win a few can certainly be a bit of a sacrifice. Especially when you're cranky because you're hungry, it would be offensive to eat dinner by yourself in front of your guests, and you are asked, not for the first time, in astonishment at 6pm, "Dinner? Already?? Isn't it early?". I'm now finding the five pounds I gained in five days from basically eating two dinners rather annoying.

But all for eternity, right?
Anyway, we had tons of fun with them. They are a lovely couple and were great guests. Marcelo is an old friend and co-worker from Tony's former life as a TV cameraman. I had also met his wife, Patricia, several times, but didn't have much of a chance to really get to know either one of them that well while we lived in BA 10 years ago. A great couple.

So, of course, we had to take them downtown to see the sights; but we stopped by to see our mechanic on the way...

Our mechanic is Puerto Rican and lives in the WORST neighborhood I have ever been to in my life (stateside, that is). Even our guests, who've seen their share of bad hoods in BA, were afraid to get out of the car. It's not uncommon to see drug dealers (brand new shiny cars with tinted windows, blaring rap, with a 20 year-old driver circling around at high noon), prostitutes, and many a sketchy character. I was actually laughing at them (well not at them, but at myself) in recognition, because I used to be afraid just as they were. I was laughing in part because God has done such a tremendous work in my life in this area over the years. For years I hated going down there, so would avoid it at all costs. I would get mad at Tony for making me, and upset at myself for my own feelings of fear. When I had to go, I would grip the wheel and pray frantically to just be able to get out of there alive. I used to white-knuckle the steering wheel in fear asking God, "Why are you doing this to me??" and repeating to myself, "I could never be a missionary, I could never be a missionary..." over and over again, all the while shaking my head. There came a moment in time where I just had to hand it over to God and trust I wouldn't die before my time. And neither would my kids that were always in the car with me. I'm glad for the experience now, even though I hated it at the time. I can go down there now with little problem. It is a very dangerous place, but I have to say, excellent missionary training. They need Christ, too. And Tony is always faithful to share Him with them. 

Tony has taught me a LOT about how to handle myself as a white girl in the hood. Spanish hood, that is. He always, always, always tells me that if we get separated or I get lost to SPEAK SPANISH. When I do speak (which isn't at all, if possible), the cold, steely, angry faces suddenly change into shock, then amazment, then quickly melt into a great big grin as they wave and smile. Once you've earned confidence in the hood, they'll bend over backwards to help you. There are just "codigos", Tony says. You gotta know the rules.

So here are some shots from our scenic drive...

(notice drug dealer car in background)


 crackhouse, or maybe not - but sure looks like one, doesn't it?

And more pics...

asado (meat on the grill Argentinian style)


all the souls in Little Italy

*all pics taken with our friends' cameras
**mental note to self: must purchase good camera

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