Monday, February 27, 2012

TCA

I've been hanging out a bit with my dear friend Kari. She is a missionary kid whose parents moved here to Chile from the States and Canada 30 years ago to work with the indigenous here. After growing up in Chile, but doing part of high school and all of university in Canada, Kari understands well what it means to be a Third Culture Kid (TCK). A TCK is a kid who has spent a substantial part of their formative years outside of their parent's culture. Many TCKs struggle with not knowing where their home is, not understanding which culture is theirs, and other areas of confusion. Kari studied psychology with the goal of working with TCKs who are transitioning into adulthood and the whole concept of TCK is often a topic of discussion between the two of us.
I have recently been experiencing some cultural discomfort. Nothing too big. And not even really anything I can put my finger on. And maybe discomfort isnt the word to use. Maybe confusion is.
A few months ago I was riding in the car with my pastor, Cristobal, to pick up his kids from school. They go to the missionary kids school here run by American Baptists. One of my austrailian missionary friends sends her kids there too. And often we wave at each other as we pass in our cars. But this one day, my pastor, who is chilean, commented to me that his family and the other missionary family were quite different. There wasn't any judgement in his voice. It really wasn't a matter or good or bad, it was just a cultural difference issue. One family is much more austrailian and the other is much more chilean. I nodded in agreement to my pastors comment and then began to wonder... where do I fit into this? I voiced my question to Cristobal and sincerely wondered what he thought. I spend more time with his family than any other family here. I feel very at home with his family. And yet, I'm not chilena. But I'm more chilena than most gringas. Cristobal agreed.
I'm not normal (no big surprise there!). I'm somewhere between a chilena and a gringa.
That was a few months ago. These days I feel the difference even more than ever. I particularly feel it when I hang out with foreigners. As time passes, I feel less and less "at home" with foreigners. Whether they are from the US, England, or Austrailia, there is this assumption that we will feel comfortable because we come from the same culture. But I don't. In fact, I feel so different than most gringos that I end up feeling fairly UNcomfortable.
So I talked to Kari and we came up with a term for me... TCA (Third Culture Adult). I don't really fit into either culture perfectly and that leads to plenty of confusion and frustration. And I feel that, quite often. No one really seems to understand me. Not even the other foreigners who live here. I prefer spanish over english. But I think adults should be independent if they have the means to be so. I love mexican soap operas just as much as my gringo sitcoms but I get frustrated with the way the news shows here almost never show what's going on in the rest of the world. And even on my worst days here, when the reality of life is so frustrating that I cry, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love living here. And I can't even really tell you why. It's just home.

Reality Check

This week has been a week of reality checks. One of the biggest has come from the news of this man, Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death in Iran.
Why such a harsh sentence?
Because he has refused to recant his Christian faith.

Just writing those words sends a wave of emotion through me. I've never met this man, but he is my brother. It has been moving me to tears to think of the incredible place he is in. He is prepared to die for his faith. Not as a suicide bomber or recklessly throwing himself at death, but living out what the apostle Paul said, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." The incredible reality of the cross has so transformed the life of Youcef that he would rather die than deny it.
But I don't cry out of despair. There is no despair here. Despair is the product of hopelessness. If my dear brother Youcef dies, I will suffer for his family, his two young boys and his wife, for those who will miss him for the next few decades before they too will face the throne.
But his life will not be in vain. The ancient theologian Tertullian said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Iran is an extremely Muslim country. Obviously from their response to Youcef's refusal to recant, they are aggressive toward the gospel. But Iran belongs to a powerful and merciful God. He will make His name known in that closed land. And He is doing so right now through Youcef.




The Lord is not hindered by governments that hate Him. He is not hindered by death sentences. Heck, He's not even hindered by death. And so I see the mighty hand of the Lord moving in Iran. And I cry tears of somber joy for Youcef. What a man, what a Savior to produce such a man.

This whole situation has come to my mind time and time again these past few weeks. It comes up when I find myself apathetic or frustrated with various parts of my life. When my computer is slow and I feel frustrated, I think to myself how incredibly ridiculous I am that such a silly thing would frustrate me. Youcef obviously isn't feeling frustrated from his slow internet connection. When I feel apathetic toward my work or what needs to be done here, I imagine myself on a road with Youcef, both of us moving toward the same goal and encouraging each other along the way. And it moves me to tears.
My dear Youcef, you are loved by many across the world, but most of all you are loved by the Lord almighty. For He has called you to be His and has made you His own. And this cross that you are bearing, much more literally than most of us, is a reminder of the death that we died in Christ and the life that we have in His resurrection. May He who overcame death give you strength to face this one. He is good and faithful all the time.
And so we proclaim, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain".

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Serving God in "down time"

I've "gone native" this morning. I slept in till noon. It's quite a feat for me but I think being on vacation this last week has helped. I was sick for a few days, low fever and congestion, but Im getting past it slowly but surely. I don't handle "resting" well. I don't like not doing anything with my day. So its been challenging to not be restless this week (even though I still had at least 3 hours of either church or teaching work each day). But last night, after getting home at 2am from a pastoral visit with a girl that I've been disciplng, I laid in bed and watched some tv, fully enjoying my alone time in my apartment. The truth is that over the last 3 years I've become quite a homebody. I'm afraid that it's going to result in even more selfishness and self-centeredness but the Lord has been faithful to give me plenty of opportunity to open my apartment, to chose to put someone else's need before my own. I have seen recently how self serving I am. When one of the kids in the church ask me to do something for them or with them and my attitude is unwilling because I "just don't feel like it", I realize how selfcentered I am, and how much I want to be other-centered. I see it too with the women in my church. I want to serve them, but on MY terms. I like to have control, to make the decisions, to choose the how and when. But that's not how Jesus served. And that's not how He wants His people to live.
So how do you become other-centered? I'm sure there is plenty of counsel for how to become more other-centered. But for me, the best way I can think of is: you pray that God would change your heart, and then you just do it. Even when the desire isn't really there. You act in accordance with how you WANT to be, not how you feel in the moment. And those actions help it become natural down the road.
So yeah, that's my prayer and my desire. That even in this "down" time, I would open to God bringing opportunities to serve Him in loving my brothers and sisters.

Monday, February 06, 2012

THANK YOU JESUS

You'd think that I'd be proclaiming "Thank you Jesus!" for something really deep and profound, like salvation or life. You know, deep stuff. But no, while I'm grateful for the deep things, I'm SO grateful at this very moment because I just spent the last 3 hours searching high and low for my planner. When I realized this morning that I had lost it, I was frustrated and upset but figured I'd just have to get a new one. That was my attitude until I realized that I had a VERY important document tucked into my planner. A document that I need for my visa. One that would be VERY difficult to replace. So let's just say that when I realized what was at stake in finding this planner, I went into steroid search mode. I even made the long walk in the hot sun to the restaurant where my dad and I had lunch on Thursday, the last time I remember having it. With no avail. I wandered around the city, wondering what I would do if I couldnt find it. If I didnt feel so sick (I've had a cold or something since yesterday) and tired, I probably would have cried. But instead I wandered and prayed.
And of course, coming home and doing another search around my apt (I even looked INSIDE the washing machine!) I started taking the books off my bookshelf to be sure that there was nothing behind them. And sure enough, my planner had slipped behind some books on my bookshelf. THANK YOU JESUS! This means I can finish getting my paperwork together and submit my application for my permanent residency visa by the end of the week.
And now... time for a nap!

Time flies


So I know its been a while since I've posted- but time FLIES!!! I was under this silly notion that January would be a slower month since its summer down here, but no. It was quite busy. December passed so quickly and then New Years catapulted me into a January that flew by. But now that we are in February, really, seriously, I want to take some time to slow down, reflect on the new year, on the last year, on the present. This post will be more about my time with my dad but I will write a few times this week to make up for the lost time. But first, some fun-ness with my dad!!!
My dad came down here for two weeks. It was his first time in Chile so I wanted to show him my favorite parts of life here. We spent a week in La Serena, a town up north where I lived for my first 3 months here in Chile. We went to the wedding of my dear friend Fernanda. We visited Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. And we hung out in my town- Santiago. All in all it was a wonderful time to have my dad here. He went home with a few battle scars (you'll have to ask him for the stories of those) but I'm hoping he'll come back soon for more good times!

This is from our hike up Cerro Santa Lucia. It's a hill with a yellow castle on it that I LOVE and I happen to live right next to it.

My friend Cony and I at the wedding

My dad posing from inside an ascensor (a cable car that brings you up a steep hill). These ascensors are all over Valparaiso and this one was on the hill that overlooked the dock of Valparaiso.

Walking down the hill from our hostel on a typical Valparaiso street.