My mother absolutely loves this picture
And not just because I am wearing pajamas!
She took this picture while I did some strategic planning at our house in West Virginia during a trip home in 2017. Now don’t let my clothing fool you, it was actually quite warm inside. But I was still freezing!
Being in Saint Vincent where it’s in the eighties every day with a nearby sea breeze means sixty-degrees feels cold to me! This is a HUGE change since I used to run in twenty-degree weather, and even finished in the Richmond Marathon with the temperature in the twenties. But now I need two layers, and a winter hat with the heat on.
This picture clearly illustrates one of my favorite things about missions work….
you eventually become a part of the surrounding culture
And they accept you as one of theirs
In 2018 a child turned to me and said “hey white man”! Please understand this is not a racist term in any way, but just how they are used to referring to white people. Another boy turned and after seeing me said, “that’s no white man, that’s Mr. John!” Time and time again I have seen the people of Barrouallie graciously accept me as if I was Vincentian.
The thing about becoming a part of the culture is it’s hard at first. There are going to be things you miss from America, and ways things are done in the States are SO MUCH BETTER! The temptation is to cling to your nationality or comfort of home.
Embracing a culture is especially hard today when with technology you can still do a lot of things you did back home, down to chatting while watching a favorite TV program!
The good news is eventually the mission field will become home. You become more and more a part of the culture till it identifies you instead of your American background.
When I went home during the summer for eye-surgery my nieces and nephew told me I had lost my southern accent (trust me I hadn’t), and was speaking with a Vincentian one (believe me I wasn’t). Instead I was using Vincentian words with my own American accent.
And that is a beautiful thing.