Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Life in Translation

Thai to's a challenge
You know what it is like when you are dealing with the phone company or maybe even a credit card company. You spend hours on the phone talking to multiple people just to find yourself chasing your tail. Customer representative number one listens carefully to your problem and they assure you that it has been fixed and you shouldn’t have another issue. You hang up feeling accomplished until the next bill comes and you realize that nothing has changed. You call back. This time customer representative number two tells you that what you need is completely impossible or at least that is what you think he said because you are having a really hard time understanding his thick accent. You hang up and call back another day because surely if you had a hard time understanding him then he probably did not know what you were asking in the first place. The third time you call you get someone who is definitely located on the western hemisphere and with hope rising you begin to explain your troubles. Just when you have found a sympathetic ear and your problem might be resolved you get disconnected…ARGH!!!!! Have you been there? Can you feel your blood pressure rising just thinking about it? Living in a foreign country is like this on a daily basis. In the last week I have experienced all of the above scenarios a couple times over. 

Translating life from Thai to English makes everything a challenge. The language barrier plays a huge role in the difficulties we experience but culture is also involved. Here in Thailand saving face is extremely important. If you ask a Thai for directions to a specific place they will smile and graciously tell you where you need to go, however, it is quite possible they have no idea what you are taking about. Even if they do not know where to go they will make something up so that they will not be embarrassed. Now I don’t want them to be embarrassed but I do not want to drive off a cliff either! 

These things have the potential to get me a one-way ticket to the looney bin! Honestly, I spend most of my time exhausted. It really is pathetic that I need a vacation after simply running an errand. 

God is definitely teaching us to live one day at a time. We have to depend on Him to help us navigate the chores of daily living. Never before have I had to pray, “God I need your help to get through this,” while I am at the grocery store! As silly as that may sound it really is a gift to need Him so much. He is showing Himself strong and helping me accomplish the little things and He is keeping me out of the looney bin when things fall apart. I pray my life show His presence in all the details. Maybe life here will get easier and such difficult circumstances will not be required to foster my dependence on God. In the meantime, I have got a lot to learn and you can bet that naps will be a priority. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hope Deferred

King Midas had a touch that could turn anything into gold. I have a touch that can turn anything green into something that is dead and brown. I call it the touch of death! I would really love to have a lush garden full gorgeous flowers but I just can't keep anything alive. I have always blamed it on living in South Texas where we stayed in a perpetual state of drought, but I know deep in my heart that my location has nothing to do with it. Now, I am living in a tropical climate and there is a glimmer of hope that I would now be able to grow something. What are the odds? Not very good!

I may not be able to grow beautiful flower but my neighbors can. Walking down my street I get to enjoy their gardening skills. The flowers that have mesmerized me are the orchids. They are blooming now and they are gorgeous. Have you ever seen an orchid plant? The plant itself is very unattractive. Long straggly roots hang from the base of scaly brown stalks. It really is amazing that something so ugly produces such a thing of beauty. 

The orchids bloom only a few weeks out of the year if at all. So if you have orchids in your garden you will spend most of your time looking a pitiful and homely plant waiting for elegance to emerge. Isn’t that just like life sometimes. I feel like there is always something in my world that looks like that orchid plant, ugly situations, ugly relationships, ugly sin in my heart. I spend so much of my time staring at these depressing things praying, waiting, hoping that something beautiful will come of it. 
The orchid plant may never fulfill the gardeners hopes of blooms but God always promises to bring good from our difficulties and pain. The waiting can be excruciating. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred make the heart sick.” Have you ever felt heartsick waiting for something to change? I have. There is such a temptation to side with the enemy, give up hope and believe God doesn’t care. The truth is GOD DOES CARE. Psalm 103:5 says, “(God) satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed.” God sees you. God sees your longings. God promises good things will come. All you have to do is just hold on and don’t give up. 

The gardener won’t throw out the orchid because it is unsightly most all of the time. Instead he wait patiently for the beauty that comes in its time. Have faith like the gardener and trust that even in the mist of the ugliness of life splendor is just around the corner.