I thought instead of a blog – which I am obviously not very good at keeping up – I would post a couple “random notes from the field.”
I’m conquering Russian like anyone conquers anything: one word at a time. One Одно. Word Слово. At В. A Time То Время. Every word I learn unlocks another door, opens another window into communicating with the people I came to serve. Every new word I recognize and speak is a small victory, a cause for celebration. Way too often it’s overwhelming to think of fluency, of teaching in Russian, of understanding 100% of everything going on around me…but it’s not overwhelming to memorize the word for apple (яблоко) or cup (чашка) or cat (кошка). I can do that. Anyone could do that.
A few weeks ago I decided any time I get a chance to be with Russians I’m going to take it. As a matter of fact it’s up to me to make those times happen. I didn’t come here to be comfortable and stay in my own Americanized bubble and venture out now and again. I don’t subscribe to missionary compound mentality. But until you’re on the field you don’t realize how easily it can happen to you…I am dedicated to staying vigilant to my assignment of being light and salt here in Russia and that means pushing myself to make relationships my top priority.
On culture clashes:
Ask any EXPAT (ex-patriot) about their experience living overseas and you’ll hear hundreds of stories of culture clashes. What actually happens is that no matter how prepared you are that things will be different, the differences inevitably show up where you did not expect them. That’s why they are “clashes.” My beliefs and views of the world come up against yours and we find out they are vastly different. But the clash is good, it’s really healthy and vital, that’s what we need to understand. Because when we examine our beliefs and views of the world and where they came from, we understand their source. And we discover we have the power to change them if we want to. Or we find they are too precious to who we are to ever change. No matter what, we are better off for having them challenged.