Tuesday, April 12, 2016

There's a First Time for Everything

"When's the last time you did something for the first time?" #keeplearning

This question appeared on my Facebook newsfeed, posted by a friend (thanks Dan Davis!). It was so cool to see various responses, and of course I wanted to chime in! However, I have to admit that after thinking about it most of the day, twelve hours after seeing the post I finally came up with what felt like a decent answer. The challenge is that although so much in my day doesn't feel new, so many emotions that are associated with a first experience occur throughout my day. So why is this the case, and why am I bothering to blog about it? Well friends, to answer the second question first, I feel that this may give you a bit of a window into what goes on in the mind of a missionary, and it may help you to see just how human we really are.

So why that 'first' feeling, and why doesn't it go away?

This question would pop across my mind frequently through the first year here, quickly followed by "I can't wait to NOT be the new girl, and to be out of this learning curve!" (side note: to those of you who knew me then, THANK YOU for your patience with me. You are the reason I didn't tank during those hours.) However, now, in April 2016 roughly 5 years later, those thoughts still appear. They may take different forms, but they are there. Please understand, that so much about living here has become less daunting. I know how to grocery shop, I can drive a stick-shift vehicle, and I can converse basically with the shopkeepers in town. However, there are days. Like yesterday. After conquering the proverbial world of my classroom, I ventured out, and strode towards town to make an appointment for a hair cut. As I got close, I realized that the place was crowded, felt distinctly how tired my brain was, and oh no, I have to make an appointment in German! Words, words, what were those words again?!? Ladies and gentlemen, I turned around and promptly walked home. I'm not proud. I felt so new in a place that felt so familiar. Not fun. Now, before you write me off, pull your support, and call BFA asking them to send this cowardly missionary home, let me explain. Although I live and work in Germany, I am not German. In heritage, somewhat, but in cultural orientation I am more of a chameleon, desperately trying to blend in with a place I am endeavoring to understand. Although my Deutsch is conversational, I don't understand all the little nuances and non-verbals that come from being born into and raised here. I'm learning more every day, but these kinds of things take years. While I hope to get there someday, right now I'm at about toddler level.

So while, no I am not new. these experiences and thoughts still occur. I am endeavoring to better my Deutsch, and each day this country becomes more and more of a home. I love my job. I love my students and colleagues, and I am grateful to feel that way. The truth is that no matter how I feel about it, God has proved His presence in all of it. He is there in the difficult interactions and the moments when I feel so insufficient. He is there in the victories, big and small. He is good and He is with me.