"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Shock of Culture

Just got back from a weekend trip to the countryside of Holland yesterday.  The Gomez family (Melissa-director of lighthouse and very soon expecting baby #2, Moses-her husband, and their son Pascal) and Bongi (Lighthouse staff team member) and I all took the train and arrived in Heidebeek at the YWAM base there on Thursday evening in the pouring rain.  Thankfully the Gomez’ were staying in someone’s house that was not using it this weekend so Bongi and I got to sleep on their couch and not try to figure out our tent situation when everything was soaking outside.

The next morning, we started bright and early for the volunteers orientation/morning worship to get the weekend of the GO Festival ready.  The Go Festival is the gathering of several different teams made up of youth ages about 15-23 and their team leaders who are all preparing to go on outreach trips sharing the gospel in different countries.  This year’s GO teams from Heidebeek were sent out to Rwanda, Ukraine, India, Peru, Israel, Brazil and Namibia.  So they all gather for the GO Festival before they leave, and they will all come back together for a closing weekend after they come back in 2 weeks. (the different colored shirts in the picture are the different teams--volunteers were in the dark blue shirts)

I felt like I was working at summer camp again, but for the first time in 3 ½ weeks, since I’ve been here in Holland, I actually felt like I was in a different country.  Everyone just spoke Dutch.  Thankfully some of the staff were kind enough to try to translate most things for Bongi and I to understand, but Bongi already understands a lot of Dutch since she’s been here for a while and she is in fact engaged to a Dutch guy.  I however, know one work in Dutch, and that is “kaas,” the word for cheese.  In Amsterdam, it is not a problem; everyone speaks in English to you if they know that is what you speak.  Here it was different.  I was constantly surrounded by a language and culture that I have no previous experience with.

For the first time here, I experienced culture shock.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, culture shock is defined as the feelings of confusion and anxiety experienced by somebody suddenly encountering an unfamiliar cultural environment.  I went from learning a little bit about the culture, to being thrown in the middle of a giant tent filled with at least 40 Dutch girls in sleeping bags… a whole new way to do camping.

Although the camping aspect of it did not bother me, my poor friend Bongi who came with me from Amsterdam had never been camping in her life!  (I don’t think she realized we were going to be sleeping on the ground until I pointed out her “bed”)  I kept having flashbacks of my Dad taking me camping as a kid, and got a kick out of the fact that I can still remember him saying “you’ll be fine, take it like a man.” Naturally, that’s what I told Bongi to reassure her.

I got to know some really nice people and learned more Dutch in this one weekend than I have in the past 3 weeks in Amsterdam.  One of the days I got to hang out with a couple of girls from the team going to Peru and we decided that I could teach them some Spanish and they could teach me some Dutch.  Again, God continues to surprise me in showing me how He can use every experience in my life for His glory. 

Saturday night was the Dance Against Injustice event.  An event to bring awareness to sex trafficking and some ministries that fight against it.  Melissa, Bongi and I stood behind the Lighthouse booth while Moses DJ’d.  Sadly it poured rain so the event, which was supposed to be “beach” themed turned out to be a little soggy.  But it was fun anyway, there was food, dancing, stories told about women who have been trafficked, interpretive dance, and graffiti art.

Took the train home on Monday and the weather is back to cloudy and pouring rain, so I definitely got soaked coming back from the station (story of my life).  Ironically enough, I know that on the days I decide to wear glasses instead of contacts, it will inevitably rain…why is that? 

I was back early enough to make it for the homeless ministry yesterday night though…This week I would like to tell you about a woman named Biata.  She is from Poland originally, though she has been here in Amsterdam for about 10 years now.  I don’t know a whole lot about her family situation or her past, but as of the last year she has been with her boyfriend here.  Biata is 6 months pregnant with her boyfriend’s child and though she has been able to stay in one place for awhile now, she has to leave within the next week and try to find new housing.  The problem is, she wants to be in a place with her boyfriend, but most shelters will not take them both.  The government has paid for her to be taken care of by the hospital, and she goes in for her regular check up tomorrow.  I ask that you pray for Biata and her baby.  Her boyfriend is trying to get work right now, as has some, to provide for her and the baby, but something like a miracle needs to happen for this baby to be healthy, seeing her condition.

More updates to come :)  Only a week and a half left here in Amsterdam and of course, I am not ready to leave…

P.S. No, I did not attempt to go cow tipping in this country...yet

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