Thursday, January 08, 2009

Personal Discoveries

I made a great, big, personal discovery last night. I have been contemplating why I was feeling so...not sure what is the correct word to use, but maybe 'displaced' describes it best. That is how I feel, displaced.

I am still getting used to being here. Actually, I am used to being here in Paraguay, what I am not used to, is NOT being in Venezuela which is not the same thing at all.

I love the people here, I love my house, I enjoy the culture, I love the ministries we are beginning and find it all exciting and challenging, but, the question in the back of my mind at many times is, "HOW DID I END UP IN PARAGUAY???"

It can be perplexing trying to figure out the way things are done here because it seems like I should know. For instance, every time I answer the phone, I get it wrong. I say 'alo' and the line remains quiet until I remember to say 'hola' with an accent on the last syllable which seems wrong to me.

I wear a chicken coop instead of a skirt. (pollera instead of falda)

Saying 'Adios' when passing someone on the street, seems to mean "Hello, I see you but do not have time for a chat".

And then the whole, 'chevere' and 'Na'guara' bit.

After our trip to Argentina, I still had some coins in my purse and with out realizing it, I tried to pay with them here. I keep thinking of money as 'Bolivares' rather than 'Guaranis'.

Can't tell you the Paraguayan name of half the fruits and vegetables or cuts of meat. I can tell you the Venezuelan word.

Stand at the door and clap! No knocking or banging the rejas like in Venezuela.

People mention a town or place and I do not know where it is. Or local politics and politicians, I haven't a clue who or what it is.

It is also very odd for me to be in a country with so many white people. There are many Europeans and people of European descent here. It just feels odd to not be different. I am used to being different and here I fit in much better, but find it uncomfortable. Which seems a strange reaction to me, lol!

Have you ever seen an old dog turning around and around in the same spot? Making his bed comfortable before he lies down? That's what I feel like!

The adventure of new discoveries is fun! Just not always comfortable, you know ? I'm working on it. Just like that old dog, a few more turns to smooth out the bumps and lumps, and I'll be all settled.

33 comments:

Thursday's Child said...

Awww! Hang in there. I really hope that things work out to return to Venezuela some day, but I know that you'll be as comfortable in Paraguay sooner than you think.

Brenda said...

Let me know if that question ever leaves the back of your mind. . . .

Most Rev. Gregori said...

Do you know what is odd, J Mom? I have felt that same way (displaced) my entire life, sorta like I am outside looking in. I don't know if it is a result of being of mixed heritage: French, German, Lebanese on my father's side. Italian and Native American (Mohawk) on my mother's side and having four Southeast Asian sons. Or perhaps it is because I look at the world differently then most folks. Oh well, at least I am assured that all will work out in the end. When we are standing out side of HIS door, I don't think it will matter much to HIM if we knock, ring the bell, clap or just holler 'yoohoo', we will all be welcomed in.

Findalis said...

You'll get used to it in no time and just wait a few years and you travel elsewhere. You will find that place very strange.

Betty said...

:) That is a great example. I can totally relate to that. I hope you find that comfy position to lay in soon!
I (still) feel like this sometimes. Even after 23 years back in P.! I guess it´s something we have to learn to live with...

Terri said...

Not on the same level at all, but I felt the same way for the first couple of years we were in Iowa after having started and ministering at a church in Kansas City, MO for 13 years. You would think one state away wouldn't feel that way. And though I love it here, it wasn't where I felt I belonged. We're coming up on five years now and I can't imagine not being here now.

Brooke said...

Although I can't sympathize exactly with what you're doing, any large change of course comes with a period of adjustment.

Keep it up! :)

firepig said...

JM, I have been back in the States now for 6 years, and it is just this year that I don't feel too estranged.Sometimes even today I feel something odd and sad when I realize I may never live in Venezuela again.I never expected it to turn out this way.After a lifetime there, became more a part of me than the States is in many ways.

But time does help, and new memories form, and little by little it does improve.Yet I don't think I will ever forget, or even want to forget.

MightyMom said...

you must have felt similar when you first moved to Venezuela....

redneck preacher said...

Your adaptabliity gene will kick in shortly and your Paraguayan friends will help.

I feel like a blue collar, redneck in a yuppie, BHO, Clinton, country. And I've been here for 20 years. Our Lord certainly has a sense of humor.

HTOITA

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

Rita, I found your post very appealing. I feel for you. I guess we are all Pilgrims and strangers in this place but one day we will be home until then, I am sure that you will feel better as the days go by and you become more use to things there. About the time you get settled, the Lord will call you all somewhere else for it to all be done over again. He knew you could do it or He would not have called your husband and family into this ministry. God bless you and may it become more easy for you. connie

Pilar Stark said...

It is funny how all that works. I am from Spain but when I first went to the States I was in a dilema because I couldn't understand the american people but neither the mexicans because they were from the "ranchos" instead of the city and they spoke very different. I eventualy got used to and then when I visit Venezuela.... it all started again. Ordering a drink (because of couse I wanted to try their juices) was a big deal, could not remember what was what so I rely on others... I still can only remember "patilla" although i don't remember what it was. I also remember laughing so hard each time I got some "mamones" (hold on I am laughing) because I really liked them and we don't have them in Spain so I was trying to eat as many as I could, but asking the gentleman for it was weird because in Spain is an insult. Everything is so different, but hey, where is the fun without all those little things in live :)

Nina in Portugal said...

I'm still turning in circles...I'm past dizzy!

Tori said...

I imagine it's hard to get used to it, but you're a well seasoned missionary, this is nothing for a woman who swept dirt floors all those years.

What a vast life you have had, serving God comes with fringe benefits.

Gayle said...

"Stand at the door and clap?" My goodness, with an enclosed front porch I would never know when anyone was at the door if that was the custom here!

Just like you and the good Reverend, I've always felt like an observer too, but I think that's because I have moved around so much. I've lived in central Texas longer than anywhere else in my life, and I'm happy to be settled at last, but sometimes I feel like moving. Weird, isn't it?

You'll pick it all up and be so comfortable there you won't even think about it anymore, then you'll move again. :)

Charles said...

It is obvious that you have a special place in your heart for the people of Venezuela. God filled you with a passion and zest for the work there.

Sometimes I find it hard to accept that a time ( a season ) is over, or has changed. With me it was the last days of a twenty-something year traveling music ministry. I LOVED it, and I truly miss those times. But to quote my Pastor God is painting on a canvas that is infinitely larger than I could ever imagine.

I can only see a small portion of the picture. The part right in front of my eyes. But God sees the entire master work.

I love my Church, and have found an amazing way too become directly involved in it's mission. Lives are being changed. Through the prayers and efforts of volunteers our church video ( and web based ) ministry has seen amazing results. I am proud God lets me see just a portion and to be involved in a small way with that.

Life itself when combined with our walk with Christ is an grand journey. And while I know the ultimate destination, I have no idea what sites, joys and adventures I shall encounter along the way.

It takes time. And prayer. But I know God is ALWAYS preparing us for the next phase.

I know none of this is news to you. And I know you are happy in your situation and confident in your mission and the Lords direction. But I know how sometimes we can feel "perplexed" as you said. I know I do from time to tme

Always remember God has a plan and that you have thousands of people praying with you and for you.

Stay focused on making Jesus famous and the rest will work out just fine in time.

Starla said...

A chicken coop? I hope you get use to it and all the words and everything.

Julie said...

I am laughing because I've experienced many of the same types of things you mentioned.

Being displaced, like a stranger in a foreign land, seems to represent something bigger in our spiritual journey...like we won't ever truly fit in until we get to heaven.

Maybe it's a good thing to NOT fit right in-it keeps us dependent upon God!

Rancher said...

I think the problem is not so much having left Venezuela but having left Venezuela with Chavez in charge. That has to be a major heartbreak especially with every news story coming out of that land that you loved being more depressing than the last.

Pam said...

I did have to laugh about the "pollera"! I don't know if you remember or not, but in Mexico, you also use "Adios" in passing on the street, simply as a greeting. I never could get my mind around that though because I was always taught that Adios was for goodbye!! Imagine walking past someone in your community here in the USA and as you approach them, saying "Goodbye"!

Z said...

thanks for the birthday wishes, JM..
29. Wise. (OH, ya!!) HEE!!


Very interesting...having lived in two countries other than America myself, I really relate to your pieces and, while they're Paris and Munich, not exactly bug-eating , 'watch out for the natives' places, the emotions run very similar. Thanks..it gets me thinking.
(which is ALWAYS a good thing!!!!) DUH

The Hermit said...

Maybe in the back of your mind, you are ready to come home and get your own house and just live in one place for the rest of your life? My in laws loved being missionaries but they were truly happy once they retired and didn't have all that responsibility.

Mountain Mama said...

God bless you Rita. In time I'm sure it will get easier, but for now it sounds to me like you are a very homesick little girl. Homesick for Venezuela and your native family.
It makes my heart feel sad for you and I pray our Lord will help you to feel more 'at home' while you are in Paraguay.
Reading your blog helps me to have a better understanding of what our precious missionaries experience. I can't begin to tell you how much I honor what you are doing.
Love, Hugs and prayers!

Pinky said...

Gosh. I cannot fathom the adventures you've had, and are still having. I admire you, and envy you. I pray for you and all of our missionaries.
Whoa! It would take me a decade to settle in to a new culture. You're awesome, JM!

M.J. said...

I will definately continue to pray for you. I get a lump in my throat when I think about leaving my culture and trying to adjust to a new one....

Anonymous said...

And also you don't need to say "usted" to everyone, like you have to do it in Venezuela, or do you? I find it unusual here with the Latinos who we meet on Sundays, that they all use "usted" to me, when they address me in their talking. They are from Venezuela or Costa Rica.
But I so much can understand how you feel. When we were in Germany studying, ppl expected me to be german, because I spoke german with them and I had (have) a german face. But inside I was so much more a "extranjero"!!! So, now we are in China and everyone looks at me as a "Waiguoren" (foreigner). Now I'm feeling right again. This is what ppl would think of us in Paraguay. Even that we were Paraguaians. But with german background. Yes, I know, it all sounds confusing. :-)
Jennifer

Liz said...

The most strange thing: clapping the hands to knock on a door... WOW, that is new for me.

OTOH, Rita, I'm venezuelan (well you know that!) and live in venezuela.. but often I feel like a foreigner!

bruni said...

I think Venezuela sticks to your bones.

It is amazing. I know many foreigners that lived in Venezuela for a while and then left. And they still speak, think and feel like venezuelans.

They follow more Venezuelan news instead of the news of their original country.

Jungle Mom said...

bruni, I know a lot of ex-pats who have recently left Venezuela and we often lament our departure with each other. They always told me if I ate an arepa I could never leave!

Anonymous said...

You feel displaced yet you agree with what Israel is doing to the Gazans.I know it was stupid of Hamas to fire rockets into Israel but most if not all Gazans were herded there from other places,it is said to be the world's largest outdoor prison.I think your great grandkids will be fighting this war.

Jungle Mom said...

Anonymous, (Kepler?)
The Palestinians voted in Hamas. They choose to allow them to train and build bombs in Gaza with every intent to destroy Israel.
In 2005 Israel removed itself from Gaza and this missile launching is what they get in return. Hamas is an elected government which they chose knowing they are terrorist. They are not innocent.
I do expect my children and grand children will be fighting this same war. After all my father and grandfather's generations did.

Yes, I support Israel because they have every right to attack the place which has been spear heading terrorism against their citizens.
Do I think the loss of life is terrible, Yes I do. It could all stop right now if the good people of Gaza would turn on Hamas. They wont.

firepig said...

JM, When Israel was still in charge of Gaza , people complained of it being an occupation; now that they gave the Palestinians control, they call it the world's largest outdoor prison.So they would like to open the prison door to give Hamas free access to afflict all the terrorists acts they would like to on Israel,in their quest to obtain a one Palestinian State solution.

So this prison has been and is a self created one.THEY only can decide to make their lives one of freedom and respect if they could give up their commitment to terrorism.

Jungle Mom said...

firepig,
You said it so well. They must learn to value their own lives enough to set aside hatred. You can not build a permanent society on hatred and self destruction. How terrible it must be for the Palestinians who want peace to have to live with Hamas.