Making it Stick
Thanks to our car accident, this last week we’ve been dealing with insurance and mechanics and people looking to cut deals.
It’s tiring and often confusing, but it needs to be done.
One thing about expatriation that sends most expatriates home in the end: no support network.
You show up and everything is new and exciting. You don’t miss home all that much. There are mountains and beaches and new plants and interesting people!
And then you start to run into the other side.
It starts to hit you how differently the locals act.
You miss your native tongue or even just the familiar terms for things you used back home.
You notice things take a lot longer to get done and people don’t really form lines properly.
People see you as an easy target because you’re an outsider.
There are hustlers everywhere and I am praying for wisdom. There were plenty of hustlers and con-men in the US, too – a close relative of mine is one of them – yet in your home town you have your network of friends and family who can help and advise and recommend good options and trustworthy people.
At this point of expatriation is where many people give up. We lost our shirt buying this car, then having its engine blow. Now we’re dealing with a wreck and walking 2+ miles to buy groceries… then walking back. Taking the bus saves us some time, but we still have almost a mile walk up the mountain with groceries… and our car is sitting smashed out front, looking very sad.
I’m not giving up, though. I have made some good friends, met honest people, shaken hands with decent businessmen.
And our neighbors have been wonderful.
One house down from us there is a farmer and his wife. This week he came to our front gate with about 15lbs of frozen beef from one of his cows.
“This is for you,” he said, with a grin, as I looked incredulously at the gift. “I don’t need this. I mostly just eat fish now. I may be a poor man, but I believe in sharing what I have.”
I know for a fact he sells his beef to raise money for his family… and yet here he is, sharing with us.
I thanked him. I don’t have much of anything I can give back in return right now, but you can bet when I get some good stuff going we’ll be sharing.
Another friend from up the road stopped by on Wednesday with some pieces of yam for me to plant. He also saw that one of our stalks of bananas had fallen over the fence where we couldn’t see it, so he cut and brought it to our place.
Piece by piece, we’re starting to fit into the neighborhood and eventually, I hope we fit into the country.
Two years, I’ve heard, is what it takes to really “arrive” in a new nation. If you can get there, you can stick for good.
I’m working on sticking. And praying for a good outcome with our vehicle situation. I’m healthy, my family is healthy, and we’re learning new things every day.
* * *
“Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, ‘With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?’
‘Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,’ says the Lord;
‘I will place him in the safety for which he longs.’
The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.”