Category Archives: Culture Shock

Language school

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The thought of studying a foreign language sounds thrilling to me. Until it’s time to do it. When you are thrown into a place where the only way to survive is to start from the bottom up, It’s romanticism dies pretty quickly.

I’ve tried to enjoy it, but honestly as a mother, there are more important things on my to do list. With our first language school experience I was fine, definitely not a straight A student, After all I was expecting our first baby girl! I learned well enough to be pretty comfortable in the language.

When we moved to a Spanish city I was challenged with some changes, but pretty much understood it all. I even improved a little. Then it was time for Arabic. Ugh! the thought just made me want to run and hide! I started classes, but our language school system was pretty rough. I changed my style of class 5 times and I just couldn’t retain much going from Arabic to Spanish etc.. I didn’t get much practice during the week and on Sundays, oh those were rough days. I can’t even begin to explain the discouragement. I would want to leave the room and cry when it was time for interaction and finding books in the Bible Ha!! That was a whole different ball game. I felt like a child. Just an FYI, if you’re pursuing humility you could probably start with language school. When it was time to move I was comfortable enough to get around but honestly, I was less than stellar.
Arriving here, those first couple of months, I was brought to tears on multiple occasions, realizing how far I had to go in this new dialect. Frustrated with having moved and set up so many times, we had to learn it all, all over again. I was quickly realizing this would be 7 years now that I’ve been in different language schools and I wasn’t about to let it get in the way of my family any more. Thinking “I want to spend time with my kids now, I’m going to just take it slowly and some day hopefully I’ll get it.”
Six months after yaelle was born I was able to really start classes again. I was advised to try to do an intense two weeks and just plow through the first 100 hours of the course. So we did it. One thing I have prayed for was the desire to learn the language, Something I didn’t have much of. After getting through these classes I was so encouraged I can’t even explain it. I was learning words I didn’t even know in Spanish and retaining them. The Lord gave me the perfect teacher and It has changed my entire perspective on learning this language. I was a lot further along than I thought. Just needed some help in a few key areas. I’m ecstatic, about moving on to the next phase. I’m so grateful for a husband who, might I add Seems to LOVE to learn languages and cultures, (I promise it’s not annoying most of the time) has encouraged me and helped me to get through these many years of fighting with language. I definitely have a road ahead of me, I’m sure it’s full of ups and downs. Seeing this glimmer of hope has opened my eyes to what The Lord can do for someone who has no desire. I knew I had no choice but to take it one day at a time, and His grace has truly amazed me.
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4)

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For Those Stressful Times

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There are phases in life that are just plain old stressful. As a mother this stress tends to spill over onto my sweet children. Or usually not so sweet at that moment. Isn’t that a nice way to put it ? “spills over”, more like explodes all over. And all I am left with is guilt and nothing changed but worse off than they were moments before. I see it affect my relationship with my husband and the sweet understanding we once had is turned to sad indifference or frustration. To the point we just can’t connect very well at all. I’m sharing all of this because I want you to know you’re not alone. As our third child arrived into our family during a tough time as it was. We were overwhelmed by some stresses that I know can make or break a marriage and family. Some days I felt like I didn’t know if God was for us or against us. Sometimes the feelings and frustrations just overtake you emotionally. When something went right I was almost indifferent to it.
But God always gives grace just when you need it. He gave us a little break and allowed us all to reconnect and enjoy life in general. I felt refreshed and ready to tackle life again. Sometimes we just need to talk to a friend, get away or find a babysitter. He always gives us help in our time of need. We are not forgotten though it may feel that way. My point in sharing is really to encourage you. A real marriage has bad days. A real mother has moments she regrets. A real life has stress and there is no way around it. It may feel like this is going to be the way it is from now on, but don’t let yourself think that way. It is hard especially in the midst of life’s changes. Even good changes are hard.
Don’t let it consume you, His grace is sufficient.

Yaelle’s Birth Story part 2

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My due date arrived and my closest friend, who I grew up with, volunteered to come and help. She arrived that night and I went into labor around 3 am. Contracting consistently, then things seemed to settle down and I was able get a little sleep. I Got up the next day contracting off and on. We went to the Doctors office across town. She checked me and said, “go get your stuff and head to the hospital you’re having this baby today.” I was a little apprehensive wanting this girl to come completely on her own but the contractions were clearly getting stronger and closer at this point.
We went home got our stuff said goodbye to the kids and headed over to the clinic.
Arriving in our room I was pleased with the room and the fact that my favorite nurse was on call, but no English speakers. Turns out the Internet was down that day and the a/c in our room wasn’t working. Kind of disappointing.
So we got unpacked and labor was in full swing at this point. I remember lying there closing my eyes listening to the call to prayer across the city thinking, this is it, the thing I have dreaded for the past month or so, yet somehow The Lord allowed me to experience labor this way. It was an amazing reminder of Jesus’ perfect love which casts out fear. The whole reason I was sweating, hearing kids in the hallway, labor pain interrupted by that call. It was for Him, not for us. His love for me sent him to the cross. If he can endure that, I can endure this pain that millions of women have experienced in much worse conditions. And really it’s nothing in comparison.
As time went on and things got harder I realized I needed to focus, open my eyes relax, breath, or this pain was overtaking me. All of those things truly worked. Its like running, get through the painful moment one at a time and you’re ok.
Every so often Tyler would have to leave when they would check up on me. Not fun when you only have one person there with you. But the nurses would hold my hand and help me breath through the pain.
The time came, 7 cm, broke my water, and I had to move. I was glad I knew this ahead of time. They put me on a wheelchair and through a couple of contractions they pushed me down the hall to the delivery room. (I was in transition at this time ugh)
About 4 contractions later it was time to push. Tyler prayed and The Doctor asked if I wanted to see the baby right away? “of course” I told her. We pushed three times and it was over. I cannot put into words the complete relief I felt at that moment. I’ve cried after each birth but this time I sobbed. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about. We did it! Thank you Jesus! That’s all I kept thinking. And then this overwhelming love that you have for someone you have never seen up until that moment, it just takes your breath away.
After they took her to clean her up they put me to sleep! I never expected that, but I actually appreciated it at the moment. I slept for 15 min. Things weren’t necessarily according to my birth plan, but that’s exactly why I didn’t have one. In the end it was all just wonderful. Only The Lord could have worked out every detail like he did.
Back in the room we discovered the a/c did work. One of the nurses came and turned it on ha! No one waited long enough for it to kick in. At this point I was just glad to rest comfortably with a new little love in my life.
Ana Yaelle Masters
(“ya’el” – God’s strength)
7lbs 1oz, light brown hair. And the sweetest little rosy lips I’ve ever seen!
The verse we chose

Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength: (Isaiah 26:4)

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Is This Home?

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So we’ve been home on a little furlough, and the first thing I’ve noticed that bothered me was hearing so much English! Believe me I appreciate it, but I was not used to hearing it accept within my own family pretty much. I guess over there hearing it was so rare I could pick it up immediately. So now I can’t stop hearing everything. We went to Aldi which is just like a store we have at home and I met a woman from the Middle East, it just made my day to talk to her and then inside hear some Spanish being spoken. It’s honestly like music to my ears. Who knew after all this time I’m finally in my home country and I crave a different one. We’re so fickle. But mostly the fact is none of it is our home. The election may not have gone our way, but it doesn’t really matter because God is in control and those of us who know Jesus as our lord and savior “seek a better country…” So as I go about these next few months here in the States I’m praying The Lord will make me aware of where I really belong, but while here, continue to be a light in a dark world who need to know Him.

Is she really going?

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She’s growing up too fast. As we prepare for Norah to go to school, I have such mixed emotions. We have prayed about it and come to the conclusion this is what we are doing this year. I really want her to learn Spanish and it would be a nice way to get more involved with the people in our community. But school here does not start out for a preschooler. They throw them right in at 3 and have them doing full days right off the bat. I worry about How she’ll handle this, I guess we will find out. But the more I think about it the more my heart breaks to see my baby girl go. I still feel numb to the idea. Almost like i’m not facing the facts. I just wish we could find a happy medium where she is exposed to both English and Spanish education. Praying toward that end. I just don’t feel ready or excited about this at all. Are you ever ready to send your kids off to school? I really never imagined this day would be so dreaded. I can’t imagine the days of not having my sweet Norah home with us. Pray for us as we take this new step, and that the Lord would open doors for us to reach the people in our community.

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Desire to learn

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Learning a language has to be the most humbling thing I have ever done.  It’s so uncomfortable when you can’t quite get what they are saying especially when you know it’s about you and laughter follows whatever it was they said.   I try not to think the worst possible thing, but sometimes it’s a challenge.  Like when they refer to food, pointing at you and something about you liking food haha.  Not so funny to me.  I’m still not sure what was said, but not knowing just stinks. really it may have been something nice, but without understanding, it’s hard to think so positively when you are frustrated.    That stuff makes me want to learn, but not for very good reasons.

These past few weeks I have been able to spend time with a sweet sister in Christ.  And just hearing her testimony and questions about the Lord and Bible I wish so bad I could communicate every thing On my heart.  We try to struggle through simple things but there is a bond there that only comes being in the family of Christ.  I have been able to pick up a bit and carry on very SIMPLE conversations with her.  Also she has been teaching me how to make all kinds of desserts, it’s been fun and probably the reason I look like I really like to eat!  🙂

First off, I have to admit, I had NO desire to learn another language.  I have my children to take care of and they are more important. Also, watching Tyler fly by me in the language is quite exciting and discouraging at the same time.  The days you feel like you are the only stupid one not getting it, are not so fun.  I got to the point where I would cry on the way home from church.  Out of shear frustration.    It has been a challenge to try to learn with two kids in their toddler years, and balancing my ministry at home, with my family and the Language.

Since really spending time around friends and just the language in general.   (which isn’t possible at home)  I have been so encouraged to learn it.  I may not learn it as fast as my husband, but I will learn it, one day.   While taking classes with my teacher in person lately, I find myself wishing my classes could be longer, and I could have more time around the language.  (That is a miracle to me) I Love my God who makes all things possible even giving us the desire to learn a language!

Psalm 37:4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

I have to add, one incredibly fun thing is laughing at all the funny mistakes you make in a language.  The Other night I sat around with friends here and we laughed so hard at some of our mistakes.  Some so funny I can’t post them.  🙂  It sure gave us a fun night!  I’d say they were worth it.

Change of Heart

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Since living here I have had a complete change of heart.  My initial idea about coming here and working, let’s just say it wasn’t what it is now.  I was very nervous and unsure of myself.  How would they ever like me, having nothing in common.  Since we have been here we’ve crossed the border quite a bit.  Every time I go I fall more in love with these sweet people.  I have never been excited, to be perfectly honest, to learn arabic, or make new friends.  But they have won my heart.  I can honestly say I have never met a sweeter, more hospitable culture.

For one, when I cross the street with my children I usually have several people helping me, not to mention the cars who stop for no one, stop for me because I have children.  They give my kids gifts and talk and play with them constantly, help me up and down the stairs with the stroller.   They LOVE children.  Young men all the way up to older men and women all just melt if Norah or Judson are around.  Funny thing is even when they are not, people are still so kind.  If you express any kind of smile or attempt at the language, you have made a friend.  I am so blessed to work here and learn the culture of this part of the world.  I’m thankful for their acceptance of a foreigner who butchers the language, yet they continue to help me no matter how much I seem to forget.

I am praying for more laborers for any Arab speaking country, but I have to say my heart is here not because I put it here, but God did.