21 May 2009

Culture Shock (Tuesday Afternoon)

My heart hurts.

Its funny how different cultures can be. Without me even realizing it at first.

How long have I been here? A week and a half. But it didn’t hit me until we went to visit the Fon. “Fon” is Kom for “tribal leader.” He lives in a “Palace.” (I have pictures-it looks more like a run-down compound than a palace…)

The Fon is old. He has many wives. And he has millions of rules that are normal for this culture, but not so normal to me.

For example, I can’t cross my legs in front of the Fon. But I’m always wearing a skirt!!

To him, it is a sign on of disrespect if someone with a lower rank crosses their legs in front of him. To me, it is natural to cross my legs when I wear a skirt. But most African women do not cross their legs even though they wear long skirts. They leave their legs open. That is SO abnormal to me.

Also, PDA is not normal at all here. In the US, it is generally frowned upon, but a husband and wife holding hands or hugging is definitely acceptable. Here, husbands and wives don’t even touch in public. So when Justin and I hug or anything, that is very abnormal to them. They often think we are dating. But to us, it is just a sign of friendship.

At the “Palace,” the Fon “blessed” us before we left. First, he gets a coffee mug full of the drink we presented to him (which happened to be orange Fanta that rode in the jeep with us up a very rocky/ bumpy road that looked more like a path than a road, so it was quite fizzy).

Then you kneel down with your hands together, palm up, fingers facing away from you, about nose level.

Then he takes a sip of the drink and you can hear him coughing up some kind of lung disease. Not a good sign.

Then he pours the drink down your hands and into your mouth. Except that about a fourth of it misses your mouth and slides down your chin and shirt and arms. YUCK!

Chugging a cup full of orange Fanta from my hands and then being covered in sticky mess was not on the top of my priority list.

In fact, it was not even on the bottom of it.

After I left the “Palace” I felt stupid and less of a person because I couldn’t follow all of his rules. I was very upset. I talked to Callie, the only other female team member, and started crying. She sat me down and prayed with me.

She is so wise! I am so thankful that God sent her on this trip!

She reminded me that my worth comes from God, not what anyone (the Fon!) thinks of me! I told her that was something I struggled with when I was applying to schools-not finding my value in being accepted to a certain school.

Later that night after talking about Gal 3:26 & 27 (being clothed in Christ) in devotional, Callie and I handed out skirts that Justin’s grandmother made! The girls were SO thankful.

Life is good. Some things are the same. Thankfullness and smiles cross cultural lines!!


  1. Keeping you in prayer tonight...

    I saw your dad today, helping Kerry with some car stuff! All is normal on this side of the Rainbow!

  2. Your worth is infinite to the Father b/c, like you said, you are clothed in Christ. How amazing is that! Praying for you today as you begin your long journey home. Can't wait to see you, my friend.