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The Unsexy Life Overseas


Photo 11-20-13, 5 47 07 PM  

**Edit: After proof-reading, my wife told me I can't use the word 'sexy' in a blog.  I'm going with it anyway.**

Because of technology, I get a chance to talk to friends back in the US on a fairly regular basis.  It is great.  Even with our third-world internet here, I have the ability to instantly see and talk to people on the other side of the world (unless it is in the evening, during which our internet goes out).  A few conversations over the past weeks have given me the feeling that people back home have a very romanticized view of what we do over here.

I mostly blame the misconception on short-term mission trips.  Don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of short-term trips.  They have a lot of great benefits; however, getting a grasp of living daily in another culture is not one of them.  Short-term trips often set up an image of living overseas that just isn't reality.  Sort of like how Reality TV sets up an image that isn't reality.

On most short-term trips, people's days are filled with traveling from place to place, working on projects, meeting people and after the one or two weeks overseas they come home exhausted from the busyness of it all.  There is generally very little down-time, no need to study language, or go through the continual cycle of culture shock.

I'm not bashing short-term trips.  I wish you'd come on a short-term trip here.  I want nothing more than for people to come out, fall in love with this place and the people and then find ways to participate in the work.  And when you come, I'll shuttle you around, give you projects and introduce you to people.  Because it is hard to fall in love with a place if you're sitting around bored and confused.

The reality of my life right now is that my days are filled with language learning.  Twenty out of the twenty-one weekdays this month I've been with my language tutor and studying.  And I truly am thankful to Underground Coffee International to be afforded the time and opportunity to pour into language during this season.  It is a necessary but very unsexy part of living overseas.

I think that is the big misconception of being over here.  A lot of people think that each day is filled with adventure and discovering something new.  And, if you consider finding someone that sells bell peppers at the market an adventure, then yes it is.

I'm being a little hard on life here, because I really do believe that adventure is all about perspective.  There is a way to find joy and adventure in things, even going to the market.  Life here is just different than what most people think of when they go on those one or two week trips.  Most days it is SLOW.  There is only so much you can do without being able to effectively communicate, and the only way to learn to learn language is time.  So August has been a slow month out here.  It has been productive though, in a very unsexy way.