I spent the next 20 minutes trying to get it to hop outside. It was incredibly frustrating because the frog kept hopping behind things to hide. I’d move the chair or table, and it would hop away in the wrong direction to find shelter behind some other piece of furniture. Didn’t it know I was trying to help it?
Of course, having this giant who didn’t speak ‘frog’ snatching away its security just made the little guy more fearful. It was doing what it did to try and stay safe. Even though my intentions were good, I made it more frantic and less able to get to the freedom of the outside.
Earlier this week I parked at the SI Base. I pulled in close to the wall in front of me to try and keep as much parking lot area free. The vehicle next to mine was around five feet away from the wall. Hmm, I thought, Not a great parking job, there!
Later that day Jayson mentioned that we are to park five or six feet away from the walls. We do this for Carolos, who lives and works here on the Base. Carlos is an amazing cook, and has been a member of the staff for many years. He is also blind.
Looking at all the cars well away from the walls, it might seem no one here knows how to park. Instead, it is intentional, a way of allowing Carlos to negotiate the base by walking close to the walls. Without knowing the details, it seems a sloppy way to do things.
Instead of mimicking the car next to me, I parked in the way I thought was ‘correct’ and my car became a potential hazard for a brother-in-Christ.
I don’t know if the frog would have found its way out if I had just left the doors open. I do know I gave both of us fits by continue to snatch things away. I couldn’t communicate with it, and just kept doing what I thought needed to happen for its good. Neither one of us had a good morning!
In MTI we learned that others do things that make sense to them. From the outside looking in, they may seem nonsensical – like parking five feet away from the wall. Thankfully, Jayson corrected me. Once he explained it, it made perfect sense. There will be times, however, when people don’t explain. Will I have the grace to not immediately assume their way is ‘wrong’?
Living cross-culturally takes patience and practice. It means not being that non-frog speaking giant who starts moving everything. It means not being the driver insisting on parking ‘my way’. Instead, it means taking time to be a learner. To learn the language (Spanish, not frog!). To learn the Why behind what’s done.
I know I’m bound to make mistakes as I go. I’m going to cause hazards just by being a ‘stranger in a strange land’. I pray that as I do, others will extend grace to me – and I pray I will extend grace to them, too!!
I praise God for providing these concrete examples during my first week here. I pray that I will remember that frog (and I pray he’s the last of his kind to spend time in my home!!) and be careful about how I approach others. I pray that each day when I pull into the SI Base and park away from the wall, I remember what may seem ‘wrong’ is very likely the better way.
I pray I will continue to seek to do all things to the glory of God – even if that means doing things differently!