Coming from Albanian to USA, it was hard for me to get used to the culture. It took me almost one month, but then I got used to it. But now that I’m in Honduras, I see that I’m getting into the culture quickly. It seems to me like I’m back in Albania even though I have to speak Spanish and I need to get used with the sun here: it’s hot. But yes, God has been good with me until now .
Being for six days in Honduras has been good because I’m starting to make friends and trying to talk in Spanish even if they laugh at me. But I like that, its fine with me because I got used to that. When I was back in USA sometimes my friends at HDC will laugh with my English, so it’s ok for me. Trying to ask some young boys in spanish if it was ok if I can play soccer with them was good because they liked me being with them and playing soccer. They love soccer so much, and they played so good. It was fun because I love soccer. God has been very good with me and I know that God has still things for me to do in Honduras.
Well, we’ve just about completed our first week here in the sweltering jungle that locals call La Ceiba. Looking back to a week ago, I can see that I, and we as a team, have come a long ways in just a few days. I’m pretty sure Matt can attest to the fact that at least for the first day or two, the three of us were pretty much in “little kid” mode. We walked around with huge eyes attached to a head that couldn’t seem to decide which way to face. Any new sight brought squeals of exclamation from all of us, not to mention the fact that we hung on every word or instruction from any English speaker, especially Matt or the Eby’s, like it was the Greatest Commandment.
Now in the language of HDC and the many sessions we had on “cross-cultural adaptation,” this kind of behavior is perfectly normal and can be explained by what is called the “honeymoon” stage of adaptation to a new culture. Honeymoon, an interesting way to describe this stage, especially since it is usually directly followed by a sharp decline in one’s moral and emotional state and a general dis-integration with everything and everyone around oneself. Then a rise back to a new “normal” and assimilation. Maybe the whole cross-cultural bell-curve is deeper than I thought. Is this how marriages go too? Hmm…I’m pretty sure I’m not licensed to answer that.
O yeah, Honduras. So, I definitely experienced the honeymoon stage, and maybe still am there. I also pretty much crashed and burned a couple days into it, and since that time have been feeling pretty comfortable here (not in the temperature sense of the word). However, as I am not a psychologist, I do not feel l should take the liberty to say that I have assimilated into this Latin American culture in a weeks time. Actually, I’m quite sure I haven’t.
Sure, I’ve learned a lot. A. Lot. Who knew that the sap that leaks out of the stem of a freshly picked mango is likened to poison ivy and needs to be scraped and washed off right away? I do now. What do you do when you’re walking down the road and a couple times a minute a taxi pulls up beside you and blares its horn offering a ride? Certainly not wave it along, just wag your right index figure. What do you do when you’re riding one of the city buses and there’s some sort of engine malfunction so they pull into a truck repair place? Nothing, just sit in your seat and watch the men with the wrenches drink their cokes and fix everything up. Don’t worry, no one will be mad that your late; there’s no such thing as late. And lastly, who knew that a garbage dump community could be so… quaint.
In between starting language school (4 hours a morning, plus an hour or so of homework in the evening-but super helpful) and furnishing the little two bedroom apartment above some friends of a lady from the Mennonite Church, there has been a nice amount of time spent getting to know Los Laurelles (the community). We’ve met many of the families, oodles of kids, swam in the river, jumped off the rocks, and drunk coffee with the people there. They were right- the kids love to laugh at language blunders and pronunciation, but they sure are helpful.
We’ve been so blessed here already, whether it’s the guy driving into the mall as we were walking out who bought us all coconut juices and then proceeded to spend the next three hours with us driving us around in the back of his truck, bartering over prices of stovetops, chairs, and wastebaskets, buying food, and just being awesome. Or the hospitality of the people who have prepared meals for us or helped us practice spanish. Or the simple joy of a smile in the same language from a young guy who just showed me how to launch coconut leaves. It really is the simple little things that make big impressions.