Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Conundrum

Does the sign on the left mean no left turn? Or is it a 'suggestion' that you not make a left turn? Does a stop sign mean you must stop or is it implying that you use precaution? Rules? Laws?

I am always amazed at how my 'rule following' and 'rule quoting' husband seems to thing that certain signs are not there so that you do, or do not do, said thing, but rather a reminder to use precaution!  It makes me laugh when we have guests from Canada and he flies through a stop sign. Immediately following said infraction, someone will inevitable say, "Wasn't that a stop sign back there?"  Which he then tries to explain as somehow being a sign to indicate you should be cautious!  (Confused look on people's faces)
What is most funny to me is the mind process whereby people come to this form of logic.  He is not alone in this, by the way!  What I find even funnier is that when someone else uses his logic, how it disturbs him!

I am always amazed at how culture effects us.  In the Western world, rules are not guidelines, rules are meant to be followed.  One knows that if they choose to break a rule, and there are times when that happens, there are possible consequences which could be applied (Like my son choosing to go over the speed limit when he is late for a hockey game)! Or people who STILL talk on their cell phones while driving. I'll just leave it at that!

But culture affects you.  I never go through a day when Ernie doesn't produce a chuckle in me for his criteria regarding rule following.

Come down and you will probably experience one of those moments, and he won't even be aware he ran that stop sign, or, I'll have to admit, that I went through what was a VERY Yellow light!

Other breaking news:
Prayer Team along with our cell groups
We hosted the Prayer Team from Canada and enjoyed a wonderful 10 days with them.  They left and we did a quick regroup.  Jessy is still with us and we are enjoying our time with her.  We then hosted a neighbour friend from Chihuahua for 5 days.
Myself, Marco and Ernie
We are hosting a few other guests in December, so we will be busy.  Pray for us especially during December as it is a busy time with all the Christmas 'posadas' (parties and gatherings) plus the count down has begun for our children's arrival.  Once again they are blessing us with the best gift ever - their presence!  

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Students of the culture 24/7

I have been pondering something recently, which I have not made a final, or concluding, decision on.  This is one of those things that my husband would categorize under "Be a student of the culture 24/7".  This is only the second half of what he says but it is the part that applies.  My pondering is on dress code, apparel, and appearance.

When I first arrived here I was still wearing my turtle neck sweaters as I was working on thawing out from the minus 40 weather.  I would say my wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts, and mostly very causal clothes.  My shoes were all closed shoes, comfortable loafer types.  My closet said 'comfortable'.  Over time I noticed that my clothes were not 'right'.  Every time I went out, the ladies were 'dressed up'.  Or, at least, much more so than I was.  I would also say their wardrobes did not say 'comfortable' but were rather stylish, classy, very feminine, and some even sexy.

After being here about a year I went out for breakfast with friends from my coto and they began discussing how much I had changed.  My clothes were more summery, were more feminine.  They said how much I had changed. They were really impressed when I wore heels! (Although it was decided that that was not fair, even with flats I was a head taller than most!)

Shortly thereafter another conversations happened about how much I had changed in appearance. I said I had't noticed. She showed me a picture of myself from our first breakfast. Yes, I had changed.  They said my look was much better, more feminine.
Me at my first breakfast with the gym ladies
I will admit it has taken me some time to listen, observe, and notice these things.  Not because I don't like who I am, or how I look.  But, as Ernie says, 'you need to be a student of the culture 24/7'.  Why? Well, the first half of that quote is that you "Must be a student of the Word 24/7". You study God's Word so that you grow in your understanding of truth. You study the culture because ff you want to share the Word you need to do it in a manner that is culturally sensitive and adapted.  I don't want to look like a redneck amongst a bunch of feminine ladies.
Us now
Me this past Monday with some ladies from the Gym
When we get visitors, individuals and groups, I once again notice this.  Canadian visitors always wear shorts, they do not wear shorts here (unless at the beach).  Canadians dress much more casually than their Mexican counterparts.  We (or is that they?) wear sandals (casual, sporty ones, not dress ones).  Woman here are very 'made up' where as their Canadian counterparts are more 'au natural'.  It is striking to observe your own culture through the eyes of your new one.

When young people come here, youth groups (even our kids), I am once again startled by the contrast. Canadian kids dress VERY casually, where Mexican youth (middle class for sure) dress more formally. Some of the Canadian youth dress so casually they are almost sloppy.  Mexicans always look sharp, even when the event would be considered informal.  People laughed at my kids when they visited, wearing shorts and sandals.

I think, one thing that does affect clothing is climate. When more of your life is spent in jackets with constant changing weather, you develop a culturally appropriate wardrobe.  If you were to grow up in the tropics, you would have a noticeably different wardrobe.
a very 'normal' Canadian look 
I am not saying one is better than the other, I am just saying that I have noticed the stark difference.  I will say though that the changes in myself and even Ernie have been in an attempt to be 'students of the culture' and I believe that is VERY important.  Not only in apparel, but in all aspects.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What's fluency?

When you study a language (in my case Spanish) you complete the course, and then, they either give you a certificate, or fail you.  This certificate says you speak said language.  Here I have seen signs that advertise language learning as "English in 6 weeks - guaranteed".  WOW! that is some promise.

Well, they gave me a certificate, after a year of language study, which said I spoke Spanish.  Then we headed off to Nicaragua, where I learned that it was not that simple.  They talked about 'chico plástico' which from my classes would mean 'plastic kid' but which actually meant 'rich kid' (must be related to melting down your credit card!).  Then later I moved to Chihuahua, where people referred to one another as 'Güey' which translated is an 'ox'.  What? Why would you call a person an ox?  They use this expression here in GDL as well, quite frequently as a matter of fact.
Güey: The international word, known by everyone.
Used to refer to anybody, either male or female.
In Mexico anybody is Güey

When we get caught trying to understand something, because we are translating the words directly, we soon learn that that does not work.  Language is not static, and usually you can't translate it word for word, and still convey the correct meaning.  Remember when 'gay' meant happy? Not only is language not static but it changes from place to place, even though the same language is spoken.  I have said things here that would have a totally different meaning in GDL than they would in Nicaragua.  One must learn a language and then grow with it.  You need to listen to things people say and then ask what they mean.  Be a student of the language, forever.
Here are a few samples of words that have meaning in their cultural context.  Dictionaries are not always the best with these words.
CHIDO: Do you like something? Then it is Chido.
Is something enjoyable? Then it is Chido.

NETA: If someone says 'Neta', that means they are telling you the absolute truth.
If someone asks if it is 'neta', they are trying to confirm that you are saying
something truthfully, because they find it hard to believe.  

PADRE: This is not a reference to your father or a priest.
It is the 'light' version of 'CHIDO'. When something is 'padre'
it means that you like it. 

FRESA: Refers to a young person that is presuming wealth and
belonging to a high social class (similar to flaunting your wealth).

Two guys (I think they are Colombian) made a YouTube video about this very thing.  Unfortunately for most of my readers you will miss the joy of it.  They talk about the fact that when you learn a language, you need to stay put! Because if you move (from South America to Mexico,  for example) you will get in trouble because words will have other meanings than the ones you had learned. 

What is my solution to this? Well, its not to not move.  Its to be able to laugh at yourself.  Be willing to make mistakes.  Languages are rich, the more you have under your belt the richer your life.  Like "Schlope Sheen" (Low German), is just so much more rich than good night.  Bon Appetit is much fuller than enjoy you meal?  Oh the joy of languages and laughter. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

You Go Girl!

Me, Jessy and Ernie
Our dear friend Jessy is here! Jessy is the dean of women at Steinbach Bible College and she is on sabbatical.  So she decided to take two months of that time to join us here in GDL.  She has been joining us in living our lives here.  That means, among other things, fitness!  So ... ...
On the way to the gym ...
On her first day she began by joining Ernie in his yoga class.  An hour later she said she could feel some new muscles!  Then we moved to another classroom where her and I attended Latin Rhythm Dancing.  We stayed for only a part of the class.  She loved it, even though we both agreed we certainly couldn't move like the teacher!

Jessy prior to class!
Day 2 at the gym she joined me.  I told her that this was my favourite gym day but also my hardest day.  Above she looks all happy and energetic, which is good because she had just finished 45 minutes of Dancika (a mix of dance and aerobics).  
Nelson, our Instructor, who we follow
Following that class we take a 15 minute break and set up for Tono Muscular (muscle toning class).
This class can make a grown woman cry.  Nelson, works a muscle group till you KNOW it is there!  It's tough but gets results.  I encouraged her to be careful; I have been doing this for a year and I often ache after.  So, its important to know when you should quit or rest - even if he tells you to not give up and to keep going.  She did really well but once again felt new muscles!
Us with our teacher, Nelson
The picture below says it all!
Nelson pushing me to the next level...always!

But, we don't only go to the gym, we still use the park across the street.  So, while Jessy has not taken out a gym membership during her two months, here she is joining our active lifestyle.  She has begun to jog in the park, twice a week with her friend and our co-worker, Tara, and the other days I join her.  
First day jogging!
As you can see, we are active but we love it.  If you come down for a visit, bring your sneakers and some active wear.  The park is huge, its across the street, and it is free.  You could join us at the gym for a small fee.  Physical fitness has been the way we have gotten to meet many people and has given us the side benefit of building healthy bodies.  I think Jessy may be jogging when she gets back home, although that minus 40 weather would put a damper on it for me.  

Here it's almost always (as Ernie keeps singing to us) .... "And the sun is shining... ...."