My conclusion after living 2 1/2 years in GDL and then returning to Canada for 3 months is simple: 'normal' changes! What once was, no longer is.
I also saw how much I had changed, having been influenced by my host culture. Last night at our cell group meeting one of the young ladies (early 20's) was telling me about going to school in the USA for a while, things she observed, things she thought were weird, things she struggled with when she returned to Mexico. How, without realizing it, she had adapted to her host country without even noticing. But, she also quickly shifted back to once again adapt to her current surroundings, after moving back.
Ernie and I noticed that there were a few things that we had incorporated into our lives, without even really noticing, and one especially would not be communicating what it does here. The first one is a gesture that is widely done here, and actually is quite handy. People in Canada would maybe think you odd but it wouldn't convey a mixed message:
Here our boys are mocking this gesture for a friend, but they have since taught it to their guys' bible study group. They are moving their finger up and down. This is a known gesture here to show agreement or to say 'yes'. Mexican's do it without thought. If comes in handy if you get asked a question and you have your mouth full, or are sneezing, or talking to someone else, etc., but want to answer the person. This simple gesture says yes or simply shows agreement.
The other gesture which might not convey in Canada what it does here comes automatically to Ernie and I. It took a while to get our heads around it because it would not be seen in the same light in Canada. But here it communicates one's thanks wordlessly. It is used while driving, to say thanks for being let in, it says thanks for stopping and letting me cross the street, it just plainly says a wordless thanks. What is required is to raise and show your backhand! And, no, it doesn't mean you plan to cuff someone!
In the Western context this might communicate something entirely different. It comes naturally to us now and when we teach it to visiting guests they laugh and struggle because it seems counter-intuitive. But here it widely communicates thanks and appreciation.
So, we notice that we are constantly changing, adapting, shifting our flex and core areas. What at times comes as a surprise is that we need to do it now at both ends: Canada and Mexico. We often feel like chameleons, ever changing. But at the very core of us, we are the same, people who love Jesus, and desire to do whatever it takes to communicate His love to the world.