The moments that make it all worth it 

Living cross-culturally is difficult. Language and culture learning are constant companions on this journey.

At times, language learning can be a slog. It takes commitment to put in the hours needed to master a language and, like everything else, it’s a task we do before God to glorify Him. 

Culture learning is just as tough. After we learnt the basics in Central Asia—like which hand to hold a teacup with or how much tea to pour into a guest’s cup (if you pour too much they will get the message that you want them to go home!)—something new would happen like a neighbour dying and then there was another whole set of cultural norms to learn.

It can be exhausting constantly trying to follow the cultural rules – some of which no one ever thought to teach you, because it’s the only way they know to do things and it has never occurred to them that others might do things differently.

And then finally a moment arrives! 

You’re not really sure how you ended up there, but everything falls into place and you instinctively know all the cultural cues and ways of doing things and you feel comfortable enough to speak into someone’s life in a real way. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it makes all the language and culture learning and stress worth it.

I experienced a day like this not too long ago…

Almas’ mom brought him to visit us at our disability office a few times. He had quite a severe disability, but the first time he visited we got him playing and standing with the help of a specialised standing frame. That first day Almas’ mom left with tears in her eyes.

“The doctors told me that Almas wasn’t even human and that I needed to get rid of him at the orphanage. But you have shown me that he can play and smile and stand. You have given me hope!” she said.

Six months later, during a particularly cold winter, Almas contracted pneumonia and passed away in the hospital. I had just returned from our second home assignment when I heard the news. In my jet-lagged fog I wept.

Once again I had to ask about the cultural practices and how to appropriately send our condolences. We went to visit Almas’ mom for what is called the ‘sitting in’ – a time where we take food to the family and simply sit with the mom in her grief.

And that was the moment when all my language and cultural learning fell into place. We cried together and shared God’s love with her. We told her how much God loved Almas and how his life had had meaning. Unfamiliar food and strange tea rituals when I first arrived in the country were now so familiar that it was comforting as we shared our sorrow. Before we left she gave us permission to pray for her.

If you are starting out on the language and culture learning journey or if you have been at it a while and are feeling tired and despondent, I encourage you to persevere. To stick with it and pray for strength to continue. Keep asking questions and keep learning about the culture. 

Maybe you’re not living in a different country, but you’re trying to reach a neighbour of a different culture–keep leaning in.

And perhaps you’ll find like I do, that it helps to pray and ask God to give you those moments which make it all worth it.

Beth is from the global South, and she loves the ocean and cold Christmas dinner on a hot day around the pool. She is married to an adventurer, and they have three wonderfully unique children.

Share this Resource

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Reply

You might also like:

Teacher of English (M) Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possiblePreparing and teaching spoken and written English to national staff who need to upgrade their English skills for their job.
Full Details
Disability Social & Inclusion Specialist – Social Worker, Family Counselor, Psychologist, Inclusive education Pegagogue Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleSkills and Gifting: This person will mainly work with our partner organisations and the families of children with disabilities or disabled person themselves in supporting an emerging social work system, support families in the process of accepting a disability, provide parents education, psycho social support to families and a group of lay counselors, support families in engaging with the community and move towards Inclusive education.
Full Details
Office Manager Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleWe are looking for someone to oversee our Central Asian field office.  It is an essential role for assisting those serving on the field.
Full Details
Regional Director for Relief & Development Organization Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleOur organization resources and equips the people of Central Asia through integrated and inclusive programs, modelling compassion and integrity as they partner with us.

We are currently running community health, disability, education, micro-enterprise and water/ sanitation programs.

Our NGO leadership team has 3 regional directors based in rural teams assisting the country director. One of these positions is vacant another could possible be split to ensure room for growth in projects.

Full Details
Bookkeeper / Finance Officer for International NGO Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleWe desperately need a bookkeeper! Our need is both f for overseeing finance department of NGO.

This role exists to give custodial accountability for the cash transactions conducted at the Field Level, and perform duties to assist with accounting functions pertaining to bank accounts, journal entries, financial reporting and administrative changes, guided by precedent and working with the limits of established policies.

Full Details
Women's empowerment facilitator Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAre you passionate about Muslim women knowing their worth, that they are loved by the Father and for them to gain strength and confidence to influence their lives and that of their community - then we need you. Imagine that while you love them and empower them, they discover the Fathers heart and start following him bring friends and family with them, forming a vibrant community of Jesus followers!
Full Details
Cosmetology Instructor Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleIn teaching cosmetology to deaf students you will join a team that is empowering and equipping a marginalized people group as they positively impact their lives and those in their families. It will be your job to design and implement lesson plans that will help your students to effectively learn the skills needed to be an excellent hairdresser, make-up artist, and/ or manicurist.
Full Details
School teachers Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleOur missionary kid (MK) school in the heart of Central Asia needs teachers for grades K-9. We're looking for teachers committed to the nurture and growth of our children--caring professionals who both know their subject area and live out their faith. Come and make a difference in the lives of our students!
Full Details
Seeker Ministry Facilitator Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleEngage with students seeking a deeper relationship with God through discussions which help them build a biblical worldview and live according to the scriptures. Take part in organizing a new believers' worship service each week.
Full Details
Health Workers: Health Education, female and male Health topics – Nurse, Midwife, Family Doctor, HIV Trainer Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleSkill/gifting: We are looking for women and men who are happy to teach basic health lesson in our rural communities that are ripe with animistic and folk Islamic health believes as well as just a general lack of understanding of how our body and health issues work.

Come join a church planting team committed to holistic development working among the unreached on the roof of the world in Central Asia.

Full Details
Project Coordinator/Consultant in Agriculture / Rural Development / Business Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possiblePROJECT COORDINATOR/ CONSULATANT NEEDED:
Come join a church planting team committed to holistic development working among the unreached on the roof of the world in Central Asia.

Full Details
Sports Trainer Central Asia    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAre you the kind of coach or trainer who wants to see people reaching their full potential? Or train people to become excellent trainers? Willing to work among communities that are full of animistic and folk Islamic health beliefs? Then we are looking for you!

People here do all kinds of sports, but a good coach or trainer is hard to find.  This project aims to use sports for character development, leadership training, passing on the values of fair play, cooperation and perseverance.

Full Details
Close Menu
×
×

Cart

X