We have arrived here in Asia Pacific. We made it through the 40 hour trip and have moved into our house in town. We have been here for almost two weeks now and we have finally adjusted to the time change (11 hours ahead.)
We have had all kinds of experiences with this new culture, some fascinating and some a little obnoxious. We realize that we are really going to enjoy our time here during the first year while we learn the national culture and language. There are a lot of things that make this place feel like a stepping stone from leaving the states. For starters, there are quite a few people here who can speak English well, also we went to a coffee house and had very good quality(better than StarBucks) for under $2. There is a reason that Java is synonymous for coffee.
The first days of being here were very difficult, especially for Joshua. The little guy couldn’t understand why we were making him stay awake in the middle of his nighttime. It was worthwhile though because now he is very adjusted to the time here and is back to his normal self.
The first night I was here I woke up at 4 in the morning to the less than subtle call to prayer. I decided since i was awake i might as well get up for the day. When i went to the door that leads to the bathroom and kitchen I couldn’t open the door because the lock had broken off and the door was stuck closed. It was a difficult task to take the door off the hinges but in the end I was still able to put my contacts in that morning.
Life here has its difficulties but it also has its rewarding peculiarities. Eating out can cost as little as $1, granted the portion sizes are much smaller. Drinking the tap water is not a good idea as it could give us hepatitis A, Giardia, and or parasites; Eating at the right restaurants is recommended as some will prepare the food with filtered water.
There are about 50 languages spoken on this island but thankfully we will only have to learn one of them: the one that everyone in this country speaks as a second language.
We have made a few trips to the local markets in town and that has been the most intense part of our culture learning so far. We went into town to buy a few things, with the help of some veterans, and after spending about 30 minutes of shopping we were walking back to our car where a giant parade was just starting. The streets were crowded with people and there was no way we were going to get out of there until the parade was over. It took hours for it to finish, and then about another hour for the traffic to clear up. We met a lot of people who wanted to hold Joshua and take a picture with him. One lady shared some of her food with him. It was a very fun and tiring experience. We look forward to being able to communicate with the people we meet. We have learned a couple of phrases but mostly we just smile and say the words for: thank you (Terima Kasih).
We are currently in the warm-up stage of language learning. It is a little slower at first than other approaches of language learning but will have great long term effects. We are focused on listening to the language sounds and experiencing it as it is used in the culture. You could imagine someone memorizing “formal” English from a book and then travelling to America and trying to speak it. They would probably be able to communicate some things right away, however they would have quite an accent that would be difficult to overcome as their brain has already “learned” how to say things. We are taking it slow in the beginning stages to allow our brains to hear the sounds of the language and how they are used in live speech. When we begin to put the language together later on, we will have far less of an accent and after several months of time, our language should be further progressed than someone who studied language from a book before coming to the country.
We appreciate your prayers for us during this time of transition, it has been smoother than expected. It has also had its difficulties as can be expected. Joshua has had 3 days of diarrhea and some throwing up, it is hard to watch him go through something like this, I’d rather it were me (Eric).
We have the overwhelming task of learning culture, something that can be obtained through deepening relationships with people. In order to do that, we have to be willing to allow ourselves to be stretched, make mistakes, and get laughed at sometimes. It is something that gets noticeably easier every day but as we know basically nothing, it is a difficult time.
Please pray for us to develop deeper relationships with our neighbors and people we meet so that we can learn the language and culture well enough to be useful vessels here.
We have met a man here who owns a coffee shop about a minute walk from our house. He told us that he is willing to help us with any language and culture questions that we have and he speaks great English! It is great to already have a starting point where we can go and the relationship that we have with him is based on previous people who have lived in our house before who studied language and culture as we are doing.
We are so grateful to have each of you guys a part of our team as we continue to serve here in Asia Pacific.