Just when you think you’ve got a grip on things, something slaps you in the face and reminds you that you, in fact, still have a long way to go. You can either take it in stride and keep moving or wallow in your own pool of pity, wondering why you weren’t as smart as you had assumed. If you missed “What’s a Dasawisma Part I,” click here.
So I think I landed somewhere in between here and the pity pool. So, culturally and linguistically, hosting the dasawisma meeting was rough, not only for me but also the guests! I’m sure they had quite a few moments of awkwardness on my behalf. Although I had attended four meetings previously, I really didn’t have much of an understanding of what was going on and how things ought to proceed. Culture is IMPORTANT!!! I was in over my head for sure.
I will spare you the pity pool list of excuses and get to the good stuff.
First, baby Finn was screaming when they all arrived. He was promptly removed from my arms and taken away to be shushed since at that point in his life he only seemed to like Javanese people to calm him and I wasn’t cutting it.
Second, I was super nervous about when to serve the snack. I knew I would likely miss my cue–particularly since I didn’t know the cue! Proper serving technique involves a lot of bending and squatting, which is particularly ineffective when you’re as huge as I am–I still block most of the view even when squatting. Add in nerves and heavy glasses full of tea and you have an exhausting experience. I’m glad Payton and I were doing this together!
After that, I was asked to say something in the middle of the meeting. They were all staring at me and I had no clue what I was supposed to say. I said, “Thank you for the gift (they had brought us a gift after Finn was born) and thank you for coming to meet Finn.” I didn’t know what else to say. I was supposed to tell them they could eat too. All eyes were on me. I just smiled and nodded. Finally someone must have told them I was clueless and they could probably eat without offending me!
Not long after that when I assumed that the hardest part was over, someone addressed me. All eyes on me again. Of course I missed what the had said. So then, it was repeated and all I caught was the verb “to refill”–or so I thought. There was also something in there about a recipe. I smiled some more, nodded, and hoped that someone would explain later what I’d agreed to do.
Turns out, “refill” had a much larger definition than I’d assumed. In this case it was pared with some other words that gave it the meaning of “filling” a slot in the meeting. I of course thought it only referred to concrete objects! Good thing someone explained it later! They had asked me to bring a recipe or something of the like to fill in the social slot of the meeting next month!
At the end, someone finally used easy words and told me to go stand in front and shake hands. Yep–I could do that!
Just last Saturday, the latest monthly meeting rolled around including my debut of “filling” the slot. I had chosen the classic, American No-Bake Cookies–easy and fast! Prior to this, we had actually studied the last dasawisma meeting as a part of our stage 2 processes. I had also procured from our language helper exactly what I was supposed to say to make everything a bit smoother than my last endeavor.
I had even practiced the recipe with our house helper a few times to make sure it was truly doable with the ingredients here. Remember how I had said the meeting was Saturday? Well, it was supposed to be Monday, but of course I missed the memo somehow (it’s easy to miss important details at this stage in language) and found out at 1pm–only 3 hours before it was supposed to start! Good thing I’d done another practice batch of no bake cookies that morning. I quickly whipped up another batch. I had barely finished translating the recipe to print the day before, plus I had to find a shortened version of my speech and practice! Our neighbors’ daughter rescued me and coached me through what I should say and adjusted my recipe too.
All of the chaos was not in vain! After having studied the process of the meeting with our helper, the whole rhythm of the meeting made a lot more sense. I totally knew when it was my turn to share. I choked on my greeting a little bit as I heard my voice become the lone sound as the voices quieted to see what would come out of my mouth.
I read through the rest of my speech as a I passed the recipe and sample cookies around. And then they asked me questions like “can we use powdered milk?”, “Does it really not require any water?” and “How long do they last?”. I honestly couldn’t answer the last one, telling them I didn’t know because we always ate them before they went bad! After the meeting was over, I even got some requests for other American recipes!
For a moment, I didn’t feel so different. I felt like a small part of me was engaged in a relevant way in our small community. It was awesome. So I raise my cookie and a glass of milk to mistakes, awkwardness, and refills as we press on in our studies.