Thursday, October 20, 2011

In His Time

For many North Americans one of the major cultural adjustments that has to be made is the switch from being time-oriented to event-oriented. One of my professors from Fuller, Sherwood Lingenfelter, gave some helpful pointers as to how these differences can play out in a book he co-authored called Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships. Below is a brief summary of what it looks like to be time vs. event-oriented.

Value Continuums in Society 
Time                                     - Events
Crisis orientation               - Non-crisis oriented
Dichotomy                         - Wholistic
Object as goal                    - Person as goal
Vulnerability as weakness - Vulnerability as strength
Prestige achieved              - Prestige ascribed
Brief Descriptions of Each Value:
* Time: structured around specific hours and minutes. 
* Events: life's activities are structured around a social environment, and the relational event.
* Crisis orientation: behaviour of preparation and prevention.
* Non-crisis oriented: behaviour based on dealing with issues as they arise. 
* Dichotomy: views the world in segmented parts. 
* Wholistic: views the world as an integrated whole. 
* Object as goal: completion of the task is vital. 
* People as goal: relationships are foremost in importance. 
* Vulnerability as weakness: transparency of character is seen as weakness (western). 
* Vulnerability as strength: transparency of character is seen as strength. 
* Prestige achieved: through effort and accomplishment. 
* Prestige ascribed: through criteria set by the culture. 

This being said, we as a family are slowly, and sometimes painfully, figuring out what this means in regards to getting settled here in Mexico. Very few things occur within the time frame we regard as "optimal." For instance, we are still without a place to call home. We had reported in our previous newsletter that we had found a place, and we did, but after our prospective landlady kept pushing our move in date back and some of the details weren't working out, we felt it best to look for another place. This was a difficult (because it meant being back at square one) and yet peace-filled decision. Now we find ourselves possibly at the brink of renting a new place (so please be praying!), but again the time frame of working through the rental process is hardly expedient! 

I (and I believe Kevin as well) pictured ourselves moving to Mexico City, taking about a month to get settled in and then diving into life and ministry. But the truth is the process has been far more "messy" than we anticipated. As our "settling in time" has streched on and on, life has snuck up on us and we have had to jump in whether we were "ready" or not. Lingenfelter talks about the time-oriented culture as seeing the world as a dichotomy, or segmented parts. I have found that to mean that I see my settling in to Mexico (finding a house, car, moving, setting up house, learning our new neighborhood etc.) as one part of my life, and when complete I can move onto the next, establishing relationships, engaging in ministry, figuring out life here, etc. But having all my ducks in a row before proceeding has presented itself to be much more complicated and stressful than I ever imagined. So now I am working on seeing the world more wholistically or in a more integrated fashion. I am trying to trust rather than stress as we take on responsibilities and commitments without first really knowing what our life will look like.

Some of the "life" events that have been set into motion within the last few weeks are:

* Kevin was able to participate in a Latin American Theological conference here in Mexico City and make many great connections.

* On Sunday Kevin will be leaving for Phoenix. He will be there for a full week to receive further training for his position as facilitator for the Work Styles Prefences within the Spearhead program.

* On October 12th Eliana turned 2! We will be having a shared party for her in the beginning of November with her favorite friend Ana who will be turning 3. Below is a photo of Eliana at her birthday breakfast.

* Eliana started school! We decided to enroll Eliana in a small preschool a couple mornings/week to give her an intentional chance to interact with other kids and learn Spanish. Her friend Ana also attends the same preschool. 

* Spanish class -- Kevin and I are both being tutored once a week (each) in Spanish.

* Spearhead commitments -- Although these are still relatively few at the moment, we are each involved in various aspects of the program and life is filling up quickly!

All in all we feel very blesed and we are thankful for the tremendous amount of support we have received from our Mexican friends and family. They have helped immensely, we both agree we can't possibly imagine doing it without them. Little by little we are learning to live to the beat of a different drum, and trust God for his timing rather than making it happen in our own.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Love the star pancake. Makes me hungry! Dad's latest pancake receipe was 1/2 cup butternut squash mixed with one egg and throw in some ham and fry in lots of ghee!