Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bursting Our Bubble

You’ve heard it said, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Well we are living proof that it is true.

We came here to Malaysia excited about the adventure, about the new culture, about all the different things we would encounter. Then we walked off the plane and we got EXACTLY that. Everything was different…very, very different. It looked strange. It smelled strange. And I remember thinking, “Oh no. What have we done.”

We found out quickly, however, that there are ways to live a very “American” lifestyle here if you want. There are restaurants that serve American food. There are grocery stores that sell American food. Heck, even the school we work at has an American curriculum. And there is even a church here that is filled with expats from the U.S. and other western countries. Pretty soon, we were safe and snug in our American bubble, away from as much of this strangeness as possible.

One day, about half way through the year, we all looked at each other and said, “What are we doing? We are in Malaysia trying to live like we are in the U.S. If that’s what we want then let’s go back to the U.S.” So we all decided to step out of the boat a little further…

We decided to try attending a new church. It is a small church, maybe 70 people or so? Our first Sunday there the first thing we noticed is that we were the only white faces there! The pastor is Sri Lankan. The congregation is Indian, Chinese, Korean and others. It was so awesome to watch all these people from vastly different cultures, singing and worshipping together. It made me think “this must be what heaven will be like…people from every tongue, tribe, and nation together in peace.” And it was really amazing to watch how sincere their worship style was. They were all warm, friendly and completely without affectation. I have NEVER seen that in a church before.

The more steps we take outside our bubble, the more amazing our experience has become. From simple things like trying new food to incredible things like meeting people from all over the world. For instance, today the church had a luncheon for Father’s Day. I sat at a table with people who are Sri Lankan but born in Malaysia… Canadian but living in Malaysia… American but raised in Malaysia and now living in Papua, New Guinea and visiting Malaysia. Kyle attended an event with this church’s small youth group and he was the only American there. He is making new friends from all over the world!

And with each new thing we try we get more courage to venture a little further out, and a little further, and a little further. Because of the people we are meeting we now have opportunities to travel to places we never would have thought of to visit these new friends. Because of these new friends we have realized that America is NOT the only country on the globe and that these other countries have a richness of culture that we are so blessed to experience.

And while everything here is FAR from perfect, it is not the terrible traffic or the awful restaurant service that will stick with us when the time comes to leave. When we leave here we will take in our hearts experiences and memories that would not have been possible anywhere else. We will take our new friendships and our broader horizons with us. It has been a really amazing year and we are so glad we burst that American bubble we were living in and opened our eyes to a whole new world!

1 comment:

  1. That's good stuff! And on a slightly different note, it makes me think of the immigrant issue. People get SO critical of Hispanics coming here and continuing to speak Spanish and enveloping themselves in a bubble of Latin restaurants, stores, businesses, and friends, and you pointed out...this is human tendency. Each one of us would struggle not to do the same. So then, people ask, "Well, then, why do they come here?" But, if those people lived for just one day in the poverty-stricken villages the immigrants left behind, they would understand why. And that's my soapbox for the day.