We’ve been making coffee in a cheap little coffee maker my husband bought here in Dubai before I came. This morning we decided to use our US coffee maker - an expensive machine I gave to my coffee-loving husband as a Christmas present last year. Shipped all the way from Madison to Dubai.
The “step up” transformer plugged in.
The filtered water poured.
The coffee beans ground.
A prayer prayed for everything to go well.
It looked and smelled beautiful as the stainless steel machine began to do it’s work.
A few minutes later something was wrong.
The water was not dripping.
The light on the pot – and the “step up” - was off.
The kitchen smelled like burnt rubber.
It wasn’t a problem with the materials – all the right ingredients were there.
It wasn’t a spiritual problem – after all, I did pray in faith. (And as my friend Bob will tell you, God does care about good coffee.)
It was a wiring problem. What was a beautiful, useful thing on the other side of the planet was not adequate here. Things need different wiring. Or they’ll blow up.
I think our family has what it takes to succeed here: cross-cultural and vocational experience and skills, local and long-distance support of family and friends, determination, creativity, a good dose of fear of failure, and faith. But we need re-wiring. We might have worked beautifully on another current. But we are feeling the need to step up to the challenge of living and working in a totally new way here. I trust it will happen before we blow up.
Re-wiring is possible. It’s not just necessary for cross-cultural living. It’s healthy for life.
Changes to one’s thinking and perceptions happens slowly over time. (Hopefully!) But some of the most radical and useful transformations happen when we get out of our daily environment and routine and immerse ourselves in something new.
Apart from living in another culture (including my years in Los Angeles!), some of my most significant re-wiring was done as a student and young staffworker while at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship camps at Bear Trap Ranch.
You don’t have to move to another country or attend a camp to be re-wired. Look at your calendar: do you have 1 hour or 1 morning/evening or 1 day in the next few weeks where you could get away from your routine environment and activities?
1 hour: Go for a walk in a quiet, beautiful place. Give yourself space and time to breath.
1 morning/evening: Go to a seminar or workshop on a topic that is outside your normal range of interests. Give yourself freedom to open your mind to new ideas.
1 day: Go to a nearby retreat center. Give yourself over to silence, to study or to spiritual direction. (For ideas on how to use a day away, contact me or find some excellent resources on InterVarsity’s ministry exchange.)