Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Preparing for our Re-entry

Of course, bags are being packed, cars rented, hotel rooms reserved, etc, in anticipation of the big trip half of our family will be making to the US. But there are other preparations we have to make, which you may not be aware of . . . things you wouldn't necessarily think about.

For instance, there is a word we have to remind ourselves not to use in the states. We picked up this word on Guanaja, and it is a perfectly useful word, which we utter regularly in both English and Spanish. The word is 'molest' ('molestar' in Spanish) and it means "to bother or annoy." On Guanaja, in English, this word is used quite frequently, in such applications as:

Woman at the door, wanting to borrow something, says, "Can I molest you for a minute?"

Little girl running from the boy who is teasing her, squeals, "He's molesting me!"

Me, to any of my sons, as they try to pick fights, "Stop molesting your sister!"

You get the idea. We started using the word, with this definition, on the island, and we have continued to use it as part of our English vocabulary in our home. It is, of course, reinforced by our use of the similar, very commonly used Spanish verb. In the states, we have to be very, very careful not to use this word, as we will certainly be misunderstood!

Another re-training involves our use of the bathroom. It is standard practice in Honduras (and most parts of Central America) to place your soiled toilet paper in the trash can, rather than in the toilet. This is because the plumbing here is not quite the same as in the US, and very frequently the toilets will clog when toilet paper is flushed.

In the North American homes we will be visiting, we can expect to find lovely, decorative trash receptacles in the powder rooms, which are NOT intended for holding soiled toilet paper - sometimes they don't even have plastic bag liners, as we ALWAYS have in our bathroom trash cans here. It is extremely hard to break such an ingrained habit as where you put your soiled toilet paper. We just aren't concentrating on cultural differences when using the facilities! So, we are talking about this now, and we will remind each other frequently over the course of our trip.

We don't do this next one frequently, but pointing with our lips is certainly done some of the time here, and it just doesn't work in the US, plus we will look weird doing it there! We also say hello to people we pass on the street here with a quick upward jerk of our chins, which I think, back in the states, would just make us look as if we'd developed a nervous tic! The kids and I will try to remind each other not to use these common signals, as we prepare ourselves for our visit.

This all reminds me of a story I heard, from one of my friends on the Sonlight Forums. It was about a family who worked for many years as missionaries in Africa. When they returned for a furlough to the US, the children were appalled to discover that their clothing was horribly unfashionable, and they were subjected to rude stares whenever they went out in public. Four years later, when they were preparing for another trip to the US, the children asked their grandparents to send them appropriate clothing in advance, so that they would 'fit in' during their visit. The family arrived in the US airport, adorned in their fashionable clothing, and the parents noticed that the family was still the object of much attention and staring as they passed through the crowds. Glancing behind them, the parents saw their fashionably attired children following them in single file, all carrying their suitcases balanced upon their heads!


Sandy said...

Note to self: make sure bathroom garbage cans have plastic liners. [grin] Actually, they already have them. Not a problem!

Can your children substitute the word "torture"? That's the word my 5yo son uses in place of "molest".

At co-op: "Why aren't you outside in the playground?"

"Those girls are torturing me!"
"Tell my brother to stop torturing me!"

Anonymous said...

Sounds like have the fun of the trip will be acclimating to the states again!

Randall y Rachel Beita said...

Have fun Sower Family! I am expecting the first baby anytime now so don’t have the experience of kids readjusting but I do know it is hard for me to reenter and speak mostly English as here I speak Spanish. Sometimes I can’t say what I want in either language and quite frequently will use words from both. I will remember for future trips with my children to practice reentry exercises.

Aaron Ortiz said...

Thanks for the laugh Trish!

Grateful for Grace said...

Oh, that's wwwaaaaaaaaaaaaay funny!

Anonymous said...

tooooooooo funny!!! I know it was quite the adjustment for me when we were there to put the toilet paper in the trash can. When we hit the airport in Houston and the women from the team all made our way to the restroom, there was quite the outburst of laughter from the stalls as the statement was made "hey!! where's the trash can for the paper?!?!?!?"

As to the "chin up" greeting to others, I've seen people do that around here...and when driving in rural areas, as the driver of the vehicle I have a tendency to rest my right hand at 12 oclock on the steering wheel and give a little "peace sign" as a partial wave to passing vehicles and or people on the road side.

All in all...just let the light of Christ shine as you all do already so well and have a wonderful adventure!!! Remember you have family all over the U S.


Honduras Sprout said...

Bah!! That is hilarious about the kids walking with the suitcases on their heads. Perfect.

This whole post had me laughing.

My ears still have not got used to the molest word.

Anonymous said...

yea thats not a good word to use, unless you want DCYF knocking at your door. and for the TP thing some people here in the US ( not us) put tp in the trash.. yuck
love Marvin,Amy And Daniel & Abigail