Friday, July 5, 2013

Fear Factor: Paraguay Style

What are you afraid of? That´s a good question to ask yourself from time to time. What fears are driving you? Why do you avoid certain things, or do the things that you do? I don´t know about you, but I tend to let my fears drive the bus...right off a cliff. Which is ironic, because I´m scared of heights. But more on that later.
Fear can be a big factor when traveling to a new country-new food, new language, new culture, new people...and the list continues. So for this blog post, I thought I´d talk about a few fears I´ve dealt with in the past week.

Number 1: Of Cats and Passion Fruit...

I stayed with a neighbor of the Bowens over the weekend, and made friends with their 5-year-old daughter, Luz. She had lots of fun teaching me Guaraní words and listening to me trying to pronounce them. Words learned: mbarakaja and mburukuja. And I discovered the hard way that these two pronunciations are NOT interchangeable at all...
                Fast forward two days to church on Sunday in Asunción. There was a meal after the service (yummy!) and this prompted a discussion of Paraguayan food-all in Spanish, of course. A girl there was trying to explain to me how to make various kinds of Paraguayan food, and I wanted to tell her that I had tried some delicious juice. Now in English, this is passion fruit juice. But they use a Guaraní word here, which is one of the above. So I told her that I tried some “jugo de mbarakaja.” She looked at me a little strangely, then said “Do you mean mburukuja?” And then I realized what I´d said. In Guaraní, I had told her that I had tried “cat juice.” Oops. Well, at least we both got a good laugh out of it.
And I´m continuing to learn something that I started learning in South Korea last summer. Traveling is not exactly fantastic for your ego. It does unfortunate things to it, such as plunking you down in a country where you have the discourse level of a kindergartner. It forces you to consider that you don´t know everything, or even as much as you thought. It forces you to rely on other people more than you ever dreamed. And it makes you face your fear of looking stupid. Yes, I´m afraid that I´ll accidentally insult someone or say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing and hurt my witness or another person. In fact, there are days when I´d like to hide in the mission house, speak English, and not take any risks. But what would that really do? It would keep me from looking like a fool, but it would also cause me to miss out on some great opportunities and relationships.

Number 2: I Believe I Can Fly...NOT.

                So as mentioned before, I have a little problem with heights. Actually, that might be an understatement. My first flight, I gripped the arms of my chair, gasped and panted like I was dying, and stared dazedly at the seat in front of me. Now, the airplane fear is under control. But other high places? I get woozy ten feet off the ground.
But this week, I climbed a tree. (see picture below as proof) Admittedly, it took another WGM volunteer coaxing me-a lot. And some helpful advice from a missionary´s son while I was in the tree: “Don´t pass out.” And to make a full confession, I spent a good part of the experience with my arms wrapped all the way around the branches like a koala bear. But nevertheless, I can still credit myself with having climbed the tree. I was shaking when I got down, but I´m still glad I did it.

So what have I learned? (cue Veggie Tales music) That experiences that cause weakness are actually healthy...even though we might be afraid of them. That weakness itself is a good reminder that we are not able to do all things ourselves, without God and other people. That fear can make you look and feel terrible-but it’s pushing through it that counts.
And let’s see if Qwerty has a verse (still on a Veggie Tales kick)... “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (1 Cor. 12:9) So it’s the power of God that lets us overcome fears and weaknesses, after we admit to Him that we actually have them.
So what fears and weaknesses are controlling you? Is there some way in which God is challenging you right now? Think and pray about that this week. Thanks for reading. I’ll blog more very soon.

Until next time,


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