Sunday, August 21, 2016

Taste of the Mish: Mar Del Plata

One of the reasons I wanted to blog was to share some of my experiences from being a missionary in both Ogden and Argentina. So I think I'll do a series called "Taste of the Mish" where I'll share either something I wrote or a memory from those precious 18 months. Here's one I wrote from my time in the biggest city of my mission, "Mar Del Plata."

Four sister missionaries walk out of a cyber cafe. Three of us have another country, another world swimming in our heads - a world of carpeted floors, snapchat, drive-thru restaurants, and maybe most of all, people we've known for years instead of a few months. We walk out into the Argentine city, a foreign place, really. We make our way along the familiar path, but after communicating with this other world, it seems surreal to be walking these streets. 

I start to wonder about it all: How did I get here? Where do I fit in in all of this? What does God want me to do with it all - with this culture that I work so hard to understand and to love?

My mind is so ver far away from me, and I am not the only one. In an attempt to reconcile the two worlds, we gab away about sisters who might get married, ex's who send rude emails, friends who are struggling their way through college. Yet, the very way we discuss it all in Spanish only exaggerates how unnatural it all is. 

Just then a group of boys playing soccer comes thrashing towards us. The ball gets away from them and heads straight towards one of us. All of the confusion comes to a head for me. This is it, the clashing of cultures. This is where all the surrounding Argentines will realize just how out of place we are. Where they'll reject us like a kidney transplant. I can feel the shame of it already. And this certain sister missionary, maybe the bravest of all of us, the most unafraid to be herself, standing there in a skirt and ballet flats, kicks the ball back at them. 

But the ball doesn't go straight back at them. It goes up, over their heads even, in a motion so surprising that I hear myself gasp without realizing.  At the instant of impact it is worse than I imagined. The ball climbs higher still, it passes the heads of the entire group of boys. And in turn the boys simply turn around, unfazed, and continue thrashing along in the other direction. As surprised as I was by the ball's upward leap, I was likely just as surprised at how unchanged everyone else seems to be. 

Maybe it was there the whole time. People on the street don't see me as a fish-out-of-water. Well, maybe the skirt and the scriptures in my hand set me apart. But it's like picturing New York City without the crazies - it would be crazier still. I am part of this city, of this culture. I might be a kidney transplant, but I won't be rejected. I just have to do what I do and trust that people are people and God is God. Even in Argentina.