It's amazing the effect your own culture has on your worldview.
We've been learning about the different things that shape us, some being: culture, family, and innate characteristics. It's incredible the differences in culture that occur just among the various states in America. We played a game that exhibited how where we grew up impresses upon us the "right" and "wrong" ways to act. It's hard to understand just how much our own culture is ingrained in us until we leave our own. We've also learned about conflict and how we tend to respond to it, as well as a process to resolve conflict. All of it very helpful knowledge to have. The most interesting thing is realizing that knowing yourself is the first key to adapting successfully to a new culture. Sounds very boring, but seriously, we've loved it.
We've had lots of time to learn from the instructors here, who have had years of overseas work experience. And we've also had tons of free time. This has been a thing of beauty as well as a challenge. James and I are used to moving at warp speed, between work, rasing support for Scotland, and renovating the house. We are given free time to process the information we're receiving, as well as time to explore the city and serve with the church we are working with. Couple that free time with the slower pace of life in Europe, and we're dealing with a totally different lifestyle. You just have to assume that something will take at least 15-30 minutes longer here than it would in the States. Quality of life and relationships are much more important than being productive, efficient, or completeing the to-do list. We love this mentality...but it's very different and difficult to get used to. I'm so glad for the experience because life in the Highlands of Scotland is even slower!
This morning we met a couple who have been missionaries in Belgium for 16 years. They are a part of the French speaking church we will be going to while we're here. They told us of some opportunities we have this month to observe the culture of their church and serve the people of the neighborhoods around their church building. We'll also be spending two days at a camp for kids between the ages of 5-12. You'll read more on this as it happens.
Today we spent the day in the downtown area of Brussels. It was a great day. The weather was crazy: rainy, super windy, chilly, cloudy...a typical European winter day. We walked around all day, saw some incredible sights, took tons of pictures. To celebrate one of our friends' birthday, we had lunch at a pub in the Grand Plaza, a beautiful square with amazing ancient buildings. We enjoyed some delicious Trappist Belgian Beer and are dissapointed we won't be able to get it in the States.
These are our friends that are all planning on going to different areas of the world.
Me and James standing in the Grand Plaza in downtown Brussels.
We also ate our first Belgian waffle! Very yummy, and sweet!
Thanks for reading, check back soon for more!