Ryan and Elna Mitchell
Ryan recently got to join some of the men of GBC Tempe on a retreat. They started the retreat with a round of golf (because, really, that is the best way to start it, right?). When playing a less than desirable ball, Ryan said “Eish!”. A while ago, one of the kids got hurt because of rushing to be first – I had to explain what “ ’n blinde sambok” means, because it just doesn’t sound right in anything but Afrikaans.
Here, flapjacks are pancakes, pancakes are crepes, tomato sauce is ketchup, tomato paste is tomato sauce, full cream milk is whole milk (or Vitamin D milk – what’s up with that?), single beds are twin beds (again, what?), double beds are full size beds, a serviette is a napkin… We fetch things, they go get things. I use a drying cloth, Janet uses a towel. To be fair, some of the things we say are also strange. We say boot instead of trunk and robot instead of traffic light, and sometimes chemist instead of pharmacy (but they counter by calling all medicine drugs). Mix into that the many Afrikaans words our kids use: tannie (aunt), oom (uncle), pappies (cereal), bakkie (bowl), lappie (cloth), and you end up with: “Tannie, do you have a lappie or a dish cloth that I can use, I messed pappies from my bakkie!” It makes for funny conversations…
Honestly, we do not feel very out of place in Phoenix. We are living with a family who instantly felt like old friends, and are blessed to have have been embraced by a likeminded Bible-teaching church. We all speak English (well, for the most part!), look similar, dress in similar clothing, and we share similar values. There are only small, subtle cultural and language differences that show us to be foreigners. And yet we keep noticing them. That is because we love these differences. To us, the small differences are a blessing. They serve to remind us of a deeper spiritual truth. We do not belong here. We are sojourners, tent-dwellers, citizens of heaven… Living mobile lives (we’re on 10 moves for our 10 years of marriage!) has its downsides. But for the most part, we love that God has not allowed us to get too attached to our earthly homes. It is good to belong. It is good to have a ‘home culture’. It is OK to put down roots. But our aim is to be heavenly minded, and to remember that this earthly life is but the blink of an eye in the light of eternity.
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
May we always continue walking in the truth, remembering that we are heaven-bound. May we persevere, and work hard as we carry the Good News with us so that others might join us in serving God. And that then, they can join us for an eternity in our true home.