Friday, November 22, 2013

When Culture Shock Comes to Your Home

One of the things about culture shock is that you expect to experience it to some extent when you move to another country.  New faces, different mentalities and foreign behaviors are all things you're ready to be confronted by when mingling with a new culture. And even though it's sometimes difficult, any reasonable person is ready to make some adjustments to the new world around them.

But what happens when that foreign culture enters your home? How is one to adjust to their personal space being invaded - especially when there's anthropomorphism and a time warp involved?

Monday morning was supposed to be a normal get-ready-for-preschool kind of morning. Yet, when we woke up we happened upon the following scene:

Our favorite peanut crunchy snack - bobi flips - were being consumed by prehistoric beasts! Yet, when we sat back and took it all in, there was something exciting about seeing dinosaurs outside of their natural habitat. Would this just be a one time occurrence?

We didn't have to wait long to find out. On Tuesday morning we found them like this:

They had climbed up our blocks, onto our bookshelf and found one of our favorite stories. Of course, no one was more surprised than T-Rex, but it took us off guard too. We couldn't wait to tell everyone about the creatures who had decided to make themselves at home overnight.

On Wednesday morning as soon as we woke up, we ran to see what they were up to next.

We started asking questions. How did they get up the stairs from their box in the playroom? How'd they open the door? Daddy told us he would make sure the living room was closed and locked overnight so they wouldn't come in. We were relieved...then disappointed. But I realized there were other places they could go if they didn't have access to the living room. Would they take advantage of other rooms?

Sure enough, on Thursday morning they were bathing in the bathroom.

We usually take our baths at night, but decided to join them right away.

How will this story end? How much longer will it last? Stay tuned.

Editor's note: This was not our idea! Go here to read the original. Go to their facebook page to browse or post your own pictures. There's still a week left of Dinovember!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Unplugged in Zagreb

Hrvatski prijevod: Iskopčani u Zagrebu

"If someone in walked in here off the street, they wouldn't believe what's going on."

My wife and I were standing in a former casino hall in Zagreb surrounded by 300 other Croats, Slovenes, Serbs and Bosnians enjoying a Slovakian band singing in Serbian. Some were dancing, others talking among themselves or simply listening; but everyone was having a good time. My wife was right; this scene was rare. The event that brought these different cultures and languages together was called "Srcokret" - a word that's not even a word.
Photo courtesy of Sara Delić

Suncokret is Croatian for "sunflower". It literally means "turn towards the sun". The wordplay was designed around a desire to see hearts (srce) in the former Yugoslavia turned toward Christ. This was the third Srcokret since 2008 and the second one my wife and I have attended. All three of them have been examples of how true Christian unity is stronger than the tradition, borders and history that divide these nations.

Yet the main point wasn't simply about reconciliation. Although everyone is aware of it, many of the young people in attendance were born after the conflicts in the early to mid-90's. No, this conference was about what it means to unplug from the system. The example of a matrix was used - the movie explicitly referred to. When someone honestly makes a decision to follow Christ, they're unplugged from the influence of the world. As the Apostle Paul said, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". (Romans 12:1, NIV)

The whole conference was structured around six different workshops - all of which focused on unplugging from a specific cultural grid. But this condition of being unplugged doesn't just mean that Christians are supposed to stay in their little corner and wait for heaven. This was one of Srcokret's biggest strengths. Rather than being exhorted to withdraw, we were encouraged to be the best in our fields and engage in the culture around us. One of the workshops I attended was led by a successful law professor whose desire is to use the gift God has given him to its full potential.

Unity was also a major theme. The lead organizer, a pastor from Karlovac, concluded the conference with a passionate call for Christians to be plugged into the church. "We shouldn't have to pray for unity", he said. "Do I have to pray for my foot to walk? When we're truly part of the Body of Christ, unity comes naturally."

Maybe that's what would have seemed so strange to someone walking in off the street. Different nations, languages and traditions all having a good time together. The concert, which featured rock, rap, punk and worship musicians, represented a certain freedom everyone felt. Freedom from religiosity. Freedom from tradition. Freedom from the matrix.

Yeah, it was strange. Especially in this part of the world where events for young Christians are relatively small and where cultural divisions seem large. Maybe it was rare for those reasons. Or, maybe it's because this scene was as much like heaven as any other I've been a part of before.
Copyright Evanđeoska pentekostna crkva u Hrvatskoj 2013