So, a couple of months ago in a training at work there was the standard…”let’s all get to know each other” beginning to our time together. We were encouraged to share something with the group about where we were from, how we grew up. The facilitator said, “It doesn’t have to be super crazy, like, I grew up on a little jungle farm in Bolivia, or anything.” Hmmmmm. Well, now that’s interesting. In a sense, I did just that. Starting out my little life in the middle of nowhere in the jungles of Bolivia where the Ayore men had lots of farms surrounding our humble little village. Context for perhaps a new reader, my parents were missionaries and all of my siblings and I were born in Bolivia and grew up there. So, yeah, I’m THAT girl.
It makes other “ice-breaker” conversations take a very different slant as well. “Tell us about your childhood pets.” Hmmmm. After the general, “There was my dog Bruno, or my cat Sally, or my pet rat Milo (which seems weird), or my ferret Billy…” etc., it’s usually my turn. Well, let’s see, Lucy the tapir, our horses, an anteater, an armadillo, toss in some turtles for good measure, a weasel like creature called a melero, little snakes and big snakes, toucan birds, parrots, monkeys…yeah, I’m THAT girl.
It makes like interesting. BUT, I’m thankful to be THAT girl. It was a foundation that gave me a broad global perspective, an easily acquired 2nd language (Spanish) with a sprinkling of other fun language phrases (Ayore, Yuqui, Quechua, Portuguese….) and when I say these other phrases it actually sounds like I’m cussing someone out, or have a bad case of sloppy throat that I’m clearing. Good times. 🙂 And the phrases are so random…like in Quechua I can say, “Are you finished with that yet?” And in Yuqui, “Don’t shoot, I’m your friend!” and in Ayore, “Speak slower, I can’t understand.” (but even if they did I still wouldn’t understand, but don’t tell). Yes, handy little phrases they are!
My parents chose to be missionaries when my mom was 18 and my dad was 23. My siblings and I came along and joined them in their journey. It was a crazy world of learning the ropes over and over again as we lived in different cities, countries and continents. In Bolivia, my mom would have to train us to remember to put our toilet paper in the nearby bin – NEVER flush it down the toilet (unless it was an outhouse – which has it’s own set of rules…like slam the lid down before sitting so the cockroaches and other critters will scurry before you sit down and wish you had done so!) But, on our furlough years, (they’d serve 5 years on the field, 1 year of furlough in the U.S., and so on) my sweet grandma Clara would be horrified at these jungle grandbabies of hers who threw their t.p. in the trashcan next to the toilet. A nasty habit she’d think, for sure! So we’d hear my mom say, ALWAYS put your t.p. in the toilet before you flush!! And then we’d return to Bolivia only to be bewildered as we’d have to relearn all over again…NEVER put your t.p. in the toilet. Ah the joys of being a missionary kid!
I’d like to think the adaptive skills I had to develop have been an asset to me over the years, however. I have learned to “watch” and learn from others. And I’ve learned not to take myself seriously. Oh the stories I could tell of adapting to life in the U.S.! The puzzled grocery clerk who wondered what on earth a “palta” was that this American looking girl was desperately trying to find but then he quizzically smiled as I rejoiced over discovering said “palta” which is really an avocado. The language barriers…
So anyway….I’m THAT girl, but I’m happy to be THAT girl and though I’ve lived in the U.S. now for 30 years since arriving as a fresh faced 16 year old girl, my heart remains divided. Living in 2 continents and countries – entertaining beautiful memories and life in both. Some things are tweaky, but overall I cannot complain. God has been so gracious to me and I continue to be excited about the adventures to come. Who knows, maybe I’ll live another stint overseas again. Rob? Wanna go?
THAT girl. 🙂
Pics of me in the early days, taken out in Tobite. The little jungle village with the wonderful Ayore where my parents worked.