Any time you live and work in another culture and language, you are going to come up against challenges. A lot of them are really pretty funny. Embarrassing, but funny. And you just have to laugh and learn from it, because if you are too serious and beat yourself up about it, you won’t make it out here in the big world of cross-cultural service. Here’s one recent example:
In a meeting of church leadership, I (Laurie) said, “We need people to be cheerleaders (porristas) for the event and encourage people.” Others at the table responded with strange looks and gasps.
Then one leader said, “What do you mean by porristas?”
“Cheerleaders… you know, people who encourage you and give energy to the event. Like in sports on the sidelines? (odd looks) Like in High School Musical? (ah ha! Clarity registered on their faces.) The whole time I’m waving my arms and making cheer moves from my high school days.
Then the founding pastor said, “we don’t use that word here. Where did you learn that word?”
“Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru.”
He says, “Oh. Latin America. Well, we don’t say that. Porristas are people who smoke marijuana. We don’t need that at this event.”
Oops… note to self… no porristas at church events. Noted.
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!