Monday, September 21, 2009

Billiam Rizzle Explanations

I have had a couple people ask me about the Cross-Cultural Misadventures movies that I made for YWAM JAX. In reality these movies are humorous looks at very common mistakes missionaries, and many tourists, make when they are immersed in a new culture. There are numerous things that we, as Christ's ambassadors, try to avoid doing in order to further relationships. That does not mean that we agree that these cultural suppositions are correct. Here is an explanation of the cultural faux pas Billiam has committed to date.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #1 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

In episode 1, Billiam starts off on the wrong foot by offering his left hand to his new friend. In the majority of Middle Eastern and Asian nations, there is a stigma regarding the use of the left hand. In many less developed nations the left hand is used in lieu of toilet paper. Thus its easy to see why someone would be offended if you offered them your left hand. It is also considered bad form to eat using your left hand. The second big mistake he makes is the offering of pork to the devout Muslim. Muslims, like Jews, avoid pork as it is considered unclean. In most Muslim nations, the would be offended even if you were to eat pork in their presence. Many missionaries will completely abstain from Pork as not to unnecessarily offend those they are trying to reach. One other "mistake" Billiam makes is not eating what is offered to him. While this is more a matter of being polite than a cultural issue, it is an important step in making friends.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #2 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

In episode 2 Billiam quickly learns how little regard many Asians have for "personal space." They also view personal touch very different from us. While it is considered inappropriate for any type of PDA between sexes, it isn't at all uncommon to see 2-3 guys walking down the street holding hands or with their arms wrapped around each other. Billiam's first mistake in this episode is stepping over the food. In many Asian countries the bottom of the foot is looked on as being the second dirtiest part of the body, after the left hand. So, to step over food, put your feet on the table, or to point the sole of your foot at someone, is extremely offensive. Billiam shows a little improvement from the first episode by drinking the butter tea he is given, but quickly takes a step back by showing his disgust. I have eaten and drunk many things I would rather not have, but it is all worth it when new relationships are developed. Billiam's final mistake in episode two is killing the fly that is driving him crazy. In many Buddhist cultures there is a sort of reverence given to all forms of life. By blatantly killing an insect in front of this Tibetan he has shown himself to be someone who doesn't respect life.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #3 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

In episode three Billiam's wife Liz enters the picture. It is she who makes the first error by trying to hug the Muslim man. In many cultures it is considered inappropriate for a woman, single or married, to touch a man who is not a relative or. The same is true about a man touching a woman. The second mistake they make is the use of the thumbs up gesture. In Iran, giving someone a thumbs up is the same as saying, "sit on this!" Hand gestures mean very different things in different parts of the world. For example, in many parts of Tibet, the middle finger is a way of saying something is s0-s0. Needless to say, many foreigners have been needlessly offended by a Tibetan "flipping them the bird." The final straw is when, while fleeing, Liz hikes up her dress and shows a bit too much skin. In most Muslim cultures women are expected to keep covered when in public.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Towards the end of July we decided to take an unplanned trip to Michigan to visit my family. We left Friday afternoon and arrived in Jamestown mid-morning on Saturday, much to the surprise of my parents, who had no clue that we were coming (thanks Jennie). Lyla did really good on the drive up, even though she didn't sleep much. We had a very relaxing, but busy, time in the country. Lyla loved spending time with her aunts, uncles and cousin.  I finally got around to going through the pictures so here are a few highlights.

This is what happens when one jumps on a trampoline in their diaper.

Lyla with great grandpa and grandma Jolman

Monday night we went to a Whitecaps game. Lyla, as usual, loved every minute of the game. She seems to think that every team is called the Jacksonville Suns, which she loves to chant while pumping her fist in the air. She does the exact same thing when we're watching a game on TV. 

Beware the two-headed monster!
Tuesday night we had an impromptu birthday party for Lyla. It was good to see relatives and family friends we hadn't seen in a while. Lyla enjoyed the party atmosphere.

Thursday we were able to visit John Ball Zoo. I was amazed at how much it has improved since I was a little kid. Lyla loved watching the penguins, wolverine, and snow leopard, all of which we can't see at the Jax Zoo. 

Lyla & her cousin Patience
Friday Lyla went blue berry picking with the girls. While I wasn't there I could tell how much she enjoyed in by the blue stains all over her hands and face when she came back to the house. 
While we were there Lyla also got to see baby cows and learn how feed chickens.