Texas is quite an odd place in many ways. As I’ve mentioned in previous Facebook status’ Garden Valley, which has been our home for five weeks now is a dry county. This means Alcohol is pretty inaccessible. Beer and wine can be found after a 40 mile drive and spirits seem to be completely forbidden. This is a problem for a girl who greatly enjoys a Gin and Tonic. I am generalising when i say the Americans don’t seem to have too much of a problem with this but the Europeans are thirsty! I hadn’t realised how much of our society is based on alcohol. I wonder how many would agree that socialising would be boring without a beer, that the nurses average day would not be finished without a sniff of red wine at the end. A refreshing glass of vino during a working lunch is the sandwich filler in a business mans day. Even the residents in old peoples homes have bellies full of Harvey’s Bristol Cream by noon. Its concerning how much this is a fundamental part of our lives. I know it’s obvious but had not realised just how much us Brits love our booze!
We have ben studying culture over the last 5 weeks here at Mercy Ships and when the Europeans got together to discuss our similarities and what is really important to us our values were quite different to the Americans. We (French/Swiss, German, Portuguese/Spanish, British)
Listed amongst many things; Identity in cuisine, Quality in everything, Efficiency, and above all: alcohol. And so 6 weeks without it has been, to be honest odd! All is not lost we have been wined and dined during this time by a couple of people that work on the base, which was very enjoyable.
Although the shops are alcohol free they do boast an excellent firearms department! It is also odd that you can buy camouflage suits for adults and babies alike. I guess this is because everyone has a gun which means there is a relatively high risk of being shot. I think if I lived here I would import Tetley’s tea, Bombay Sapphire and invest in one of those camouflage suit thingys! I have also learnt that there are even people that centre their evangelism around the use of firearms. I’m not a big theologian but I’m pretty sure there really isn’t much of an argument to put forward here.
But then I’m not much of a cowgirl either! What do I know? As the man said there’s nothing like a gun to get someone to stop and take notice of what you’re saying …. umm.
So apart from my revelations about the British dependancy of Alcohol what else have we been doing? Well the past 5 weeks have been great. We have learnt so much. We have studied a lot of stuff from theological fundamentals about who God is and who we are, looking in to what our individual purpose is, to basic FireFighting training. We have debated, questioned, talked, presented, prayed, watched, listened and drunk a lot of poor quality coffee thanks to Starbucks. As you can see from the pictures the base is beautiful the offices and accommodation are surrounded by forest. There are two big lakes that Ally has been fishing at with some new buddies, trying to cast out the city boy in him (still asking his friends to get the fish off the hook- too messy). It’s beautiful for walking, running or just thinking. Theres a farm too where they keep cows and they have just recently been donated some beautiful calfs.
During this time we have been living with our team mates and It has been far from the initial fears I had. The group are fantastic and I love each one. We have such a mix of people and it has been a pleasure working with them. I’m not even scared of living on a boat full of Christians now! 5 weeks may seem like a long time to study for what we are doing and before we came I thought it was probably a little overkill, but actually it has been enormously worthwhile. I feel ready now to join the Ship and start our roles.
Which is very good news as I’m currently sitting in Frankfurt Airport in Germany awaiting for our next flight, which will be flight number 3 today. I can not express how good Germany feels right now. Bread without added sugar, water with no added chorine, proper beer, yoghurt that tastes like fruit rather than sweeteners and muesli without corn syrup. Heaven.
When it comes to cultural changes we have been taught to say that it’s not wrong it’s different, to embrace other cultures, learn and observe rather than judge so regarding the guns and the bread and the yoghurt we shall just say it’s not wrong, it’s different, and today I am loving Germany!
So the next step is to board the plane heading to Gabon and then Congo. Then we will be working in an orphanage for 2 weeks doing whatever needs to be done. Then to the ship where I will start being a nurse again. Stay tuned.