People gathering together is a universal activity that translates into every culture.
And there’s nothing quite like a room full of women who gather bringing international food! The air quickly fills with smells of curry and sounds of repetitive conversations. We each have to restate words several times to comprehend what is being said through thick international accents. (Or, in my case, a thick southern accent.)
Learning to love foreigners is a process.
After 12 years as an expatriate in Somalia, Kenya, and primarily Djibouti, I have seen expatriates come and go, thrive and struggle, engage in the community and hunker down behind high walls. Over time I have noticed some patterns, things that thriving expats tend to do, or not do. Could be here, could be in other countries.
I can remember our first day here in Istanbul so clearly. We were driving from the airport to our apartment and my thoughts went a little like this: "What was I thinking? I cannot raise kids here! ...Oh my word. We almost just hit that kid! Ellie (our daughter) will never go into the street, ever! I'm never going to make it here. I might as well get back on the plane." And, on and on and on the fearful thoughts went, and more and more feelings of dread overwhelmed me.
Living and working as an expatriate for an American company in a large city in East Asia for slightly over three years was a huge blessing for me, and God used that experience to significantly impact my life. He changed my life through that experience in the following ways: increased humility, strengthened Christian worldview, and fueled passion for sharing the gospel.
While living in Moscow for two years, my wife and I were fortunate to spend many evenings in the apartments and homes of dear friends. Here are some things we learned (sometimes the hard way) that really helped us look less like strangers in a strange land.
1. How do you define business? Will you be totally supported by your operations or will you still receive outside funding?