So, when we are in the States again I must remember to flush the toilet paper. Wipe and drop, wipe and drop. It’s not so hard. The absence of a trash can overflowing with wadded up toilet paper complete with brown smudges will be your first clue. Wipe and drop.
I wonder what else I can expect. It has been 28 months since being back in the States. I have traveled to other places like Peru and the Salar de Uyuni. But we are going back to THE United States. Home of the fast lane. Home of fast food. Home of fast talking because everyone is so gosh darn busy.
Remember you are free of the green envy monster. Be happy for people when they tell you that things are tight so they can’t give towards the orphanage… but come see my new car. Be happy when people tell you they only have a couple minutes to talk even though they haven’t seen you face to face in hundreds of thousands of minutes. Remember that, “Hey! How ya’ doing?” isn’t a real question.
Must not kiss. No kissing anybody. Do you need to pack the duct tape just as a reminder? Extend hand, lock elbow, grasp firmly, up and down. No kissing. Oh, and don’t forget the churchy-nothing-kooky-going-on-hug-slash-pat. Stand shoulder to shoulder, reach over and give a quick pat on the opposite shoulder. It shows you care, but not overly.
Babies. You got some very strange looks when you goo-gooed over some bitty ones last time. Oh, of course the babies were just eating it up, but the parents start personal space training at a very young age in the States. The baby stays in the plastic carrier. That is their place: strapped to the plastic thing sitting on the floor while mom talks to everyone. Don’t bother the babies because the parents might be bothered by that. Sneak your goo-gooing in when the mom loses interest in your conversation and turns the other way.
Conversations. Have you got your kodak moments prepared? Can you sum up your life in a 30 second phrase? Sure, there will be some people genuinely interested in what you have to say, but test the waters before you jump right in. Don’t worry about being up with the latest lingo. They find it endearing when you slip some Spanglish in or have an odd accent.
They have home court advantage… HEY, hold it right there… what is all this us and them talk? You are a they and they are a you. You don’t have to try to be someone you are not. You just be you and they will love you. I would suggest that you remember what sports season we are in, though. You might not want to use phrases like “home court advantage” seeing as we are in football season. Oh, and that is the football with the hands, feet and pads, not just the feet. Got it?
*We all do it. We talk to ourselves. The sophisticated pros call it ’self-talk’. In a theatrical production it is like unto a soliloquy. Whatever it is, here’s some from my head.
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Well folks, I am off to the States early Friday morning. DaRonn and I are going back to where we spent our honeymoon: Colorado. That was 13 years ago. We will be there for a week with some very good friends and a few dozen other people who have also dedicated their lives to ministering to others. I am more excited than nervous. It is really going to be a wonderful time.