This weekend a guy showed up at the hostel to stay in the bunk room. We chatted for a bit – he told me a little about his experience teaching in Honduras – and I went on my way. The next morning we talked for a good while about politics, teaching English, culture, and managing a hostel, because it turns out he had experience doing that, too. Looking back over our conversation later that day I realized just how great God is and how nice He is in giving us not only what we need but also often what we want.
Yesterday I listened to a sermon on John 6, which starts with the feeding of the 5,000. The preacher reminded me that not only did Jesus feed the people, but there were leftovers! Everyone ate until they were full and then some. And Jesus is still loving on us like this. Not only does He give me great coworkers and a pretty place to work and enough money to buy Dr. Pepper and Starbusts all the time, but this weekend He also gave me this guest, who had previously been a hostel manager, to help me put things into perspective.
This guy shared some STORIES about being a hostel manager. Man alive, people can be rude! I definitely have it good at the hostel I manage, where probably the worst thing a guest has done is proclaim that it was my fault that he took the room key with him when he left and that I was essentially terrible at my job.
In sharing the stories this guest (the one who used to be a hostel manager, not the one who forgot to give me back the room key) and I started talking about the beautiful importance of self awareness. We had observed that most people aren’t big huge jerks, they just are only thinking about themselves. I shared how interacting with guests who generally seem to be decent people but also seem to only think about themselves has caused me to try to be a bit more self aware. In what ways am I, in only thinking on myself, harming or pushing away others?
This guest and I also talked about the benefits of living in the “bad part of town.” He has lived literally all over the world (from Colombia to India to South Korea to England to Spain to Italy to the States to Honduras… and that’s just what he’s mentioned to me!) and says that he prefers living on the “wrong side of the tracks.” We talked about how the lower income areas are generally more diverse, more fun, and have better (and cheaper!) food. PLUS being around people who are different than you usually does wonders for the ol’ self awareness.
Not only does being around people who are different than you sharpen self awareness, but it also widens the ol’ comfort zone. In fact, if you live in a culture different from your native culture long enough, you will find yourself time and time again shoved right out of your comfort zone. And outside of our comfort zone is where we grow!
The other day my cat had kittens. Again. And, glory to God, this time she birthed them outside! Hooray! Mama cat and the babies are in the pump house in the backyard safely and cozily curled up behind my upstairs neighbor’s pump. Yesterday I was checking on the little ones and trying to snap some cute pics for the social media when my shoulder bumped some tube on the pump (the neighbor’s pump, if you remember) and IT BROKE. Some random little tube broke and water and then air sprayed all over me.
I panicked for just a minute and then I just had to start fixing the problem. Because I broke the neighbor’s water pump! And because our pumps are very necessary. The water situation here is fragile, and we need our pumps! So I called the plumber (who I practically have on speed dial, the poor guy) and asked if there was any possible way he could come over that day on a Sunday afternoon to fix my neighbor’s broken pump tube.
And then, of course, I had to call my neighbor, because you can’t just break someone’s something and hope they don’t notice. Especially when it’s something as vital as a pump! Fortunately I have my neighbor’s number because he installed the window screens at the hostel. I called him and told him that I broke his pump while looking at the kittens and that the plumber was coming over that very day and that of course I would pay for any repairs. He was really cool about it, which was a blessing.
I had to make both of those phone calls in my second language.
But I did it! I made phone calls and problem solved and apologized in my second language. Living in the Dominican Republic has forced me into these kinds of situations, shoved me out of my comfort zone, and I believe I am a better person for it. I am, more or less, the kind of person who owns up to her mistakes, asks for help, and asks for forgiveness. And I can do it in two languages.
To treat myself for handling the situation well I had a caramel blended coffee delivered to the hostel. We’ll just skip over the fact that I broke the pump in the first place with my clumsy carelessness because that’s just a part of my self (notice that self awareness!) that I’ve gotten used to by this point.