England Was BRILLIANT!
We just returned Friday evening and the jet lag hit me hard yesterday. I was grumpy and tired and foggy brained all day. I even broke the lid for my sugar bowl while trying to make coffee. What a mess.
But the trip itself was well worth all the jet lag. This evening I'm scrambling to take care of several "end of the month" matters as well as to get a blog post online. Thank you for checking in while we were away.
Earlier in the year, I was invited to speak for the women's conference which would be hosted by St. Austell Baptist church. Frank was to speak for their Sunday service. He also spoke for a men's gathering while I shared again for their regular ladies Bible study.
Each time we spoke, the people were so very gracious and receptive. They had paved the way with much prayer and it felt like Heaven just opened up to meet with us. (Of course, in typical British fashion, the heaven's did open up literally to pour cold, liquid sunshine all day Saturday. But the ladies came anyway.)
We met so many new friends. They shared stories which reminded us God cares greatly for all His children. And if the story of a girl from Florida will best encourage a girl in Cornwall, He can arrange for them to connect.
Sue Cox, the women's director for St. Austell, made the bold move of setting things in motion after meeting a mutual friend I've written about before, Sue Parsons. Those two started communicating in 2017 and that's how it all came to be.
Frank and I have ministered in England several times over the past 18 years. We love the people, the countryside, the customs, the cathedrals...... I could go on but I won't.
On our first visit, it was Frank who made a serious verbal blunder. (Even though we technically speak the same language, American English and British English have some stark differences.)
This trip, it was my turn to "Make a Memory!"
I was speaking for the Tuesday evening Bible study. We were joined by additional ladies from other churches who had heard what a great day we had together on Saturday.
As part of the message that night, I wanted to draw the ladies in with the illustration of how every little girl dreams of her wedding day. I wanted them to see the picture of little girls who might tie a sheer curtain under their chins like a wedding veil.
In an attempt to use a term they would readily understand I said, "As a child, I would tie my mother's old kitchen sheers under my chin and walk up and down our hallway while humming the wedding march."
Of course, in my enthusiasm I had to parade up and down in front of the podium they'd provided in an attempt to imitate my five year old self.
The sudden buzz of whispers and puzzled expressions caught me off guard. They weren't following me.
My lifetime friend Sue Parsons spoke up, "Whatever do you mean?"
I began using larger gestures to help them envision my point. "I would tie one of Mom's old kitchen sheers under my chin." (Please see me bent forward slightly at the waist in order to make my chin stick out a little further. Arms bent at the elbows while my entire lower arm made the tying motion.)
Still no connection.
They looked puzzled and I just stood up perplexed.
At long last someone called out, "Do you mean a net curtain?!"
I quickly looked over to Sue for help. "I don't know. Do I mean a net curtain?"
The room erupted into gales of laughter.
You see, what I said was 'kitchen sheers' a term they would never use. What they all heard and tried their best to envision was a child tying a set of kitchen SHEARS (American version: scissors) under her chin. They tried to see that same child parading up and down her hallway while humming the wedding march.
"We couldn't understand why your mother would allow you to tie SHEARS under your chin!"
Well, when you put it that way, neither can I!
Some of you will want to know how I handled such a huge blunder. I chose the response Frank and I have found best at such awkward times.
I laughed right along with them.
Overseas travel will quickly teach you to never take yourself too seriously. Embarrassment is just part of the experience. Enjoy the laugh and move on. (Except I feel sure this faux pas will follow me for years to come.)
Hopefully, I've given you a little smile tonight as well.
Blessings for you all as together we welcome October!
How about you? Any embarrassing moments while trying to communicate in a foreign culture? We'd love to hear about your favorites in the comment section.......
When I first moved to Kansas City some 35+ years ago, I had a Korean boss. Her daughter was in preschool. She came to work one day talking about a song the daughter had come home singing - 3 Blind Mice. She couldn't understand why a children's song referenced a butcher knife.ReplyDelete
My cousin's daughter-in-law is from England. She has only been in the US a little over two years. In fact, today is their 2nd anniversary. When I went to see their new baby in August, she was talking about her dad asking her mother where something was. Can't remember what she called it but it was a sweater.
How Precious! Thanks for sharing, Phyllis! :-)Delete