Monday, January 12, 2009

"Don't worry, it will grow back."

While passing through the capitol city, I got my hair cut, a little above the shoulders (probably 5-6 inches off). I waited until I came back to Asia to get it cut, cause it’s cheaper here, plus you get it your head shampooed and massaged for free! I got it cut because it is difficult to bathe here at times – depending on the weather, or the water, or any number of things. It will also help keep lice and other buggies out, which most of the girls have here at the orphanage where I live. I just figured it would be easier to manage if it was shorter. I knew I would disappoint most of my friends here, since long hair is cherished much more. But I didn’t realize how much I would disappoint them. Most of my welcome back conversations have included the following:

“Why did you cut your hair? I liked it better before. It’s okay now, but it was better before. Don’t worry it will grow back. Hair grows faster in the winter, it will come back quickly. Now you are more a foreigner, before you were Indian.”

(See photo of some of the girls at the orphanage where I live, and you can kind-of see my haircut too…the girl in the front in the middle has taken a special interest in me and greets me every day when I wake up and when I come back from meeting with teams. I’ll write more about her another time. I’ll call her Sarah. (P.S. Some of the girls are holding up a picture of my family - a request they made before I left).

All of the comments made me laugh, but especially the last one. First of all, I like that just the length of my hair can dictate my ethnicity! But it’s also interesting to think that I spent the first two years in India trying hard to become Indian, I even dyed my hair black and resisted cutting it as much as possible. But now, out of practicality, I have given up trying to become what I will never be. What has been stated is true. I am a foreigner. Always have been, always will be.

And yet, if I am a foreigner here, why do I sometimes feel like a foreigner at home? I still feel like I fit more at home, after all I’ve spent most of my life there in that culture, language, etc. But there is a part of me that has been changed after being over here. A part of me that can never change back. I’m still pondering this fact, and haven’t come to any conclusions as to how it has and is, and will continue to impact my life. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic – those who have wrestled with something similar in their lives, or who have known others who have handled this bi-culture type of life.


KUmiller said...

Hi Elizabeth,
My wife, Cindy and I experienced what you are talking about during our 10 years in Bulgaria. Learning to celebrate the best of both cultures is a rare privilege--as well as enduring the exasperations of both cultures. In confronting the latter, we are confronted buy God's grace being enough, as well as a rare vision of what God sees and shows us is important. Do not grow weary in well doing (and well being). We are all in this temporary tent dwelling place with great expectation of our future home-the final end to cultural blending and adaption. We will truly be HOME with HIM!

WISHING I had your privilege of your perspective and gift of grace (but grateful for what's before us),
galen miller
gmminist ryhomedotorg

KUmiller said...

P.S. Imagine how Jesus felt blending his two cultures-Heaven and earth and celebrating what is good in both.

America (friends and family there) is wonderfully more precious than before leaving and yet strangely missing the wonders and people of our adopted country. You've been forever ruined to what home used to mean. Or is it you've got a true-er glimpse of what home is to come.

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