For instance, beggars. They warned us that we would need to come to terms with how we would handle seeing them constantly and in turn handle their different requests. They told us we would see so many that it would seem overwhelming and we needed a plan. Now, from the day we got to our new home we have had a steady stream of people coming by to ask us for money, many of them are there simply because word got out that new foreigners moved in we are fresh meat (so to speak). Fortunately we had friends who were able to point out the career ones who tell lies just to get money. They are the con-artists.
What I am talking about today are the "real" beggars. The blind lady in front of the bread store. The man without legs outside of the electronic store. The disfigured man who sits on the edge of the road that leads to the market. The small frail lady with no teeth who lays across the steps to a grocery store. We have found a way to respond that we feel honors the CEO, yet it is impossible to describe what we feel like as we pass them, carrying out our purchases. Our children are also aware of what the CEO says in regards to caring for the poor, it has been thoroughly discussed and still I can find no good answer to the question, "Why aren't more people giving to take care of them?"
Mind you, the average person in Machiatto earns 20,000RP a day, that is $2.00 (two dollars) U.S. Just from taking a walk down the street you realize there really is little hope of something more to aspire to for the majority of them. Life is hard, and most work very hard and barely earn a living. Recently a native friend came over for tea and he and his wife asked to look at our photo album I said sure and handed him the four inch thick book as I explained how that was all I could bring because of our luggage limit. They often smiled at the silly photos, then we noticed them shaking their heads at some in disbelief. They asked about all the land (of which they have none) that surrounded our home and the spread of food on our holiday table. It was hard for them to comprehend, and I felt embarrassed. I have never felt embarrassed by any of those things before, but at that moment compared to the life of my new friends it seemed awkward. As they left they said they would like to have us over and I said we would love to and we could see their pictures, and he said, "Well, we only have a few". I then shrunk to the size of my album.
I will learn to speak while keeping both of my feet on the ground instead of one in my mouth but my culture and experiences are so different from theirs that I find when I respond the way I normally would it doesn't fit. Then I find myself mulling over what could have been said, or should have been said and can feel a little lost. It is an odd place to be because being an American to them equals having wealth, and compared to them it is true even in our case in which using American standards we do not.
My trainer at language school the other day was shocked when in the discussion on hospitals I mentioned how costs were out of control, he thought Americans had the best health care and that it was free! He was talking about how you have to wait so long to be seen in the ER here, and (putting my foot in my mouth once more) I say, it's the same in America, sometimes you have to wait hours, to which he replied, "Oh, we have to wait days and they still might not choose to treat you." OUCH!! So much for trying to find common ground!
Just a little glimpse into a struggle that we find ourselves wrestling with every so often. It truly is amazing how for all the differences in our lives we have been able to find commonality with the people here. Somethings just cross all boundaries and two unlikely friends become friends. I find it to be a beautiful thing. Thank you for remembering us to the CEO, stay in the Manual, and please talk specifically about language school, Unit 2 is proving a little tougher and we have struggled with the grammar. We test in a week and a half to go to Unit three and we are not feeling too confident at the moment. Thanks for reading this mindless rambling! You guys are the best and I love hearing from you!!