Out of our Element

"Daddy, what is THAT?" Robbie turned around to see a big-eyed little girl staring at the metal box that magically produced a stream of water.

"That's a water fountain," he replied, chuckling to himself.

"I'm thirsty!" she exclaimed, skipping over to the large box. She positioned herself in front of it, closed her eyes, and opened her mouth as wide as she could.

"Umm, Claire, you have to lean in like this, and push the button," Robbie instructed. She's a little behind the times...

Water fountains aren't the only magical treat Claire has encountered over the past couple of weeks. Our first trip to a mall on a Friday night proved just as fascinating. Robbie and I walked around feeling a little self-conscious. We were back! But did we look the part? I was in my own country, in a familiar place, but I didn't belong anymore. I felt like people were staring at us. "Do we look normal?" I whispered to Robbie.

He looked a little uncomfortable himself. "I think so...this is weird." We tried our best to nonchalantly browse the stores. I was careful not to gawk at price tags or stare at the weird sandal/boot shoes all the girls seemed to be wearing. Blend, blend! I told myself.

But four-year old Claire's eyes grew huge at the large bungee-rigged, bouncing contraption in the middle of the atrium. Then she almost yanked my arm off when we passed a large assortment of giant gumball machines. She found the smell of Cinnabon intoxicating. By the time we got to the food court, she couldn't contain herself any longer...

"I LOVE this place!" she shouted, twirling around with her hands thrown into the air.

Our faces flushed as the people at nearby tables stared our way. Robbie grabbed Claire's hand, muttering, "Way to blend."

We have been here a couple of weeks now, and I'm still not sure we are blending back into American society very well. Claire addresses anyone of another nationality (like our Chinese waitress or a Bahamian hotel steward) in Spanish. Elevators are thrilling rides. Toilet paper can now go into the potty. And Walmart, well, as she says, "I think this store has everything in the whole wide world!"

Life is anything but normal right now. We are traveling constantly and eating out
quite a bit. Robbie and I looked at each other in horror when Claire exclaimed, "In Honduras, you have to cook your food. But in the United States...they just bring it to you!"

So if you are out and about this week, and you see three weirdos oohing and aahing over a slushie machine or an all-you-can-eat buffet, just ignore us. Culture shock works both ways.

6 Responses
  1. Elizabeth Says:

    I'm sure you guys are blending in just fine. Claire's observations are adorable. Hope furlough is going well.

  2. Kathy Says:

    Well written piece on something we natives never even consider. Why blend in? I love unique YOUS! Gawk, ohhh and ahhh all you like. . .we should learn to celebrate our blessings here from you!

    Aunt Kathy

  3. Ricky Says:

    The best thing about you being home is YOU... I mean you, Robbie, and Claire. Stuff is stuff, different, but the same.

  4. Liz K Says:

    hehehe, oh that reverse culture shock! Enjoy your time at home. I just tell people you have been asleep for 5 years and haven't seen any of these newfangled contraptions!

  5. David & Rebekah Scott Says:

    We love keeping up with you guys and hearing about your great adventures. Hope you have a great time back in the states!

  6. Kimberly Grainger Says:

    You guys are the greatest! Can't wait to hug all three of ya' at Christmas!

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