How marshmallows taught me to not take things for granted
I’ve always loved reading stories from other missionary workers serving in different parts of the world. One such story that has stuck with me was of a family in China who were trying to have an Easter egg hunt. As they tried to hide each egg, a local lady who was following them picked it up straight away. She couldn't understand why they would be putting good food on the ground and not on the table where they could eat it.
Now that we have been living cross-culturally for a while, we have our own stories. And sometimes, we find ourselves identifying more with the locals in the stories that we’ve read than with the missionaries.
Recently, we were attending a conference, and we had a brilliant team from the U.S. who came to teach us adults and also do the children's programme. (Excellent use of short-term mission work! But that's a topic for another time.) My daughter came back from the programme one day very upset. The leader had bought a bag of big, soft, fluffy American marshmallows, a rarity in Central Asia. However, the kids were told that they couldn't eat them; rather, they played a game with them, throwing them at each other and having fun.
But my daughter was very upset that they didn't get to eat them. She was longing for the taste of an American marshmallow. She said that the game was fun, but she would have much more enjoyed eating them.
Living in a different culture has helped us and our kids to see the things we do in our home culture in a new light. We're learning to appreciate different things, and we’re learning not to take “Western” luxuries (like fluffy, soft marshmallows) for granted.
It’s helpful for all of us to take a step outside of our own cultures every now and then, whether it be going on a short-term mission trip or simply building a friendship with someone from a different culture who may live in our own neighborhood. When we put ourselves outside of what we’re used to, we discover what’s important to us and the things from our culture or home that we take for granted.
We also discover new things about God and His love for all people, and how similar we all are and the common purpose we have all been made for, despite our differences.
“…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Is 43:7