First… a shout out. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALISON!
As I searched for the topic of my first official blog posting, I had a difficult time deciding what to write about. I thought I could possibly introduce myself by explaining what the last few weeks/months have been like readying for this great transition, or even delve into the reasons for why this change in our lives is so necessary. I think I’ll save you all from this and tell a little anecdote instead.
Today I was meaning to find someone to have lunch with and my few possible lunch partners weren't available at the same time I was. “No problem,” I thought, “this would be a fine day for BBQ.” The sun was shining after all and I found it a good occasion considering the weather the past few days (I haven’t been able to cut the grass for a week because of the on/off cold, rainy days.) So I find myself in a nearby town, specifically in a “sordid” area of Benton Harbor entering a local establishment which is both a car wash and BBQ shack.
Driving into the parking lot at lunch time, one can see all the local white business people dressed in their business casual waiting to experience some real “ethnic” BBQ. I’d never been here before and was always interested in stopping in due to the inviting, billowing puffs from the smoking BBQ pits in the side parking lot. I enter the BBQ shack and find myself squinting at one of those old fashioned peg menu boards trying to decide what will be my last authentic BBQ meal in the US before leaving for Thailand. I decided on throwing the dice and getting a smoked, spicy polish dog and “pig on a bun” (their version of a pulled pork sandwich) and as a side I ordered some corn nuggets. It’s been years since I’ve had corn nuggets. YEARS. I remember loading my plate up with them when my grandparents used to take my sister and I to Sizzler when I was 7 years old.
After I ordered I chatted with another patron about what he was eating and what he does for a living. We were interrupted about 3 times by the cooks asking me to repeat what I had ordered; at least they were thorough on getting the order correct albeit annoying as it was. Just as my food was coming out the owner of the joint asks me if it is okay to pray and invites me say my own prayers. I was taken aback and not sure if I had even heard him correctly. “Pray with these strangers in this BBQ shack?” I asked myself. Things happen for a reason, so I obliged and joined hands in a 10 person prayer circle that included the owners, the cooks, some regulars there and a couple new customers like me. There were moments of silence and times where participants called out to the Lord (yes, Jesus!) while the owner led us in prayer. We prayed for the country, the city and even the patrons who walked into the business today. It was a very go-with-the-flow situation and I think it had a generally good effect on the group, because when I sat down alone outside on one of two picnic tables they have I was invited to sit with three fellow diners as we all enjoyed this BBQ joint for the first time.
As I am about to enter a new country with a different religion and culture, I’ve received a boatload of culture shock warnings from people. I didn't have to go anywhere to have culture shock in my own country today. It was all unusual, but good. I'm certain that will be Alison and my experience in Thailand. It just goes to show you that no matter what you expect the world to be like, there are plenty of people that act as variables. And on the metaphorical eve of this journey, the only thing I can tell myself is to expect the unexpected and always be ready to adjust my sails.
maybe eat some bugs too