24/7 Charades

When working on the ship over the past two outreaches I quickly picked up how important our actions/expressions were. This is especially true when working with non-English speaking patients. Now as I am back in Togo except this time without the ship and with out my translator friends, I am even more aware of how telling these things are.

Over the past two weeks I have been challenged, as an English-speaking woman, to speak and listen to French or Ewe speaking people. From the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed I get to play the lovely game of charades.

Let me give you an example of part of my day:
I wake up, go to the kitchen, and try to figure out what Alida’s ‘children’ are trying to say to me about the food on the stove (I eat it anyway).
Then as I drive on the dusty pot whole sticken roads, I hear people shout “Yovo (white person), &$^%*#*” unsure if what they said was good or bad, I contemplate whether I should wave back or not (I wave).
Once at my half way point, I get off Alida’s moto and into a taxi car with 6 other people. Once I reach my stop, I hand the driver my money. The straight-faced driver, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out incorrect change and places it in my hand. Seeing that the amount is not sufficient, I smile and keep my hand outstretched. He smiles back, reaches in his pocket and hands me the rest of my money. “Akpe kaka” (‘thank you very much’ in Ewe) and they all start to laugh and drive away (good try driver but you picked the wrong Yovo to jip).

Then, while walking down the street, I pass many sour faced Mamas and Papas who cant help but follow my gleaming white face. I smile and say, “Bonjour!” and then the sour turns into sweet and a smile breaks across their face, “Bonjour!” they reply.
As I walk into my class, I am greeted by 12, French-speaking, missionaries. As the class starts laughter and smiles fill the air. Even though I have absolutely NO idea what is going on or what was said, I start laughing as well(and usually when everyone else is finished I’m still laughing). Laughter is contagious and I think it is something we should spread everywhere we go.

Because of this new form of deafness, I am convinced, more than ever before, that our actions and facial expressions truly tell what our heart is feeling. I could tell when people were happy, sad, tired, angry, inpatient, joyful, or even sick. I see how much we say without saying a word. I have also seen that, by being positive or even just smiling, you can change a negative atmosphere into a positive one.

I like to talk; ask my family. Over these past few weeks I have been doing a lot more listening than talking and I see how much actions prevail over words. I say a lot of stuff that floats off into nothing but I wonder what my life would be like if I lived out everything I say. Love God and know he is in control of everything. Don’t be anxious, rash, judgmental, critical, etc. Love our family, our friends, and even those that aren’t our friends yet. Sometimes the hardest people to love are our friends and family, even though those are the ones that matter most to us.

What would life be like if we lived out what we believe?
To do more listening and less talking.
To love instead of judge.
To smile instead of frown.
To pray instead of worry

I think I should play charades more often.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Thanks Becca.
I love reading your thoughts.
Sorry I never got round to calling you this year. A year how did I not call you in a year?!?!
anyway, I loved the whoelt hign about our actions - I am more of a talky type as you know.
And with my sarcastic straight faced humour I really have to watch what my body language says about me.
I'll be praying for you and your amazing time in West Africa - I bet it's so much more challenging and fun without 400 Yovos with you.
Keep on with the Taxi drivers too!! Don't be a Yovo Sucker!!