Well, my first week (okay so only my first 5 days) is coming to an end. I have been keeping a notebook of all of my observations this week, and I thought I would share some with you.
This is the view from the room I am renting for another week. This picture is looking north towards the Greater Caucasus Mountains. They are still snow-capped, and will be for a few more weeks. It is colder than normal for May, and they are getting a lot more rain than usual as well. But as you can see, it is a gorgeous town, and countryside.
The roads in the town are all paved…but to different degrees. The two main roads going north/south and east/west are nicely paved, very smooth, and easy to travel on. The rest of the roads are paved with only stones. They are very bumpy, uneven and not at all straight. And since there are not really a lot of sidewalks (outside of the town center) you have to walk on the bumpy road – usually in the very middle of the road since those stones have been driven over more, making them more even and easier to walk on.
The road between Tbilisi and the town I am in is also paved. However it too is very bumpy, uneven and winds thru the mountains. I am not ashamed to admit that I became quite queasy on the drive that first day in country.
The people are so kind and friendly, and welcoming. Hospitality really is a joy for them. However I do not have any pictures with them yet, because they hate having their picture taken.
Thursday, we went out to a village. It was wonderful to spend time with the only two believers in that village. The story of how they each came to know Christ is quite amazing. One of these days I will share with you those miracles. On the way back into town, we experienced my first ever Georgian “traffic jam”…getting stuck behind a herd of cows heading home from the pasture. Then a little while later another – this time waiting for hundreds of sheep to cross the street.
In Georgia, homes have very small “living rooms”. Instead, the home is based around the dining area. Supras, large feasts, are a way of life, where they invite everyone they know to come and eat – just fellowship in general. Here, time, or more specifically – scheduling, is almost irrelevant. They don’t make to do lists, don’t calendar events and appointments. Everything here is focused on one thing – relationships.
Even in the church things never go as planned. Tuesday night there was a prayer meeting. It was “scheduled” to go from 7pm to 8pm. However around 7:10 the pastor finally started the meeting by sharing a scripture. Then we were going to turn to prayer. But a new believer started asking questions about the scripture…then other questions. And the prayer meeting turned into more of a Bible study almost, where the pastor and other mature believers were able to pour into the two new believers in attendance. It was 8pm before anyone even bothered to look at the time. Then we still had to pray, so we spent about 10 minutes in prayer before dismissing. In our American way of life, that could have been an issue because it was not the “time nor the place” for the questions. However, just think of the personal growth that was possible because they were willing to put aside their schedules to share with their brothers in Christ.
I have been praying about how I should handle just those differences. After all, I am a type A personality that likes to keep lists just so I have the satisfaction of crossing things off of it. I am task-oriented with a strong work ethic. And none of those things are worth the time of day (I even use phrases focused on time to get a point across!) here. But this morning, God reminded me of the story in Luke 10 where Jesus visits Mary & Martha. Mary is happy to just sit at Jesus’ feet and absorb everything he has to share. Martha, on the other hand, is task-oriented. She is busy preparing a feast to celebrate that Jesus has come to spend time with them. She gets frustrated, complaining to Jesus about Mary, and Jesus’ response is not one that aligns with our American way of life. Jesus says that Mary has found what is important – and he will not take that away from her.
I came to Georgia to share how Jesus wants a personal, intimate, loving relationship with every Georgian. But how can I do that if I am not willing to set aside my own personality quirks in order to build, have, and share in relationships the way that they do? God showed me that I am like Martha – I can be too task focused, and miss out on the relationship aspect of what I am trying to accomplish. I am not saying that I need to walk away from who I am. But I need to find a balance that will allow me to expand who I am so that I can focus on that relational culture.
There are so many more things I want to share with you, so I may have to start posting more often than once a week. We’ll see :). In the meantime, thank you for all of your prayers! I had the easiest travel to Georgia that I have ever had, I have adjusted to the time difference much quicker than I ever imagined (hardly any jet lag!). And I am already starting to formulate words (my language studies will not start for another week). I can definitely sense the difference your prayers are making.