Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Best of Mexico: Lost (not exactly) in Translation

The next few posts are excerpts from my Mexico Updates that I send out through email--usually weekly.

There were little signs that things were not what they seemed, but I didn't fully come to the realization until this week. 

It began with having a brief conversation with the pastor of a certain church at the beginning of my time here, discussing some ideas that I had and a possible schedule that could work out with my work at CPI and a different church plant. (For future reference, I distinctly remember using the words "possibly" and "maybe").

I wasn't sure how I was going to work out my Sunday morning attendance as I was trying to build relationships with people at two different churches. I was still trying to figure it out on my second Sunday in Mexico when this particular pastor announced at church that I would be spending two Sundays a month at this church and two sundays a month at the other church. At which point I turned towards Jarett and Mary Carole Hall and said, "Well, I guess that's my schedule." They chuckled. They understand how sometimes communication gets lost in translation and sometimes neglects to be passed down. I assumed that this pastor talked to my boss and had worked out this schedule and they had both forgotten to tell me. 

A few weeks pass…

Meanwhile, I try to meet with the pastor to discuss a vision, or make a definite plan, or figure out what ideas I have that might fit with the vision of the church, ect.

We scheduled 3 meetings. All of which the pastor failed to show up for. I tried not to be offended. It must be some cultural thing. Even so, after the third no show, I mentioned it to my boss. He chuckled the same chuckle as Jarett and Mary Carole and said, "[that pastor] is very informal." 

Uh-huh. 

I attended this church again. At the beginning of the service, this pastor announces (much like he announced my schedule) that at the end of the church service Katherine Spearing would be meeting with the youth and parents to discuss a time for meeting and what activities they would be doing. 

No. I had no idea that this was coming. I spent the rest of the service feeling slightly dazed and wondering exactly what was the proper etiquette for handling this. Note also, I had yet to discuss any sort of plan with the pastor so I didn't have one. 

At the end of the service I almost walked out. Almost. Part of me (the curious part) wanted to see how this was going to play out. So I just hung around. I also really wanted to do something with this church and figured I had to take what I could get. 

After a bit, the pastor approached me and asked if I was going to meet with the parents and youth. 

"Sure," I said. And waited. 
"Well, go to the front of the church." 
"Are you coming?" 
"Yes," he said. And we made our way to the front of the church. 
 
The pastor called the meeting to order. Suddenly there were about 20 people sitting in the pews and staring at me. 

The pastor nodded at me as if to say, "Go ahead." 
I crossed my arms and nodded at him, as if to say, "Dude, this is your thing." 

The pastor started talking and somehow we came up with having a sort of youth group at 5:30 on Wednesday nights. Our first meeting would be the following wednesday. I left that Sunday admonishing myself not to get frustrated and just roll with it. 

The next day, I realized I had a previous commitment on the following Wednesday at 6:30. I saw the pastor at the office and asked if we could change the time to 5 instead of 5:30 for the first week. 

Now, I should have known better. However, I wanted this to work and I really wanted to make Christmas wreath cookies with the youth. I know there is a propensity of communication issues with this pastor so our conversation went something like this:

"Can we change the time to 5 instead of 5:30?"
"Sure, until what time?" 
"5 until 6."
"5 until 6?"
"Yes, 5 until 6. I have to be somewhere at 6:30. 5 until 6." 
"Okay, I'll tell everyone." (I tried to get FB information for everyone but all these kids have like 5 names and I couldn't find any of them so I was stuck with this pastor as the middle man)
"5 until 6. On Wednesday."
"5 until 6. Okay." 

Settled. 

Or so I thought. 

Wednesday arrived. I went to the store to get stuff for the Xmas cookies. I arrived at the church at 5 minutes before 5. 

The church is locked and no one is there. 

I wait 15 minutes. 

I call the pastor.

"Where are you?"
"At my house." 
"The church is locked and nobody is here." 
"You're there already? People aren't coming until 6." 
"I said I needed to meet at 5." 
"At 5? I thought you said 6."
"No 5."
"Well I told them 6." 
"Well, I have to go." 
"You can't meet at 6?" 
"No I have someplace to be at 6:30. I'm sorry."
"Okay." 
"I'll see you."
"Okay, bye." 

I hang up the phone. 

I ask myself, "does my Spanish suck that bad?" Apparently so. 

I laugh. 

The next day I made wreath cookies at the office to share with coworkers and formulated how to incorporate this story into my email updates

It's too epic to change so I decided to share the whole thing. 

Merry Christmas.

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