How to Embarrassingly Prepare Cross-culturally in One Sunday Morning

I stepped out of the restroom into the busy grand foyer of our church auditorium. People were milling around, visiting with their friends and chasing their children into their seats for the service. The place was hopping. I took about twelve steps into the race of people and paused to get a mint from my purse. Earlier, in class, I had a cup of java with friends, and now I’m sure that no one would want to talk with my coffee-breath-self. Besides we have to make our best appearance, and smells matter right?

Pretty in Pearls
Creative Commons License photo credit: Katie Tegtmeyer
Appearance: Pretty in Pearls

Speaking of appearances, since I am going to Uganda to disciple orphans at the end of the month, I decided to practice fitting into their culture, beforehand. In Uganda, you must wear long skirts because wearing pants or showing legs makes you a flirt. I should tell you that short dumpy people typically don’t wear long skirts, because they make us look shorter and well . . . dumpier. Nevertheless, I acquired a long skirt and was practicing the use of it this fine Sunday morning.

While standing in our crowded church foyer, two people stopped their trek to meet people and get into the service. One older woman, whom I didn’t know, paused and began to tell me something when the other, a much younger teen, wrapped her arm around me and said into my ear, “Your skirt is caught up.”

Naturally, I leaned forward to look at the yards of material nearly at my feet, not quite understanding what she meant. She quickly jumped behind me and tugged at the overflow behind my knees. That’s when I figured out that I had flashed Uganda’s flirt alert!

Creative Commons License photo credit: TheArtGuy
Alarming Situation!

Yes, that’s right. I had inadvertently misplaced the trail end of this monstrous bolt of cascading cotton. Apparently, it was tucked somewhere north, near my waist.

All dignity and “best” appearance vaporized. How many of the 300+ people caught my “special” style? Hopefully not many since all of that took place in a short minute or three. Or five?

Since my bff, Kate, pulled at the material from knee level, and since there was enough of it to fold over twice and still cover my shortness, surely I was safely not flashing American Style flirt. Fool maybe, but not flirt. Even when I bent forward, it could only have been embarrassingly un-stylish, right?

This never happens with my regular length skirts. I was way out of my norm even in my own church building. There’s no telling how things will go in Uganda when I’m really out of my culture. Won’t you partner with me in prayer?

We all need to try different things to make connections with people and touch their lives with the hope of Jesus. What part of your culture are you willing to stretch or give up to meet people and make a difference in their lives? For their sakes, are you willing to try and fail, even look foolish?

Please make contributions in the comments and let me know what topics you’d love for me to cover!

This is part of the Minister Wives Fellowship and Support Series. If you enjoyed it you may also like the Insights into Ministry & Leadership Series, the Spiritual Journey’s Gentle Nudges Series or other Blog Series.

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2 thoughts on “How to Embarrassingly Prepare Cross-culturally in One Sunday Morning

  1. Joanne Hillman says:

    Robin, I always enjoy your blog. This was one of the funniest! I have to tell you that I purchased one of your 21-day journals and just finished it–very, very good.

    I’m unable to donate to help you on your mission trip, but will pray that God blesses every word you speak for Him.

    Have you read “Kisses from Katie” about one young woman who went to Uganda and ended up adopting 14 of the orphans? They are so sweet, so responsive, and so hungry for love.

    Love you, Joanne

    • Thank you, Joanne.

      As a church, we have taken large responsibility to help these orphans in Uganda. Some of our people are adopting from the orphanage. It’s a great work. “Kisses from Katie” is a great book about the opportunities to minister to children in Uganda.

      Hope to keep you laughing…
      Blessings galore!