Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Familiar Favorites

What do I call it? How do I explain it? It's not even really clear to me so how can I put it into words? Well, let me give it a try . . .

We thought it was a simple thing. I mean, we understand that we live in another country and lots of things are different, but how complicated could it be? We took the empty container and headed off to the lékárna. Well, to tell you the truth, we weren't really sure the lékárna was where we needed to go. We walked around the neighborhood a bit, looking in windows of shops called lékárna and drogerie, but we couldn't be sure. In the end we decided to investigate both types.

Nope, the drogerie wasn't the one we needed. It offered health and beauty items, household cleaners and such. Besides, the one we tried had a half a dozen ladies waiting for service. We ducked back outside and went down the block. The lékárna had a very different atmosphere. It felt more light and airy and the workers wore white, medical-looking outfits. There were plenty of products on display so we began to poke around the aisles set by low shelving. It was the counter we discovered at the back that looked like an American pharmaceutical counter that confirmed we were in the right place.

After a few minutes of careful searching we located the eye section and the muscle section, but not the one we needed. Even the handy dandy translator app on Curt's phone didn't lead us to our quarry. We finally decided to take our need to the lady at the register. We smiled and said, "Dobrý den." (Hello) We received the same in return. Uh, er, "English?" "Yes ... a little." Bigger smiles erupted! "We're wondering if you have . . ."

I took out the little white bottle and placed it lovingly in her hand. As she started to look at it, I turned it slowly to the Drug Facts area and pointed to the Active Ingredient. I wondered for the millionth time why the print has to be minute. "Do you have this?" It was a common antihistamine that we figured we'd be able to find. Hah!! After careful scrutiny the lady said, "No, we don't have this." After some more basic back and forth she led us to the section for such things. She graciously pointed out our few choices and left us to make our decision.

There we stood!

What can be learned or compared when you can't read the words?

Volume and prices.

We did our best to use those points to determine what, if anything, we should buy. At least that was the audible discussion we carried on in soft tones. We figured out the size of each tablet, how many were in each box, and thereby were able to conclude the best price. After a bit we were able, we think, to ferret out what the účinná látka 'active ingredient' was. In that way we confirmed our suspicions that we probably weren't going to be able to find an exact replacement for our familiar remedy for cold symptoms.

I asked Curt, "Shall we look elsewhere?" Well, it was a pretty good size place and we've been around long enough to compare what's offered in small local shops versus the larger in-town stores. So it made a lot of sense that he suggested we settle on one of the products in front of us. My internal disquiet meter became active.

Once again the acculturation issue raised its ugly head!

Okay, look. One little non-prescription medication is not enough to make a major impact on one's life. I know that. So what was causing the indicator needle to rise? I checked myself.

For one thing, we didn't know anything about this specific účinná látka or its dosage. We couldn't read the label or contraindications and there wasn't anybody with whom we could really discuss its effectiveness or possible risks in detail. What would happen if we tried it and had an adverse reaction?

Besides, we were really familiar with the one we brought with us from the USA. It was more than an easy choice. We knew how to use it and it was reliable. Actually, it was our favorite brand. I could feel my neck stiffen as I realized that we were at that seemingly never-ending crossroad of needing to give up what I wanted and accept what was in front of us. Then my mental wheels started to spin.

When our analgesics ran out a couple of months earlier, a dear friend had been willing to send us a whole batch of them. Of course on that occasion I'd noticed the dwindling supply and thought to ask ahead. Now we were in a crunch with the need right before us and zero supplies. Could we wait another month? Did we want to go through the hassle of:

  • going all the way over to the Customs building of the Posta,
  • walking through the process in two different offices,
  • trying to explain once again to the special agent that the 'pills' were not from a doctor therefore they were not prescription drugs, and
  • paying the duty or tariff?

Was it fair to ask the same friend or another to take on the task stateside?

Nope, the negatives were too heavy to balance the weight of the benefits. It was difficult, but I let my extreme rescue plan dissolve.

Now besides my neck being stiff, I could feel all my insides get tight. The needle on my disquiet meter wasn't up to the red line, but it was time to pay it some serious attention.

Is it really worth it to put myself through this emotional stress? What are the issues? Is my reaction reasonable? I had to take myself in hand and step by step work through the process. I know enough to know that it makes no sense to take that journey alone. I heartily called out to the Lord in silence, asking for His love and Truth and power to guide me. My discoveries were not fresh, but they met my need and continue to infuse our life here with grace.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:26-28a

We're in Prague because God set us here, in this exact time and place. His hand is sovereign and nothing -NO THING- can thwart His will for us. I have been saved by His grace through faith and yet there is so much I do not know. There is so much refining that needs to be done to fit me for heaven. Since it is in Christ that I live it is to Him that I want to rest my focus, not the distractions of the world (medicines, choices, languages, insecurity) around me. I started to ignore the meter.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

It's not just God's intent to move me through my days. He has a specific plan for my life that includes His good and a blessed future. The potential upsets around me are excellent (one might say merely) opportunities to trust His loving wisdom over the minimal knowledge I assume I possess, even this being a gift from Him. Turning from His way to my own devices is the real pitfall to avoid.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I -we- have a choice to embrace the circumstances around me -us- or rail and push against them. Since Curt and I are in this place by the Father's reckoning and these are the options before us, it only makes sense to trust His hand and move forward under it. In this way I -we- can make progress with confidence being thankful for His constant presence and intimate intervention. God is good, all the time!

These thoughts and Truths passed through my mind as we stood in the aisle with two or three little cardboard boxes in our hands. The words were not quite as articulate as I've taken the time to record the Scriptures accurately for all of our benefit. Nevertheless, this is the string of facts that took me from quandary to calm right there in the middle of the lékárna in our area of Prague, the capitol of the Czech Republic, a world away from rural Maine.

We chose the one that made the most sense for a 'trial period' and left the store with our purchase.

This apparently casual incident hasn't ended the war. The struggles come several times a week in one form or another, more often when I go out than when I'm at home, but they're there. The victory none the less is secure. The Truth is known and arises more quickly and surely with each skirmish. Do I stand with one foot on the dock of my feelings and the other on the bark of trust that wants to take me into the arms of the Savior? Perish the thought!

On our last trip to Billa I was searching for liquid soap for myself for the shower. Where's the section on the shelf? How can I tell if it's 'sensitive'? What's the lowest price? Is this the best selection? Hah, before my meter even turned on I made up my mind. This is what's available. I do not want to turn every little choice into a major hunt. I live and shop here. I reached for the light blue bottle on the bottom shelf and it's been wonderful.

How about you?

Just so you know. The Father has not taken away all of my familiar favorites. We gave in the other day and bought our first batch of real ice cream - Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia for me and Chocolate Fudge Brownie for Curt. God is good, all the time!