I can count.
I've been counting for longer than a half century.
So when I go looking for a dozen eggs I know how many that means.
The first time I bought a carton of eggs over here I didn't really notice anything. I think I'm a fairly alert individual, then again, maybe I'm not.
Anyway, it took me a while to figure out that when I buy a dozen eggs it doesn't mean I purchase 12 eggs.
Not in the Czech Republic.
Well, I mean they have cartons of eggs.
They have a word for dozen, tucet.
But the carton and the word result in 10 eggs.
Maybe a dozen means 10 in Czech because that's how many eggs come in the little cartons we put in our cart week after week. I haven't had the right set of circumstances to try to clarify my confusion yet by asking a local. Maybe I never will.
"What's the big deal?" you ask.
You're right. This one small difference is pretty much an easy adjustment. It didn't take me long to pick up a carton, say 'dozen' in my head and be prepared to have 10 eggs when I got home.
Please pause right here.
Take a moment and consider how many items you place in your cart each time you go to the grocery store. Imagine just a quick stop with a short list. Are there 15 or maybe 20 items? Do you find that usually you have way more than that?
Now, think about the minor adjustment needed to consider a dozen to mean only 10 eggs. Multiply that accommodation times the number of items in your cart and, unless I'm mistaken, you've got a whopping MAJOR ADJUSTMENT in front of you.
Please pause again.
How many different locations did you count?
Take that MAJOR ADJUSTMENT we recognized for the grocery store and multiply it times the number of destinations you have in an average week. Yup, it's HUGE, maybe even INSURMOUNTABLE.
You're starting to get an idea of what it's like to live cross-culturally.
Oh, I forgot to mention. While you're doing your best to handle all the changes around you, you have to give up your ability to communicate. That's because everybody else speaks a different language.
Is your mind totally boggled?
The appropriate question at this point might be, "How do you do that?"
The answer is simple, by the grace of God.
"But [Jesus] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9