The Cultural Iceberg: What You Need to Know about Cross-cultural Communication

cultural iceberg

We’re excited to welcome back Sheri of Engineering Ministries International. EMI mobilizes architects, engineers, construction managers, and other design professionals–including those through an incredible internship program–to provide design services for those helping the poor. We’re talking water projects, hospitals, schools, orphanages, you name it. Meanwhile, they raise up disciples and trained professionals in-country.

Sheri applies these cross-cultural points poignantly to the elements of designing cross-culturally–but we believe you’ll find inescapable parallels to any cross-cultural work. Hopefully it will help jumpstart real solutions for cross-cultural sensitivities, and help any culture manifest Jesus Christ according to its own cultural icebergs. read more

He Said/She Said. You Say? “Am I cut out for this? What kind of character do I need to be effective overseas?”

It might come to mind as you’re taping another box shut, or when you’re about to pass one of those points-of-no-return: Selling your house. Selling your wheels for pennies on the dollar.

You might think, Well. If I go over there and bite it big time, this is going to be pretty embarrassing. Not to mention expensive.

(If you haven’t thought that? Just ignore those last two paragraphs.)

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Christmas, Rewrapped: How Moving Overseas May Mess with Your Holiday, Part II

Missed the first part? Grab it here.

Scrolling through Facebook that day brought a bit of sadness, glimpsing all those photos of a white Christmas in Little Rock, of all places. I’d prayed for that so many times for my kids. Well, and myself.

But a few minutes later, I was playing Christmas music while I spread mayo for sandwiches. Some old lyrics belted out:Haul out the holly/ Put up the tree before my spirit falls again… And I realized, that was why I wanted to be there, enjoying the snow (not to mention the family!). I longed for the emotion of that holiday sparkle; the cozy magic that, with all the right elements, seems to frost everything with light and togetherness and fun, muting the rough edges. read more

Christmas, Rewrapped: How Moving Overseas May Mess with Your Christmas, Part I

ChristmasYour first year overseas has a way of rearranging your life, your brain, your family, your body. So it makes sense your holidays would follow.

You may be wondering what Christmas looks like away from the lines to meet Santa, the obnoxious Black Friday ads–but also far from the welcoming hugs from mom, the family clustered around the tree or piano belting out carols.

My experience? Like most of overseas life, there were notable griefs and clarifying, memorable triumphs. Here, thoughts from my first Christmas season in Africa (edited from the original post on MomLifeToday.com). read more

Help Your Marriage Thrive Overseas! Part III

Missed Part I and II? Grab ’em here.

Moving to Africa was like seeing a new version of my husband.

Sure; in some ways it aged us and strained us in ways we could have never experienced. But it was also extremely cool to see my husband as the guy tooling around an African metropolis, learning to navigate the streets to care for his family. I would have never anticipated the overwhelming generosity he possessed; the crazy-cool gifts of cultural understanding and helping Africans through heartbreaking conflicts and difficulties. What if I’d never seen the African version of him? And as I at last realized my dream of moving overseas, we laughed out loud about the “Afro-disiac” it was for our marriage!

Different Strokes? Marital Differences as You Look Overseas, Part II

Missed Part I? Grab it here.

“Should My Spouse Go Through Language Training if Not Headed into Formal Ministry?”

Someone asked my husband and I recently if they should both be enrolled in language school. Our answer? Unquestionably. Both spouses will be interacting with the culture–and both need to be mobile within that culture. Conversely, whoever doesn’t have language or cultural training will be handicapped at whatever level caps their interaction–not just for everyday life, but for ministry capacity. Imagine a person coming to your passport country without speaking your language. They’re reduced to functioning even less than the hearing impaired (who have sign language); they’re on the outside looking in, utterly isolated from anyone by their inability to communicate.

Different Strokes? Marital Differences as You Look Overseas, Part I

One of the biggest stresses on my engagement wasn’t really the normal stuff–the wedding planning or whatnot. It was a phrase I’d rerun over in my head a hundred times: I don’t feel called overseas. Evangelism is not my gift. My husband-to-be surpassed the one I’d been looking for so many times over. And it really did seem God was leading us to marriage.

But was he?

Was I…selling out? I’d been headed in an overseas direction for years. What was I missing?