I am surprised at the reaction I have gotten from people when they discover that I don't own this (aparently) invaluable kitchen utensil. One would think that no kitchen could function without it. Honestly, it isn't as if I couldn't get one: they are easy enough to find. Just the other day, I saw one at a thrift store for a quarter. It is an inexpensive tool that would undoubtedly relieve the frustration of trying to scrape the last of the mayonnaise out of the jar with a knife; yet I pass them by telling myself, "no, Jodi, don't do it. Have some self-control."
Let's go back four years. I am an engaged girl of twenty. My fiance is overseas, getting things prepared for our new life together...our new life as missionaries. Oh how the excitement fills my days as I wait for his return. Slowly, I sort our my things: keeping only the dearest of possessions, selling what I can, gibing away what I can, all the while preparing for a life which makes no room for the acquiring of worldly possessions. Such was the attitude with which I boarded the plane to Hungary-leaving the United States and it's success driven culture behind.
Well, our life as missionaries turned out to be vastly different than the romaniticized picture I had painted in my head. Nonetheless, we got by in small flats, without a car, and without wedding presents to stock our kitchen (which was fine because they wouldn't' have fit anyways). We splurged on a newer clothes washer and a refridgerator with a separate freezer.
It became easy enough to adjust to the changes from our American lifestyle. We learned the number of days (depending on the seasonal temperature) that it took for various articles of clothing to dry; we discovered which corner markets had what (hamburger was hard to find already ground and I was too intimidated of the burly butchers to risk MIS-pronouncing the words asking them to grind some) and when the markets were open (we were fortunate to find a nearby grocery that was open seven days a week!). We also learned to factor walking time, public transportation, and train schedules into our traveling plans.
Overall, I would say that we adjusted nicely to the culture. Afterall, all those around us (save some other Americans) were living in this simply way. There was no on to compare ourselves to and say, "They have such and such, we need it too." Also, we were living off the money of people who's heart it was to support us. The responsibility to use their support wisely only added to our desire for simplicity.
In God's plan, we returned to the states only a year after I had moved there. Could it only have been a year? It seemed like a lifetime. We returned with a determination...a determination to resist the consumerism we knew to be rampant and so easily acquired in the States.
So, here we are, three years later: Trying to exist between our American life and our desire to once again live in a foreign land. It seems so distant: the thought of returning to our position as ex-pats. My husband began college, we are buying a house; our American life is drawing us further from our past in Hungary. And yet there is something inside of me which longs to go back; something which makes me hope our desires for that will be in God's plan for us.
If we are given that opportunity, I want to be ready. Therefore, I attempt to hold on to the simplicity of foreign culture as much as I can. Passing up a spatula at Goodwill is, as silly as it sounds, out of principle: a determination to get by with little - even when "much" is so easy to acquire. There are many unnecessary things that get plastered with the word "need." Not having a spatula is a reminder to me: if we are blessed with the opportunity to live overseas, will I be able to let go of the things I have acquired here or will I think that they are necessary to have there as well (therefore causing our home to be above the culture we find ourselves in). The less I have, the easier it will be to, once again, sell what we have and follow the call to leave all behind us.
What events are you looking forward to or hoping to accomplish in your life? Starting a family? Moving? Going to school? Are you doing all that you can to prepare for that upcoming change? If those changes will significantly cut back on your financial situation (having a baby and staying at home, for example) will you be ready or will it be an extra burden on top?
Also, this should remind us of the most dramatic change our souls will undertake: the passing from this life to our eternal home. What are you doing to prepare for that? Will you be ready?
Related Tags: Spatula, Kitchen, Utensil, Hungary, Missions, Preparation, Simplicity, Europe, Moving, Engagement