S.A.N.T.A. approach to cross-cultural friendship

9 08 2016

Here is a simple, easy-to-remember approach to making a friend with someone of another culture.

S = smile

A smile is the international way to show friendliness. It is your best first smilestep. Best to keep your smiling man to man, woman to woman, so you don’t miscommunicate.

A = appreciate

Say something appreciative about the person, such as:

  • I’m glad we are neighbors.
  • It is great to see your family getting together
  • That shirt/dress is beautiful. Is it from your culture?
N = name

Everyone loves to be known by their name. When appropriate, ask and remember the name of your new friend. If it is difficult, resist the urge to shorten it. Say, “I love your name and want to remember it. Could you say it again (or spell it)?” Don’t be afraid to write it down; that shows you really mean what you say. Remember the name for the next times you meet.

T = tea

Sitting and chatting over a simple cup of tea or coffee, with a biscuit, is an important step in deepening a friendship. Do this often, preferably in your home or apartment, although a neutral cafe is okay. Home hospitality invites your friend into your space, which helps build trust. If a visitor of another culture comes to you door, invite them in without question (not applicable to sales people necessarily).

A = ask

What do you talk about over tea? Ask your new friend to tell you about him/her self. There is an interesting story to hear. Do this more than once, for there is much to learn. You might ask:

  • Where is home for you, and how are things there?
  • What was your experience in coming to this country?
  • What are your favorite traditions in your culture?
  • How has this country been different than you expected?
  • What do you hope to accomplish in coming years?

I encourage you to repeat the S.A.N.T.A. approach many times with your new friend. Each time you will deepen your friendship. In time you will be able to share your story. Showing interest in this way is so rare that you will be invited into your friend’s life and network. You will be amazed at how fulfilling this can be.

Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

Lyn’s birthday gift

28 07 2016

Here is my sketch of our recent vacation. This was at Heyburn State Park, in Idaho, where Lyn and I had been with the kids in previous years.

campsite sketchDo you see that little Weber grill in the foreground? Let me show you what we made on that!    Paella! and it was fantastic!

paellaNotice the date on my sketch (above, lower right). 7/6/16.  That is Lyn’s birthday, and her dad was having surgery that day. So it was an emotional day anyhow, and we were praying throughout the day. I’m not easily moved to tears — although more so since Lyn died — but I couldn’t hold back my emotions when leafing through the sketchbook I saw this last page — a complete surprise:

Lyn's gift“Before Thy throne we daily meet,
As joint petitioners to Thee;
In spirit each the other greet,
And shall again each other see.”

Discovering this quote on her birthday was a priceless gift!

With all the heartache of losing her, I still believe God is good. Things don’t have to make sense to me. I trust that God knows what He is doing, and I will some day understand.

Would you do me a BIG favor? If you don’t mind, leave me a comment, even a simple “thanks.” (or, “take some art classes!”)

Till next time,

Waterfalls and mountain trails

19 03 2014

2014-03-18 12.39.312014-03-18 13.02.58My wife and I recently had a beautiful day in the Olympic National Forest. Taking in God’s creation is refreshment to our souls!

Thanks Mom and Dad for Saying Yes

25 12 2011

Uncovering a portion of my family history over the last few days makes this Christmas all the more meaningful to me. I was re-reading my parent’s account of how they grew up, met and married, and moved to Chicago, Nigeria, and Turlock. Now that I live in the Seattle area, my interest has been piqued because of the number of significant events took place for my mom and dad here in this area.

Of particular interest was their description of a summer family camp they attended at a place called Covenant Beach. I had heard the story before. My parents had met at a church Valentine party at the top of Smith Tower in Seattle. Both were veterans of the great war, and the times were impulsive. Love struck and within six weeks they were engaged. A short time later, they were asked to escort a man named Glen Wagner to Vashon Island where he was speaking on the great post-war need for missionaries in Japan. By June, they were at the family camp at Covenant Beach and heard a message on Luke 9:23 where Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

My mother wrote about that evening, saying that all had left the meeting room except my dad. She didn’t know what was going on with him as he lingered behind. In his own words, “The speaker dismissed the meeting without an invitation and the need [of Japan] flashed into my mind, and I just crumpled to the floor.” God has been speaking into his heart, “Go to Japan! Go to Japan!” My mother came back to him and asked what was wrong, to which he replied, “We’ve got to go to Japan.” Mom said, “Okay,” surrendering her college plans to God’s will.

I began to wonder if Covenant Beach, the place that God had used to redirect my parents’ lives so dramatically, still existed. I had not heard of it since moving to Seattle six years ago. So I searched the internet and found that it not only exists but is located just a few miles north of my home. The city of Des Moines is renovating the site as a city park.

The dining hall at what was then Covenant Beach. My parents would have spent many meals and times of interaction in this building. The city has raised it four feet because the river that runs under it flooded last year.

This aspect of my parent’s story comes to me especially on this Christmas morning. They redirected the course of their lives because of the challenge from Jesus to follow Him in self-denial. That is the essence of the birth of the Savior–the Son of God laying aside His rights and glory to serve us. My parents went on to minister in Japan with the Pocket Testament League, during which time my older brother Jack and I were born. Later, with younger siblings Rich and Diane, we all went to Nigeria. These experiences shaped all of us for good.

When I visited the former Covenant Beach, I paused to thank God for what He had done there. Though I was not yet born, He had my future in mind. God help me to take up my cross today, and follow You.

Psalm of the Waterfalls

30 10 2011

Words fail. Stop short.But I must try.I came upon a hidden world of aquatic beauty so splendid as to defy description.Only imagination could encompass unnumbered waterfalls, vigorously cascading, each one calling, “Look here! Have you ever seen pristine beauty like mine?”One dives halfway down, pausing for awhile in a green pool before plunging again to the frothy floor to begin its meandering journey through forest and hill toward the ocean to the east.Another, roaring like a proud lion before a duel, blasts forth in triumphant power, angrily churning its way from highest pinnacle to fuming cauldron below, exploding bomb-like on the floor and launching a plume toward the sky.By the hundreds, small and great, these sentinels from heaven tirelessly proclaim the Great One who set them in place between black basalt cliffs accented in tropical greens.The waters warn of His danger for, though He is kind, His restrained anger will bring justice in its time.As great waters plunge with aggression, so is the One whose might relentlessly supplies power to all living things.The cascading amphitheater announces the beauty of the Creator whose poetry weaves through all nature, from colorful Toucan to fragrant bougainvillea.Danger. Power. Beauty.Iguassu shows what words cannot tell.Here, where the waters gather in anonymity, surrendering national pride to unity of praise, I bow my dripping head to worship You, My Creator.