What do you get when you have more than 3 woman together? wait for it...
Can you imagine the pressure ladies felt at GFA to watch their words? Did it come from a lost in translation moment... Then again maybe it's a Fresh Off The Boat mentality (someone recently arrived from another country is still seeing things through his cultures point of view.)
In our Vision Tour Training class some things they pointed out about the expectations of Indian culture were:
Wives should serve their husbands
Never walk into a room before a man, precedence matters.
Wear your head covering of super power
Dress modestly cover those shoulders girls but midriffs are well er um nvm...
Do not interrupted, or tell ones husband what to do in front of locals.
Give up your seat for a man.
Offering up food from your plate to your spouse was seen with great respect.
Bwahahaha I totally got props for the last one. Often the meals were carbohydrate based and My Knight in Shining Armor could not eat them safely. I was quite the vegetarian some nights, always offering my spouse the meat on my plate first thing. The men were amazed look at how much she loves her husband she gave up her meat!!! Yes I love him, I want him alive, not in a diabetic coma thank you...
I was so good at doing all these things on our tour, that the men in India started spontaneously talking to me. It doesn't hurt to have wonderful multi-cultural genes that make me look like a high cast female.
When I start comparing the list above to the cultural more's of GFA I begin to get a glimmer of why the culture seemed warped. Obedience to ones Husband. Serving is a good thing. Ladies were constantly told to guard their tongues around their husbands. Phrases Like "It's your job as a wife to keep your husband in the battle." Missionaries quit after 2 years because of interpersonal problems, inference don't be that problem. Women having to go to only "approved older ladies" instead of talking things out with a friend. And so often when a family left the dreaded words "The wife led them away from the ministry." "The wife became unhappy."
Could the man saying "To Your Battle Stations!" every morning, have never lost his cultural view point on women? Can we expect him to see ladies in America without his cultural sunglasses? As I think on it, I see the ministry women subtly pressured into behaving closer to the Indian norm than the American norm. It created a compromise culture, neither American nor Indian. I don't expect one could grow out of the cultural sunglasses one see's the world in if we are not really challenged to ever take them off. For example: you can be in this country for 10 years and if you're still speaking Russian at home and watching Russian TV you will still have trouble with english syntax. I'm thinking of a lady I met last week who asked me to correct her because she's now "trying work on this english thing."
I used to envy women who looked like they had the approval of leadership. I realize now I was surrounded by words and phrases that caused me to continually evaluate myself against the Godly Wife. One of my goals as a wife was to be considered trustworthy. I fully understood not talking was important to be the Godly Wife.
Take for example our trip to India K.P told us we needed to go in 2012, GFA would pay for it. (but don't spread that around, keep it under the rose, on the QT, mum's the word) I was so happy it had been about 7 years since the last trip. We would be going again yes! Then we waited for news of travel plans maybe January of 2013??? Nothing for months!!! Nothing till it was to hot to travel and then we heard maybe in the fall... our trip finally after about a year got scheduled. I was confused when Erica asked me if I wanted to go to the Taj Mahal on our trip... that felt wrong to sight see when this was a GFA paid for trip, I said no I don't think so. Imagine my shock when I was handed the bill for our airline tickets. Um something is being lost in translation. So still on the QT not telling anyone I took the bill to hubby and let him deal with it. (later on I told Erica the trip was not "for fun" but rather "for work" she got serious, and said "Next time tell me, I did not know! I'll send you my private email." Here again an example of leaders wives being kept in the dark) At this point the only people who knew we were going to India were the planners, ticket buyers and the people watching our children... I did wonder why all the secrecy? Was it really so "my brother" would not stumble and be envious? Or was it a carrot to dangle in front of our weary lives? I was so wrapped up in being quiet, behaving not sharing my trip with my friends, being silent, hoping to prove to KP I could be trustworthy.
I had bought treats for Bridge of Hope centers, gifts for leaders and etc. I had a suitcase packed of stuff. When they canceled our trip. No explanation, no rescheduled date, just cancelled. One day my knight did dare ask "Why was it canceled?" KP's response: it was due to someone's immaturity. We were reassured by Erica our trip would happen "someday" Then the campus move in 2014 we knew no trip would be forthcoming. Then whoo hoo we were told we would get to go to the General Assembly in January of 2015. I was so excited!!!! I felt like all my hard work in concealingly my disappointment of not getting to go for 2+ years and patiently waiting, had more than paid off. To be able to hobnob with believers from all over Asia what a privilege. I was so happy, maybe this is what I need to renew my passion and help me get over my concerns for the ministry. Here again I was told by my husband to "keep it under the rose. " Weeks went by no news... I'm thinking furiously how to schedule child care for my children. Then an edict came down only a chosen few were going to India... here again loss of a trip and because this time I hadn't set up child care, only one other person knew. There is a tiny voice giggling in my head saying "Hey where is my trip?" but then never mind I don't want to waste donor dollars...
Did my silence prove to KP I was a "Worthy Wife?" I have no idea, but it was this keeping of secrets that eroded my my faith in "man." I'm glad it did. I was setting KP up as the man to please. If I could gain his approval (He is preaching that he's my Spiritual Father and knows best for me) maybe I could become that trustworthy woman... and then I'd shake it off, talk it over with my knight and declare to the walls of my bedroom "I am a follower of Christ! Christ is faithful when man fails! My hope cannot be in man!" It still didn't stop me from staying under the radar, making as few of waves as I could.
I understand trust needs to be earned. So many questions running around my mind. I wonder if anyone else felt this way? Can a woman at GFA earn KP's trust without being a member of his family? I never felt like I had it fully. Then again can he trust American women? Could this misogynistic aura be being projected be due to a world view? Am I asking to much of him to cross cultures so completely?