Monday, February 27, 2012

11 years ago...

I arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zenica to be exact, just over 11 years ago. I still can't believe I have been here that long... I know that I wouldn't have come and definitely wouldn't have stayed if it hadn't been because I believed in a God who had a greater plan for my life that included me coming to this out of the way strange place and learning this language and falling in love with the people and the place and remaining way beyond my original two years...

I was looking through some old journals which I wrote way back then and today's date 11 years ago had this written on it:
Psalm 33:17-18 "A horse is a vain hope for deliverance, despite all its strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love." It is beyond me to be here. I really can't do it. There is too much for me to cope with - if I rely on myself or on "a horse". If I hope in You Lord and put my trust in You - then You will do it - Your eye is on me. You will take care of it all. Help me to hope and trust in You.

It is a LOT easier now than then in terms of language - at that stage I was still at the "Hello. My name is Belinda. I am learning your language and this is all I know" stage. This meant that when I went out I would say this little collection of sentences to people so they knew I knew something, but not to jabber away at me when I didn't understand anything else. And every day I would add a sentence: "Hello. My name is Belinda. I am from South Africa. I am learning your language and this is all I know." Next day:  "Hello. My name is Belinda. I am from South Africa, and no I am NOT black! I am learning your language and this is all I know." (yes, everyone here thinks I should be BLACK if I am from Africa!). I still have people who come up to me now whom I knew then and say "well look at you now, and to think I knew you when all you could say was 'and this is all I know'!!"

Over the years, I went from the "this is all I know" to the "obviously foreigner" to the "retarded": that is another whole story...  I was once told by my lovely housemate (Ljilja) that I needed to tell people I was a foreigner. She told me that my language was soooo good that no one ever twigged I was a foreigner, but they all looked at me as if I was slightly retarded, or had a speech impediment... Up until she said that I thought I was doing well, but then my fear became "will they think I am retarded???"  However, when other foreigners heard this, they became jealous and they were all wanting to be taken for a retarded Bosnian rather than the obvious foreigner!! This became the new sought after language level!

Now, when I need to get something done that requires tricky language I do take Ljilja's advice and tell them that I am a foreigner, but that I think I can manage in the language, and of course this usually ends up getting me a compliment on my language skills :-) Otherwise I can usually stay under cover and most people don't even realise that they had dealings with a foreigner: Luckily I manage to blend in quite well...

But it is still not easy... I am still having to rely on the Lord every day. I need to put my hope and my trust in Him and not in myself or in any other "horse". And His unfailing love is with me every day, helping me to be in this place and love the people He has placed in my way. I really do want to give Him the glory and the honour and the praise for giving me the strength to remain and learn this language and be here in this lovely place where He has put me! 11 years and counting!

5 comments:

Shilo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shilo said...

Oh Belinda, the "retarded" Bosnian...that is SO HILARIOUS...please submit that to WOTH or somewhere..I died laughing.
On a more serious note, CONGRATULATIONS on 11 years of hearing God, experiencing His faithfulness and responding to His daily grace to you!! You are a beautiful testimony! Love you, lady!

Belinda Chaplin said...

Thanks Shilo! Yes, the retarded Bosnian story gets me a lot of laughs... And the funny thing is that Ljilja was trying to make me say that I was a foreigner, and not trying to insult me or make me feel bad - but for a long time I struggled to go to a new place because I was stressed about being taken as retarded!! ;-) Love you too lady!!

Jacqui said...

Hey B - you are really inspiring! And you have been so faithful to His calling. I know it is because of Him working in you, but you have been open and receiving. Good to look back and see how far you have come! I wonder what the next 11 years hold for you?

Going Dutch said...

LIKE
Wow, 11 years already?! That went super fast! All the best for the next 11 or however long God still wants you there for.
Much love J&B x

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