News from Uzbekistan – Day 2

MEETING UP WITH THE EXTENDED FAMILY IN TASHKENT

Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Sunday January 18
After being picked up from our accommodation we arrived in time for a gathering of the wider family of our friends here in Tashkent.  It was so much like our own family gatherings and I think if it were not for the language difference, I could have closed my eyes and thought that I was with our own family at home in Australia.  They sang lots of songs and it was wonderful to notice that they were not recognisable tunes to us.  I may be wrong in this assumption, but I am always more excited when people from different parts of the world make up their own songs, rather than simply translating other people’s songs.  It’s not a matter of either-or of course, but I find new songs, with local cultural flavour very refreshing and this was certainly the case today.  There were some hundreds of people there who were members of this extended family and the meeting place was very pleasant.  To see their lovely children come and receive a blessing was a joy.  We even got to see the newest addition to this family as a young couple brought their new baby for the first time.
They told some wonderful stories and then I was invited to tell a story of my own.  Finally Jeremiah Son shared a wonderful greeting and we were able to feel a very strong bond with these special new friends.  We were able to pass on our greetings to many of them afterwards through our own words to many individuals and sense the very similar issues and blessings they have, regardless of the difference in culture.  Of our group only Jin Young (Kim) speaks Russian and can converse freely.  Daesop speaks Korean and English, Jeremiah speaks Korean and I speak English.  This continually sees us shifting seats and arranging people in various configurations so that we can understand what is being said and to share in the conversations as needed.  It seems to be that this provides a constant challenge for those who are doing the interpreting.  I have never been in that situation myself, but I imagine it must be taxing on the mind – to have to concentrate on each part of the conversation.  They all do it so well, and it adds so much value because it means that the barrier represented by language is broken down.  In our own experiences here, we have connected so strongly and well that there is a lot of fun and humour.  it is one thing to translate a series statement but it is quite another challenge to communicate a humorous comment or story.  We all get to laugh, but depending on the language and who is speaking we laugh in succession as the joke is interpreted.  I cannot describe in words how strong this friendship bond has become in just a few days.
This evening we returned to the home of the main father and his wife.  They have had so many challenging and wonderful experiences and he is very good at telling stories.  We can be talking about something serious and deep at one point and laughing in the next exchange.  It is all part of the bonding.  Jin Young is the one who has the greatest understanding and local knowledge and he can explain things that may slip by people like me who have no previous experience in this culture.
By the way – if you have read previous posts in this series you will be aware that I made a point of wearing a South Korean soccer jumper when I spoke at the OCEAN conference last  Thursday.  As you may be aware, South Korea beat Australia 1-nil in that game.  Jeremiah and Jin Young were the ones who heard about the result and made it known to me.  It was very funny, because I did make the point that my wearing of that uniform was to “identify with the poor and needy.”  It turned out that the “poor and needy” were wearing green and gold uniforms.
Brian Medway
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