For this month’s Staff Speak, each of our staff will be sharing a funny story from their experiences abroad. We would love to hear YOUR missionary mishaps, so post them below in the comments!

“When I first moved to Japan I was having a hard time learning the language. Using any felt like a huge  accomplishment. About two weeks in I was running some errands and decided to get some food. I choose the easiest place I could find, McDonalds. This was a no brainer, I pointed at the menu, and even threw in the Japanese number for the one I wanted. Just as I was congratulating myself on my successful order, he told me the price. My only thought was that it was the most expensive hamburger on earth. It wasn’t much later that I realized I had inadvertently ordered 3 hamburgers. In my attempt to show I knew what I was doing, I ended up miscommunicating even more and had a mountain of hamburgers to show for it. ”
-Hailey Crump

“Do you ever get this undeniable urge to do something that maybe you shouldn’t do? In Kuala Lumpur outside of their most notable landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers, there was a long series of water fountains shooting up water that I had to run through. End result – a Malaysian security guard chasing me down the side of the fountain yelling at me in a foreign language to get out of the fountain. A bit embarrassing to me when he chased me down but hilarious to the many onlookers watching me jump over water shooting up and a security guard chasing me. To my credit though there was no sign, at least that I could read, that said don’t get in the fountains.”
-Will Boggs 

“I love going to Japanese bath houses. It’s extremely relaxing and a great cultural experience. Shortly after moving here, I went to a small bathhouse. Usually people with tattoos are not allowed into bathhouses because of stigma of tattoos relating to Yakuza ( Japanese Organized crime similar to the mafia). As I was washing up, a man came in with a full tattoo body suit and a missing finger. Both are clear signs of a person belonging to the Yakuza. I was a bit startled and didn’t know how to react. A few minutes later, the man comes up and scrubs my back, I froze and thought that no matter what this was going to end bad, weird, or both. The man then said in English, “this is how we say welcome….welcome to my country…enjoy Japan.” The he went back to what he was doing and that was that.”
-Gil Cauthorn

 “When I was in Mexico, I attended a birthday party.  I didn’t know the birthday girl very well, so when the entire party circled-up to take turns singing short spontaneous songs for her, I got nervous.  I could sing something nice in Spanish, but I wanted to sound cool!  When my turn came to sing a short lyric, I sang, “Carolina, estas muy chida.” While ‘que chida’ means ‘how cool’ in Spanish, the way I used the word essentially changed the meaning to, “Carolina, you are super sexy.”  Remember, I was new there; her father, family, friends, everybody paused in horror, and then started laughing uncontrollably (well, except her grimacing father), and I had no idea, until the birthday girl herself kindly explained it to me later that night.  Language is so tricky!”
-Aaron Hall

“After harvesting grapes all day for a family in a small Eastern European Village, who spoke ZERO English… I was generously given several more shots of homemade Vodka than I desired to intake. This was the cultural norm during dinner and they had brought out their finest for us as American guests in their home. I began to inconspicuously pour each shot into my bowl of mostly eaten chicken foot soup. Towards the end of dinner, the host looked at my bowl and said, “No like?” with a VERY concerned… and possibly offended look on her face. At that moment I made a choice. Praying with all sincerity that God would protect me from any backlash of this decision, I then downed that bowl of soup as if it were Tomato Basil Soup found only at its’ best in New Orleans. My contact was blessed with willingness and miracle upon miracle, I’ll have you know I didn’t feel even a buzz from the high alcohol content of my quick decision! I’ll never forget that day!”
-Lauren Powell

“We were being served a nice meal in Malaysia, and I particularly liked a noodle dish I’d never had before. I asked the lady what was in the dish, and she smiled and said “pig skin.” NOOO!!!”
-Helena Jordao

“On my first trip to Thailand, I was working with 13 other guys, in Phuket (pronounced Poo-Ket) doing construction for a ministry that helps to rescue girls from a life of prostitution. While we were there one of the guys decided he wanted to take us all out for a nice dinner. So, we got a taxi set up to pick us up at a certain time to take us all to the restaurant. It turns out that another group that was working on the grounds ordered a taxi for the same exact time and we accidentally took their ride without knowing it. As we drove for 30 minutes in the wrong direction, we finally realized we were in the wrong car, and the woman that set up the ride for us called us, asking us where we were and proceeded to yell through the phone, “That’s not my CAAAAAA!!!” The story was so good that we were not even mad, we ended up making it to the restaurant in time to make our reservation and had one of the best meals we had all had in a very long time!”
-Matthew Murray

“Thai people’s ideas of “personal space” are very different from America’s. When I was doing ministry in a Thai village, I woke up every morning with my translator’s hand resting on my inner thigh. Needless to say, not my favorite wake-up call, but by the end I had an incredible friendship with him. Maybe the Thai people are on to something…”
-Zach Cobos