Book Review: Sixteen Seasons
“They had never spoken. She crouched there at the pump mysteriously drawing water in the dusk as he hid behind a tree watching or something like that. She probably never even noticed him. She was obviously the perfect choice. Obviously? What, was this junior high? I looked hard at Iskandar. Okay, apparently yes, yes, it was. But were we seriously going to use junior-high criteria to pick a wife?” (153).
In the witty style of a travelogue, David James (pseudonym) relates the story of his family’s four year roller coaster ride in Tajikistan and invites you along for the action. But be warned! Along the way you may discover some new things about yourself, about another world people call home, and about a gospel that is meant for people in both worlds.
“As soon as she left the room, the discussion about our “prrrrooablem” commenced. Everyone had lots to say about it. They seemed especially interested in how we didn’t know Russian. Then we heard someone say that we did know Tajik well. It got a lot quieter after that…” (40).
Whether you’re with them on an errand to get an ultrasound, like this quote relates, or traveling to the capital to pick up an air-conditioner, James proves quite adept at bringing out the subtle humor of the host culture and the sometimes absurd expectations of Americans traveling abroad. From power outages and poverty to Soviet-decay and government bribery, from a date night movie and wedding planning to a muslim pilgrimage and plastic bag fashion, this book has the incredible ability to touch on so much of what it means to live cross-culturally.
But lest it seem like all fun and games, though his cultural insights can be quite penetrating, the purpose for the James family enduring such hilarious and humbling experiences is evident from start to finish: the gospel of Jesus Christ. James writes, “When I read Acts it no longer feels like history. It feels like the present. It feels like Kadimobod. Here we were, first church in a brand-new area, the first of the firstfruits” (248).
So dive in and live out the first term of a cross-cultural family for Christ. You might be surprised by how much even the read will challenge you...and you might find that God is preparing you for a story of your own in a place where the workers are few.
James, David. Sixteen Seasons. Pasadena, CA: William Carey. 2011.