Hannah had been on her field of service for three months. Leaving the church one day, she tripped and fell. Everyone around her, even those she considered friends, laughed loudly. Hannah was relieved that she wasn’t really hurt, but it did hurt to be laughed at. What was so funny? Why did those people act that way?
After a year of hard work Hannah had learned to carry on a conversation. Then a troubled young girl from church requested her advice about a serious matter. Hannah understood all the words, but she could not quite figure out what the girl was asking her. Clearly, the dictionary meaning of words was not enough; there were cultural implications beyond her understanding.
Social interactions are a learned behavior. Each people group has their own patterns of living, their own beliefs and values, and their own interpretations of events. This is their unique culture. In order to feel comfortable and in order to effectively communicate the Gospel, the missionary must learn it. Advanced Missionary Training includes Cultural Anthropology, a class in which students learn a method to actively study cultures.