Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Culture Shock?

Culture shock refers to the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not.

Phases of culture shock

Honeymoon Phase - During this period the differences between the old and new culture are seen in a romantic light, wonderful and new. For example, in moving to a new country, an individual might love the new foods, the pace of the life, the people's habits, the buildings and so on.

Negotiation Phase - After some time (usually weeks), differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. One may long for food the way it is prepared in one's native country, may find the pace of life too fast or slow, may find the people's habits annoying, disgusting, and irritating etc. This phase is often marked by mood swings caused by minor issues or without apparent reason. Depression is not uncommon.

Adjustment Phase - Again, after some time (usually 6 - 12 months), one grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. One knows what to expect in most situations and the host country no longer feels all that new. One becomes concerned with basic living again, and things become more "normal".

Hmmm,so I found it interesting that it not only says a new culture, but also a social environment. After almost 4 weeks here, I find myself struggling. Miss my grandkids, can't get my schedule down, miss Mexican food, feeling overwhelmed, not feeling like I'm doing a good job at anything, etc., etc.

I wasn't thinking it was culture shock, but thought I would look up the definition anyways. I'm enjoying the culturehere for the most part, although we do spend a great majority of our time around other Americans. The food is ok & I will get used to that; although I don't think I will ever get used to noMexican food! It just seems like I haven't found my comfortable place yet. You know, the place where you can just go & be you. To me, that doesn't have anything to do with anyone else. Just a private thing, but seems it's a little lost right now.

Ok, ready for the Adjustment Phase!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oh the wonders of technology!

Last night I was able to talk to my 6 yr. old grandson for the first time since we moved to South Africa. Thanks to the wonderful modern invention of Skype, we were able to call for 2 cents a minute! Doesn't get much better than that! I wish they had Skype so we could do video, but for now, it was awesome!

Trying to explain to a 6 yr. old where Africa is, that it's summer here, that no, Mimi has not seen a wolverine, all that, was so fun! He was wound up & a little silly, but oh how wonderful it was! Unfortunately, Elaena can't really talk much yet at 15 months, but we did get to hear her babble some.

Now, if I could just figure out a way to wrap them in my arms long distance and give them Mimi kisses, I'd be doing great!

Water is Life!

Being a missionary can mean learning many different things. One of the things we have learned is the importance of water. For the last 3 weeks, we have had water for maybe a total of 5 days. I think it's resolved, for now, but it really makes you think of the many places in the world that don't have the luxury of running water. I mean, yes, we had one faucet with water (although not drinkable) and were able to buy drinking water in town. We were able to dip water from the pool to flush the toilets and make do, but I wonder about the places that don't have that.

How many babies & children's deaths are related to contaminated drinking water? How many lives could be saved if there was only a clean, reliable water source available? It breaks my heart to think of being a mother & having to watch your child waste away from lack of water. How sad is that?

To us, it was just an inconvenience to go without water. To many, it's a matter of life or death.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Living La Vida Loco (otherwise known as living the crazy mission life)!

Learning to live the missionary life can be challenging. You kinda know going in the there are cost, sacrifices, adventures, new cultures & languages to learn, etc. You learn how nice it is to have a shower & clean drinking water, how hard it is to not have a car, how gut wrenching it is to miss your family, how sad it is when someone dies & your not there to comfort your friend. And you learn to rely on God. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I have been really struggling lately with some things. One of the things we had to do to move to SA was give up my dog, Jeter. It was hard, really, really hard. We were unable to find a home for him & ended up taking him to the Doberman Rescue of North Texas. It is a wonderful organization & the people there are great. But it was like ripping a piece of my heart out. One of the hardest things I've done.

Last week, I sent an email to the lady there asking how he was doing. She emailed back that he had just now started to eat & was really, really having a hard time. It was so heart-breaking. I can't hardly type this without crying. We knew this was part of our cost to follow where God had called us. But man.

Anyways, I got mad at God. I mean, come on. I paid the price He asked of me. Why wasn't He making this right? Not like He can't. He is God. So I struggled with that a while. I finally had to ask God's forgiveness. He does know what He's doing, even if I don't. The next morning during worship, I felt a sweetness. Just that knowing that even if God didn't love him like I do, He loves me enough to make sure Jeter is taken care of. I still don't know how it will work out, just like most things in my life, but I do know that God is in control & that He loves me enough to want only the good for me. And my dog.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Things I've learned in South Africa

1. Ants are just a fact of life here. There's no getting around it!

2. There are whites who are Afrikaan & there are whites who are English, who were actually born here & may even go back several generations, but they still consider theirselves English.

3. AIDS does not have to be a death sentence now. With ARV's and treatment of opportune infections, it is possible to live up to 60 years with the virus.

4. Summer is the rainy season.

5. The grass seems to grow about 2 inches a day here in the summer.

6. There are tons of games you can play with kids that require nothing!

7. Sleeping without the tv on is possible!

8. The white kids think Texas is filled with cowboys.

9. My tongue just won't roll to pronounce some of the Afrikaan words.

10. You need to buy your jeans a size smaller if you hang them to dry becaue they don't shrink up & then you walk around all day hitching them up!

More to come later...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kids are Kids

On Thursday, our team went to Kbakweni to work in the community. We help out with the feeding program & then play with the kids. We also wash their school uniforms, but with all the rain, we didn't this week. The kids there were a little shy at first, but then they opened up & started playing games with us. We had a great time & to see their smiling faces is a joy.

This weekend, we are serving at a retreat for the SALT church. SALT is an Afrikaan church that some of the team attends. We were asked to run the kids program at the retreat for about 13 kids. They too were a little shy, but openend up & we played games & did crafts. It has been fun! They wanted to know about the cowboys in Texas, not the team, but real cowboys! They tried to teach me the name of one of their schools, but I just can't roll my "r's" like that! In their very british, clipped accent, they asked me if we don't have "r's" in the states? Well, yes, but I've tried to roll my r's all my life & still can't!

It really struck me that there are definitely differences in the kids, yet, they are still just kids. They want to laugh, learn, pleay & be loved. That's what they all want & need. Our job is to help them do that & know they are loved, not just by us, but by their Father in heaven.