Culture shock is leaving your job at Starbucks, driving down US-19 behind an old beat up truck, and you find yourself pulling over because your eyes are too puffy and filled with tears to drive. Why? Because the diesel filled cloud that came out of the exhaust pipe in front of you instantly transported you back home. It’s sad when polluted air makes you instantly happy or sad, because of what it reminds you of.
Culture shock is lifting a bucket of ice at work and instantly becoming numb. Why? Because when you lifted that bucket of ice, it took you back to when you would carry five gallon bottles of water through the tiny passage ways in a village, and on towards a small church that sat on the lava rocks and overlooked the ocean.
Culture shock is walking into Publix to buy dish soap, and you find yourself crying in the cookie isle. Why? Because you wish that they had this many choices of cookies.
Culture shock is walking the halls at church over + over to catch your breath for just one second, and to pull yourself together. Why? Because standing in the foyer was too overwhelming. So many English speaking people, speaking all at once, and you felt out of place.
No matter how much I try and feel like I’ve adapted, I will never fully be in tune with this new lifestyle. I’ll go months and not experience it, and then all of a sudden, boom. Hits me like a sack of potatoes. Culture shock strikes again and when I least expect it to.
I’ve come to terms with it. The fact that I’ll always experience it. The fact that culture shock still has power in and over my life. That’s just the life I was given. It’s funny though. I almost feel as if it’s a blessing at times. It reminds me of how beautiful and unique my life is, and how blessed I am that the Lord chose me to live it.
A piece of my heart will always be there, and that’s okay. I would willingly give it to them without any hesitation anyways. My love for that country is something I’ll always hold near. Their faces, now that is something I see every night. The memories? I remind myself of often, or try to so hard to forget.
I want people to see. I want you to see. See the truth. Being a missionary is hard. You have to KNOW that God called you to it, or else it’s so easy to drown in the hardships you experience every day overseas. You have to know that you can't change everything for them, but that you can connect them to the source that can. Jesus.
My heart will always be pulled between three places, three cultures, two completely different lifestyles, and I know that isn’t something a lot of people can relate to. My biggest prayer is that I’ll find someone who even if they can’t relate to this life, they are willing to encourage me and push me through it when I’m lost. Someone who is willing to jump on a plane and walk into the muddiest, hardest, and sometimes scariest places with me, because that’s where my heart is. I don’t need someone who can relate, just someone who can understand. Understand how much it matters to me. How much they matter to me. And maybe, just maybe, it will matter just as much to that person I've prayed for, as it does to me one day.
The sweetest friendships I have are those who know, and yet still are so patient with me. When I’m off, they don’t judge, they just be. Be there to listen, to encourage, and to remind me that God has a plan for each of those kids whether it involves me or not.
I’m thankful God has placed people like that in my life, and I’m thankful that he uses them to help remind me where He has placed me when my emotions overshadowed my vision, and my heart pulls me back.
Culture shock. There is so much beauty found within it. It took me so long so see that. To see past the pain of it, and on to the beauty that lies within. Those moments have formed me into who I am today. Each one has played a part in building my character and appreciation for life.
Life is beautiful. Look past the pain. There is so much to look forward to on the other side.