Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lost that loving feeling....

Anyone who has been out of your native country has at least heard if not experienced Culture Shock. Culture shock is that feeling of "whoa, this place is really different!" When we train teams for mission trips, we teach them that there are several stages to culture shock. The first stage is called the honeymoon stage - everything seems really new and wonderful and exciting. You love everything because it new and different - Americans in general like new and different. So you think, "hey, maybe I should move here" Well, it doesn't last forever, the next phase of culture shock is called "lost that loving feeling". You realize some of these new and different experiences are inconvenient, uncomfortable and disagreeable. You think, "these people really need to learn........(fill in the blank)" The new culture has now become undesirable and your one desire  is to get back home where life is known, predictable and comfortable. Fortunately, this doesn't last forever either. Eventually, you move on to acceptance and reconciliation with the new culture. You can appreciate the differences and accept them as simply that - different - not offensive.

A couple weeks ago, I looked at Lee and said "the honeymoon is over!" I'm tired of the rain, the open, damp house. I'm tired of going to language school everyday. I'm tired of walking EVERYWHERE - usually in the rain. I'm tired of everything taking twice as long as it does at home. I want to my stuff in my house, I want to be at my church, I want to drive my car to Target, I want to eat at Chickfila, I want to shop at Publix (where shopping is a pleasure!) Do I sound like a bratty 4-year old or what??

There were several days that I spent most of my prayer time complaining about how things were different than I expected - "this isn't what I signed up for Lord. Is this some kind of bait and switch scam?" Fortunately for me, the Lord is patient, kind and faithful, especially when I am not. He gently reminded me that He knows better than I what's best for me. I recalled the days of saying to my little 4-year olds "Who knows what's best for you? That's right, mommy knows, so get with the program little one!" (or something like that.)  He reminded me that he is very capable of providing what I need when I need it. BUT I have to be WILLING - willing to submit to his sovereignty in my life.  Willingness is a big deal, it requires trust and patience to wait on Him to move. It requires that I be still. He doesn't need me to flesh it out. Be still and wait for me to bring it to you.

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend from home about our recent experiences. The last couple of weeks we have been trying to figure out how to buy a car and find a place to live after language school. At home, we know exactly how to go about doing these things. We are very capable of accomplishing such tasks. Here in Guate, we don't have a car, so we can't drive to the city and look at cars, we can't drive out to look at houses. It's complicated. We can't make it happen. We are waiting for the Lord to bring what we need to us.

 Last week, the Lord brought us an opportunity for renting a house in Pana. It is exactly what we would choose for ourselves. We haven't finalized the details, but it affirms what I know is true. The Lord knows me, he knows what I need and he is faithful to provide. We can't steal his glory, because we did nothing to make it happen. He alone provides what we need.

Last Spring, we looked in the community where this house is located. These aren't pics of the actual one we might rent, but it is similar to these.

On Friday, we had a driver take us to the city to look at a potential car. It turned out to be in poor condition, so we won't be buying it. The whole excursion took about 4-5 hours. Lee said, "I feel like we wasted the entire afternoon." I said, "it wasn't a good afternoon for buying a car, but we did meet a guy who does international shipping. We might be able to use his services in the future. We know more about how to go about the car buying process." I realized later, maybe I am moving beyond the "lost that loving feeling phase." Maybe I am beginning to accept the culture here. I am reconciled to the fact that things take longer, time gets "wasted". But God uses these "wasted moments" to teach us about waiting on Him. He hasn't forgotten about us, he knows us. He's got it. In the process of waiting, He is refining us. As I am finishing this post, this is the song playing... Lord - to you alone belongs the highest praise. We lift up our eyes, we lift up our eyes to the giver or life, to you alone belongs the highest praise! 

We nicknamed the community "Shangrai La." It's very tropical and beautiful.


  1. Tear-filled eyes again! I feel ya sister. I have said those same phrases and I haven't left my zip code. SPD took us on it's own world tour. How many times I have cried out, "Why can't I just go to Chick-Fil-A like the rest of the modern world?????" So, while I don't know - I know.

    Love you so much!

  2. These houses do not look real...they look like something from a fairy tale or at least a movie. We have really enjoyed following your adventures, but I think I would already be packed and on my way home. It is amazing how God is providing you with strength and patience to make this HUGE is fine to have a good cry too! We will continue to pray for you as you increase your vocab and sleep to the sweet lull of fireworks! Love, the Ballentine's