Perhaps many of you read this post by Nikki Brown, but in case you missed it, I thought it worth using in Headquarter Happenings. Paul often shared his hardships. He never did so to get pity. He did it to encourage others. I believe Nikki’s post will do the same.
In His Service,
Danny A. Whetstone
by Nikki Brown
Culture shock. The very words that haunt most any person that may be moving away from a familiar environment. Physical ailments, separation distress, or emotional outcries may all play a part in this cruel “shocking” attack.
I’ve been told that culture shock comes and goes in waves. Sometimes you feel as though you can finally call this new place “home.” You almost mentally breathe a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back for conquering the challenge of living in a different place. Other times, (usually right after that sigh) it hits you like a 100,000 lb. elephant, and then that elephant finds comfort in sitting on top of you for as long as he possibly can. Yep, it’s that bad and seemingly almost impossible to get rid of.
Culture shock also has many different faces. There are times it takes no shame in rearing its ugly head and makes its obvious appearance. Language barriers, poor or no reliable medical care, corrupt government, weather, and critters are good examples of things that can trigger a feeling of culture shock. Unfortunately, on the other hand, it can also creep in slowly and not as blatantly, but effects you very deeply. Maybe a hurtful word from a national, a picture of a family get-together back home, or an upcoming holiday season would be good examples. Either way, it’s attack is very real.
The effects of culture shock can also vary from each occurrence. While you may be “laughing it off” at one point, during a bad case of culture shock, that same event may leave you incredibly angry, upset, or even sad. It’s hard to tell what you may actually feel, but usually it’s not something you’re willing to write home about.
How do you deal with it? When do you get to a point when culture shock doesn’t come around any more? Why doesn’t anyone seem to understand what you’re going through? Well, all I know is that the answer is God. God helps me to deal with each attack of culture shock. God lets me know that no matter how long it may last, He will give grace. God understands when everyone else doesn’t.
I’ve been told by missionaries who have been on the field more than 20 years that they STILL experience culture shock from time to time! Doesn’t that sound crazy? No. Not to me. Not to them. While they have been living overseas all that time and learning to adapt in that country (learned the language, working in that culture, making lifetime friendships in that same country), they still get that slap in the face every once in a while letting them know that they are from a different country.
So, I’d like to share with you just a few things I’ve done/am doing to help me cope with this unforeseen attack.
1. Reading God’s Word.
This is by far my greatest help! I find peace, comfort, encouragement, and help by reading the Bible. In college, God gave me a verse that I still quote most often to this day. Psalm 27:13 “I had fainted, UNLESS I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
2. Talking about it.
Now, this is not always an easy thing to admit to someone, but it is most important to have an accountability partner. For me, the Lord has blessed me in giving me a few very close friends, including my husband, my BFF (who also serves as a missionary on a foreign field), and a close friend that serves as a missionary in Cambodia. Each of these people provide a source of support that help me make sure I’m not checking out of the work here.
3. Reading encouraging letters.
Most of our letters come in the form of emails, text messages, or Facebook posts. Either way, I have a few that I often return to over and over again to remind myself that we do have faithful friends back home praying for us. Two weeks ago, we received 52 emails from a Sunday school class that had read our prayer letter that day! How encouraging is that? Just yesterday, I received the sweetest text from my daddy just saying I was on his mind and he was praying for me. God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. All of these things were a great help to me.
4. Singing songs (in English).
Tonight, after a long day—well, really a long week….ok, who am I kidding—it’s been one of those MONTHS….Matt and I sat down together at the piano and just sang some songs. The truths revealed in many great hymns are such a blessing! Music is a great gift from God that He has used many times in my life.
There are many other things I’m sure people can do to help them continue on in their fight.
Don’t worry, this post is not some cry for help or even a plea to go home. I REALLY DO love being here. I would not want to be anywhere else other than where God has us—and Cambodia is definitely the place God has us! We are more than blessed, too! God has made our lives so wonderful, and I believe it’s because we have just committed ourselves to serving Him. His grace is sufficient!