The Shock of Culture
Culture is so much more than language, and to learn a new one, we really do have to be PATIENT!! Being forced to wait is not the same as being patient, but it helps in the process.
Living in another country is very different than being part of a short-term team. With a short term team, you plan and prepare for months, you take care of the hard questions the unexpected twists and turns, then for the most part you step into a pre-planned action packed week. Even if it isn’t what you expected, you are there and the week is still packed full of new experiences. Living there is different. The preparation takes much longer and is much more grueling and gives you many opportunities to…won’t use the “Q” word, but how about “lessen in your desire to succeed” along the way…not for a lack of love for the ministry or sense of call, but simply because the process is so tedious. Then you get there, receive a warm welcome for all the things that you could, should, would like to, but haven’t yet done…and you spend most of the first few weeks in very mundane tasks wondering if you being there makes any difference in the hustle. The following is a list of such tasks: shop for groceries, start shopping for a car, eat local foods, get lost, shop for groceries, get a bank account (not so fast..cant do that yet), get a NIT (what is a NIT), get a phone & internet, continue shopping for a car, get lost, open a bank account (finally), add wife to account (not so fast…start process over), begin getting visa…realize that you were given wrong information, buy a car, get really lost, talk to customs and find out you have the wrong kind of NIT (who knew there was more than one), get lost and find your way home again.
Obviously I am being a little facetious here, but not too far from the truth. Below is a picture that sums up my first few weeks in El Salvador:
(“There it is, the new plan we put together…wonder if anyone is interested…”)
But then it happens…for us it was youth camp 2014. (check out the video here) You sense, see and feel God move, using your gifts and talents in a way that really no one else could do. Then it begins to make sense…God knows what He is doing.
Culture is so much more than language, but the only way to learn it is to pray, dive in, get immersed…rather lost and when you come up, you are saturated by it and find yourself doing something you never thought you could do…swim.
Learning a new culture is difficult, but I would encourage you TRY IT, YOU JUST MIGHT LIKE IT!