Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Monday, April 4, 2016

Less and Less Clumsy

Before leaving Senegal to return to the US for our several months of Home Ministry Assignment we began preparing ourselves for “reverse” culture shock. Culture shock is the initial “shock” that you feel when you enter a new culture where things are new, different, and, well, “foreign.” You are shocked because you don’t really understand how life works and how society functions so you begin to feel a bit overwhelmed and lost. And culture shock, to one degree or another, is almost inevitable as you move to a new country, especially one as different as Senegal is from the US.

But “reverse” culture shock happens as you return to your passport country after several years abroad. While living cross-culturally for several years your heart, mind, and body have been busy (maybe even consumed!) with adapting and fitting in to your new culture. New sights, new sounds, new tastes, new routines, and new experiences begin to take root in your life to the degree that when you return to what used to be home, you find that “home” feels a bit foreign; a bit more foreign than familiar.

Etiquette is different, social norms and expectations are different, personal interactions are different. You come back “home” and find that you feel a bit clumsy as you go through the normal paces of life. Everything takes a bit longer to process and you always feel like you are a step or two slower than everyone else around you.

And oh the choices! Every menu seems like a Webster’s Dictionary after living over three years in a place where most things aren’t available. And it’s true that the   cereal aisle at Wal-Mart can almost make us break out in a cold sweat as we stand face-to-face with the towering wall of breakfast options. (And by the way, a big “Thank you!” to whoever invented the touch-screen soda machines! That one really threw us for a loop! But seriously, does anyone really need that range of options just to get something to drink?)

But overall, we are doing great. We are loving seeing family and friends that we have missed while in Senegal. We are loving connecting with local churches here that love the Gospel and have a heart for the nations. We have truly been loved on by these churches in ways that have deeply touched our family. And Hosanna has finally stopped asking if each place that we stay has hot water (“Yes, honey, they have hot   water here at this Holiday Inn.”). And day by day, by God’s grace, our family is becoming less and less clumsy here in America.