Friday, August 12, 2011

Welcome to Tanzania!

Friday. August 12. 2011
The birds are conversing outside my window, the crickets are chirping, and the sun has risen. I am currently experiencing my first morning in Usa River, Tanzania at the Cradle of Love Baby Home! Before the sun came up, the chickens were making a racket, the wild dogs were howling, and the Muslim call to prayer was being blasted on loudspeakers somewhere nearby. So, as you can imagine, I have been awake for a while. As I sit here and eat my breakfast of cliff bars, celery, and chocolate covered almonds, there are monkeys playing in the trees behind our backyard and there are 42 adorable babies and toddlers waking up. I met many of them last night, but I have yet to learn their names and get to know their personalities. My journey is just beginning! In my Cross-cultural ministries class last year, I learned a lot of valuable information to prepare me for being a missionary and living overseas. One thing I learned that sticks out in my mind is that missionaries go through phases of culture shock. The author of our textbook broke it down into four stages:
  1. Initial High – During this phase you usually feel excited because you are finally there! (A little bit nervous about being in a new country, though). The level of satisfaction is high. It’s the honeymoon phase of the missionary stay.
  2. Frustration – Sooner or later it hits you. You are here to stay. The different tastes and sounds will not go away and some of these different things begin to get to you. You can’t seem to understand anybody. Misunderstandings seem frequent and your patience wears thin. The satisfaction level is low and you feel like going home.
  3. Recovery – The good news is that culture shock is temporary. Efforts to make friends are crucial and pay off. Some of “their” strange and different ways begin to make sense when viewed from their viewpoint and bonding begins to occur.
  4. Acceptance – You begin to feel comfortable again. There is a sense of satisfaction about your work. You are accepting the local climate, food, dress, and customs. You function without anxiety. You make friends and enjoy them. Eventually you will miss them!
There you have it! As I blog and give you updates throughout the months, we will find out if these phases are indeed true. I am definitely not limiting myself to these four stages, of course, but it is nice to have an outline and an idea of what is to come. If I can avoid the frustration phase, I certainly will. However, I know that as Christians we often grow the most when we are in the valley, so I am sure some frustrations and trials are ahead, but I trust that God will use them to make me a better person. I believe He has led me here and I am excited to see what opportunities He has waiting for me. I will try to post updates and pictures as often as I can get internet. So here it goes! Join me as I begin my chapter of life in Tanzania.


  1. Aw, Beth! It's SO good to hear that you are having a good time, and learning, and growing, and just feeling better! Hug a baby for me... :) I am and will continue to pray for you!!!

    On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
    Psalm 138:3

    I think that's what the Lord is doing in you, Beth. So be of good courage, because the LORD is on your side. I love you!

  2. That is precisely what we were praying and continue to pray for you. That He would fill you, surround you, cloak you with His inexplicable peace. That He would surround you and protect you with His angels- both human and divine. He did!!! Your blog is moving. Where you find yourself spiritually is a very, very good place to be! Treasure it and grow it. As C.S. Lewis says in The Last Battle (after they have entered Aslan's country), in our spiritual lives we must never stop walking "further up and further in."
    You probably know this but if you have cell coverage an African SIM card is cheap and your family can call you for as low as 10cents/min. total family cost, and between SIM cards for around 20-30 cents/min. We are glad all is well with you. Have fun. Jen and Jonathan will be on the continent very soon. Things are hectic here.

    - Jon Stephan

  3. Those stages are really interesting. And pretty accurate! So excited to keep up with your blog and hear about the great things God is doing in your life. Just love those babies like crazy! And bring me back one ;) Oh how I wish I was there WITH you! Praying for you!

  4. Dear Beth, So neat to read the stages that you shared. Life is so much like that too...Please hug some babies for me too...and just could be the very link that draws them to Jesus...huge responsibility and privilege. Love you, Auntie Karen

    P.s. Kayla came home over night this past weekend. Lovely time. Too short! xo

  5. I agree with Melissa! It would be wonderful if we were all there together.. I am so happy that you have this experience! Although I'm not with you, my prayers are, and I love you very much!!!