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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.