When you do what we do, you hear a lot about “reverse culture shock.” It’s the idea that when you leave your ministry culture and return to your home culture, you experience culture shock all over again, from the opposite direction. I think the fact that we’ve spent the last 5 months in a fairly developed city helped to ease our transition. Not to mention the fact that our arrival was very focused on the reality of my mother’s illness/death and the items that needed to be dealt with
None the less, we have had plenty of moments where we have had to take a deep breath and recite to ourselves our culture shock mantra, “It’s not wrong, it’s just different.”
I never have claimed to be a minimalist. I like shiny things. But even so, I think for me, the wastefulness coupled with the ridiculous abundance has been the hardest to process when it comes to our return to the States. There is just so much STUFF and the created “needs” that I see all around are a bit disgusting. We live with so much less on the other side of the pond and we have no less joy because of it. I have been very aware of that over the last few weeks.
Between my mother’s passing and her services, I did a good bit of shopping. It wasn’t really that I wanted to, but it was necessary. All of my kids needed presentable shoes and I purchased each of them some clearance rack t-shirts and summer clothes while I could still find them. I knew that once the fall clothing lines took over the racks, shopping would be useless to us for our “real lives.”
So, by the time the shopping and city visit was over, we were ready to get away from the plenty. We decided to spend some days at the weekend hunting cabin that Ryan’s parents share with Ryan’s uncles. It’s a simple place. 20 minutes from a real grocery store, down a long gravel road, sits a bunk house with a kitchen, a bath and half, a big TV and central air. Just the right balance of hide-a-way and civilization. We spent 6 nights with absolutely no agenda. We rode 4 wheelers, caught crawdads, went on long walks, roasted marshmallows, and ate way, way too much delicious food. We caught up on our sleep deficit and just relaxed, preparing for our return to the real world.
We've returned to civilization and it's obvious that the next few weeks will be full of doctor’s appointments, visiting with friends, re-stocking shopping, “experiencing America”, soaking in American worship, and assisting my dad with paperwork while also teaching him how to use the washing machine. We look forward to it but we know it will be a busy, busy time. I’m thankful for the time we had to rest before we had to fasten our seatbelts for this crazy-busy pace our American friends keep.