Gut Aftanun! Ha fo yu? A de fayn. Dem pikin dem de fayn. Chris de go fo wok plenti. I de fayn.
Above is in Pidgin. Good afternoon! How are you? I am fine. The kids are fine. Chris works a lot. He is fine.
It has become clearer and clearer that we are not in Kansas anymore the longer we are here. In the past month, we have found that culture shock is a very real thing. That when you put yourself in a foreign land that there really are many things that just do not make sense to you because you are not of this culture. We have had misunderstandings with others, frustrations that things are not going as we would think they should go, and homesickness. I found that I was missing my family, friends and things of America more and more. So, let’s get real and let me tell you about what this last month as been like. I think that too often the only thing that is told is how wonderful it is, and that there are challenges but it is wonderful when you are a missionary. The fact is…Life is hard in on the mission field and there are times that it is anything but wonderful.
In the middle of March we went to SCA which is a homeschooling gathering for the missionary kids here and then on a small retreat to the beach as a family. The 3 weeks that we were gone were good for us. Our children found other kids our children’s ages that have been here for varying lengths of time, and showed them that they were not alone. We also enjoyed the beach in Kribi.
|Fist major rain after dry season.|
|Kids on the beach in Kribi.|
We returned to Mbingo and culture shock took a firm hold. We had just been in a the French part of Cameroon and there were challenges there because we were not able to fully communicate due to the language barrier. But we were back home in our scenic village and things should have been great. However, for me I was now isolated from the friends we had just made, and several people that had been here in Mbingo that had left. It really affected me. I spent several days just laying in bed watching shows on my computer. I didn’t talk to anyone unless I absolutely had too. Chris was struggling with difficulties at work. A lot of them were due to cultural differences or just simply because on misinformation. He would come home and be upset. It seemed as if things were becoming harder and harder.
I became upset that when I spoke a language that I have known all my life it would not make sense to the people around me speaking the same language. Here is an example. I needed packing tape. I go to market and ask. “Do you have tape?” Confused look from the other person. “Do you have tape?” Again, confused look. “Uhhh, clear plastic that is sticky? Like I can put two things together and it holds them that way?” Long pause. “Yu mean silo tape mum?” “Maybe? Can I see it.” She holds it up and it is what I am looking for. I buy it. I don’t care to barter anymore I am just exhausted because this is the eighth time I had to describe what I am looking for and haggled over the price for today. Another example is that I have had to change the way I talk in my home to describe what I mean to our house help. I am getting better at it, but if I do not read the body language of my house help correctly they will tell me yes then not do it. Such as asking our cook for Spanish rice. Two different times I asked for it to be made. First time it was not there at all. Second time it was not Spanish rice it was white rice. I was so mad! The next day however I was calm and said, “Last night I go to de fridge to get de rice. I was searching and searching. I no de find de rice. I wonder. Have you made dis rice before?” “No, mum.” “Would you like me to help you make dis rice fo next time?” “Yes mum.” I found that this really upset me because we were both speaking English and she said yes. But, what I didn’t remember is this is a shame based culture and they are not allowed to ask questions for fear of the shame that will be given. Really the list of things could go on and on, but I am quite certain you will stop reading this post before they are finished. So, let's move on.
After being home one week Chris could really tell that something was really wrong with me and that I was spiraling. He wanted to talk and I just stood at the sink washing dishes and saying, “Please just leave me alone. Please…..Please leave me alone.” I then broke down into sobbing tears. For those of you that know me well I am not a crier. If I am crying then I am NOT OKAY. I broke down asking why are we here? What is the point? I missed my family. I miss my church. I missed driving. I missed feeling safe on the road. I missed having food I liked all around me. I missed people understanding me and not filtering myself constantly. I missed not be sold things at a higher price because I was white and being to that to my face. I missed PEPSI! When it was all done I just asked to be left alone.
That evening we had some short-term volunteers over for dinner. We sat and ate pizza together. They listened to some of the struggles that we were having with work and life in another place. They encouraged us and just listened. I felt a small amount of relief. The next day I finally spoke to family since our return to Mbingo. I had been avoiding the conversation because I did not want them to worry and feel bad. We spoke and I felt even better. However, as I hung up the phone I wished they could just hold me and say it is okay. You are doing good. My heart just hurt.
It has been 2 more weeks since then and I am doing better every day. I have traveled to Bamenda and visited with some of the families we spent time with at SCA. Some have also come here to visit. On the first trip to Bamenda I was shown a shop that had actual conditioner for my hair and body spray from Bath and Body Works! On my second trip, I went to a shop that I go to every time and found PEPSI! I literally yelled out in the shop, “OMG PEPSI!!!” I bought the 3 they had there and did not care what I was paying for them. Later I was told that no one else has ever found it here in all the years they have been living here.
Chris has taken the week off to reflect and regroup. I am praying that next week things will feel like they are back on track completely.
I want you to know that overall, we are okay. We are not suffering and we are safe. Life is just hard sometimes. We have made it to being here 5 months as of 4/21/17. The internet has been reinstated in the NW and SW region. Things are really looking up.
Sorry that this blog has been a long time coming. I actually wrote a blog and forgot to post it. Then Chris wrote a post and it did not save. So here is round three.
1. Please pray that Chris will have peace and assurance while working.
2. Please pray that we flourish and that this dry season has ended.
We thank you for all the love, support, and prayers that you have given us. You really helped us to keep going. You will never know what it means to us.
“The Will of God will not take you where the Grace of God cannot protect you.”