Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Culture Shock in Reverse

I (Sandra) am still decompressing at home in Nicaragua from my recent trip to North Carolina.  It had been 2 years since I had visited my home church, New Day Church at High Point.  At times when I reflect back, it seems like a long 2 years because of so much that has happened to us and the changes to the ministry; and yet, it seems like time had just flown by.  The trip was arranged for me by my church for a time of rest and also to reconnect with my church family and others.

Every 6 months, because we do not have our permanent residency status, we are required to vacate Nicaragua for a minimum of 72 hours.  Due to our busy schedule, this mandatory requirement is really an inconvenience to us.  However, we are realizing that a break from routine is absolutely necessary to remain focused and refreshed to handle what we do.

My first realization that I had been out of touch with civilization as I once knew it and the everyday conveniences that we once cherished, hit me during my long 7 hour layover in Atlanta.  I walked around the various concourses trying to decide what I wanted to eat.  Choices, so many choices - I was truly overwhelmed.  It gave me a strong sense of what our students and the boys that live with us go through, the inability to decide.   I have gotten accustomed to not having choices.  I'm sure I looked odd to anyone that might have noticed that I walked by the various eateries at least 3 times as though I was on a field track.  EVERYTHING looked so good, it was a feast before my eyes and I could not decide what I really wanted to eat.  What did I finally eat?   A pesto pasta salad filled with sun-dried tomatoes and a side of hummus with bagel chips.  Hmmmmmmm, oh so good.

The 2nd big shocker for me was air conditioning.  Everywhere I went the AC was cranking and I was cold.  I'm not talking about being cool, I'm telling you there were times I was freezing.   I managed to confiscate a hooded sweatshirt from my host family and I wore it everyday; inside the house as well as OUTDOORS.  It was not very fashionable, but I was toasty.  80 degrees to me is a cool day and anything less, it starts to get uncomfortable.

Commercialism was in my face everywhere I went.  There was a time when I supported it well.  I did my patriotic duty to keep the economy rolling.   Today, what do I have to show for it?  Hardly anything!  God made it perfectly clear when we left the United States that we were to go almost empty handed.  Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of personal possessions that I still miss; but I am surviving without them.   If I had to do it over again, I would rethink a lot of our former purchases.  It was a lot of excess.

I had forgotten how beautiful and green the landscape of North Carolina can be.  How new everything is; homes, commercial properties, roadways and cars.  And mostly, I appreciated how very CLEAN everything was.

During my time in the States, I was confronted with something that took me by surprise. There was the sense within me that I did not belong there any more.   I felt like a fish out of water.  Two years is a long time to be away from any one place.   Everyone's life had moved on and I was like a former player standing on the sidelines watching their lives being played out and I was not involved in the game any longer.

It was beautiful reconnecting with my church family and making new friends.  Everywhere I went and everyone I was with treated me like Royalty.   I was loved upon extravagantly.  I was encouraged prophetically in my future.   I could not have asked for a more meaningful welcoming.  But, I was not home.

My life has changed in ways that I would never have dreamed of 2, 4 or 13 years ago.  When I worked at Samaritan's Purse, I thought about missions; but I envisioned myself still gainfully employed at SP and going out in the field on occasion.   Then I met Preston and everywhere we went, people were always telling us that we would be traveling the world and making a difference in the lives of multitudes.   A far reach for a girl that just saw herself as ordinary and insignificant.   I cannot take credit for anything that I do, because I am weak.  He, the Lord God, is my strength.  I can do nothing without Him.  All He asks of me, is to be available and say Yes.

I'm back HOME in Nica, the place I have come to love.  Only God can put a supernatural love inside me that cannot be explained to the rest of the world and especially to my own children.  This is not the life I had imagined, but it is the life that was carved out for me long before I was ever born.  Even with all it's challenges and heartache, it is a tremendous privilege to be called by the Lord to be His ambassador to make a difference in the lives of the young men and boys in this nation and beyond Nicaragua.