I’ve enjoyed the devotions written by Sue Eenigenburg. She has served many years serving in places around the world outside of her passport country and writes books for women who serve in places around the world outside their passport countries (cross-cultural workers). She’s spot-on with the struggles, blunders and joys that are the tapestry of the roller coaster cross-cultural life. In a recent chapter from her book More Screams, Different Desert, she puts into words things that add up to be difficult. So, I would like share some of it with my own tweeks.
It really isn’t one thing that usually makes me frustrated to the point of tears, it’s several things that add up. First there is the electricity or lack thereof. At first it was a novelty, the lights would go out, we would light candles, use headlamps to play games, etc… but when you’re lying in bed with sweat rolling down your body, dripping into the pool of sweat you are lying in and you hear some kind of bug buzzing your head and occasionally it bites you because you are playing the kick the sheet off, pull it back on dance – you just want to scream because you want to sleep and it’s next to impossible to sleep without the fan blowing on you when you are dripping in sweat.
Second is the water or lack thereof. Again, at first it was a novelty, dipping our buckets into our rain water collection barrel, heating that water in the stockpot on the stove to pour into our bathtub, filling about ½” on the bottom and it’s time to bathe. We’ve learned how to bathe in about 5 liters of water and use a cup to dip into the water to rinse with. Without water you can’t do dishes, wash clothes, filter water for drinking or flush the toilet. Conservation is key. We are so grateful for the chateau (our own little 900 liter water tower of collected water) and our rain collection barrel.
Third is the driving. I’m pretty used to the driving, however, it’s still nerve racking that white lines don’t really mean anything. The road is marked for two lanes, but in reality there are six or more. You can turn in any direction from any lane. The bigger vehicles have the right of way. Even when you have your blinker on and it’s clear you are turning lift, it’s not unusual to be passed on the left. Buses, cars, bikes, motorcycles, trucks, cows, goats, pedestrians and venders all vie for position on the roads.
Fourth is the Internet or lack thereof. On good days our internet speed 300kbps. Most days our internet works for a few hours, then freezes up or the modem overheats or the power shuts off or it just won’t work. I despise websites with lots of pictures or only have video and not a transcript of the story. It never fails that when you have something scheduled like on Skype or Internet chat, etc…. the Internet isn’t working.
Fifth is loneliness and it feels heavy. I miss family and friends. It takes time to meet people and become friends. I’m so thankful and feel so blessed by the friends I have here and will miss them dearly. One day when we were chatting, one of the ladies said we should all retire together to share our crazy stories because otherwise we’ll all get locked up in mental hospitals if we share our stories with others, they’ll think we are senile.
Sixth, finding stores and learning what’s available and what isn’t is a challenge. There are two stores here that sell what’s considered “American” items. Think the Dollar Store, but the starting price is $3. If you find a product you like at one of these stores, you need to buy a lot, because it probably won’t be available again. At the same time, it’s a cash society, so if you don’t have extra cash, you can’t purchase additional. We get giddy excited when we find yellow mustard, dill pickles, relish, grape jelly, jarred salsa or chips like Cheetos. However, you must be careful to read in the midst of your excitement or you may be disappointed when what you thought you purchased barbeque chips and ended up being ketchup flavored or chicken flavored.
Seventh, when we order a product from Amazon, we mentally prepare ourselves to not see that purchase for nine months. One time while looking at Facebook, one of my friends was ranting about how due to bad weather her product took three days instead of two that comes with her prime membership. She was sharing that she wanted compensation from Amazon. I don’t know what the product was, so I don’t know the urgency level, however, I couldn’t get on Facebook for a week because of it. It was reverse cultural shock without being in the USA. I think I would faint if I received a product in three days and that includes urgent things like peak flow meters, pulse oximeters, Claritin, prescription medicine.
Water, electricity, traffic, loneliness, shopping, Internet and eating….none of them “break you down” on their own, but when you need to cope with them all at one time it can feel overwhelming.
This blog isn’t intended to be a “oh poor us” or a “pity party”, it’s just a glimpse of some inconveniences we face. We feel privileged to be able to serve here even though that means living with the inconveniences. I realize many of you can’t relate to these types of inconveniences, however, I think there are inconveniences you go through that I can’t relate.