the missions lady

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Archive for the tag “culture shock”

Realities of Living in a “3rd World Country”

I’m house sitting right now in a very large nice house and while I’m sitting here reading some posts from friends that live overseas it got me thinking of the realities of living in a Third World Country.

Here’s some of the realities I’ve experienced:
• Spending a month trying to figure out the best way to heat our house (or at least a room or two)…we should have started a month earlier because our first 3 attempts left us freezing through the nights.
• Getting high on the gas fumes from the propane or diesel heater you use to heat your room.
• The slushy, muddy, unpaved streets that try their best to take you down if you’re not careful.
• Needing to pay special attention as you walk down the street as to not be hit by a car or run into an animal or step in the open sewer flowing down the street.
• Not bathing for 5 days because it’s too much work to heat up the bathroom and the water and then to brave the still cold experience.
• Wearing clothes/outfits that I would have never picked out back home.
• No electricity…this brings about a lot of reality checks like: all the kitchen things we are use to using (including a fridge), no blow dryers etc, no computer…No Lights!
• Using a headlamp on a regular basis in your own house.
• Having a well for water with a gravity system to make it run in the house. The well breaking or going dry…living for two months with only buckets of water brought carried to the house from the nearest pump.
• Sleeping under a mosquito net…they are great but not near as romantic as in the movies.
• Always wearing shoes in the house so a scorpion doesn’t sting you.
• Often being the one that doesn’t know what is going on because everyone is speaking another language too fast for you to keep up with.
• Not drinking the water (boil it first or filter it or buy bottles)
• Washing clothes by hand.
• Having a house helper (someone that cleans, cooks etc).
• Not flushing toilet paper and learning to use a “squatty potty”
• Shopping for hours in the back corners of an open market to find some kind of Christmas Décor. We actually found a tree (possibly one of the only ones in the whole town) and then we made lots of homemade decorations.
• Singing around the fire became a normal way to spend an evening!
• Cooking dinner in the freezing kitchen and running upstairs quickly to the warm bedroom to eat. (eating French Toast for about a month straight because we didn’t have the energy to figure out something else to make for dinner in the cold)
• Having friends over for Dance Parties!
• Walking to work etc.…stopping to talk to people along the way.
• Being known by everyone in your neighborhood… “the foreigner” “horagi” muzugu” …
• Drinking tea every time you go to a meeting or a visit with a neighbor.
• Getting so use to the sound of explosions that it barely fazes you.
• Learning to drive where there are no lines on the streets and people walking and herding animals, as well as big military vehicles all in the same road…all while wearing a head scarf (I learned to tuck the edges behind my ears so my peripheral vision wasn’t impaired).
• Living at a slower pace!
Life in other parts of the world often has some harsh realities but I’ve also found that it has amazing depth and richness!

I’d love to hear some of what you would add to this list!


Personal Reflection

This weekend I thought I would share a little personal reflection.

I was looking back at a blog that I started when I lived in Afghanistan in 2005.   It was interesting to read back and reflect on what my life was like 7 years ago.  In the summer of 2005 I moved back to the US after living in Afghanistan for about 2 years.  Many people say “Wow” when they hear I lived in Afghanistan for 2 years…but I don’t really feel “wow” about 2 years…I’d planned to live there much longer.  When I moved in there in the summer of 2003 I was excited and ready to change the world…I had been dreaming and asking God to send me to some far corner of the world for about 6 years and it was finally happening.  I had gone through all kinds of training; I had done several short-term trips and internships overseas.  I was eager and ready to live in Afghanistan for the next 10 years or however long God wanted me there!  My hopes and dreams were all becoming a reality…I was well prepared…or so I thought! 

Less than 2 years into my time working in Kabul I was on the verge of burnout and my team was falling apart.  My dreams were shattered when I was exhorted by my mentors to consider that it was time for me to no longer live/work in Afghanistan.  That Exhortation didn’t come out of the blue it happened after I got sick and ended up in the hospital (Air Force tent in the dessert of Afghanistan…I’ll tell more of that story another time).  So, after much prayer and seeking wise counsel I resigned from my role on the team in Afghanistan.  I finished up one more semester and I was glad I did because I felt like at least I was able to finish well.  Then in the summer of 2005 I was in transition…looking for what was next.  I learned so many huge lessons that year!!

In the fall of 2005 I had been back “home” for about 5 months I had done lots of traveling across the country to report to supporters etc. and did 5 weeks of intensive counseling.  Here’s an old blog post from that point in my life (funny thing- it almost sounds like something I could have written last week…I’m learning the same lessons again).

The In-between Times October 04, 2005
Okay it happened…I woke up and there was a chill in the air…I could sense that something had changed…and when I got in my car and turned onto the highway I knew it had happened… fall was here. I knew it when I saw the yellow leaves glimmering in the sun and the brilliant background of the newly snow capped Rocky Mountains. Up on the tiptops of the mountains was fresh snow. I personally love that kind of snow…the kind that I can look at up on the mountains but still be wearing a t-shirt as I look from down here in Longmont. Since that crisp morning the weather has warmed back up to the 90’s but now has plummeted back down. The forecast is calling for freezing temps tomorrow night. I was so eager for fall to arrive…but now I fear that we are skipping right from summer to winter. I sure hope not. I love the change of seasons! My favorite seasons are the in-between seasons-spring and fall. That transition phase where the trees are blooming or leaves are changing shades…that time where the temperatures are mild and people can wear either a sweatshirt or a tank-top. There is just something special about the wonderful transition of nature. I have sweet memories of driving to look at blooming trees in Kentucky…or the golden aspen trees in Colorado…I look forward to those times of year with eagerness. These seasons for some reason bring be a sense of peace…oh, to sit under a tree on a blanket in a park in the spring or fall. Why is it that I can love that transition or in-between time of the seasons but when it comes to the in-between times of my life I don’t seem to feel peaceful but rather I squirm and try to either get back to the way things were or I anxiously pursue things of the future…????? When it comes to life I seem to think I need to keep moving forward…I don’t seem to be able to just sit back and enjoy the ride.  I’d love to find a balance between the two!

I am in a major transition time right now. I often feel stuck in the in-between. But, I want to look at my transition in a new way…I want to look at it in the same way I do fall or spring. Instead of trying to rush through to the next season of life I want to just enjoy the change of color, the blooming flowers…I want to look at life as a journey not something to attain. Just like I hope that we don’t move straight from days in the 90’s to days with freezing temps…I don’t want to move straight from one phase of life to the next without taking that time to enjoy the peace of transition as I go through life’s journeys.



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