In the latest addition of the “Her Chosen Fast Newsletter”, Micah Aurand speaks to the reality of culture shock that many feel upon entering a foreign country. Excitement, uncertainty, and fatigue are normal responses to a new environment which tend to wear on a person after awhile turning into tension. Micah encourages us to pause in the moments of tension, reflecting on the root of our discomfort. Keep reading to walk through the steps of processing change in times of unpredictability.

 

Hello Family and Friends!

I hope this letter finds you healthy, whole, and safe. Thanks to a gracious God and the prayerful support of many, I am writing to you from Iowa. While I am very happy to be with my family, I am torn for those I left behind in Haiti. I will be forever thankful for a hyperconnected world which allowed me to travel abroad to touch and be touched by many lives. What a time we live in!

After a holiday furlough last December, I returned to Haiti to lead the IMPACT teams with Many Hands while two of our Operations Managers began a well-deserved extended furlough in the States. “IMPACT” stands for “Immersive Missions | Personal Actions | Challenge & Transformation”. We use this acronym to guide our interactions with visiting team members and to encourage those team members’ interactions with their new host culture. The last few months of guiding these teams have been both challenging and rewarding.

There were two points of the week with almost every team that I began to especially look forward to: the “Teachable Moment” and the “Aha! Moment”.

The Teachable Moment
When people interact there is always opportunity for tension to rise as misunderstanding, miscommunication, and bad days are a part of being human. Add different cultures to the mix and those opportunities for tension multiply a hundredfold as your ruler for measuring “normal/not normal” and “acceptable/not acceptable” becomes skewed, throwing you into the unknown. This is generally when the fight or flight instinct kicks in.

In a foreign culture this instinct often shows itself in the following ways:

Fight – “I don’t know what this is so I’m condemning it and will try to force it to stop.”

Flight – “I don’t know what this is so I’m distancing myself (physically, mentally, emotionally) and will pretend it doesn’t exist.”

Now you could choose one or the other and be done with it. But these moments of tension are beautifully fertile ground for God to challenge and correct your perspective.

Let me encourage you to pause in those moments. Embrace the uncomfortableness of the unknown. Reflect on the root of your discomfort. Ask God what He thinks of the matter. Be brave enough to listen for the answer because, my friend, truth can be a hard pill to swallow.

“But that’s HARD!” one visitor blurted out on her first evening in Haiti.

Yes, it is. But I guarantee that it’s worth it.

Working though misunderstandings with paperwork

The Aha! Moment
When engaging in a new culture, it is normal to feel as though you are on an emotional rollercoaster. I call it the “crockpot effect” as every extreme of your emotions is bubbling right below the surface ready to flare and subside at a moment’s notice. Most of your routine distractions are inaccessible, limiting your ability to hide or zone out. The unfamiliar environment forces your focus on the uncomfortable rawness of life displayed in your new surroundings. This new vulnerability fertilized by Christian community and customs (regular Bible reading, devotions, and worship times) heightens your ability to feel God’s nearness which pushes you to a spiritual high.

This is a recipe for accelerated life transformation. How you handle this intense cooking process will determine its quality and longevity.

IMPACT teams get the chance to process their experience through daily debriefings. The grand finale is on the last night when team members share how God led them to and through this trip experience and their “Aha!” moment when something clicked to alter their perspective.

Each week I was captured by the testimonies.

“God showed me that I didn’t have to be ruled by fear.”

“I now realize how blessed I am.”

“I have loved spending this time serving with my family.”

“I want, no, I need to go home and make a difference in my own community.”

One woman’s “Aha!” moment keeps playing in my mind. She said, “I realized that God is God of the unpredictable.”

“‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver, ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’”

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver, ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’”

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Photo by Rebekah Ness in South Africa

The unprecedented times we live in feel unpredictable. The unfamiliarity of our new schedule. The subtle feeling of looming change in our world. Being forced to face the possibility of sickness, death, or financial insecurity. The fear of the unknown causing heightened tension.

My friend and seasoned missionary, Rachel Braafhart, recently summed it up by explaining that the feelings so many are experiencing right now describes the symptoms of culture shock. Except it’s within their own culture and they don’t know how to handle it.

Friends, let me assure you, we do not serve the god of chaos but the One who is Master of the Storm (I Cor. 14:33, Jonah 1, Mat. 8:26). He is God in unpredictable times and will bring us through unpredictable times.

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Pause. Reflect. See what the Lord would say to you in this moment of tension.

Please be praying:
1) For God’s healing over those struck with the Coronavirus and for peace in the hearts of the victims and their families.
2) For wisdom and grace for the MH4H staff who are walking through this difficult situation with our communities.
3) For wisdom, strength, and grace for leaders across the world navigating their people through these times.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

{"cart_token":"","hash":"","cart_data":""}