Culture Shock. I don’t get it.
When you leave the United States everyone warns you about the impending culture shock of moving to a foreign country, especially one as supposedly dangerous as Honduras. When you return to visit they ask all about the culture shock. Honestly, I feel pretty left out. Little about the Honduran culture has shocked me, and almost none of it has made me feel like I am terribly far from home. In fact, as a former Texas cowhand I feel quite at home among the hard working Hondurans I’ve encountered thus far. And yet, as of this writing I feel somewhat angry and far more lonely than I had expected. Anger is no foreign friend to my truly red-headed personality I must admit, and my wife might confirm!
The strange thing is not the anger – the strange thing is why I feel angry. I am angry because I am lonely, and I am lonely because I cannot communicate deeply with these people I have already come to admire and respect. Working on the Hunger Farm every day means I spend all of my days with native speakers. Only one, my friend and translator, speaks English. The others whom I work with only speak Spanish and I only speak enough Spanish for the pleasantries and to labor through the types of conversations necessary to get things done. I cannot yet communicate with people here on the deep level I crave as an introvert who quickly tires of surface level conversations. So what should I do? I could quit; unlikely. I could give up on the very people I came to serve and ruminate in anger; not an option. What are my options? I am called to serve here, so I see only two real options – Grit or Quit.
Jesus has called us all, as Christians, to take up our crosses daily and follow Him. That’s grit. There are many examples of grit: John Wayne from the movie True Grit is a favorite of mine, or my father, or some of the cowboys and farmers I’ve worked with in Texas. Still, the greatest example of grit I have ever found is the Sunday school easy answer – Jesus. And while the answer is easy His example of grit is anything but easy to follow. Jesus left all the riches of heaven to be born in a barn, to live a childhood on the run, and to grow up to be briefly famous and die. If anyone left riches and safety to love people it was Jesus, but that’s not what impresses me most. I am impressed by His reason. He left all of that to spend a full human lifetime learning how to talk to us about the only things that really matter, to love us, and to call us to Himself. He chose grit. It was grit that held Him on that cross – His own and no one else’s.
Jesus came for a reason. As a child of God, I am in Honduras for the same reason. And you, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, if you are called by God to be where you are then you are there for the same reason. People need Jesus. If you are a Christian your job is to be Jesus and bring Jesus. My advice to you is twofold. 1) If you are not where you believe God has called you, QUIT! Quit whatever it is you are doing and go do whatever God is calling you to do. 2) If you are confident you are where God has called you to be, choose grit. Grit when it’s lonely. Grit when friends leave. Grit when life gets tough because Jesus hasn’t called you to heaven yet. He has called you and I to take up our crosses wherever we are and follow His example. I am not shocked by the culture, but let’s none of us be shocked when carrying a cross gets hard, either. It is all worth it – even now, not just in the end.