Reverse Culture Shock

Home from China for less than 24 hours and reacclimation is already hitting me full force. The trip was emotionally, spiritually and physically draining. I’d anticipated being able to spend some time recuperating before I had to jump back into my life full throttle, but unfortunately life does not stand still. My family did a great job while I was gone and I returned to vacuumed carpets, clean bathrooms, freshly laundered sheets and empty dirty clothes hampers, but still there is much to do. My suitcase is only partially unpacked and I have no energy to finish. There are bills to sort out, summer camps to register for, a graduation party to attend, a job to return to, groceries to purchase and mail to sort through. How do I just jump back in after China? How do I process through all I experienced while trying to return to my normal American life?

In my Farewell from China post I shared about the little boy who was so sick and not likely to make it. Several of the I.C.C. staff and River Stone team members spent Thursday afternoon holding him. None of us wanted him to die alone in a crib. At 4:45 p.m., he passed away in my arms. I’m glad I was there to love him. Yet, it is so difficult to fathom the awesomeness of God’s plan. God knew exactly the moment Him Him would die and supernaturally arranged for me to travel across the world to be there for that little boy. Why me? I’m no one special. I have no money, no education, and no family pedigree. I am just an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. Who will love the other babies left to die? Their faces haunt me. My arms ache to hold them.

On the trip home I saw healthy Asian babies everywhere. After two weeks surrounded by children, I wanted to hold all the little ones I saw, stroke their little cheeks, kiss their faces. Reading a magazine during the flight I opened to a page with a crying Rwandan child. My heart, already overflowing with emotion, broke over this child too. I reached out to touch the picture and began to weep. What does all of this mean for my future? I suppose it means China was my first mission trip of many. My second trip is already looming on the horizon. I travel to Haiti July 15-19 to work in another orphanage. How do I balance my “real” life with what God is calling me to do? How do I finance it? While I realize the financial aspect is really God’s problem, I do still have to muster the faith to walk through this.

No doubt, I am not the only team member suffering from reverse culture shock. Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers as we attempt to create a post-China, new normal.

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