Cheese, Grommit. Sliced, cubed, shredded, fine shredded, cracker sized, burger sized, crumbled, blocks, sticks, store brand, value brand, name brand, jalapeno pepper jack—praise the Lord! This is the prayer of a missionary returning to the U.S.
We came back to America not knowing what we would find. Between angry Facebook rants, the news, and warnings at cross-cultural training, we were expecting the worst. Would people yell at us for wearing masks? Would we say something off-handedly and alienate ourselves from half the population? And how could we possibly choose between all the Tex-Mex options?
We came back to Texas to a beautiful house that a generous supporter provided for us. Another group of supporters worked together to completely furnish and decorate it. They set up toys for our toddler and stocked our fridge and pantry. Everyone was understanding as we adjusted to the lack of Covid-19 regulations, and have accommodated our desire to be careful. We were pleasantly surprised to find that people were kinder in real life than they are on social media.
We’ve still had our share of reverse culture shock, but it certainly hasn’t been the worst case scenario we envisioned. There were so many choices at the grocery store that it was almost paralysing! I was shocked by the cheese aisle that seemed to stretch for miles.
Another surprising thing to us was that all of our guests have arrived about 10 minutes before the agreed upon time. When did we get so acclimated to a Welsh sense of time that we forgot the rules of our home culture? You’d never show up 10 minutes early to something in Wales.
Other adjustments have been more challenging. American individualism is harder for us to understand after being in a culture that values the collective good over individual freedoms. Drivers seem more aggressive and distracted than we’re used to. And everyone is LOUD. We’ve found that our throats are sore sometimes after matching the volume of a normal conversation. We’ve also faced anxiety over lack of Covid-19 safety measure in churches. We’ve longed to put our toddler in nursery, but it doesn’t feel safe when none of the workers are masked.
We’re so thankful that a loving and faithful group of supporters have made these adjustments manageable for us. The past month has felt like a time of rest and healing after a difficult, isolating year and a half of cross-cultural ministry during a pandemic. At the beginning of our stay in America, the Spirit reminded me of a verse in the book of Joel, where God promises to restore the years that the locusts have devoured. I’m thankful for this timely word and the promise that our God heals and restores. He’s already accomplished the beginning of that work through our welcoming family of supporters. Please, if you know a missionary, support them through transitions like our team has supported us.