Living overseas or in a cross-cultural context can provide many opportunities for extra stress — or maybe for your normal stress to be felt more deeply without the normal relational resources you are used to in your original context. We have not been immune to the anxiety that comes to living in the midst of uncertainty. It is hard to believe we have been here for almost eight months. While we dove right into language learning headfirst and had a baby here just a few months after we arrived, we are just now recovering from all of the transitions that our family has been in for the past couple years. Not to mention, we are going through the normal stages of cultural ‘shock’ or adjustment. I am currently in the ‘negotiation’ stage of culture shock where I am sometimes at odds with some of the differences in this culture and feeling more frustrated with language barriers.
The Headington Institute has amazing resources for those living overseas but today, I particularly enjoy their discussion on chronic stress. You can see the article here: It continues to be a humbling thing to not be able to speak the language well and therefore, I have not been able to stand up for myself in situations that seem unjust (ahem, taxi drivers) nor have I been able to deepen certain relationships that I’d like to and have often felt misunderstood or sometimes judged for seeming so ridiculous while speaking. It’s a good place to be because it truly deepens my dependence on the Father — and helps me realize that my identity is in Him alone.
Tony and I have done better in handling with the stress when we buffer our lives with the kind of habits that will be life-giving for us. Again, I appreciate their list of six ways you can help your brain heal from stress. I have been trying to exercise 3 mornings a week. If nothing else, I am motivated by the sheer freedom that comes from being outside without either of the kids in tow!! 🙂 Tony has had foot pain for 5 weeks now so that has kept him from running and playing soccer like he enjoys. We are working on the rest and getting good sleep but that seems outside of our grasp with a 4 month old baby sleeping in our room. It’s time to move her but we are waiting until we move into our new apartment to make that transition. One more month. Alicia Jones, in her article, suggests activities involving spatial reasoning which is a new one for me to think about but it makes complete sense. It may also be why Tony and I have enjoyed a few minutes here and there playing “2048” on our phones. Hah. We have been blessed with some great friends here – but we continue to struggle to have the energy and time in the midst of family life, work and language study to spend enough time with the people who will help us laugh and persevere through this season. We hope we are beginning to turn a corner in having more energy for the friend piece. It’s so important. (More on community later.) Prayer and Meditation in the Word continues to be a source of STRENGTH for us in this season. And finally, Alicia notes Meaning and Purpose which points us back to the reason that we are subjecting ourselves to a much more unique and stressful life situation. It’s worth it when we keep the big picture in mind for being here. We are thankful.
And finally, a few pictures of the blessings of last week when we got out of the city for a few days to spend some time planning, dreaming and team building with the counseling center staff. I loved exploring the rural surroundings with Sam and Ada while the staff were working hard on logistics. 🙂 Being away from the stress of city life is another aspect of helping yourself cope with brain stress so this retreat/planning time came at the perfect time for our family.
My country-boy-at-heart Sam especially enjoyed throwing rocks down the mountain side, chasing (and terrorizing) chickens and roosters, and not hearing the constant hum of traffic everyday out his bedroom window.
He found a large ‘drum’… I’m sure the homeowners loved him for those few minutes. 🙂
My heart just explodes with love for this child.
We had AMAZING hosts who prepared meals for us while we rested and worked together. They definitely had the gift of hospitality… and I was ecstatic to have my first sweet potato dish since leaving the States since they are VERY hard to find here.
The crew working hard to get through the to-do list of planning and logistics.