|With me are (c) Melody Mosley (Adam's wife) |
and (r) Trena Ivy (a member of the church
Adam pastors in Nakuru, Kenya)
[Note: The following are excerpts from Adam's book.]
The Difficulty of Embracing Culture
The life of a missionary is not unlike living under water. The necessary funding, emotional and spiritual support, and relational lifeline to their homeland all allow the missionary to breathe.
The sights, sounds, and smells of a foreign land flood our brain in such quantities and at such a rate that you simply can't process it all. The most a missionary can hope for is a little down time in their home at the end of the day. There will be no time soon when this adventure is over - no time to debrief or unpack it all. Missionaries must process in real-time. It is truly difficult to embrace a new culture.
Most new missionaries think they can handle this shocking plunge into the unknown. But one doesn't really understand how to live in a place until you're already in over your head.
Culture reveals itself gradually. The longer you stay, the more you observe, and the more you explore. It is only by venturing into the depths of a place that you truly begin to perceive the full spectrum of a culture.
Embracing a culture that is drastically different from our own
causes a kind of internal tug-o-war in the depths of our being.
Visiting a place is one thing; living there is another. Some missionaries have lived in the same place for a decade or more yet still struggle with embracing the culture.
No matter how hard you try, you will never be a local. You can speak the language, learn the customs, adapt to the lifestyle, but you will always be an outsider.
Cultural immersion doesn't make you native anymore than getting wet makes you a fish.
There seems to always be lurking, just around the corner, an event or circumstance that reminds you and those around you that something about you is different.
Fully embracing culture might be a fool's errand. Appreciating it, exploring it, and experiencing it are within the grasp of the missionary, but there will always be a cultural dissonance in their lives.
Those of us who love and support missionaries must not dismiss this struggle. We should be determined to learn about it and understand it.
We must accept that there is more to embracing culture
than eating weird foods and learning new languages.