Well, I have been back in the USA for just about a week now, and I must say the reverse-culture shock hit me so much harder than I expected. I knew that things would be different… I’d miss being around children all the time, speaking Spanish,
being surrounded constantly by Christian community, Honduran food, the warm climate…but I hadn’t realized how much different I am compared to 3 years ago, the last time I lived in the States. Coming back to what used to be home, feels so uncomfortable and strange, as I realize that although my old hometown has indeed endured changes over the course of the last 3 years, I myself have also changed greatly. That reverse culture shock first hit me when I landed in the Houston airport for my layover. My face felt hot with embarrassment as I saw girls dressed in tiny shorts and midriff – bearing tops parading through the airport. Ipods and Ipads and other electronics I didn’t even recognize hid everyone’s faces from communicating with one another directly. Restaurants and cafes served plates heaped with food, giant servings that I imagine feeding a family of four in Honduras, but here designated for just one person. Everything moved so quickly… people running to their gates to catch their flights, lugging multiple rolling suitcases and briefcases behind them. The baristas at Starbucks poured and mixed and took orders and called out names so quickly, and in just a matter of minutes the line had dwindled down to just me, who hadn’t even finished reading through the menu or decided what I wanted yet.
I still feel overwhelmed, if I am honest. I feel like every public place I go is filled with tons of people who know exactly where they’re going and what they’re doing, rushing around, and I’m standing motionless in the middle of the chaos, trying to sort out my thoughts and process it all. I don’t recognize any songs that play on the radio, I’ve never heard of the popular TV shows that my family members and friends now watch. I’ve never sent a “snapchat” – that didn’t even exist before I left the USA. Men here have long hair and wear it pulled back in buns or ponytails. People tie flannel button-ups around their waists, even if they are already wearing a shirt and a sweater. Every single woman here looks like a Barbie to me, their face perfectly painted with makeup and every part of their outfit exactly coordinated. Maybe this all sounds normal to you, if you’ve been living here and have seen these changes gradually. But it’s overwhelming to try and process all of these small changes together at once, for someone who has been so out-of-the-loop for 3 years. I feel like I’ve walked into a Disneyland theme park. And Disneyland is fun and exciting when you go there for a short vacation. But never in a million years would I want to live there. That just doesn’t seem real. But it’s what my reality feels like now, moving back to America.
My first instinct, is to go running back to Honduras, to be with my little girls and friends and a culture that I feel comfortable in. But God has challenged me lately, to not be satisfied with what is comfortable. I don’t fully understand what all of His plans are for me during this season of life, but I am trying to trust that He knows what He’s doing. I say “trying” to trust, because I’m not quite there yet. It’s difficult to understand why God would pull me away from a people and a country that I love so much. It hurts, and it’s uncomfortable.
But something that I learned during my time in Honduras, is that we grow most when we are out of our comfort zone. It’s not the times when we are stuck in our daily routines that we tend to draw near to the Lord and realize our desperate need for Him. It is the times when we struggle, suffer, and feel pain – spiritually, emotionally, or maybe even physically – that we seek His face.
I won’t say that I have now found complete peace, that I’m happy to be back in the States. Because I’m not. Honestly I feel pretty miserable. But every time I have reached rock bottom, when I have felt so broken – those are the moments in which God has rebuilt me. I feel like God is tearing down even worldly comfort I have right now, but I hope and believe that He is doing this, so that He can build me up, to be stronger and more beautiful in Him.
I believe in God's grace through Jesus. I love to learn, in a variety of contexts - reading God's Word, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds around the world, and as a student of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Western Washington University. Pages of My Passport is dedicated to sharing this journey of learning through written and visual content.