Living overseas comes with stages. When you first arrive in a new country there is so much to take in. Everything is exciting and new. Then there is culture shock. When you don’t speak the language and you don’t know how things operate, it can be overwhelming. As you get settled, you become more accustomed to your new home and somewhere in the process you move from the excitement of the honeymoon to a less-than-rosy outlook. Homesickness can set in. Things start to annoy you. What was fascinating and exotic at the beginning can become irritating later. Eventually, you get used to what is different and it becomes your new normal. When you return to your home country for the first time, you experience reverse culture shock. And then, as you travel more between your two worlds, the edges are less sharp. You have changed without realizing it. You cannot experience the United States the same as you did before you left. And you cannot return to Africa with the same fresh eyes you arrived with.
This week we have visitors coming from our home church in Texas to help our annual staff conference. These are the first personal visitors we have had in our almost seven years in Mozambique. I have been answering questions to help them prep for the trip and have realized that I no longer have fresh eyes. Mosquito nets, having to filter our water, and driving on the left side of the road are normal to me, but these things can be stressful for a newcomer. As we drive through the city, I’ve been noticing things that I think they will find interesting and it has given me a chance to go back to the “honeymoon” stage. I’m excited to hear them describe their experiences and to see what Mozambique looks like from an outsider’s eyes. At the same time, I find it amazing that God has given me the opportunity to become accustomed to living in two different worlds.