Monday, September 21, 2009


Well, I think it has been about three weeks since my last blog update. I have been experiencing "Culture Shock". The definition of Culture Shock is: A state of disorientation that can come over anyone who has been thrust into unknown surroundings away from one's comfort zone.

Culture Shock typically hits a person after about three to four months of living in a foreign country. I guess that means I am right on schedule! We have been in Brazil just shy of three months. Our time here has been amazing and very smooth going. About two weeks ago I became overwhelmed with homesickness. I shed many tears. After talking to some very experienced missionaries, I realized that I was indeed experiencing culture shock.

The hardest things for me to adjust to have been the heat and the lack of alone time. I have always had a very difficult time with the heat, even in Washington State which is no comparison to our little corner of Brazil! The temperature has been near 90 consistently and I think it must be close to 100% humidity! It is normal to take three showers a day here and the minute you go outside you are sweating like crazy. For someone who loves cooler weather and rain, this has been rather challenging. Our whole family is having a hard time with the heat and it is barely Spring here! We are planning on buying an air conditioner for our house ASAP! For now we spend the heat of the day sitting inside by portable fans!

Those of you who know me well know that I thrive on time alone. Don't get me wrong, I love people, but if I don't get a large amount of time alone, I start to feel out of sorts. This has been the other hard aspect of Brazil for me. I have very little time by myself. I have shared in past posts that we live in the middle of town with neighbors on either side, including neighbors who have a restaurant in their home! Brazilians are very friendly and social, so we have frequent visitors as well. On top of that, I now have approximately seventy English Students signed up for my classes on a weekly basis! I will share more about that in an upcoming blog. I am sure you get the picture that there is not a lot downtime to "breathe"! I believe that these were the two triggers that led to my feelings of Culture Shock. A surprise rainstorm this afternoon helped to snap me out of my downcast mood.

Gabriella and I were walking home from the store around 3:00 when we saw the storm clouds threatening on the horizon. We walked home quickly because you don't want to be caught in a thunder and lightening storm in Brazil. It can be very dangerous. Marko and the boys arrived at home at the same time we did. We rushed around the yard putting away toys and taking clothes off the clothesline, as the wind started to blow.

The black clouds made it quickly to our house and the rain came down in torrents just as we got the last of the laundry put away. We pulled on our raincoats and stood out in the downpour for a few minutes before the thunder started to roll. It was the most magnificent storm I have ever experienced. We sat under our porch breathing in the fresh air and thanking God for the rain! It may sound funny, but I felt like the stress of culture shock was washed away in that storm. I cannot explain how refreshing it was to see and feel the rain on my face. I absolutely love the rain and this was a welcome change to the smoldering heat we experience on a daily basis. Unfortunately, heavy rains also frequently produce flooding in Brazil. Today was no exception. There was some serious flooding in Belo Horizonte, a large city near our town, which caused the deaths of several people (if we understood this evenings news correctly). It is a reminder again of the fragility of life and the need to be thankful for the every day blessings that the Lord gives us if we but pay attention and take our eyes off ourselves. The following verse has helped me as I have struggled through the past two weeks: Psalm 16:5-11.


  1. juks,

    i can relate to too much heat. sounds like the rain was a blessing.

    missed you guys terribly.

    love dave

  2. I have been praying for you, Shel, specifically a lot lately. Missing you guys--great to see your smiling faces. I love the rain as well! You just need your little latte machine over there!

  3. Thanks for the blogs Shel - we miss you guys and pray that the 'cultural shock' goes away.

    Love you guys lots,

    Ellis Fam

  4. Ahhhh, Shelley. I loved your story. And though you are having a hard time right now, it sounds like the cleansing rain has lifted your spirits. That's great to hear. I think of you often, and love reading your blog. I will think of you still, especially when it rains. :)
    Your friend,