A Tonsillectomy, a Trip, and Reverse Culture Shock

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Sometimes when you get back to your homeland after being gone for a while, it takes some time to adjust…coming back to the States in September was one such time for us, so apologies on not posting and thank you for understanding!

It has both felt like we’ve been home for far longer than two months and like we’ve been here for no time at all. Here is a bit of what we’ve been doing since landing on US soil:

— Re-adjusting to being back in the U.S.: we’ve definitely had some re-adjusting to do as both we and our kids remember how life goes in America. Some examples:

  • Our kids washing their hands in the drinking fountain because, you know, they had forgotten what it was for. Thankfully, this happened at church so I feel like most people understood. ūüôā
  • Being around people who speak our language all. the. time. This point has been especially appreciated by our kids, who have not quite gotten the hang of either language we began to speak in PNG. In fact, my absolute highlight of my first three days in the U.S. was watching how easy it was for my kids to see old friends and make new ones because there was no language barrier–something that had begun to be¬†a bit of a struggle right before we left the village. Although, we do still get confused from time to time.
  • Doing things at night! Oh, how my heart leaps at the freedom here to have the lights on in the house at night and not be inundated with flying insects! We can talk! Make plans! Hang out with friends! Of course, the flip side is that it is somewhat of a miracle that we have any lights at all in the middle of the jungles of Papua New Guinea so I’ll just choose to be thankful for the no-insects-thing here.
  • Getting back into the habit of flushing the toilet after every use, both for us and our kids. Because in the village, we are usually conserving our water and therefore, do not practice this rule.
  • Eating out and not being nervous about getting sick. This is something we adjusted to very easily as it was something we missed a good deal. But still, we can buy fruits and vegetables at the grocery store and not have to bleach them before we eat them.
  • Learning to throw everything in the trash again: in PNG, we have four ways to dispose of our trash: compost for thrown-away food items that pigs would not want to eat that we just throw off our mountainside, compost for thrown-away food items that pigs would want to eat that we give to our neighbors and friends in the village, burnable items that are not food that we burn in the fire pit in front of our house, and non-burnable items that we throw away in a deep hole we dug for trash (also in our front yard).
  • The widespread availability of public restrooms and soap. No joke, I have this thought almost every time I use the bathroom at a restaurant or store here. In the city of Madang, public bathrooms are almost non-existent and when there is one, there is usually no sink or soap with which to wash your hands. I use so much soap when I wash my hands now because it’s there! And my hands can be super clean almost wherever I go! This is exciting because in general things are a bit dirtier in Madang and the village than they are here, and when you’re out and about you’re constantly shaking hands with people and really wanting to wash your hands, but being without any way to do so well until you get back to your house. Thus, the excitement over sinks and soap wherever I go.
  • Being nondescript again. Being Caucasian in the city of Madang or in our¬†village of Mawarero makes us, in a ¬†word, conspicuous. We do not blend in. So, for the last year and a half, we and our kids were usually looked at or pointed at or giggled over or what have you. This was especially the case in the village. So being able to walk around outside and go places and have virtually no one look twice at you was a small adjustment. There is a certain relief in being in a place where perhaps your perceived cultural belonging is so obvious as to make your presence much quieter wherever you go.
Susanna recovering after her tonsillectomy at the end of October

Susanna recovering after her tonsillectomy at the end of October

–On October 21st, Susanna–our oldest daughter–got a tonsillectomy. The surgeon said that her tonsils were “very scarred and sticky” which is apparently good confirmation that they needed to be removed. We are so very thankful to God that he made men and women with minds so that this surgery even exists! More particularly, we are thankful that:

  • The Date of the Surgery: When I first heard that we would have to wait six weeks for the surgery, I was disappointed, since our goal in coming back quickly was to avoid Susanna possibly getting strep again. However, this turned out to be such a blessing as she¬†did¬†get strep¬†two more times¬†before that date. While it was difficult to watch her be so miserable for the majority of her first six weeks back in the States, it was confirmation to us that it was a wise decision to come back and get her tonsils out, despite the rushed nature and expense of it.
  • The Result of the Surgery: It was a success! So far, there has been no re-bleeding or anything too horrific during the recovery and her pain level is now almost completely gone. Praise God!
  • The Expense of the Surgery: In God’s absolute and undeserved providence–and with¬†the help of some very dear friends–Susanna’s tonsillectomy was provided to us at no charge. The anesthesiologist, surgeon, and surgical center agreed to perform the surgery¬†at no cost and that was truly beyond anything we could ask or imagine.
In California with my family

In California with my family

–Last week, we were blessed to be able to go on a trip to California with my family and spend time with people we have missed so much while we were away. It was a sweet time and we got to see so many things that made us just worship the Lord for his creativity and beauty.

On the road and marveling at God's beauty reflected through the mountains of Arizona!

On the road and marveling at God’s beauty reflected through the mountains of Arizona!

In all, it has felt very much like a whirlwind in being back, but it has been so refreshing already. Here is what is coming up for us in the coming months and some things you can pray for if you think of it:

  • Trips around the country to visit our family and supporting churches/supporters: From California to Tucson to Texas to Michigan, we will be doing quite a bit of traveling in the coming months. You can pray that this would go well and that we would be a refreshment to our supporters and families being here as they are to us when we’re gone. We will also be raising some support, so you can pray for that as well.
  • Spending time with our families: they are not all in the Phoenix area, so it might take some time to see them all, but we hope to spend as much time with the people who have shaped us and love us as we can before we return to PNG.
  • Familiarizing¬†our kids with American things: our kids have spent much of their childhood already in PNG, and so things like baseball, football, malls, elevators, etc. are not very familiar to them. We are aiming to introduce them to as many of these things as possible while we’re here. As they’re¬†learning a new culture, we do not want them to forget their own.
  • Strengthening our hearts, our marriage and our parenting while we’re back to restore some of what has been strained over the last while
Our first Sunday back at our church!

Our first Sunday back at our church!

We are thankful to have left, thankful that God sustained us while we were in PNG, thankful He has brought us back during this time, and thankful to be headed back sometime next spring!

2 Comments

  1. Look forward to seeing all of you Sunday PTL. you

  2. Thank you for that very informative update! Looking forward to meeting all of you in Jan! ūüôā

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