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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Culture Shock

We also face feelings of frustration that arise out of the cross-cultural setting. After the initial excitement of being abroad, we become homesick and begin to dislike the unfamiliar ways.

We feel guilty because we cannot live up to our own expectations.

We are angry because no one told us it would be this way and because we make such slow progress in adjusting to the new culture.

There also hangs over us the sword of unrealistic expectations. The public's image of a missionary is a hardy pioneer who suffers great deprivations; a saint who never sins; an outstanding preacher, doctor, or personal worker who overcomes all obstacles-in short, a person who is creative, brave, sensitive, and always triumphant. When we are young, we almost believe that we can become such persons when we cross the ocean.

It is not surprising, then, that we face depression, often severe, when we discover that we are still very human. Going abroad has neither changed our weak and sinful natures nor given us new talents.

Paul Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries

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