Tuesday, 8 December 2009

culture shock

Molly Piper wrote a moving article here about how she felt upon returning to the first world from the developing world.

I always feel somewhat similar returning to Australia at Christmas-time. I have learnt to cope with the emotions (for better or worse) mostly by completely separating my two lives in my mind. When in one, the other is very much like a dream...

This year the emotions hit me in an unexpected way.

This year I returned home with the children a week earlier than Glen to attend the wedding of an old friend. Before we left we carefully chose clothes to wear to the wedding. The girls were very excited about wearing their best dresses.

They don't wear their best dresses much at Talua. I am embarrassed about how lovely they are; the quality of the fabric, the pretty prints, the well-tailored seams. They've only been worn once each.

But as I ironed these dresses the morning of the wedding my eyes filled with tears. There are numerous stains. Food stains that are so difficult to get out in hard water. Mould stains. Mould that grew even before they'd been worn once. Mould just seems to love cotton. I was ashamed. I couldn't let them wear these dresses to a wedding.

It's not fair! Why is what is so good in one place be not good enough somewhere else? Why are the standards so different?

Why am I so worried about their clothes of all things? Why do I care so much about what people think about what my children are wearing? Is it some sort of test I'm afraid of failing?

I don't yet understand all my emotions... what sort of thoughts produce them and why, nor how to respond to them rightly.

But I still grieve for my people who are so wealthy they throw out food, daily. And I praise God for my friends who have taught me what it means to trust God for their daily bread.