About a month ago I read a devotion book geared for missionaries and the topic of the day was culture shock. Among one of the questions was this, “Describe your first experience of culture shock.” I really struggled to come up with some ideas, but finally wrote down some generic answers just to fill in the page.
Well now we’ve moved to the village, and even though we’re only a few miles away from Korce, I feel like I’m going through culture shock all over again. If I were to go through that devotion again today, I would have pages and pages to write about my village culture shock.
This was triggered yesterday, when at a time that was COMPLETELY inconvenient for me and Steve, our landlord insisted that we open our home to have some more work done (he put in a wooden banister on our marble staircase). Rather annoyed at the inconvenience of the project, and exhausted from a tiring day and week, I was NOT in the mood to have a bunch of drinking men doing construction in my home at night, the time when I was counting on getting some rest. But being a good missionary, I welcomed them all with a good attitude and graciously kept conversation with the men that weren’t working and just drinking beer. I even talked to a perfect stranger on the phone when a man shoved the phone in my face and said in Albanian, “here, this is my son, make him speak to you in English.” I offered candies to everyone that came in, and even entertained the owners’ wife, three children and niece well past sunset. Meanwhile, all this time, when I would have really relied on Steve’s help, he was called into an “emergency pastors’ meeting”. Sigh.
But the truth is, what REALLY got me was when I looked over at the workers and saw that one man was using MY bread knife to cut the wood!!! Without permission, he went through my drawers and took my bread knife! This got my blood boiling, but seeing as I was entertaining the neighborhood, I kept my anger to myself, and reminded myself that value of the knife was probably less than a dollar. BUT STILL!!
After everyone left, I had plenty to complain to Steve about. The workmanship of these guys was terrible! For example…everything is done by eyeball…nothing is measured and all of the wooden posts are spaced unevenly (Monk would go NUTS in our house!). When drilling holes in our kitchen cabinets, the men didn’t bother removing dishes and other things, so everything is covered in saw dust. Outside, they set their saw blade up right over our shoes, leaving our shoes covered in saw dust. And just to top it off, when I went out to clean up the men’s mess, my neighbors, whose new goal in life is to watch absolutely everything I do, told me I was sweeping wrong!! Argh.