May 13, 2014

Observations

On our first furlough in the States since our move to Tanzania, I've been making several observations.  Some call it reverse culture shock - and I suppose that's what this is to some extent, but I'm not really all that shocked.  I knew from past re-entries that we would experience these things, but I guess that being away for nearly 10 months heightens the response?  Who knows, in any event, here are some observations:

1) Consumerism/Commercialism.
Wow.  That's all the words I can come up with right now.  It seriously wears us out when we shop.  We were in Target for 20 minutes yesterday and it felt like we were there for two hours.

2) Noise.
So. Much. Noise.  Noises we didn't even realize we ourselves were living with only 10 months ago.  Every time the air conditioning kicks on Owen covers his ears for just a moment and gets startled.
 Driving in the car means the radio is usually on, and just yesterday our bear (who loves music) asked for it to be off - we don't have radio in the cars we drive in Africa.  Bathrooms, especially in public.  He will stand with his hands over his ears in anticipation of the hand blowers going off.  When he walks into one and hears radio being piped through the speakers he puts his hands on his ears.  Yesterday when he went with me he asked, "Are you going to flush when you're done?  Is it going to be loud?"

3) Reflection.
With all the concrete, shiny clean cars and buildings it's so bright here.  I mean, we live so much closer to the sun in Tanzania but my eyes scream for sunglasses as soon as we step out the doors, and Owen can barely seem to keep his eyes open if the sun is out. {On a similar note, though the sun is very bright, it is not very warm.  We're still wearing jeans while everyone around us in Arizona is in shorts and flip flops.  The intensity of the sun is much less now that we're farther from the equator.}

4) Stimulation.
We've made two trips to Target to grab necessities like contact solution, toothpaste, and sunglasses (see above).  We (Bill & I) are overwhelmed by the scope.  Don't get me wrong, I lived in Target only 10 months ago - it's where we did almost all of our shopping.  And I do love the predictability of the stock and location of the stock, but it's just. so. much.  We noticed on our second trip that it really over-stimulates Owen.  He started acting out and getting really hyper after being in there only a few minutes.  He was asking what everything was and if we should buy it or not and how much it was. Whereas a trip to the store in Moshi reveals a calm-natured kid that pushes around the cart quietly.

5) Opportunity.
We are loving all the opportunities we have to try new things.  Parks in every neighborhood, thrift stores to shop around in, pools to swim in, playgrounds to climb on - we're loving the variety.

6) Impact.
We've seen some chances already, even in our first few days, to make an impact on the people around us.  From telling our story to just finding ways to serve people - it's great to see God using us already, even in these early days of our trip.

7) Privacy.
We don't get stared at here.  We don't hear 'mzungu!' shouted from across the street, or mama's calling 'mtoto' in an effort to get Owen to come say hi.  Even with our adorable son, we don't stick out like sore thumbs and it almost feels like we're invisible here. Everyone is in their own world and we appear to be like everyone else that's walking around so we blend in.

8) Contentment.
Living in Africa has had a great impact on all of us.  Owen has a total of 5 toys here and he is completely and utterly happy with that.  We are sleeping on a mattress on the floor and we are also completely and utterly happy with that.  We don't require much, and we don't desire much.

Overall we are really enjoying America.  We weren't ready to leave Africa, and we do miss it dearly, especially the simplicity of it all, but we know that this is all a part of God's master plan.  And it feels good to be right in the middle of it.  :)