Met with Ben and Becky last night, they have been here for nearly 3 months as part of our community.
We talked with them about the journey of integration into a new culture, heres kind of how settling into Ibiza has happened for us over the last 2 years, starting from 2 weeks in:
2 weeks, your body says I am not on holiday anymore; I’m ready to go home and get back into my normal work rhythms.
1 month, It’s all too much - its great being in a foreign country when you’re just there for fun, but doing normal ordinary things is stressful and its best just to stay in the sanctuary of your house/garden.
3 months, All of a sudden it becomes weird that life doesn’t feel so weird; this in itself freaks you out!
6 – 9 months, You hit another trough, could be a load of things – something as simple as watching a TV program that someone recorded for you in the UK and in the middle of it, there’s an advert for Asda and suddenly, you really want to go and shop in Asda!
1 Year, sense of achievement – you made it through a whole year. (you read a statistic that says 80% of missionaries go home within the first year – you didn’t! watch for smugness). This can be followed by a low as you come down from that little adrenaline rush
18 months You’ve been here a while – this is half of what you set yourself as a minimum time commitment, but you know you are not halfway there. Things take longer than you expected and you get frustrated that your integration is taking so long
It’s tempting over the next 6 months to try to recreate some of the ‘normal’ things that you left behind so that your world appears more stable and grounded; we were never called to normality. Don’t let it suck you in…..!
2 years, the long-term nature of your commitment and sense of displacement can kick in. You’ve been back to what used to be home, and it isn’t home any more; you miss some things about it, but you are not ready to return to it and you wonder if you ever will. You returned from there, to what had felt familiar before you left, and realise again, that you are still a foreigner in a strange land!
Where is home? Where do you belong? Do you actually belong anywhere?
At some point during your whole journey….
It will have dawned on you that you just hit these hard patches from time to time and the one that you are in at the moment won’t be the last. On the positive side, you know that it will pass and that rather than trying to talk yourself out of it, it’s best just to acknowledge it, experience it, let it flow through you, cry a little if you need to and let it pass through.
But most of the time….
You feel incredibly elated because you know you are in the will of God and it’s good, even fun!
Small achievements become large successes; things that you could have done so quickly and easily in your own country, take more effort here and it frustrates you immensely during the process, but once it’s done, you feel like a big achiever!
You look at how things were when you first arrived, what has happened since then, and even though it’s not as much as you idealistically dreamed from the safety of home in the UK, it’s still a lot and worth celebrating
You’ve learned a lot about yourself and God and realised that although you came here with a heart to serve, you’ve actually benefited massively from the whole experience, even the harder bits.