Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why Would I Be stressed!?!?!

Last week, in one of the sessions held for the missionary wives, the subject matter presented dealt with stress and depression. Both are common symptoms of culture shock. All the women present had spent at lest 4 years overseas, so we had all experienced culture shock at some point. The often over looked problem is that culture shock and stress can lead to depression. It is almost a taboo among missionaries to admit to times of depression. We see ourselves as strong people serving the Lord and thus should never feel depressed.

That's not the way it works! We are only human and we will feel the stress and pressures we encounter in foreign lands. Often we are isolated from other Americans and surrounded by people who, quite literally, hate us and our country, as well as our God. If we are not prepared for this bombardment, we will become depressed. Then we feel guilty and that brings more depression!

The talking points I am listing below were all discussed in a session held by Dr. Mary Ray. Her husband is the President of BIMI, Dr. James Ray.

Questions Missionary Wives Often Ask

Why was I so excited to live overseas?

answer: Because you didn't know any better!

Will I ever feel normal again?


Will my kids be normal?
answer: Probably not. (but that can be a good thing!)

Will I ever understand these people?
answer: Of course, someday you will.

Why do I feel depressed?
answer: Because you ARE depressed!!!

Why am I so stressed?

answer: Why not?!

After the last question was open for discussion, she passed out a copy of one of our Missionary News letters from the summer of 2005 as an example of why a missionary might be stressed out. I will share bits and pieces with you here so that you might get a glimpse into our lives.

Vernoy Report
June/July 2005

* Due to opposition from the government towards mission groups in the jungle, we have had to go to Caracas to "lawyer up". While there we both came down with E-coli. After our short time in Caracas, still recovering from e-coli, we returned to the jungle to begin the preparations to fly 6 Indian missionaries from Chajurana to Wasarana for a week of preaching and teaching. They were to be joined later by ourselves and an American medical team. Due to four days of bad weather, we were unable to fly out the 2 barrels of aviation fuel we would need for the flights. Then, on the one good day of weather, the airport authority denied us permission to fly any fuel. That was then followed by two "surprise" inspections of the plane by the Army.

*We were finally able to get the permit and fly the fuel to Chajurana and continue with our plans; however, the medical group was held up at the airport and charged a "special" tax in order to bring in the donated medicines.

*When we were ready to fly the medical group from the town of Ciudad Bolivar out to the jungle, the airport would not sale us av gas, although we had the required permit. This meant we had to fly to Puerto Ordaz to obtain enough gas for the flights. They group finally did make it out to the jungle.

*The following day, a 6 day old baby was brought to Chajurana by canoe from another village. The baby was dying. The father had committed suicide the week before the baby's birth. Although the visiting doctor did all that was possible, the baby's only chance for survival was the hospital two hours away by plane. We immediately prepped the plane for departure. The pilot and another missionary loaded up with the mother and baby. Thirty minutes out, the baby began experiencing respiratory failure and after Nate tried several minutes of CPR, his heart stopped. At this point, the plane began to return to Chajurana, having to fly around an electrical storm.
The plane had to land before the storm reached us and before night fall, as we have no lights for the runway.They landed with only a few minutes to spare.

*The baby was pronounced DOA. The Ye'kwana fear the dead and are afraid to touch the corpse. A Christan indian, a deacon of the church, built the tiny coffin and prepared the baby's body for burial. The next day we flew them to their village, intending to bury the baby properly. I also hoped to share the gospel with the village chief who had been asking me many questions regarding Christianity and salvation. But... the plane's battery was dead. We had to jump start it using our generator's battery. The pilot , Nate and myself (Clint) experienced a few harrowing moments working inches away from the running propeller. This meant we could only deliver the mother and coffin but could not stay, as we could not turn off the plane. We then had to fly 2 hours away to get another battery for the plane.

*We did get the team to Wasarana to join the indians from the church already there. Another village, Cumashina, had walked and canoed for 2 days to be there as well. We were able to hold a 2 day Medical Clinic and show films and preach at night. The chief from Cumashina says no one has ever gone to their village to help them at all. He invited us back to not only hold a clinic but asked us to preach as well.

So... there is a week of our life in the jungle. I find it odd that people often ask me if I ever got bored in the jungle, not having electricity, TV or internet. Actually, I find those things boring. A poor substitute for real life adventure.


Memories for a Lifetime said...

And people think missionaries live a mundane life!!

Thanks for sharing.....

I love the stress highlights.....guess mine is a stress color job!!LOL

Gayle said...

No, I would never have thought you would have become bored in the jungle, Rita. My goodness, some of the things you went through. I would say you would have had every right to be stressed.

And speaking of stressed, I've got a really good picture I'll post just for you on Fractured Friday. Be sure to snag it. I know that sooner or later it will come in handy! :)

Susan said...

I am so glad you addressed depression and stress in missionaries! We know some who are in a third-world country who signed some of their prayer letters "too blessed to be stressed" - this was right after they had returned to the field from an emergency trip home because the wife was suffering a stress-induced illness! LOL

Harry said...

Interesting concept, boredom. If you are bored, you have nothing to do. I think a lot of people go though life with nothing to do. They do things, but those things don't matter to the people doing them. You and your family are obviously at the opposite end of that scale. You probably do more that matters in a week than most of us will do in our lifetimes. I can see the stress in that.

Abouna said...

Jungle Mom: I have tried to put it behind me, but there were plenty of times that I felt completely stressed while in Vietnam, and I am sure the other monks with me did also.

Even though we didn't have it as spartan as you did, there were times when I had to sneak around some supply areas to "borrow" items and food that we needed for some of the refugees that we worked with.

Compounding the already stressful situations, was the fear when mortar rounds started hitting within feet of our area, which happened several times a week. We, (the monks, nuns and nurses) couldn't show how scared we were for the sake of the children, some of who were frozen with fear.

The Lord saw us through it.

serendip said...

Wow, this post reads like a suspence thriller...I continue to be in awe. The things you've gone through, simply amzing. Thank you and God bless!


I just have time to stop by for a second to tell you that I have given you the "Courageous Blogger Award." I hope you will go to my blog and see what it is about. I really feel that you deserve this award. connie from Texas

WomanHonorThyself said...

its okay to feel alienated and depressed...look around us ..its hard not to hun! your life has purpose..and not many can say that!

Jungle Mom said...

susan and abouna, I found it interesting that the two of you, both who have been ex pats and lived the missionary life could relate to the stress involved.
susan, I think the missionaries who deny the stress are effected the most!
abouna I can only imagine the stress. I have never been through that. I have had some run ins with military types, but no mortars. Thanks for being there for those kids. I am sure even now they remember those who helped them.

Brooke said...

Sometimes I get stressed in my own house! I can't imagine it in the Jungle!

juliec said...

While I never would have thought you'd be bored out there, I also never would have guessed the difficulties you faced on a regular basis. Even if the government had been happy to have you there and was not constantly adding to your troubles, it would have been a tough job. God Bless you guys for doing it. I'm very glad, though, that you were able to leave.

Alexander Guillén said...

Hi Rita. God bless you and your family. I was surfing and stumbled upon your blog. Nice work. I pray the
Lord continue blessing your ministry.

Jungle Mom said...

alexander, Que bueno! Me alegra mucho escuchar de alguien de Barquisimeto. Yo vivi 8 anos alli. Te escribo aqui como su blog no permite comentarios.
mis cunados vivn todavia en Cabudare pero parece que salgan del pas este mes. Es dificil ahora ser Norte american alli. por razones politicos, no? Q Dios le bendiga grandemente!

Anonymous said...

The heaviness of your heart because of the govt must be so difficult to overcome especially when there are so many who want to hear the Gospet. But you gave ALL of yourself for as long as you safely could. We appreciate the selflessness of your family and love you all very much.

Elízabeth said...

Rita, a normal life is full of stress... but you have not had a normal life or job!!

Again: thanks for all the years, you and your family worked so hard for our indians.


Jungle Mom said...

helen, thanks for your kind words!

Jungle Mom said...

liz, gracis amiga! I loved your wedding album!!!!!El pelo de los 80's no?

Brenda said...

Love your blog! I agree about the stress, but I would rather have stress than boredom anyday.

BTW, I am Jackies friend from Paraguay. Looking forward to meeting you at Thanksgiving.

Pam said...

I have some of those stress highlights!

This newsletter gave a clear glimpse into you life style whil in Chujurana.