Thursday, October 08, 2009

Why would I be stressed????

Last furlough, while attending a sessions held for the missionary wives at our mission's home office, 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 at that time.

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 can become boring. A poor substitute for real life adventure.


Betty said...

Ok, I can just say I´m speechless. That must have been so stressful. And I can´t help but wonder, if you get bored here, with all this "normal" mission work you are doing now? :)

Miss Footloose said...

I've lived in foreign countries for years, met many missionaries and was/am friends with several.

Why would anyone think that missionary life and work shouldn't have its stressful side?

You certainly had quite some stressful events to deal with in your jungle life! My hat off to you! And go ahead and have a good depression once in a while ;) It probably wouldn't be normal if you didn't!

Miss Footloose

Z said...

I TOLD you you're my hero! My gosh...are you keeping posts for a book? I HOPE SO!xx

J.H said...

Jungle Mom, I must admit, even with quite similar background (where you lived now and where I lived 17 years ago), I must say your entry never fails to attract me.
Well said, and well done :-)

Anonymous said...

As Reader's Digest states, "Laughter is the Best Medicine"...

I suspect that people get either over-stressed and/or depressed from being either unreasonably urged and/or unreasonably prevented by others from doing all the things they accepted and felt they needed to do.

Problems of stress and depression come from holding the unwarranted assumption that other people are "reasonable" and/ or would share or be empathetic towards the same reasons/ intentions you hold. Given vast differences between cultures and likely social standing, just how likely is that?

So seriously, stop expecting reasonableness from other people. You either need a strong sense of humor or it's likely to really take a toll on you. They're all just a bunch of idiots, anyways.

Make a joke about the gas station attendent who won't sell you your necessary AVGas, after all, his father was probably half-monkey. ;-)

Kathy said...

Man! I can't imagine...and we still have many more stories to read and hear about!!! What a blessing to know and feel the Lord at your side so often! We all know He's there...but sometimes you REALLY know it!

marion cde said...

You are simply "ruined for the ordinary" and theres still more adventures to come!...
enough for a second book when you hit 80 something.

commoncents said...

Godspeed! Great post! I really like your blog!!

Harry said...

And we here in the ordinary world (me included) still get worked up over the silliest things. Keep writing about your experiences.

Anonymous said...

Your experiences never cease to amaze me.. And I have only read a FEW of the many untold and some that you have told I missed... GOD bless you and Clint as you go about the Masters Work in far places. I like new experiences but don't know if I could handle all that seems to get thrown in your way but yet at the same time you see GOD.s hand in the protection and timing of things.. I am sure that you wish he wouldn't shave the edges so close.. HA. GOD BLESS, Don(friend of Penless writer)

Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said...

Thank you, Ma'am, for the post. Good reminders... ;)