by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2013
“…then we found out that the island was called Malta.” (Acts 28:1b NASB)
The experienced crew of the Alexandrian grain ship would normally have put into the major port of Grand Harbor at the city of Valletta on Malta. The coastline on the side of the island where the boat shipwrecked was unfamiliar to them. The events of the previous two weeks would have greatly affected Paul, the soldiers, prisoners and sailors – the bodily exertion to keep the ship together during a violent storm, the stress of being thrown off course, fear for loss of life, fourteen straight days with no sustenance, abandonment of the ship’s tackle and cargo and the near desertion of the crewmen. The tremendous physical and mental exhaustion also contributed to their not knowing where they had landed.
This may be your very first mission trip or the first time to this destination. Different time zones (sleep deprivation), weather, landscape (nature or buildings), ethnic groups, clothing styles, houses and vehicles, sanitary practices, food and smells are just a few things that can produce disorientation. Unfamiliar surroundings can overwhelm your mind as it tries to grasp and process unusual concepts and situations that simultaneously envelop you.
Culture shock is a normal reaction and can even occur in the most experienced traveler. Being prepared ahead of time will help you deal with the symptoms when they show up. “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:3-4 NKJV) Educate yourself on the causes of culture shock, learn to identify its signs and become familiar with some tips to navigate through the period of adjustment.
KESHER PRAYER (connection): “You who still the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.” (Psalm 65:7 NKJV) Lord Jesus, just as the disciples sought you to calm the waves of the Sea of Galilee, I ask you to speak “Peace, be still!” to my agitated mind and distressed emotions. I have faith that God’s shalom peace, which surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7) so that I may effectively serve you on this mission trip. Amen!