Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reverse Culture-Shock, Part 3

This is the last post in a three-part series of things my children have found to be different in America than what they are used to on our mission field of Ukraine. To find part 1, go here; to find part 2, go here. If you are viewing this post in your inbox and the pictures do not line up well, go straight to my blog to view them.

1. Canned biscuits (I had so much fun with this one the other day! We were staying in a missionary's home, and the pastor's wife had sweetly left breakfast items in the refrigerator for us to cook for ourselves. One of those things included canned biscuits. Very cunningly, I called my 8-year-old Davey over to help me open the can, knowing full well that it would pop and scare him! And who says missionaries never have fun?!) 2. Dishwashers (Most homes have these and many ladies do not think twice about the way their lives are made easier because of them. But, I'll refrain from being jealous and just laugh at myself when I cannot figure out if the dishes are to go on the little wires sticking out or between them. Ahem.)
3. Homes without fences or walls (Did you know that most Ukrainian homes [and even cemeteries] have iron fences or high concrete walls around them? We have not built one around our home yet, and our loving church people keep reminding us that we need to prioritize that to keep burglars out. So far the Lord has protected our belongings, but we do plan to put up a wall or fence soon.)
4. School buses (For some reason my children have been just fascinated with "school bus sightings" and they love to yell out when they see one. In Ukraine, the children either walk to school or ride a city bus.)
5. Home construction (Ukrainian homes are always built out of very large bricks or huge slabs of concrete. They sincerely cannot understand why Americans build their homes out of wood. Reminds me of The Three Little Pigs. I guess they worry about the big, bad wolf blowing American houses down, and in some regard, they are right when you consider the damage that can be done with tornadoes and hurricanes.)6. Porches (We have never seen a Ukrainian home with a porch.)
7. Speed detectors (These are scary! If you accidently go over the speed limit you'll be caught! Since we are on the road so much, we have to be extra cautious.)
8. Electronic "Your Speed" signs (Ah, such nice reminders!)
9. Traffic bridges (Wow! Sometimes we feel like we are on slow-motion roller coasters when we loop around and on top of other freeways! This also causes much excitement in our van.)
10. Massive sports stadiums (The kids were "itching" to go to one of these, so we were able to take them to a high school football game last week at the Christian school I attended long ago, and they thought they were going to be on TV! Boy, did we get a laugh out of that one! Good thing is, they are still too young to understand the difference between high school and professional games!)
11. Two- and three- car garages. (Some of our beloved Ukrainian friends would feel blessed to live in a house the size of some garages we have seen here!)
12. Pick-up trucks (We are currently traveling through Texas, so you can only imagine how many pick-up trucks we have been seeing. We have never seen a pick-up truck in Ukraine, so a pastor recently and ever so graciously took our kids for a ride in one. They were thrilled!)
13. Homes-on-wheels (You would never see one of our concrete homes in Ukraine being hauled like this!)
14. Everlasting supply of toilet paper and paper towels in bathrooms (Enough said.)
15. Air-conditioned homes (I do not know of anyone in America who does not have an air-conditioned home. I do not know of one person in our Ukrainian church who has an air-conditioned home, including us. And, yes, it gets hot enough in the summers that we could really enjoy them. But, the funny thing? When we come back to America, we all always get colds.... from the air conditioners!)
16. Waste (The trash cans Ukrainians use in their kitchens are not much bigger than the ones Americans use in their bathrooms. Ukrainians do not have much to throw away, and it is incredible to us to see how much Americans have to toss, donate, sell at garage sales, or store in their garages.)
17. Modesty in America (For the most part, we are always pleasantly surprised at the general modesty of Americans compared to Ukrainians. Ukraine is an Eastern European country, and I think that most people know that Europeans are known for exposing too much skin.)
18. American flags in front of most businesses. (One of my kids innocently asked, "Is this to remind them this is America?" It was a pleasure to use this opportunity to explain why Americans are proud of their flag and its meaning.)
Ukrainians ask me on a very frequent basis, "Do you like it better here or in America?" Well, that is certainly a question that is hard to answer, and I usually say something along the lines of, "I love it both here and there."
America is the land where I was born and reared. It is the land where I found God and learned of His Son Jesus. It is a blessed country that is most certainly easier and more comfortable to live in.
Ukraine is the land where God has called our family to live and minister. God has blessed us in this country for following His leading there more than eight years ago. Our hearts have become forever knit with the Ukrainian people, and even though it is harder to live there, we love the simpler way of life which causes us to be grateful for even the little blessings in our lives. Though we enjoy our time here, we lovingly call Ukraine "home."


  1. Hey if you all are ever near Texarkana, TX and need somewhere to stay let us know we have free rooms at the church here.

  2. great three parter..... I'm thinking about doing one on the things you see in Ukraine but not in America

  3. I've really enjoyed all three parts of this post! We also experienced reverse culture shock on our furlough. Our two youngest had never seen America and they were not impressed! During our first few weeks we lost count of how many times they asked to go home. We had so much fun with our two oldest who were experiencing so many new things... cans of cola, you do NOT shake! We also did the quick biscuits with them. So much fun, to share the joy and excitement of everything with our children!

  4. These have been so educational -- especially the trash. We take so much for granted, and are not as frugal as we should be. Stewardship goes way beyond our giving to God's church. Your children will have an excellent education, and will come to understand that our citizenship in heaven is worth so much more.

  5. I have loved your culture-shock blogs. They have been reminding me of things in America I have forgotten about. And just like Judy, I was thinking the other day about blogging about some unusual things here in Uganda that you wouldn't see in America: 12 chickens hanging upside down from the bars of a motorcycle, ladies riding "sidesaddle" on a motorcycle, fresh meat hanging outside to be bought...I think I have a list started already! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. These 3 posts have been great! Thank you so much for sharing them. I've really enjoyed them. So many things we take for granted, or that we don't really need. You are so right about being healthier w/ no convenience foods. Looking forward to our own culture shock! We leave in 2 weeks! :-)

  7. You had me laughing the entire time. The last two paragraphs were phrased beautifully and express my feelings exactly. Hope you have a good time in the states and get some rest before the baby comes!

  8. I Love reading about you culture shot...makes more appreciative ! I love the way your kids get a thrill out of even the smallest thing. Thank you for sharing! Love Rebecca

  9. Haha!! These are all so great, and true! I have loved all three of these blogs. I hear you're coming to Chiapas soon? Can't wait to meet you!!

  10. I loved these posts - it reminded me of when we would come in on furlough from Japan... seems that we have gotten used to living in America over time.

    It was wonderful to see you at Christchurch recently and see / hear first hand the update on your ministry. Praying for you as you travel!


Thank you for your encouraging comments! "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25