Back in the States: Culture Shock

So… I’ve been back in the United States following our mission trip to the Dominican Republic for four days now, and have been experiencing something wholly unexpected rather frequently since our return: culture shock.

Yes, culture shock. In my native culture. Following a trip to a culture that can probably best be described as “other” in comparison.

Who’d have thought?

It seems to stem from the fact that we are such a privileged people here in the United States… we have our every desire right at our fingertips. For food, there’s a supermarket. If you need clothing, there’s a mall. If you need a car, credit’s not that hard to find… for just 60 easy payments or so, you can have that brand new [insert model here]. Shelter? We rarely give it a second thought. Clean water? Not a moment’s.

It’s so odd. When we arrived home early Friday morning, we pulled in the drive and I just sat there, staring at the comparative mansion I’m privileged to own. A far cry from the dirt floored, tin-walled shacks I saw in the Dominican, I felt shame to have so much for myself, Nancy, and my three kids.

As I drive down the highway, I can’t help but be amazed at what I see. Bright shiny new vehicles, left and right… all cruising down the road in an orderly fashion (well, for the most part). If we see a motorcycle, it’s usually a big Harley or a Honda Goldwing… with at most two riders. I can’t help but envision the highways in the Dominican, full of 150cc Honda knock-offs, weaving every which way with as many as six people riding (yes, six!). I can’t help but recall the bumping and lurching of the bus we rode in the Dominican (to think, we complain of potholes).

When I entered Wal-Mart to pick up a couple items we needed, I couldn’t help but envision the Dominican market, with all its small vendors, each peddling their own unique wares. And I remember the smell of the meat market, the “fresh” fish, and the live chickens waiting for slaughter. I’m amazed at how we have everything available at our fingertips.

And when I flew from Dallas to Kansas City at night, I was utterly amazed at the millions of points of light shining up at me from the ground. We light our highways, even entirely vacant parking lots. There, light is a privilege, available only if you’re lucky enough to be the recipient of a few hours of electricity in the middle of a rolling blackout.

As I witness all these things, and continue to be reminded of the gap between us “haves” and the Dominican “have-nots”, I struggle mightily with one main question:


Why are we so blessed to have so much, while the Dominicans have so little?

Why was I blessed to be born in the United States?

I have a feeling I’ll be struggling with these for a LONG time.

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John Written by:

Husband, Daddy, Christ-follower, sports fan... pressing on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ. #ForeverRoyal!

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  1. July 26, 2010

    great questions John & the fact that you’re struggling with them is so necessary – let’s hope more and more begin to struggle with the same questions – why do we have so much?

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