[Continued from Part 2]
Most Americans are “spoiled for choice,” to use a British expression describing the multitude of options available in everyday life. Again, the grocery store is a good example of this: brand after brand of nearly every item in the store, from soup to nuts. No wonder it used to take my wife so long to shop at the local Albertson’s or Wal-Mart, since there were hundreds of items in the breakfast aisle alone! The same luxury extended to other goods and services, like broadband providers, electronics stores, home improvement centers, shopping malls, and a multitude of other categories.
Life’s daily rhythm was totally thrown off balance by the move to Wales. When we moved into our home, it took two weeks to get our phone service activated; and a live telephone connection was required before one could order internet access, which required another agonizing two-week wait. I felt like Ulysses Everett McGill, the character played by George Clooney, in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? who thought he could just pick up some auto parts and hair treatment in a local mercantile store. When told it would take two weeks to special order the hair treatment and two weeks to get the parts, he responded, “Well, isn’t this place a geographical oddity? Two weeks from everywhere!”
We missed our big house, our favorite restaurants, our friends, the familiar routine, the shopping centers, our two grown daughters we left behind, our grandchildren, both sets of aging parents, and it really began to dawn on us just how different life would be in another country. How do you grieve the loss in a godly way? Is it alright to complain or express frustration with our new way of life without God viewing this as dissatisfaction with His will and purpose for us? We had to be so careful with our words, so that we would not give unnecessary offense to our new neighbors, friends, and fellow believers. But just like several people told us, it was not an easy transition and we realized just how culturally dependent we truly were, and how we were unknowingly shaped by a materialistic and consumeristic American culture.