Usually my goal of posting online is to share about things that make me happy, share my joys, or things that make me laugh. The truth about moving across the world, though, is not always sunshine and roses. Honestly, by most accounts our life has much improved since we have moved to South Africa, except for one, not so small factor.
We get lonely.
I could go on about the different factors in what makes us lonely, but the most surprising one is the time difference. I wouldn’t have imagined that!
We are so fortunate to be missionaries in a time of social media, phone calls, and video chatting. Our children are blessed to get to ‘see’ relatives and friends back in the States. But it is actually difficult to set up these chats because of the time difference. South Africa is about 8, 500 miles from our sending church and 6 hours ahead half the year and 7 the other half.
Since our kids go to bed at 6-7:30 pm and wake from nap around 3 pm, that pretty much just leaves dinner prep, eating and cleaning time to talk to relatives. And I don’t mind altering our typical routine to talk to relatives, I love being people oriented, but it isn’t that easy. Our families work so, they don’t get off often until around 11 pm our time, and then they have their own dinner plans to attend.
During the Fall and Winter, I wake up around 10:30-11PM Eastern Standard Time most of my friends and family are either in bed or on their way. During Spring and Summer up in the Northern Hemisphere, I am not awake until 11:30-12 their time.
In this age of phones and instant text messages, it was a weird adjustment to not be able to expect a response from my best friends or mother for several hours, no matter how urgent. Thankfully we have had no true emergencies, but there have been times I really just wanted or needed to pick up the phone and talk to someone, and then the distance hits me.
In my year and a half living in Africa, Culture Shock and Loneliness have not been a huge battle. Here and there I get a wave of frustration or loneliness and time change more often than not, has been the culprit.
Spring is heading to the US, and with that, time change! I will no longer be up early enough in the EST to talk to my friends; which is a disappointment, but, instead of being courteous and waiting until 4 pm my time to call, I will be able to call as early as 3 pm, and that is a fun half of the year.