It's the end of of the week. One more week has flown by. Today marks the five-month anniversary of our arrival on the field. Our inaugural service gets closer and closer and the workload and number of meetings get bigger and bigger. One part of me wishes we could open our doors tomorrow, the other part is completely terrified of all that will mean (and realizes that we don't even have doors to open!)
We're all starting to feel the effects of culture shock. Let me rephrase that: we are all overwhelmed by culture shock. I think. See, that's part of the problem. Culture shock isn't like chicken pox or some physical disease with set and clearly defined symptoms. It doesn't limit itself to one area of your life. Instead, we're all feeling it in different ways. Some people get moody, others tired. Some feel depressed, others just feel cranky. Some need to be around people, others need to be alone. At times, we don't even think we're experiencing culture shock. Instead, we blame it on our moods, our teammates, whether we got enough sleep the night before. I'm not writing as someone detatched from the situation- I have found myself in tears several times this week for what would at any other time be nothing. So, I ask you, our friends and family (and kind strangers) to keep us in your prayers.
Pray that we successfully manouver through this time. Pray that Satan doesn't use our feelings to drive wedges between us. Pray that we don't kill each other, or at the very least, don't wound each other verbally. Pray that the couples on the team find ways to help each other cope. Finally, pray that this time will make us hungrier for God and more desparate for Him, and that we will turn to Him to meet our needs.
While you're talking to God about us, please mention our financial situations. When we came on our survey trip last year, the exchange rate was about R$3.00 to US$1.00. All of our budgets were set using those figures. When we arrived five months ago, the exchange rate was R$2.75. The drop was difficult, but not too drastic. In the months since our arrival, the exchange rate has dropped to and hovered around $2.35 (and sometimes lower). The past two weeks have shown huge swings, with the value of the Real dropping and rising R$0.10 several times. It's made things like taking out money and paying bills very unpredictable. Budgets are becoming insufficient- they have dropped by a couple thousand Reais a month!
I thank the Lord that Russell and I are doing okay. Our finances aren't as good as we would like, but we feel abundantly blessed. (Though if the exchange rate continues to drop it will affect us greatly!) My concern is for others on our team. Money concerns are being brought up more and more as prayer requests. Families are finding it hard as more and more expenses keep popping up as budgets get tighter and tighter. I know that God is taking care of them, but sometimes I wish I had a better answer- one that would help them pay their bills on time!
I'm being quite candid right now, and I apologize if it bothers anyone. I am not bringing up the fact that people on the team are struggling financially to embarrass them. I am asking for your prayers. We need every member of this team. God brought us here to do an amazing task. I don't want us to be defeated before we get started. Please pray that the exchange rate will go back up and stabilize. Pray that new money is found so our teammates can relax and focus on the task at hand.
I'm so thankful that we serve a mighty God who is able and willing to supply our needs! Thank you for going to Him on our behalf.