Look at things like they do. They aren’t strange or new–you are.
Do work on the language. It is an insult to the people if you do not think that they are important enough for you to be constantly working on the language. Allow them to correct you. Invite them to do so and then thank them profusely when they do!
Do not over compensate with your family due to the fears that you have living in a new country. In other words you should spend time with your family and you should love them but they should not be an excuse not to spend time with the people, the church, the language, etc.
Do not hire a national to do your work and then take the credit for what he does. He soon figures it out and it will really hurt your relationship with the people. National pastors have complained many times about the rich missionaries that can hire workers and then get all the credit through their slide shows.
Make friends of the people. Your best friends will now be those that you live and work with.
Do not live in the USA and just work four year terms on the field. You should determine to live in your country and visit the US. Home is your new country. If you moved to another area to pastor you wouldn’t still live in Atlanta even in your heart. Your new town becomes your home.
Be ready to preach no matter what it cost you. Do not make excuses, just preach. Practice will make you much better. Even if you are helps missionary the folks will not understand why you do not want to preach, witness etc. You may be afraid that it won’t be good enough but I promise you that they will want you to try.
Do not hide out in your home and build your own little world or island in your new country. Get out with the folks. Have them in.
Allow your children to play with the national kids. Do not be paranoid about your new country. Your children will not be happy if they can not have good friends. Let them have them over for the night and vice a versa.
Do not take pictures of the other guy’s work as though it were yours.
Even in language school you need to mix with nationals and develop friendships with them.
Do not wait until you are perfect in the language to preach or teach. Just be willing to allow them to correct you. Be sure to ask them to correct you and thank them every time telling them how much you need their help.
Teach them to do all that any good Christian should do in the States. Do not think of them as children who can’t. Do not think of them as less than you are. Teach them to tithe, give to missions, be separated, win souls, walk with God and all that any good Christian would do. Reproduce yourself.
Do not be guilty of doing it all yourself. Many times the missionary doesn’t trust the people and for that reason he does not prepare leadership in the local church. When he leaves the mission church will not be able to stand.
Adapt yourself to their culture. Learn to think like them. Get up like they do. Greet folks like they do. You need to feel comfortable with the people. There will be things that you need to change in their culture due to the fact that it is wrong but other than that be one of them. How do you feel about all the foreigners in the US that want to keep their own language etc.?
Learn to love the country and the people so much that you can say what my daughter, Stephanie, said in some of her homework that she turned in for the “Institute of Foreign Mission Studies” “.Reverse culture shock is the trying to become accustomed to the home country after living in a foreign country for several years. I would say that the hardest part for me is being away from my true friends and not being involved in the ministry; I feel pretty useless. I want to go home.”
Please excuse another quote from Stephanie, but from an MK’s point of view here is how you learn the language: “Learning a foreign language isn’t just grammar and study, it is mostly loving the people, concern for their souls, a desire to learn their language to be able to witness to them and persistence to make yourself do it
even though you don’t feel like it. The way to learn the language is to love and spend most of your time with the people instead of staying locked in at home.”
2Do not have a bad attitude about the medical care etc in your new country. Be careful not to listen to everything you hear. Many missionaries who are suffering definite culture shock, and don’t want to admit it, will tell you that there are no good doctors, hospitals, mechanics, or hardly anything else in the country. People ask me all the time if you can have a baby “safely” in Arequipa. My answer is that about 80 are born a day. They have been doing it for a long time. Sure you can. If you have a very risky disease or something new, cancer, etc then you need the states but for little things like broken bones, the flu, measles, or the host of other disease you can have good competent care in Arequipa. The arrogant American attitude sometimes is that no one else can do it but us or ours but that certainly isn’t true nor is it a way to win the folks in your country.