Decisions made, now we can rest. (Only one is not actually resting. Who is it?)
I think we are past the initial set up and settling in period–that time with tonnes of choices. What we’ve moved onto is a time where we are living out those choices or living with the choices and their consequences (not necessarily a bad thing) that arose from the decisions we made when we first arrived. Some of these decisions were intentional and purposeful, like our go slow approach (see next weeks post) that flows from the idea of vulnerable mission. Some of the decisions seemed more to be related to circumstances, reacting to life, like Joel’s preschool closing down (originally chosen because of the Khmer influence he would receive there), and so us moving him to preschool at the girls school (with less Khmer input but other positives).
So we’re in a time of less choices, or a time of seeing how our first choices play out. Some of the angst around making those initial, and seemingly bigger, choices is gone. I read over some of my earlier journal entries from the beginning of this year and all of the questions that I raised for myself; some of them have been answered. Some of our wonderings that we had prior to coming to Cambodia have also been answered. So we are in Cambodia in a period that you could call ‘decision decrease’ instead of ‘decisions galore’. But as we look back we can get a glimpse of how God has been guiding us and answering prayer in different ways from what we had expected and also in ways that we had. He has been at work through our decisions.
A major intersection near where I study. Which way should I go? Decisions, decisions.
Yes, there’s choice paralysis in Australia too. But there is a new stress to making choices in a new country. As you settle-in in a new country you’re constantly having to make all these decisions about how you’ll live; not only where you’ll live, but how you’ll set up your house. Do you set it up to be friendly to local friends or as a sanctuary for the family? What should you do about transportation? A car may be cheaper and safer, but are they the only criteria?
For those who don’t mind what others think, these decisions don’t have as much weight. But for those who do consider what others will think, this is one of the harder things about moving to a new country. You’re never sure what impact the choices you make will have on others. You have more certainty in the country you’re from as you know the culture and how people think. But in a new country, you have mostly no idea how people are going to interpret what you do.
Added to this is that you not only have the local community to keep in mind, but you have a international community (expats) to keep in mind. Expats can be a source of help as you settle in. But here’s the catch. Each person/family has come from a different place, with different backgrounds and different experiences, with different purposes and length of stay in this new country. The range of choices people make are from one end of the spectrum to the other. This means that you’re having to sift through every bit of advice and try and interpret it for yourself.
In the beginning there are many decisions to be made. Eventually, the number of decisions to be made slows down. But you are very aware of each new decision that you make, and begin to deal with the unseen consequences of earlier choices. Again, in some way this isn’t much different from doing life in your own country. But settling-in in a new country means you’re making a lot of these choices all at once and you’re doing it with less cultural awareness. So, in short, a condensed period of decision making brings to the fore the act of making decisions.