I Wish Someone Would've Told Me

Reverse culture shock, they call it. Google defines it as an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment marked by feelings of loneliness and desolation. If you ask me, most days it feels pretty similar to my autoimmune disease (minus the physical pain). It's unpredictable, it's consuming, and it's absolutely, utterly exhausting.

So, yes, I'd heard about it. I heard it was a "thing" but I didn't believe it was a "thing," per se.

The first Sunday I'd been back home from my time in Swaziland, Africa, I went to church. I hugged the people I had missed so much. I had great conversation with those I hadn't seen all summer. I sat in my favorite spot. I prayed harder than I usually prayed. I closed my eyes and worshipped with the same reckless abandonment that I always have. But as far away as Cold Spring, Minnesota is from Manzini, Swaziland... I could not shake the feeling that I, sitting there in my home church, was not home. In fact, I felt the furthest thing from it.

At one point during the service, some of the kids played a game where they had to unroll a roll of toilet paper the fastest. Feelings built up FAST for me and I just about got up to leave because I couldn't control the tears that were forming. All I could think about was the carepoint I'd just spent 12 days in and all I could picture was the stack of notebook paper next to the "toilet" (if you want to call it that) in the makeshift "outhouse" (again, if you want to call it that). Yes, you read that right. I started crying about toilet paper. Or lack of thereof, I should say.

I felt crazy walking out of church that day and in the days to follow. EVERYTHING I did felt selfish. Even something as simple as unpacking or having one of my favorite snacks frustrated me to the point of tears because it was so self-serving. I felt useless because anything I was doing couldn't compare to what I could and would be doing if I was back in Swaziland.

I'm doing better now, you could say. I'm praying through it and attempting to write it out instead of internalizing it and letting it all turn to tears. Hence the blog post. Everyday does seem to get a little easier, but then there's a tough one thrown in. Some days I'm speechless... Some days I start drafting 6 blog posts. It's just hard not to wish someone would've told me.

I wish someone would've told me that I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning thinking about the kids I got to know in Swaziland. Wondering where they are and what they're doing 7 hours ahead of the time zone I lay awake in.

I wish someone would've told me about the nights I'd move from my bed to the floor just because it feels too comfortable. Because I need to be closer to to the same earth those kids are walking on in some remote villiage in Africa.

I wish someone would've told me that every time I now go to my closet, all I really want to do is throw everything out. That my style will never be the same again because the maxi skirts and t-shirts I lived in during my time there now hold a whole new meaning.

I wish someone would've told me that every time people ask how my trip was, I would daze off for a solid five minutes and still struggle to utter the words: "It...was...uh...perfect. It was perfect." Only to be disappointed with my response because HOW? How do I even begin to explain the way Jesus shattered my heart during my time there?

I wish someone would've told me I'd want to punch a wall when the response is, "Oh Kenzie, you are such a good person!" or "You have such a big heart!" or "You are a brave soul!" Because I'm not. I'm not any better than Abraham and Sarah's doubts or Rahab's lifestyle. My heart is the size of everyone else's and I am anything but brave. What I am is real. I'm afraid. Of being where God wants me to be. Of not being where He wants me to be.

Truth be told, I didn't go to Africa because I have a heart bigger than anyone else's. I didn't go because I'm the next David defeating Goliath or a giant of any kind, really. I didn't go to Africa because I have an answer to the world's problems or because I have the resources to fix those problems. I went to love. That's it. Because God first loved us and it is the most valuable thing you and I have to offer everyone and anyone we come in contact with.

Is there a need to be met? Yes. There are so many needs. But caring for and tending to those needs should come out of a genuine love for people and Christ, not out of pity or a sense of obligation to this world. When our actions align with the desires of His heart, things change...people change.

So, yes. I wish someone would've told me. I wish I would've been warned. I wish I had known that the tears were beginning the healing process, not making me crazy...but I wouldn't change where my heart is right now for the world.

“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us and to spread His light. This is the dream...and it is possible.”  - Katie Davis



Well said my friend, well said! Now we pray that we see clearly the next path we are to go down.


Such a powerful and honest post! I love that you went to Africa to love! I love how He has changed your heart! I pray that one day I'm able to experience the power of changing the life of even one person and His changing of my heart all through loving as Jesus did!


Kenz, I am in tears reading this post! I can relate to it so much after my own trip to the Dominican a couple weeks ago. I've almost been in this state of haze since I've been back - and to be fair, I was warned this would happen. I couldn't agree with you more on this: I wish someone would've told me I'd want to punch a wall when the response is, "Oh Kenzie, you are such a good person!" or "You have such a big heart!" or "You are a brave soul!" Because I'm not. I'm not any better than Abraham and Sarah's doubts or Rahab's lifestyle. My heart is the size of everyone else's and I am anything but brave. What I am is real. I'm afraid. Of being where God wants me to be. Of not being where He wants me to be." I don't want any glory for my trip. I want all the glory to go to God because He put me in the position to make the trip and He stirred our hearts while we were away, I was just a vessel.


Yes, you have the same heart, but God definitely puts the call on each persons heart so different. Your call is in missions... to have the world around you see nothing but those sweet faces in another part of the world.. yep, your heart is different then most :)


Your blog is so cute! I am a fellow Bethel student and a soon-to-be blogger as well.
You're a great writer and this story was wonderful to read. Your story really touched my heart because I experienced the same thing, but to a lesser degree.
I went to China for two weeks and when I got home, everything felt so different and off. But the experience I gained was incredible and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Here's a link to my blog: http://theundergroundmpls.blogspot.com
I haven't posted yet, but will be soon. It's a blog supporting underground artists in Minneapolis, MN. It'd be great if you gave it a look! Thank you!

Have a blessed day,
Amber :)


Wow -- thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today, Kenz. It's been amazing reading this story and recovering from reverse culture shock. You have a beautiful heart and soul -- one that breaks when it needs to and comes alive at the right and perfect moments. It's so awesome that you are realizing the ways we can be selfish on a day-to-day basis and the fact that so many people (beyond what we can imagine) live with less. These are awesome realizations and the world needs to hear about them. I know this touched me as I feel like I took the whole summer to recover from reverse culture shock after studying abroad. It was hard at first, but now I feel comfortable at home -- but maybe too comfortable. It's time to get out of habits and know that we are here for positive change, no matter what anyone thinks! It's time to live for the Lord in all the ways we can!


lovely post. I cannot imagine how hard it would be coming back from such a different culture. We're so fortunate and it's good to be reminded of that and try to make/create change where we can.


I can only imagine how you must be feeling! After spending time with my amazing, God focused extended family for a week this summer, I just couldn't enjoy being home for a while. I can't help but think that that feeling is a longing for that closeness to God, and that He wants it there! Keep praying through it! God will use this challenging time to grow you.


God has huge plans for you and your life girl! Praying for you and your new normal. ❤️


Beautiful post dear girl :)


Hey Kenz,

I'm new to your blog, but wow, I can really relate to this, so much, it almost braught me to tears as well. I don't know how much time you have spend in Swaziland.. for me it was South Africa last year, working with children from the townships. When I got back in my homeland, it took me 3 months to feel a bit at home again. I still feel like my heart is there, and I'm making plans to go back, but what I'm trying to say is that.. what you have experienced is always going to live through you, and what you have seen and learned, will affect you in your life forever, but it will get easier, as the wave of life eventually will take you along again, days will pass like seconds, and the way the memory is so close to you right now as you swallow it with every bite, and dream about it both night and day.. it will settle within time.

Or you know what girl.. if over there is where you feel you belong.. why not head back.. and find out..follow your heart.

Oh and.. the world could use more people like you =) beautiful soul riding a great train of thought!

- Maria