In preparation for our stay in Rio, Christy and I have been reading through a book called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. It is a "reader" with over a hundred articles or clippings about the Biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic dimensions of world evangelism.
One healthy reading on "culture shock" is the article by Thomas and Elizabeth Brewster on cultural bonding. In it they address the issue of culture shock:
Like the first day of an infant's life, the first two or three weeks of a newcomer's stay is of crucial importance. The initial blush of life in the new environment is when developing a sense of belonging is most possible. During this time, a person may be especially able to cope with the unpredictable situations encountered in the new culture, and cushioning is the last thing needed.
The individual who hopes to enter another culture in a gradual way faces greater obstacles and, in fact, may never enjoy the experience of belonging to the people. Better to plunge right in and experience life from the insiders' perspective. Live with the people, go shopping with them, use public transportation with them, worship with them as it may be appropriate.
This conviction is one of the reasons we chose to partner with Restore Brazil. We will be living among the people in our own apartment (still not certain where, keep praying with us for that), we'll be doing our own grocery shopping, using public transportation, and we'll seek to form friendships with our neighbors as immersed learners of the culture as opposed to secluded students of it. Our goal is to experience "incarnational relocation" where we share the same needs as our neighbors, and carry the same burdens as the community. We are excited to be stretched, pulled, messed up, and used by God during this time of culture-shifting.
On a similar note, I recently moved to Texas from California (where I have lived my whole life) and experienced some of that "culture shock" first-hand at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last Saturday. I saw things that would cause many Californians to get white knuckled, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless. Watch this video to see a short montage of clips from our trip to the rodeo.