Sunday, October 10, 2010

Helping Internationals Deal with Stress

from dr.knitter

One of my responsibilities is teaching the Adult Bible Fellowship for Internationals.  I love the interaction and the spiritual growth present in the group.

Today I finished the last lesson in a series entitled, "Welcome to the USA: what you can do to to help internationals in your community feel welcomed in the USA" You can lessen their fears by building friendships and venturing into their world while they are here in our country.  Rather than staying isolated, God's people can reach out to love and to care for internationals.

Today I will post what was shared in our class.  I trust this will help those working with internationals as well as those who have internationals in their neighborhood, workplace, or school. 

Using a balloon to show stress build up, you can help people see and hear what holding in stress can do.  Likewise, when you inflate another balloon, you can show them what happens when you let it all out without direction—you go anywhere.

As students share what stress Internationals face, you write them on the board as they share them.  You may need to share one or two from your own life. But you will get them to participate.

Here is the list that they shared in our class:
  • Language—how to speak English
  • Friendships—will I get to know anyone?
  • Homesickness
  • USA Foods—get use to it?
  • Legal issues: visas, green card, income tax, drivers’ license
  • Clothing: in fashion? In season?
  • Work & School load
  • Cultural differences: discipline of children—practices or non-practice.
  • Lack of public transportation
  • Public display of affection: dating vs married, friendships, etc.
  • Meal invitations: accept! Bring food or not bring food. Ask clarifying questions
  • Metric vs English measurements
  • Meals: how many and when they occur
  • Driving (left side vs right side of road); car seats; laws
  • Signs: airport, driving, and hand gestures
  • Health remedies & health insurance needs
  • Weather: Cold climate vs warm climate
  • Filling out papers: last name first? Date? What to bring with you when apply?
  • Time: how people tell time 1300 hours or 1pm? Start time? On-time or whenever?
  • Restaurant dining: USA—“you eat, then you leave!” vs. 3 hour meal to relax
  • Seating in public places: “sit anywhere” of “reserved seating?”
  • Mail: only male listed; to and from different In Brazil—“to” is on front with stamp; “from” is on back of letter.
  • Beauty salon differences: expensive and lower quality
  • Role of women; e.g. “stay at home only” etc.
  • Money: “bills are all the same color;” conversion rate is challenging
  • Shoes: off or on when you come into someone’s house
  • Thank you note as way to be courteous.
  • Restrooms without doors on stalls
  • Privacy issues: when are things private and when are they public
  • Office etiquette: knock or no knock when entering open office door or cubicle?

When all these things and issues could stress one out, you can deal with that stress in prayer. Jesus did (Read Mark 1:35).  For context, read verses 32-39.  Jesus had a busy day. Then the evening and night got more busy.  Yet, Jesus got up early to spend time alone with God in prayer.  He prayed amid a stressful schedule.

I offer three points on who to deal with stress best.  First, pray in quiet waiting for God’s instructions.  Ask God to help you push off the urgent and to do the most important things.  Clarify what is most important.

Second, pray from within the stress (Psalm 118:5-6).  God wants us to bring our stresses to Him while it is happening.  Often I find that the stresses of life push down on me weighing me down. I feel like I am being pressed into a small, confined place.  Yet God wants to rescue me.  He wants to place me in a wide, open space so that I can view the stresses of life differently. He wants me to discover what is most important and to do that instead of all the other things.

Lastly, God promises rest amid the stress (Matthew 11:28-30).  Jesus wants me to take off my yoke of stress and to put on His yoke of rest.  He will be with me to help me.  He will help me find rest for my soul. 

So when you feel stress rising up, then seek a quiet place to pray and to reflect on what is most important, pray from within the stress asking God to bring His perspective on your life, then  commit to doing what He says so that you can find rest for your soul.  It takes practice. It won’t happen overnight. But with God’s help, you can handle stress better.  

I wonder what we missed in our list of things that can stress on internationals.  Likewise, I wonder if you have more insight on how to deal with stress in a biblical way.  Please post your comments. 

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