The Challenges of Relocation
Relocating or moving from a familiar place to an unfamiliar place can be very challenging. Whether you are relocating from an old house to a new house or from one job to another, they all involve some levels of discomfort and anxiety. It is even more difficult if you are moving from your country of birth to reside in a different country.
Upon arrival to your new country of abode, you are immediately bombarded by a number of essential things that you must get done. These include immigration, living accommodation and schools if you have children. If the main purpose of relocating is to begin a new job in your new country your situation will be even more burdensome. You now have to juggle between trying to adjust to different technologies and environment on the job while trying to blend in with a different and somewhat strange society.
The cultural differences can be very daunting even to the point where you may literally become sick for your familiar and safe home environment. These were my greatest challenges when I relocated from Jamaica (my home) to Tortola, the British Virgin Islands in 2001.
Both places are part of the English-speaking Caribbean yet when I arrived on this very small but quaint island I had difficulty communicating with the locals. They made it clear that they could not understand my accent and neither could I understand their dialect and accent. Their surnames and names of addresses sounded strange to my ears: ‘Humtums Ghut; Purcell (pussle) Estate.’ It was after much studying that I learned to decipher the pronunciation in order to spell these words correctly.
My other areas of testing were the economic and social lifestyle of my new residence. The economy of the BVI is much more prosperous than Jamaica, but the cost of living is much higher. I was therefore advised to shop in St. Thomas, a neighboring US island, which was much cheaper.
Travelling to and from both islands was done via the local ferry service which was very reliable. For the first couple of years, I was caught up with this local lifestyle of once per month grocery shopping in St. Thomas until finally I realized that the slight differences in prices of household items were not worth the hassle of hauling these boxes, bags and pans through customs. You were also charged customs duty for all the items that were purchased in St. Thomas.
When I was living in Jamaica my salary was not high enough to qualify me for a credit card but in Tortola I was apparently more than qualified because the bank gave me not just one but two credit cards. I was elated by this power which was compounded when I received a US mail box. This special box facilitates the easy receipts of goods that were ordered on line. I was on top of the world and I went on an internet shopping spree until all my cards were max out.
For many years, I could not reduce my credit card debts because as soon as I put some money on these cards I would return to the internet to shop. I was unable to control my spending because during that time I was facing many other problems in my home and shopping was my way of easing the pain of my afflictions and also rewarding myself. I was addicted and even more unfortunately, I was ignorant of this.
It is sometimes strange to hear that people who live on these beautiful islands really have problems. I often wondered about that myself because when I first arrived on these islands I was struck by its natural and un-spoilt beauty. In my mind, I had just relocated to paradise and all the social and economic problems that I had in Jamaica would remain in Jamaica. Tortola signified new opportunity, new lifestyle— a new beginning.
The Island of Tortola consists of twenty-four square miles of mostly mountainous terrains. Many beautiful homes gracefully adorn these hillside that evoke the feeling of wealth and prosperity. However most of these homes are not single family homes owned by millionaires but they are mostly residential apartments for locals and expatriates. Wherever you live or wherever you drive on this island you are always bombarded by magnificent views of the blue ocean with sporadic crops of tiny islands bursting from its depth.
There are many sailing boats which meander lazily along the shores and even more spectacular are the huge cruise ships that frequently anchor by the docks during the tourist season. Tortola is the largest of a series of islands which make up the BVI. I was fortunate enough to visit most of these islands when I accompanied my children on sailing trips organized by the Ministry of Education that was part of the reward for the children in the primary schools who were high achievers.
Apart from Tortola my favorite island is Virgin Gorda. Even though this island is very hot and dry, its unique beauty far outweighs its disadvantages. One of its most amazing attractions that I found so fascinating are the gigantic rocks that are located at the Baths. They are scattered all over the beach like natural sculptures forming secluded pools in the water. These rocks are said to be leftovers from volcanic eruptions.
Tourists from all over the world are attracted to these islands to enjoy great sailing, scuba diving, and water sports. They are attracted to the British Virgin Islands because of their unique beauty and tranquility. A place with so much natural splendor cannot contain stress? It appeared virtually impossible, but it did. My life on this island was filled with so much trials and afflictions that they overshadowed the beauty and tranquility. That was a plot of the enemy but I did not know this at the time.
The worst periods in my life occurred in 2006, 2008, 2011. They were my worst years but they were also three of the best years of my life. In 2006, my son who was diagnosed from birth with a debilitating congenital heart disease, took ill at school. We rushed him to the hospital and he was immediately hospitalized.
My son’s condition worsened and the fever refused to budge in spite of all the local doctors’ efforts. He was therefore urgently transferred to a hospital in Puerto Rico. In spite of this hospital’s advance technology and more experienced doctors they were baffled by my son deteriorating condition and predicted that he would not make it through the first night at the hospital.
When the doctors gave me the terrible news the pain became so unbearable that I gave him over to God. I told Him that He should do as He pleased with him because my son was His child first before he became mine (In the Eyes of a Child).
At the point where I surrendered to the supremacy of God, He came through for us and touched our child. The Lord miraculously led the doctors to the source of my son’s illness. It was a huge brain abscess that shifted his brain. He was in excruciating pain and the abscess was the reason why the fever never budged despite all the medications that he received.
When his diagnosis was found, everything began to move rapidly. My son had two surgeries to drain the abscess and spent two months in the hospital. While my son was in the hospital, my brother in Jamaica died and I was unable to attend the funeral.
In 2008, my mother died suddenly. She was not ill she just simply went home to be with the Lord. My mother was the backbone of my family and after she passed away she left me the greatest legacy that a parent could ever leave their children. This legacy is her godly life. I took this with me when I first left from under her covering at the age of eighteen.
This legacy made me into a woman of integrity. This is what gave me the unshakeable faith that I have in my God, the Creator. After the period of mourning was over I rescheduled my son’s appointment with the cardiologist to perform a cardiac catheterization on him. I had previously postponed it after the death of my mother.
After the procedure the doctor told us that he was a candidate for surgery and I agreed to it. My son had an opened heart surgery to repair his broken heart. He had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The surgery lasted for twelve grueling hours. I was alone in Puerto Rico with him. A stranger with no family or friends for support but I had my God and He was more than enough. My son spent three months in the ICU at the cardiovascular center.
Six months after my mother died and just about two months after my son’s surgery my sister died in the USA. She had battled years of psychological illness and the pain of my mother’s death was too much for her to bear.
In 2011, my marriage which was filled with conflicts and problems from its inception finally succumb and separation was our only alternative. I almost lost my sanity, but I did not. How did I escape?
My sister lived in the USA surrounded by families and friends but the trials of life overcame her. I endured even more tribulation than my sister while living on a small island with absolutely no blood relatives or any close friends. So how did I survive and how did I made it out of the wilderness?
My sister received the same legacy as I did from our mother and she was also a Christian, so what happen? Would you say that God failed her? Absolutely not! Similar to me, my sister was a victim of the enemy’s attack but she lacked the knowledge that I had. It is this knowledge that shoved me out of the wilderness of trials and propelled me into my destiny.
It is this knowledge that I want to share with you so that it can strengthen you and renew your hope and fulfilment in God. Throughout my wilderness journey I always likened myself to Job and often called myself Jobess. The Lord was aware of this and decided to teach me a lesson. One of the first lessons that the Lord taught me about Himself was through the Book of Job. He told me that the Book of Job was not about Job but about Himself— the Lord God Almighty.
I will share this lesson and even more exciting stories with you in my future posts so keep in touch and please feel free to share your thoughts by posting your comments. Thank you for reading.