The Bateman Family

Batemans in Argentina

Shawn Bateman, Misionary to Argentina

August 10, 2018

City Living Part #1

“3 Blocks From My House”

City Living Part #1

“3 Blocks From My House”

I once read or heard that one of the greatest cultural barriers that missionaries experience is that of living in the city. Most missionaries have never really lived in a city in America; we mainly come from rural or suburban areas. Add to that the fact that the city experience in the majority of the cities in the United States is vastly different than the city experience one encounters in South America. I can speak from experience on this. To say that I grew up in a rural area is an understatement. We were 4.5 miles from the nearest gas station, 19 miles from the nearest grocery store and McDonalds, and 28 miles from the nearest Walmart. Mama would go to town only once a week for grocery shopping. I remember going three weeks at a time without being in town. Yes, friends, we were country.

We very much identified with the way of life portrayed on the Andy Griffith Show. Now, a little over two years ago we moved to Peru, South America to enroll in language school. We lived in the city of Arequipa, which, within the city limits, has a population of well over one million people.
It was a different culture and a different way of living, and I’m not talking about from Spanish to English, or from American culture to Latino culture. I’m speaking of rural or suburban culture to city culture. I felt like Jed Clampett walking around with all them “City Slickers” in Beverly Hills. Coincidentally, my uncle married a Clampett. I was amazed at the availability and convenience of city life. It seemed to me that everything that we needed was at our fingertips, which was almost true. So before we left I wrote down all the things that could be found within three blocks from my house.

  • 3 Parks
  • 3 Dance Studios
  • 1 Appliance Store
  • 4 Language Institutes
  • 1 Small Shopping Center
  • 3 Dentists offices
  • 3 Pet Supply Stores
  • 2 Cake Stores
  • 1 Party Supply Store
  • 4 Car Parts Stores
  • 3 Chocolate Shops
  • 1 Physiologist Office
  • 3 Meat Shops
  • 1 Artist Studio
  • 1 Architect Firm
  • 2 Dry Cleaners
  • 2 Car Washes
  • 1 Gym
  • 1 Physical Therapist
  • 1Organic Grocery Store
  • 2 Florist
  • 8 Doctor Offices
  • 4 Bread Stores
  • 39 Restaurants/Sandwich Shops
  • 2 Fruit and Vegetable Stands
  • 11 Convenient Stores
  • 3 Pharmacies
  • 2 Beauty Product Stores
  • 10 Beauty Salons/Barber Shops
  • 1 Craft Store
  • 2 Clothes Stores
  • 2 Hotels
  • 1 Photography Studio
  • 1 Hardware Store
  • 4 Daycares
  • 1 Seamstress
  • 1 Vape Shop
  • 3 School Supply Stores
  • 1 Internet Cafe
  • 1 Security Company
  • 1 Tour Agency
  • 1 Chiropractor
  • 1 Bank

Honorable Mentions:

  • 2 Malls within a 20 minute walk
  • Downtown within a 25 minute walk

Keep in mind these were things I could walk to within ten minutes from my house if my children were with me, or within seven minutes if I was walking by myself. You read that right, walking. Not running, not riding a bicycle, or driving my car. Also another interesting thing to note is that the population was sufficient to support all these businesses in such a small condensed area.

This was convenient for many reasons. All we had to do to get our hair cut was literally walk across the street. By the way that was a $2.50 haircut. If we needed something quick from the store, there were four convenient stores less than a block away. If I wanted buy Emily flowers, I walked a block. if my back was out, I walked less than a half block for chiropractic care.

It was also convenient to meet people. As you visit the same small stores, the same gym, and the same restaurants, you start to see people on a regular basis, you become friendly towards people, and you develop friendships with people. This opens up so many opportunities for witnessing and ministry! We lived in the Yanahuara district of town, the most densely populated area in the city with 6,955 people per square kilometer. Since we don’t use kilometers much in the States, let me put that into our terms.

That’s 26,846 per square mile; even the city of Atlanta pales in comparison with this because Atlanta only has 3,547 per squaremile. Now compare those numbers to Macon County, North Carolina where I was born and raised, which has a population of 58 people per square mile and you can see how some things there might have come as a shock to my country bumpkin way of thinking.

Brining it Home :

One of the greatest attributes that a missionary can posses is the ability to adapt. To adapt to a culture is not easy but it is possible, and it doesn’t take place in a moment but it is rather a process. There are other aspects of living in the city that I have not written about in this article, but suffice it to say that culture shock is a multi-faceted thing, and not limited to food and language. Pray for your missionaries, especially as they are first beginning and establishing themselves in the country. Pray that they have wisdom to adapt to the culture that they are living in, that they navigate learning the culture with a minimum of culture shock and stress, and that they learn how to effectively minister in their new culture.


  1. wilbur johnson

    GOD bless you and your family, thank you for sharing with me your experience in another country . I do love to hear about the work and the burden of missionary’s hearts. I also live a country setting and love it and it would be hard to move into a city. I pray that GOD would give you a lot of souls trusting in CHRIST.

    yours in CHRIST
    bro wilbur

    • Shawn Bateman

      Thank you Brother johnson. We greatly appreciate your prayers and feedback.


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