if you guys haven’t checked out Rend Collective’s new album, btw….do it.
I always have the urge to begin the explanations to loved ones of what is happening with me spiritually with “Well, what can I say…” because I have no idea how to convey what has been happening in my soul in words.
It’s possible you’ll only want to read this post if you are one of those said loved ones. Especially since this one doesn’t even have any cool pictures (sorry… I tried to take a soul-picture, but my camera’s broken).
Well, God has definitely been teaching me on this trip. Teaching me about myself and my faults, innumerable little things, teaching me how to accept the grace that has been lavished upon me, but He is changing the desires of my heart and leading me in which direction to go in the next steps of my life. In regards to that second part; essentially, my heart has changed in a way that I no longer believe that I will only be fulfilled in a state of perpetual motion (this is the point where my parents and other various loved ones breathe a sigh of relief). Here’s a bit of how this came to be.
If you look back in this blog’s archives, you’ll read my Spain story. Tucked into the various lessons of that trip you will find that God and I talked it out and He told my begrudging heart that I need to come to a point of contentedness to follow and thrive WHEREVER He lead me, even if that is staying in the States. Sawa.
Meanwhile, in the course of my studies and mission trips and observations here in Tanzania, I have observed what has been called the “white savior syndrome”. Basically, us in developed countries who have bleeding hearts hear about the starving kids in Africa and decide that the best way to solve that is to go feed them ourselves. DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying this is wholly a bad thing, I am not condemning you if you are guilty of this, I have done this myself. But. Often our desire to help and feel like a good person gets in the way of unbiased assessment of what our efforts are actually accomplishing. We can go where we’re not necessarily needed, go in with an unsustainable solution, or do a job that would be more effective if a national was employed to do the same job (and that way you would also give someone a job who didn’t necessarily have one! Bonus!). For example, what if instead of sending a group of unqualified Americans to build a church for $5000/person plus supplies, there were one or two church planters sent to employ a team of local construction workers to employ local people and evangelize to them as well while they work? (Another disclaimer: I am still very in favor of sending people who live in their little first-world bubble on sustainable mission trips, because I know that mission trips are often a life-changing experience for good.Also, if you’re not necessarily in that bubble but you have an undeniable call from God to go somewhere, yes you should go there. Just don’t jetset off to solve the world’s problems as a knee-jerk reaction.)
The reason all of this applies to me so much is because I am pretty sure that I will end up working for an NGO, be it at home or abroad (hopefully IJM or something similar…), and I have come to the realization that even if I do accomplish my dream of working for one of these international organizations, my skills, talents, and experience may be best used in the States or in another country more similar to the States. Or not. But if I would be of most use in a not-necessarily exotic location, that does not make my calling any less grand and wonderful. It may, in fact, enable me to connect with those around me more than I would if working with someone who only sees the color of my skin (because as much as we would like to deny this, the fact that I am white has been a huge barrier in connecting with many people around me here in Tanzania, just based on others’ assumptions of me. I don’t, and won’t, fit in). Which brings me to my next point…
It’s amazing how much God can teach you about your priorities and passions just based on a prolonged period of time separated from “real life”. For instance, it has been brought to my attention (by much aching, longing, and missing) just how important youth ministry and worship ministry is to me. I’ve always known the two to play a huge role in my life, but I’m not sure I would’ve classified the two as “passions” of mine (at least, not that require immediate attention. What can I say, I’m told I’m a pretty passionate person). But through a series of events which I’m not going to write here for a various amount of reasons, I’ve come to realize that there is a burning fervor in me that NEEDS to be involved with these two ministries, and that I am willing to jump through a myriad of hoops and even to turn down jobs in order to do so, particularly for involvement in youth ministry. God has brought to my attention just how much He has prepped me to be involved, how much my talents are geared towards youth and worship ministry, and that He can use and is using even my past and faults and failures to augment my effectiveness.
However, as a result of all this revelation, I am getting really really excited to return to ministry and am possibly counting down the weeks until I return so that I can jump back into “real life” with both feet. I know, I know: (1) counting down does not make it go any faster (2)it distracts from the now (3) I’m living in freaking Africa and this is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience and I will regret not living presently. So, my loves, I ask you to pray for me that I will savor each day. For someone who has been my fair share of places, I sure have trouble living in the now…I’m working on that. Besides, I am confident that God still has plenty more to teach me before I leave this beautiful country.