About 25 people came to ABC this last week to visit one of our friends that is here from California. They were here to go on outreaches and to do other short term stuff. There were a couple of comments they had said which I have thought a lot about. One of those comments was "I thought we were going to stay in villages the entire time we were here". My friend had them staying in the ABC Campus Guest Huts for4 days and then staying in the "village" for 3 days.
So after they went to the village the comment that was made was "Oh.... so that is why we didn't stay in the village the entire time! We wouldn't of made it through the entire week." "It was really hard to stay even one night" The "villages" in Africa are really amazing places to visit, yet at the same time they truly show us what we are really made of. It is emotionally and physically exhausting when you come from the 1st world and are plunked right down into the 3rd world. Being people who have grown up in the 1st world, you can't really take that out yourself. That is our culture - 1st world. It is really ingrained in us. The way we live and the things we are surrounded by. Those comments that were made, made me really think.
One thing that is funny to me is that in all of Africa, only village life is all that is shown to the rest of the world. Urban African is never shown. Cities are never shown - A normalish grocery store - never shown. (When Madonna comes to visit here in Lilongwe, she stays at a really nice lodge that some really nice people from South Africa built. - Ok side note... Bob and I went out there (were Madonna stays) for a 2 day get away. it is about 45 min from town and there is a horse farm next to it and a huge area to hike and bike around. Super nice place to stay. They had wonderful food and they had a huge flat screen TV in the lounge and we watched Animal Planet and a movie.... Cozy beds and amazing bath tubs and showers. Anyways- the only problem I had was that they played the greatest hits of Madonna at the restaurant the entire time. Ok back to my original thought) But when Madonna comes, the paparazzi only shows her out in the villages. They don't show anything else but the village. So the perception of Africa to the outside world (and I am so guilty in doing this), is that the entire continent of Africa is one huge village. It isn't. There needs to be an expose' done on "Urban Africa". But who wants to see that. The rest of the 1st world wants to see the village and rustic settings of Africa, so that is what is seen. I thought when I would be moving to Africa I would be living with my cow for milk and trying to wash my clothes by hand. Ahhh I have about 6 different places I shop at and I have an amazing washing machine. Of course we do have other aspects of life that are more complicated than what we are used to. But we don't live in the village. We live with about 150 college students and about 75 Americans and 40 other Malawians on this 50 Acre campus. We are a village but an urban village. I teach the senior college girls and I think they are more urban than me. Many of them grew up with TV in their room. I think that is more urban than me. They have travelled to the UK and many other western countries in the world. The media, even National Geographic, shows only the village, and fyi - Africa is more than just a village! Anyways- just some thoughts.
Along with that comment from that team came another. They got out of the bus that brought them from the airport here to ABC and were saying "We can't take pictures of ABC because it is too nice" Ok this was made about the housing that was provided by ABC for short term teams ( the guest huts).
What are we thinking that we can't show the rest of the world that something is actually nice in Africa. Are we supposed to suffer on mission trips. When we show people the pictures of the missions trip and how we "roughed it", does that make it a better mission trip that you had to sleep on the ground? I think it would make you more crabby! Why do we have to suffer to make it sound like "you did it". You survived. Go on Survivor to suffer and survive! A missionary as God calls us - a real Missionary... is not someone who is suffering and showing the world we are able to handle survivor.... but it is to share the gospel by going out unto the world and sharing how Christ changed your life from the inside out. We have this mentality that you have to go and suffer to be a real missionary. Maybe going out just means going out your front door. I may be called a "missionary" yet at the same time have a bad attitude and a fake walk with Christ. I will not accomplish what He has called me to do. First I have to love God , and then love His people. It is so simple. Many days I should just stay inside my house and not come out until it's not about me anymore, but about what He is doing. Yep. I still am not perfect. :)
Just some side notes on life. There are some days that I really think about Africa and how amazing it is and yet it is so different from what I had originally thought, and many times it is exactly what I thought. Other days I am so ready to have my comforts and run home to my mama! I have learned so much of the African culture and at the same time I know nothing. So, this journey that I am on is ever changing. I wake up loving it all and then I go to sleep dreaming of home and familiarity. One day this seems like home and within that one day I feel like a total stranger. It is one thing to visit for a few weeks and then go back home, but to stay for a few years, that is where you see what you are made of. ( I personally am not impressed with myself most days. For some reason I thought I was tougher and not so crazy! ). I love the story that God is developing in my life and somedays I just want to stay in bed.... Oh well- Thanks for reading my thoughts on life.... Amy Louise