African Missions can mess you up! Southern Africa Missions 101
Of course we all know about the proverbial “good ways”, experiencing Christ and all the great benefits of being a missionary- but how about fun a look into foreign missions?
Welcome to course Southern African Missions 101, like many 101 classes-this information is generally useless, and may actually prove to be a waste of your time. FAQ-does this mean there will be a 201 course? Perhaps-but that depends on YOU dear reader.
The bacon is BACONIER! (it is quite amazing and tops the list for differences from the USA), however, my dad’s home cured bacon growing up(you know, the kind from the pigs you fed, named and rode) was mighty thick and pretty awesome too.
We DO drive on the “other side” of the road. Counter to popular opinion, this is NOT wrong…it is LEFT (and we pass on the right). Surprisingly once adjusted, it does make sense, however the majority of the world does drive on the right(India, Australia and Southern Africa like it on the left). Especially whilst looking out your windscreen(that’s windshield in the USA) to see oncoming traffic. A song to help you adjust wherever you are “Keep your butt in the middle of the road, keep your butt in the middle of the road”(sung to the tune Hi Ho Cherry O(or cheerio))
Not everyone LOVES American’s. Hard to believe, I know right? But it is true. We are often seen as arrogant, know it all’s that take over and think we know best. Fortunately, many people have grace enough to get to understand us and know us, and if we just “gentle” our approach down and seek to understand others before telling them how much better we are and how much more we know- we do well.
Living with lots of lizards is normal. It’s true, they are cute(not to be confused with cuddly) and they sit by the unscreened windows and grab a few of those pesky bugs. (not many screens in the rest of the world- perhaps it’s considered luxurious) Big, small, fat and ones that love to poo from the ceiling on anything below. We got ‘em all. (perhaps a future post we can talk about the entirely too big, freak of nature spiders we deal with)
Not everyone speaks English. This makes ministry a bit more challenging. Imagine this- a culture just coming off some of the worst racism in history. A white person sees you and assumes you understand Afrikaans(a dutch rooted language with throat clearings like german)-you apologetically explain you are learning, but can not speak. A black person approaches you with hisses and clicks(ok, not really, but I cant type out the phonetics of “schlaw” and (click) very well) but is very timid assuming you already don’t like them, and are shocked when you try to speak to them. Here is where it get’s interesting: as you get tired you forget which language you are supposed to try to speak, so you just mix them all together and make your own… and those that are closest to you don’t even recognize that there is anything wrong with a sentence that starts out English, throws in some Afrikaans and finishes in Siswati. (a few zulu, xhosa and Portuguese words welcome also)
Missionary Humor is NOT easily understood. Somehow most conversations lead back to “poo”. For a junior high boy(or one that still often acts and thinks like one) this is hysterical. If you speak fluent “scarcasm” you are not generally understood unless dealing with others of your kind.
Bars look nice! No not the ones that serve alcohol silly, the ones that goes on windows and door frames. I can no longer imagine life without bars. The stronger and bigger the better. The longer we live here, we find ourselves looking at others decorative bars saying “oh how nice those look” (like commenting how nice a prison might look?-hey it might if they twisted and weaved the bars together) The reality is they give us a GREAT deal of safety, and make for interesting conversation pieces around the campfires(we really should have more campfires, and smores… ps-send chocolate, and graham crackers, and marshmallows…lol) Throw in razor wire and you are feeling awesome and lookin’ stylish.
Odd signs don’t catch our attention anymore. The odder the better, but often we find ourselves just flying by a sign that makes no sense, or spells something phonetically instead of properly and don’t even think twice. Hippo crossing signs do however, still make me smile.
Hey, thanks for reading- hope you got a smile and had a little fun.