I have not blogged here for some time. I have been concentrating on Gramasylum in blogging for the last year or so. Now I am preparing to go to Africa, Malawi to be exact. I am part of a four person team and we actually have been preparing for about three months using a short term mission team manual. Very good stuff and our team has been challenged and had fun already!
But today we leave. So today I am doing the last minute packing and the questions that I have been pondering have been curiously all across the board! I have been a bit stunned by how deeply I can be thinking one moment and how very shallow my thoughts are the next. I came to realize just a few minutes ago that it is the result of first world living versus third world living. Though I have been preparing to enter and serve in a developing country, I am still very much entrenched here in the United States of America. Here you often hear people make some remark about a difficulty and then, a little embarrassed they say, "First world problem." Today, I haven't said it out loud. But I have thought it at least 2o times this morning as I do the final packing. See if you can find the "first world problems/questions".
So I have been asked to teach evangelism to volunteers who will be coming to a school from many villages around. Some of them walking many miles to attend. All of them sleeping in tents for one or two weeks in order to be at this discipleship event sponsored by Fishers Trainers and Senders out of Lilongwe, Malawi. The Executive Director is Louise Laubscher who is from South Africa, but been ministering in Malawi for 30 years. She is a saint. And she has worked hard to raise up indigenous leaders so that most of the ministry is led by men and women from Malawi. Stonard is her right hand person and a real gem of God's work! I was asked to teach on WHY evangelize and WHO to evangelize. These are very straightforward questions and easily supported and taught by the Bible. I did lesson plans using familiar and story based scripture. And then I got to the part of creating questions that will help these folks apply these biblical principles to their every day life. I. Know. Almost. Nothing. About. Their. Everyday. Life! “How can I possible teach them evangelism?” I wonder.
Five minutes later I am finally packing up my bathroom stuff and wondering, “How will I keep my hair from going flat? Should I bring my hair texturizer?” And, what hair blower should I bring? I ask myself. “The one I am used to or the smaller travel one under the sink?” And, I wonder, “will the outlets where I will be staying will be able to handle the wattage?”
As I start to pack my make-up, I congratulate myself silently that I am not taking it all. No eye shadow, no highlighter, and no lipstick. Nope, not third-world ready me. I will only take my eye brow brush and cake, my eyeliner and brush, and my mascara. Wait. Maybe I will take my blush, too. Of course then I realize I need make-up remover to take it off each night. Then a question I hardly ever ask enters my mind…What would happen if I did not wear any make-up while I am there? Then I would not need the make-up or the remover. But, how would they view me? How would I view myself?! Then came the haunting questions, “What is the best way for me to go and be with them in the most authenticate and humble and servant-hearted way?” Why do I care about any of this stuff?
Oh for goodness sake! Then forget about showering for the two weeks, I don’t need soap shampoo, or towels, or deodorant. Well, maybe deodorant, if I am not going to shower for two weeks. And, I’ll just wear the same clothes for two weeks. No need to pack multiple anything and no need to wash clothes by hand when I get there. Shoot! I don’t even need a suitcase! I will just bring a backpack. I do need to brush my teeth. I can imagine not showering for two weeks. I cannot imagine not brushing my teeth for that long. The fuzz and slime would make me throw up and that would not be good!
You can see I have gone back and forth from the sublime to the ridiculous pretty effortlessly! The bad news? I leave in less than an hour. No time to rethink all this. The good news? This mishmash of questions, first and third world, are evidence that God is already working in me substantially. I can count on one hand the days I have gone out of the house without make-up on. (Notice blog picture is WITH!) To ponder such a thing can only be God invading my space! And, I will trust the saint who invited me to come and teach. She DOES know these people and this culture and believes that God can use me there. What a crazy thought. Which brings up another question. How can God do that?!