Yesterday was a gift from the Lord for me. Honestly, over the last few days I have been ready to leave and I wasn't fully sure why. There are many different reasons I'm sure, but it just wasn't good. Yesterday afternoon revealed some things to me though. We had a farewell celebration, which was a formal thing for a few hours, but then there was dancing and food afterwards. Many people from the community had come together and it was so enjoyable, and I realize why now. It was one of the few glimpses I had into just being another person and having from with people in the community. Almost all of our ministry was going around to schools, churches, and villages teaching for a little while and then leaving after no more than a day with them. And we were always seen as the white people, which brought awe and even fear at times. We rarely got to be just another person, to come alongside Africans and become friends. Our skin was a barrier to creating authentic friendships, and I didn't realize how hard that can be until I caught a glimpse of what it could be like to be one with them. It charged me up and made me see that cross cultural ministry is really hard and it has a lot of barriers to developing powerful relationships, but if we persevere through that we can begin to see how we aren't all that different and really begin to relate. It also was very encouraging for me as I prepare to go to LA in January and am thinking about returning to Africa later in life, to know that I wouldn't always just be the white guy.
We also developed some great relationships with a few of the youth volunteers who traveled around and spent a lot of time with us. I didn't think it would be so hard to leave them, but I cried like a little baby last night. I mean I haven't actually cried, aside from getting teary eyed, in like 6 years. Two of our friends sang us a song where they were saying goodbye forever and to please write them. We all started crying, and exchanged many emotional words and hugs. I probably will never see these friends of mine again. And now we are both going to be living in very different worlds, with a huge ocean separating us. But again I continue to learn more about what it means to hope in the resurrection, and long for Jesus' return, and this is just another reason to do so. These friends of mine are continuing in lives with much hardship, with drunkard husbands and 5 kids, with no work or school fees, and other such things. I think this is where the strong emotion came from within me, and it reminds me that things are not right in the world, and that we need Jesus' rescuing really badly.
Well that's it for now... but I'll have more thoughts soon I'm sure.