I have had this blog title in my mind for a while now. As a mother on the mission field, my primary role is at home. I do not have the ability to go out into the community daily. When I want to, it is much harder to mobilize the troops to do so. Not only do I have to get myself ready for a cross-cultural experience, but I have to convince my children they want it too. Without things like trips to the grocery store (because there aren’t any), it is easy to stay inside the gate of our compound for days at a time.
It is certainly much easier to stay inside and avoid the awkward silence that comes when you visit someone with whom you cannot communicate. To smile and simply say, “I don’t understand. Dinka…little.” To not have to help the children cope with others laughing at the hair on our arms or the way we talk (apparently Americans sound quite “nasally” to people here). Despite all of these things, there is a subtle suffocation that can happen if we don’t get out into the community. Not only do I begin to believe the lies of the enemy that say “why the heck I am here if I am just going to sit in my house”, but also I really do miss the people.
I remember one particularly hard day. I had made the commitment to go outside the gate every day, even if it was just to the road. We were getting ready and the kids did not want to go. They were fighting with one another and fighting with me about going; everyone was grumpy, tired of the food, and feeling lonely. I sat in our kitchen hut and cried. I strongly, strongly considered calling it a movie day and trying again tomorrow, but we had committed to go. So, we went to visit our “next door neighbors” who live a couple of huts down the road. We had a nice visit – nothing earth shattering, but nice. We saw the rough way our friend treated her children and their intense need for someone to simply “see” them. We talked about few things and then came home. But we came home lighter...like we had clicked back into where we were supposed to be just by trying to get out
Since then, I have been struck by how powerful it is to get beyond the gate. It doesn’t take much effort or even require that we go very far to interact with the people God has placed around us. We just have to be willing to step out and good almost always comes out of it for us.
Most of you reading this are not living cross-culturally, and if you are, it is probably not in a walled compound like ours. But we all have walls, don’t we? “Comfort zones” is the common way to refer them.
Living in South Sudan is already a big “comfort zone” challenger, but even beyond doing what is uncomfortable, I have realized that doing things beyond ourselves is critical for our health and survival here. It is still hard to go out. I feel really nervous every time. I feel useless, word-less, and downright silly. I feel frustrated that I do not know more of the language. And yet, every time I see a smile or am blessed when they give us peanuts or pumpkin, or whatever of the very little they have, I am set a little more free. We are called to step out. While it is scary and uncomfortable, the blessing is even more.