This is Africa. When in Africa, do as Africans do.
If nothing else, we have learned to appreciate flexibility in Africa. If you know me, you know I am a “P” on a Myers Briggs scale, meaning that I am flexible, I tend to prefer to “go with the flow” and not make plans. I procrastinate, I make lists, sometimes even lists of my lists, but not because I am organized and well-managed. Rather, I have lists because of the opposite: I am unorganized, unplanned, don’t tend to stick to built-in structures, etc - and without lists, I would probably lose my way or forget what my intended goal had been when I arrive. I very much enjoy taking these windy, unexpected paths to get to a destination, often a destination that changes along the way, and I like my lists because they remind me of where I’ve come from and how I’ve grown along the way as the Spirit led me to a place very much unlike where I thought I was going.
So... this is Africa. In Africa, that is the way it is. Change and flexibility are not an option or exception, but a way of life. This morning in the office, we are reflecting on the conference in DRC, and I am reminded of this and what a great gift it is to be able to pull away from our usual “American” expectations and to be comfortably settling into a new way of life.
“This is Africa” we are reminded as we laugh and share stories from weeks past. Mama Mande shares great examples as she repeats this phrase to us again: “This is Africa! In Africa,” we are told, “its not about 1-2-3 - that won’t work here. It is more likely to be 10-1-7-4.” In Africa, when you are looking for 10-1-7-4, you are set up for success. You are expecting the unexpected, seeking success no matter the avenue. You may occasionally find 4-5-6, and on that rare occassion, allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised. But don’t spend too much time celebrating, as you may miss 7-9-2 that comes next.
That’s my lesson for the day, my key to success in fulfilling my hope to living a full life. Its scary to let go of the familiar. To live life without a planned routine. But its also redeeming. Try it, you may be pleasantly surprised with your new found freedom and with the many new and “unplanned” ways you encounter the living God among us.