(WARNING: THE DETAILS OF THIS POST WILL PROBABLY BORE YOU BUT IN ENTERING INTO THIS BOREDOM, I TRULY BELIEVE YOU'LL BETTER UNDERSTAND OUR TRANSITION AND A MAJOR PRAYER REQUEST)
On of my favorite profs in seminary, Dr. Hannah, used to say, "If you set your goals low enough, you can achieve them. You'll hit em more often and be much happier." That advice has proven to be possibly the most helpful during our initial time here in Senegal. A case in point, the other day I went to the airport with a colleague to pick up some bags that we sent by air freight from Paris to Senegal. With Dr. Hannah's advice in mind, I set a really low goal, getting our bags will be the only thing accomplished this morning.
We arrived at the airport at 9:30 AM. After a quick trip to the Air France counter, we knew our bags had arrived and all that was necessary was to fill out some paper work and pick em up. We were informed that we would need to visit 5 offices before the necessary paper work was completed. After 30 minutes in the first office along with one person volunteering to take some paper work to another office, I felt pretty good. Until we arrived at the next building and realized that the first office didn't really count. It wasn't until 1PM before we were on our way to the real 2nd office, just in time for lunch break. At 3PM we come back. I finally get to see our stuff and examine the contents with a customs officer. We then move on to the next office where I'm completely oblivious to the conversation that's happening in wolof (Fortunately my colleague speaks great wolof). We're asked to step out of the office because the computer isn't working right. We wonder for 15 minutes if we had somehow offended him or if really the computer doesn't work. We then find out from the 2 Senegalese guys helping us that he wants a $20 bribe to help us avoid paying customs on a sewing machine we shipped. My collegue informs them that we'll pay whatever the customs duties are even if it costs us more money. After another 10 minutes, we move on to the next office still unsure if they will insist on a bribe or if we had successfully called their bluff. After another 2 or 3 offices (I don't think it was 5), it's 5PM and we're finally loading up our stuff.
The big takeaway from the day. I've modified Dr. Hannah's advice for our transition to life in Senegal. "It is not possible to set your goals too low." This has perhaps been the most frustrating aspect of our transition. Absolutely everything takes longer and I'm not even sure why half the time. We read so many books on culture shock before leaving the US and during our time in France I thought, this culture shock stuff isn't as big a deal as people make it. After 1 month in Senegal, I think I might need to dig back through some of those books.
Although, the most important book we're needing to go back to is the example of Jesus in the Bible. The God who created the world became human. But Jesus handled all of the inefficiencies associated with this transition with patience and love. In one sense, we've had to lower our goals, i.e. it's going to take longer to get established than we thought. But in another sense, we're realized the need to always keep before us the ultimate goal which is far greater than what we can achieve on our own, that is the goal of imitating the example of Christ.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he as in the form of God, did not count equality with Goa a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exaleted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Who Are We
We should be jealous. . . for the honour of His name – troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed. And all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due to it.” John Stott