My American culture and task-focused tendencies were put on the back burner this morning. In Africa, relationships are the basis for everything; they remain the top priority and the main focus, more important than any job that may need to be done. This week I’ve been out in Qwa Qwa helping to drive/lead one of our mission teams. It’s hard for me to be out of the office that much but I’ve been able to bring my laptop with me and get some things done during the day. Today, however, I spent the entire morning talking.
As an introvert, and a very task-oriented introvert at that, I’m not really one to just sit around and talk. Actually I’m not one to just sit around and anything while there’s work that needs to be done. While I see this as a positive characteristic, it easily becomes a negative “workaholic” tendency. I find it difficult to “switch off” when I do have time off or time away.
With my long to-do list, I came prepared for a full and productive day of answering emails, writing newsletters, editing curriculum, modifying some informational packets, and more. But my plans were hijacked as I spent hours talking with the pastors of the local church we are partnering with in this area of Qwa Qwa. After I talked with Mme Josephine for a while, she introduced me to Pastor Abram. I spoke with him for a long time, covering topics as varied as what American culture is like to what is lacking in African churches.
At first, I felt my O.C. mind nagging me and reminding me of all the work that needs to be done. But I finally pushed passed it and was able to enjoy a morning of relationship-focus. Pastor Abram and I had an amazing conversation – eye-opening for him in some ways and encouraging for me in others. It was an, “Aaaah! I’m in Africa!” moment.
Sometimes I just need to remind myself that I am, indeed, in Africa; and you know what they say: when in Africa, do as the Africans. Carving out some time this morning to drink tea and talk was refreshing for my soul. This is the type of experience that drew me to Africa in the first place. It is why I am here, yet I so quickly can forget. I remember now. I remember now.