I leave for France tomorrow. It's crazy how these things can sneak up on you. It hasn't really sunk in yet. I feel that when I'm home I kind of enter another zone where time and responsibilities aren't really applicable. I would be a horrible work from home or home office person.
Anyway, with packing pressing, I thought I might procrastinate a bit and write one last entry to officially close off Africa and begin France. I've been looking the journal of my experiences, and found some lessons that I've learned, both about Niger and cross-cultural experiences in general. Here are some of my conclusions:
I've learned a lot of things in Niger, like...
...never put things on the ground. They'll get either wet or sandy.
I've learned that God uses you where you are, and no place is more valuable than another.
"Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to." -I believe I owe that line to Miracle on 34th Street, but it has really rung true for me.
Exploring is great, and well worth it! It's nature is to find things you hadn't expected. It's okay to find some things about a culture you don't like as much as yours - but you should be open to finding out about it first.
Not all of Africa is jungle and monkeys, AIDS and genocide -- there are decidedly different parts!
You can't have everything at once-- though Niger is the poorest country in the world, it has peace, tranquility, and security. People who live here are proud and happy to live here. Most would chose tranquility and Nigerien family hospitality over affluence
Communication is fascinating.
Language is a gift, and a tool that should be perfected, well-used, and well taken care of.
Suffering produces perseverance ( I heard a really cool sermon on this at the English language service in Niamey in July)
God has a definite character.
Jesus really calls us to give all we have to the poor
The missionaries I have met here, who hail from all over the world, Michigan to New Zealand have a hard life. They don't fully fit in either culture. One must really have a calling from God, really love the culture they are ministering to, really depend on God and be physically able to handle the climate/food/malaria medication/malaria in order to be here.
Missionary work most often means ministering to uneducated people. This is a hard realization for me. Where do I begin? Relationships, not discussion, are the ultimate answer
Local language = HUGE help
Michigan is beautiful!
It's hard to go this alone
Family is important
God desires us to be joyful
Morning quiet time rock.
Age is a great unifier, especially as our world gets "smaller"
I love knowing people's stories, and being able to care for them
I've become quieter, less in need of entertainment
I can eat almost anything
I hate being on medication
I know family is important to me, both from being part of one here and missing my own. I want a family (read: eventually).
I was confronted with the Muslim faith, and my complete ignorance about it. Typical Nigeriens don't know tons about it either, however. It's just the way things are, the way families are (much like Christianity in the US).
I learned I love theology
I know if I want to return to Niger I'd like to learn Hausa or Zarma first
I don't mind "inconveniences" like washing your clothes by hand
I liked helping to educate people, but wished I had more knowledge about how to do it
I like making friends and I love kids.
So those are just a few short-sentence reflections I pulled out of my journal from this summer.. Maybe this helps to give some closure to the summer. It did for me. Now it's time to head to France and be bombarded by a whole new culture!! Wish me luck.
ALSO: Make sure you follow the link below to pictures from this summer. There are a few albums, and I will hopefully use that website for pictures from France, too!
I'll let you know my address in France as soon as I get it.