Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My African Romance

In some ways, moving to another country is like a budding romance. In a relationship, everything feels new and exciting at first. You can't wait to share even the most minute details about the other person with whoever is willing to listen. You feel the need to take pictures of every experience together because you want capture each moment and never forget.

And then one day something changes. You wake up and realize you have nothing better to talk about than coffee creamer and popcorn. (You need to have read my last post to get that.) I joke, but the reality is that at some point all lasting relationships simply become "normal." You can't stay in the sleepless, can't-stop-thinking-about-‘em, butterfly infatuation forever. Hopefully, what replaces the constant butterflies is a comfortable, right-where-I-need-to-be feeling of being at home with the other person.

I'm now at home with Africa. I love it so much more than I did when we first met. But I no longer snap pictures at every corner. I'm no longer awestruck by the minute details, nor do I feel the need to chatter about them to anyone who will listen. I'm in the comfortable, right-where-I-need-to-be place.

As thankful as I am for the contentment of this season, I'm sorry that this normalcy has led to less blogging. I want to get back into the habit of sharing about this love, this life, with you. Starting now…

For my first few months in Benin, I was adjusting to so many things at once just on the ship: being thousands of miles away from family and friends, living with over 400 people from around the world, living on a SHIP, sharing tiny living quarters with strangers, and starting a new job. I never realized it then, but I was so focused on adjusting to ship life that, in many ways, I missed out on knowing Africa.  It was really only at the end of our Benin outreach that I felt a true desire to make Africa my home, not just the ship. 

That has all been different in Togo. From the moment we arrived, I was impatient to build relationships within the local community. Instead of viewing an African church as a place to visit to see how people from another culture worship, I want to call a local body of believers my church family. In Benin, I participated sporadically in a few different off-ship ministries; now I’m committed to tutoring a small group of neighborhood kids every Monday night.  And I absolutely love it.

I can’t wait to share more about my church and the kids I am tutoring. Since this blog post is already turning into a novel, I’ll save that for later. Until then, here are a few pictures from my first three weeks in Togo.

Pictures from Eglise Mission Church of Christ (my new church family)...

the congregation (taken by a friend seated behind the pastor)

women dancing during worship

worship band playing the African drums

After the service, someone from Mercy Ships presented boxes of clothes and toys from a church in Tenerife.

the children holding up their new toys

new toys!

A few pictures of the city (taken from the top of a roof)...

More to come soon...

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