A safari. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful way to spend your birthday, especially if you can have a layover in Kenya that day anyway? . . .
There is a well-known pastor in America who came to the US from the United Kingdom years ago. Though he has been in the US long enough to have acquired an American accent, I’ve heard that he works to keep up his British accent because he knows that, whether it’s a good thing or not, he will gain more respect and his teaching will have a wider audience if he speaks with a British accent while in the US.
I haven’t verified the truth of that story lately so it may possibly be fake news, but the point is the same. Whether we like it or not, the way that we speak can influence the acceptance of our message. We can see that in the English language based on the different sterotypes we have of people based on the way they speak.
But what happens when we go cross-culturally and start wanting to speak truth in a different language? What happens then? Is there an accent or a dialect that, if spoken, would help the message go forth easier? Is there another that would be a stumbling stone to the truth people need to understand? As those serving Him overseas, it’s a good question to ask as we’re learning the language and culture of a new people, and recently I was able to help people start to answer that very question.
They had heard that there were perhaps several different dialects of the language they were learning and that there was one that was perhaps the most prestigious. They were told maybe they should learn that dialect if they wanted to be respected and listened-to. But they were also told that no one really knew for sure and that they should look into it more.
And that’s where I came in. Through the help and encouragement of others, I was able to join these pioneers for a week to ask questions and start to learn answers. The beginning answers we discovered were surprising us, but we were glad that we were able to learn a lot even in this beginning stage of discovery. Those on the ground were also given more tools to be able to continue this discussion and continue to understand better in the days to come. And they came away from this week of initial discovery with direction as to which dialect to learn to sound well-educated and to sound like someone that people would like to listen to. We were surprised, however, that this was not the dialect they had thought when we started. May God help them continue to learn and grow into people who can share the message in a way that those who hear will want to listen.
After that week, I spent a wonderful week of needed vacation. Then I was planning a half-day birthday safari in Kenya on my layover on my way back to Senegal, only coronavirus hit and changed my (and everyone else’s) plans.
I thought that my safari would turn into a 26-hour layover where I couldn’t leave the airport, but in the end I wasn’t even able to board the plane because of closed borders and restrictions. After looking into other options and possible ways to return to Senegal before the airport I was sitting at would close completely for a while, I saw that my options were dwindling as countries were adding restrictions all the time. Sitting there in the airport, with advice from my parents and permission from the field security team, I decided that at this point in time it made more sense to return to the US instead. So I booked a flight for 4 hours later and flew towards the US, arriving to this home early this morning.
My birthday safari turned into a really long day with probably about 20 of the hours in the air. And a funny kind of party hat worn over the mouth and nose instead of on the top of your head (see the picture above). 😊 (Except, of course, when you’re brushing your teeth at different airports, at which point in time you can put it on the top of your head and wish yourself a happy birthday, since you get to sing the song anyway to make sure you wash your hands long enough.)
So what’s next? Self-quarantine for two weeks. Working on a lot of the same projects that I would have been working on in Senegal, only from the US. And a return to West Africa when I can, whenever that is?
Thanks for your prayers! Let me know how I can be praying for you, too! And may God Himself guide us as to how to be salt and light in these crazy times.