Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Contrary to popular belief...

I do not live in a grass hut.  I do not draw my water from the well.  And no, I do not use a hole in the ground to relieve myself.

After having lived in Niger for almost an entire school year, I would like to clear up a few misconceptions.

Perhaps when you think of living in Africa, a grass hut and squatty potty in the backyard come to mind.  And let me tell you, that after having been around Niger a bit, this is quite an accurate picture...for MOST of Niger.

No, I do not cook dinner over a fire.  You might be surprised that my missionary experience, though drastically different from living in the States in many ways, has been quite comfortable.

First of all I live on campus, the same compound on which the school is located.  I am so grateful to be in one of the nicest houses on campus.  I have my own room and bathroom.  I sleep in an extremely comfortable queen-sized bed.  I have an AC unit in my bedroom (which is SO nice in hot season).

When the rest of the city has lost power, Sahel's campus runs a generator, meaning that I go without electricity for less than 2 minutes at a time.  And sure, the water goes off, too.  But I can count on one hand how many times that has happened on campus, while my friends experience this weekly, if not daily.

I have a stove that lights on its own, while many use a match.  I have a washing machine and tiled floors.  All of the buildings on campus have both 110V and 220V outlets, so I don't have to worry about adapters.  While the rest of Niger takes cold showers, mine are hot.

And the blessings of living in such amazing conditions are even more evident in such a poor country.  The contrast between my life and "theirs" haunts me.  I'm living in American luxury, while the squatters outside the gate sleep on dirt floors with no electricity.  Visiting Maradi was eye-opening as well.  Even there, huge mansions (what Americans might consider a large middle-class home) towered over the small huts beside them.

I've wrestled with the emotions of guilt, confusion, and even anger.  Why should I have so much more?  Why can't I live like the people?  This isn't fair and I didn't choose this!

As I talked with a friend about this, I realized that in order to be effective as missionaries, we must take care of ourselves.  While this might look like living as the people in the bush for some, it might mean making things a bit more comfortable for others.  Perhaps one of the main reasons that missionaries leave the field so quickly is because their conditions are not "livable."

Conclusion:  I don't know the answers.  I'm not sure what to do besides what the Bible commands...that the rich should give generously.  I know I do not need to feel guilty for being blessed.  But I also know that I can choose to live simply and generously.

1 Timothy 6:6  "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

And so, whatever I have, wherever I am, whomever I am with, I will live in complete abandonment to the One from whom all blessings flow.  Praise God!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your perspective and being vulnerable! You are a light in the darkness, and I am thankful for you!