If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African Proverb
I watched The Good Lie with my parents and I wept. Several hours after the movie ended, I was still crying. The story of these Sudanese kids and their horrific journey from their village to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya after 750 miles of walking, and then the beginning of their lives in the United States thirteen years later was staggering. I absolutely cannot imagine living life as they have. Their parents and siblings and friends were killed, and yet they had to still manage and survive as young kids in their group of five or so children, all probably eleven years old and younger. And then they had a long time in Kenya waiting to hear if they would ever be able to go to the United States. They may have thought that was the end of their struggles, that the U.S. would make their dreams come true. But that is not how it works here, either. They still had to learn about a completely different culture and learn the art of interviewing for and working jobs in the United States. The U.S. is not easy for the uneducated, the unexperienced, or the unlucky. Goodness! Even college graduates have a hard time finding work in the United States. Just imagine if you were a refugee from another country and a completely different culture!
Eight years ago, my parents and I spent six months in Zambia and, ever since, I have wanted to go back to sub-Saharan Africa. Why has that not happened yet? What am I still doing here in the United States? There is not a day in the past eight years that I would have said “no” to returning to Africa, but I have been doing other things – finishing high school, and then finishing college, trying out different career paths. I want to go back, though. I am determined to go back one day. But I just moved to East Tennessee and, after moving a lot in the past seven years and not having a constant, settled home during those years, I am ready to stay in one place for a while.
I moved here for my job and while I do not love my particular job, God brought me here for a reason. He made it quite clear that I was not supposed to live in Greenville, as I thought I wanted, for He only provided me with one very part-time job there (10-20 hours every one or two months as a wedding coordinator). Instead, he brought me here to East Tennessee, a place where I never had a desire to live. I did not know just what I was missing. I have gotten involved with a church that I love and found amazing friends. I said that my church in Greenville was the best church and I thought I would never find another church that I liked nearly as much as my church there. But in Knoxville, I have found a church that could not be more wonderful. I love it to pieces, ugly stained green carpet and all. My friends here are so real and welcoming that I can talk about anything with them; I do not have to hide behind a smile and makeup and act like everything is just fine. No, if something is not fine (When is it ever fine?) they are there to help me through it. I am so very thankful for my church and friends here and have no desire to leave them any time soon. I do not want to throw away what God has so graciously provided for me in a place I never thought of living or liking.
But what does this mean for me and sub-Saharan Africa? Yes, when I am done in East Tennessee, sub-Saharan Africa will still be there, but I feel as though I am wasting my time waiting around for the right opportunity to appear for me in Africa. I know that is not true – I am not wasting my time as long as I am doing what God has provided for me to do at the moment, no matter how great or how trivial it may seem – but it feels true at times, it feels like I am wasting my time.
Since I cannot be in the United States and in Africa simultaneously, I must find a way to still be involved with African people and their culture, stories, families, and struggles. I must find a refugee or international ministry that I can get involved with; perhaps I can even find a job there! I must get involved with Africans where I live. I long to be more acquainted with their culture. While I might be able to help them as they adjust to the United States, I know that I will also benefit from knowing them. I might even benefit more from them than they benefit from me. I live too much in an easy-life bubble and I must break it before I become even more of a greedy, selfish, individualistic, no-perspective North-American white girl. We Americans are so focused on ourselves and our success and our ease of life. I want that to change, and although I may not be able to change it for our entire nation, I can change that focus for me. Slowly, far, together.
- “The Good Lie”: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2652092/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
- Best church: https://soarwithlaughter.com/2014/09/17/now/
- I have found a church: http://www.redeemerknoxville.org
Read from the beginning: https://soarwithlaughter.com/soar-cloud-high/