"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Sunday, August 30, 2009

cross cultural training

We didn’t get a whole lot of this. But I am so thankful we got what we did. Brian ran his own business in the states, I helped lead a woman’s group, and we have had other leadership experiences in our life. But these experiences were all in the West.
Our time at MTI made us examine our own prejudices as to how we wanted and thought things should be done. We of course had to admit that our way wasn’t always the best and there was nothing wrong with doing it differently. We also read quite a few books on the African culture, how other missionaries fared in their countries, how to relate to other people who don’t think and work the same way we do.
We had to decide, or at least start thinkinh about, how much of the culture we were going to we would accept and engage in. Doing business here is very different. True, there are a few times Brian has had to resort to doing it the “Western” way, but during those times it was culturally acceptable. There are other things, called the “culturally acceptable lies” that we do not seek to participate in for obvious reasons. Saying that though, we do have to respect the way those things play out here and work around them because it is culturally acceptable.
We have had to adjust how we say things, do things, teach things. This is vital, and this is a prayer request for the teachers coming. American teachers are raising their own support to come over and teach a two week module for the students here. They are spending time preparing their lessons, raising their support, PLUS working their own full time job! I think cross cultural training often gets forgotten. Think of your Sunday sermons. In all likelihood your Pastor tells you stories and gives examples to better help you understand the points he is making. That needs to happen here too. If a teacher hasn’t had the time to study the culture of the area he is going to, he may inadvertently give an example that is at worst offensive, at best not understood. While all the students here speak and read and write English, language is still a barrier, and they are getting a lot of information thrown at them in a short amount of time (plus their work responsibilities). Things could be easily misunderstood. They could be little or big. In the US for the most part Christians don’t argue too much about having a glass of wine with your meal; some do, some don’t, not a big deal. We were told that here you CAN NOT be a Christian and drink alcohol. Being angry and yelling at someone is at a higher level than having an affair!
So please pray that all the teachers coming over, even all the members of teams that come for work projects, will be able to spend some time learning and understanding the Zambian/African culture. We know their ministry will be much more fruitful if they do.

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