We absolutely love going overseas to support our Kenyan team with ministry. Trips back to our real home and hearts is the best. Nothing is more exciting than seeing our sponsored girls for the first time after a six month stint, hugging old friends, getting in touch with our partners, or visiting our regular shopkeepers. But with all the excitement comes an immense amount of work.
Did you know it takes an average of four to six weeks, if not more, to plan our short American visits to Kenya? Our American viewpoint tells us to plan, and plan some more, and plan even more. We must set dates for meetings, times to visit our girls, and walks to our ministries, which is all very necessary. It is crucial to have a specific and details plan to utilize our time and monies the best we can. But at the end of the day, those four to six weeks of planning can be quickly altered.
The African culture, like many other third-world cultures, do not see time as an essential. You may plan a meeting at 10 in the morning, but he or she may not actually get there till 10:30 and the meeting may not begin till 11:00. You may estimate a walk to the store for water may take 30 to 40 minutes, but if the store is out of water, it sets back your entire day as you look elsewhere. When we are on the ground, kindly waiting for others to arrive, we chuckle and say, “It’s Africa Time!” African time is sed in parts of Africa and even the Caribbean to reference the more “relaxed attitude of time…This also includes the more leisurely, relaxed, and less rigorously-scheduled lifestyle found in African countries, especially as opposed to the more clock-bound pace of daily life in Western countries” (Wikipedia) To Americans, this may appear as inconvenient and rude, but to many countries this is the way of life. And to Africa, completely normal.
The cultural curves can be hard for many Americans to adjust to, even me as I write this and respond to yet another change in our calender, but at the end of the day, the slower-life mindset is something that all we Americans should think about incorporating into our lives.
After all, what is life without a few curve balls? What is the rush anyways? :-)