When I’m home in Wales or Washington, I generally understand what’s going on around me, am quick to understand, and sometimes even feel like I have some sort of expertise. Here, I don’t understand the language, I don’t know the culture, and often feel helpless. And to make it worse, I put pressure on myself to know and understand because that’s what I’m used to. Some instances of feeling foolish:
- Learning how to scoop rice properly! We’re going to a feeding program in a village called Mtsiliza three times a week, and yesterday I spent the morning scooping rice into containers and onto plates. It’s burning hot, and it can be difficult to get the right amount, or to get it to all come off the scoop. The other challenge is that sometimes, there needs to be two, three, or even four portions on a plate or container. The women who run the feeding program have resorted to hand signals to let me know how much to give!
- I don’t know how to carry anything on my head. It seems like it would be much easier to carry 10 gallons of water on top of me rather than in front of me, but how?!
- Using public transportation. We’ve started using the minibuses that abound in town. Yesterday, when coming back from Mtsiliza, we got into a crowded minibus, only to have them stop before the temporary police roadblock. The driver and conductor flagged down a passing vehicle and then beckoned to me to get out of the van, along with a couple other people who were close to the door. They sent us to the vehicle, where we hopped in. After driving us through the roadblock, we found the minibus waiting for us on the other side!
- I don’t really know how to light a fire to cook anything. I’ve started fires before, but it’s always been a bit challenging. Also, I don’t know how to cook nsima, which is the main food here. It’s a little like polenta. Everytime I’ve made it so far, I’ve needed help!
Perhaps I need to learn to let go, and to be unafraid to feel like a fool. After all, God uses foolish things and foolish people, right? Plus, it is fun to learn new things, and everyone has to start somewhere!