Nov 14, 2008

No Worries

Culture is a unique thing.
When you travel abroad, all of a sudden, you realize how many systems, mindsets and processes (even religious thinking) that are totally not relevant in another culture.
Over 20 years ago, I remember listening to a talk from Tony Campolo about how the religion we believe, must be relevant in every culture. If not, it is not the Jesus of the bible, but the Jesus of our culture. Big difference.

As I was in Kenya, all of these thoughts came flooding back to me. Often in Western culture, we think we know "the way".... "the truth" Then... we experience a different culture and it confronts our thinking.

This was one of the first thing I noticed upon settling onto African soil. The culture is different. So different.The lifestyle and priorities are different. The systems are different. Some would say there is a lack of systems, however, I would say, they are just different.

For example - the road system (or lack of it as some may say)

In Nairobi, there are millions and millions of people walking and driving everywhere, no lines on the roads, no road signs, and people and animals, and carts, and buses..... EVERYWHERE!!

To say driving in Nairobi, was stressful - was an understatement. I ended up spending a lot of time on the crazy roads of Kenya on my trip and learned very quickly to "go with the flow" and laugh a lot. I learned that car seats and seat belts are not mandatory. I had many a trip on a severely bumpy road for over an hour with a new born baby in my arms - feeling like at any moment they were about to fly right out of my arms - or worse yet... that I would be part of giving them "shaken baby syndrome" due to the severe jostling.

I discovered a new limit to maximum capacity in a vehicle. Like this huge cow, in this small truck, bumbling along a bumpy African road... how funny!!
The intensity of need that I saw along the roads was absolutely overwhelming. There was poverty and need EVERYWHERE... and yet, a child would smile and wave running along the road with no shoes on. Vendors along the side of the road -that were trying to sell enough to make money to survive for another day - would be sitting back and smiling... Hmmm.

All of a sudden the phrase
Hakuna Matata had new meaning and context. I actually heard people saying it, and saw them living it.

Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase that is literally translated as "There are no worries". It is sometimes translated as "no worries", although is more commonly used similarly to the English phrase "no problem".

Interesting..... it's a simple phrase, yet with profound insight and even more of a challenge to actually live out.

This phrase, challenged me daily in Kenya. I realized that fear, worry and doubt are easy to adopt. Trust, faith, and belief, require a level of relying on God and choosing to believe the truth, that I had much to learn about. These people had so much less than we do in Canada, and yet I saw more peace and joy on their faces.
I heard songs, prayers and words of gratitude daily from the children - who only ate beans every day. EVERY DAY.

I realized I worry about WAY too much stuff.. I don't trust like He longs for me to. I don't believe for the impossible - like these kids do. In humility I repented and continue to repent and ask for the ability to believe and to simply trust.

I was reminded of Phillipians 4: 6-7
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  • And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I saw this verse lived out daily. They pray like you wouldn't believe - they petition the Father - three times a day - and before and after - they sing songs of thanksgiving.
I saw the peace of God on their faces - and wanted to be like an African child.

"At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in God's kingdom?"
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said,
"I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.
Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me."

Simple truth, with profound fruit.

I guess this is why I love kids so much... why I need kids so much.


joanne said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful picture of the trust you saw so clearly in Africa. Although we'd all be better for traveling to such amazing distant lands, I pray that God would instill this truth in us regardless ... I so desperately need the same simple trust in Him every minute of every day.
Great reminder.

Shari said...

I am reminded of some very silly things that I have fussed or worried about.... like how clean my house is or isn't.... like feeling "fluffy" due to a few extra pounds.

Peace is so much a choice and not based on our circumstances.