Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Awkward, Weird, & Interesting from Foreign Lands - There's Always Time For A Bathroom Story

Yes, sometimes the interesting, the awkward, and the weird happens in foreign lands. These things are especially noticeable because they are so 'foreign' to our American sensibilities. These are my outreach teams' experiences, and if any other person was involved, I leave out names for the sake of their safety. This is for my humiliation only. And maybe you can get another sense of being a missionary and evangelism, that it's uncomfortable and can be very funny - in retrospect. These experiences bring people together, form compassion, put stitches of laughter in difficulties, and make unforgettable stories that we cannot help but share! 
Toilet in Uganda called a squatty potty.
All Photos Credit: Outreach Teammates

  • Always, always carry toilet paper in your purse. Public restrooms in many countries don't come with this convenience. Check. You will have difficulty giving some of your precious stash to your troubled teammate when asked, but thoughts of 'if not' bring out your seeming generosity.

  • Diagnosed worms (yup, parasites that come out of the butt when given meds) for a teammate. Check. I only knew by description, not by sight - I promise, but I thought that was pretty cool. I have no medical training. That "Where There Is No Doctor" book is AMAZING! Especially the pencil drawings of anything from parasites to outhouses to poo.
  • Head lice checks. Check.
Need I say more?
    Octopus, anyone?!
  • Ever the observant one, I strategically spooned my soup to avoid the congealed blood squares. Check. My team, however, lacked this skill. None was the wiser. 
  • Back of skirt tucked into waistband after leaving the restroom and probably seen my many. Check. (Disclaimer: I did also have leggings on.) But what's worse, I thought I would have an uncontrollable accident on our way to an open-air evangelism event (before I used previously mentioned incident), so I had to humbly explain to our host that I needed help finding a bathroom immediately upon arrival. To say this to anyone is awkward enough, make that our new host in Thailand - doubly awkward. What would you sacrifice for Jesus, right? All for Him!
    One of the two outfits I had to wear - Ugh!
  • When your bags don't arrive in a foreign country, don't fret. Lower your pride. Your teammate is gracious enough to give you a pair of underwear (yes, new underwear) - Check. Razor - my legs thank you. Skirts to borrow. Your leader will give you permission when you ask to cry - remember you also were so sick you blacked out for a second at your first Ugandan church service and prayed to teleport home every night of that evil sickness! And when you get your bags, your friends can't pick you out because they only knew you by your blue or green shirt for 2 weeks! (Note: I washed my clothing every night - by hand.)
  • Hip Hop dancing in African prisons. Check. We girls asked not to do that one. But no, the hip hop was requested by even the pastors.
  • Sleeping with bed bugs. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Many bites later. DEET is only a bad word in America! I love DEET in other countries!

Do these stir you to laughter...or sympathy? I love to share these, even for laughter's sake and for connecting maybe some of my unwritten experiences with you. I know I have more stories I'm just not remembering now but will be great for another time. And I know people with far more incredible experiences than me! 

Do you have a crazy, awkward, or unbelievable experience to share?

Note: Pics taken by myself and teammates on outreaches.

The One about Thankfulness

Today I reflect on my time so far in the States before I go back to South Africa, and I have to say that I am so very grateful. I could look at how far I still need to go to be able to financially minister in South Africa, but today is not that day. Today I see the sacrifices that my friends and family have made during these 5 years in missions, and that I feel so undeserving but also so very blessed. So here are a few of those blessings as they come to mind. Thank you for being used by God in my life and in His work for God's glory.

  • If you had a pillow, a bed, a couch, or a floor for me to lay my tired head - thank you.
  • A car to travel far and near so that I can see your lovely faces - thank you.
  • Your financial sacrifices so that I can Go and  fulfill the Great Commission - thank you.
  • Flights to far off places with teaming students overflowing with the message to "know God and make Him known" - thank you.
  • All the crazy steps one has to do for the "visa" that allows me into the country - thank you.
  • Electronics so that I can prepare teachings, share what God is doing, and keep in touch with you - thank you.
  • Coffee dates and dinners where my ability to thank you diminished as I left receiving the greater gift, of friendship, prayer covering, and encouragement - thank you.
  • The Word, Worship, Fellowship, and His Presence - thank you for being the Body which He uses to nourish my soul.
A friend recently reminded me of these verses from Philippians 4:14-20 which capture my heart for you:

"Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."

Your faith, your work, your help, your family and your friendship are essential to the Life of the Body of Christ and of the fulfillment of the Great Commission!  

Love & Blessings,
Shannon Mintz