Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Just to be with you..."

Whoever said being flattered is a good feeling? It's generally accepted that Africans tend to tell people what they think the people will want to hear. One reason for this tendency is the high priority they place on relational harmony. Another reason in the part of Africa we're in, is that relationships are necessary for survival: the real, daily, bitter struggle of life and death. But even when it's not a life-and-death survival matter, the same relational principles often apply.

I had a chance meeting with a guy in Kampala who was looking for a job. A few weeks later I agreed to have lunch with him to find out more about him. He certainly wanted a job with our organization. Before he knew anything about what kind of work we do, where we do it, and how much we pay, he insisted he wanted to work for us. In fact, he said he would do absolutely anything---and voluntarily!---just so he could be with us. That's when the interview was over in my mind.

Last week we had lunch with a young Ik man who we feel has a lot of potential. He's finished high school and is one of the three Ik people in history to have the equivalent of a year or two of college. During this lunch we were fishing for indication that he would like to continue his education and eventually work with us in Bible translation. Knowing that any yes/no question I asked would be answered positively and optimistically, I went for a content question. "So, Pascal, what is your vision for the future? What are your plans and dreams for the next few years." I should have expected the answer...but it did come as a surprise. "My plan for the future", he began, "is to be with you."

So if you ever need a boost in your self-esteem, just come to the land where retired army colonels and young, popular educated people are willing to do anything, anywhere, anytime, anyhow...just to be with you (or so they say).


raspberrylane said...

Great stories. This material could
be developed into a compelling tourist brochure providing job opportunities and industry to fund your translation work. And more importantly, many more people could just be there with you.

Chad said...

This is really funny stuff. We always knew that Terrill & Amber had overpoweringly magnetic personalities, but it's still amusing to watch an entire new culture rocked by their power, surprised, helpless only to adore, to wriggle closer.

Or, wait. Maybe it's not about YOU at all . . .