Despite our best intentions, every day seemed to bring a new and daunting dilemma; not only with the Africans, but also with other missionaries. Should we learn the local dialect or not spend the time on that? Do we hire unsaved workers in our homes? Do we have our babies in Tappita or in the capital city of Monrovia? Do we dress like the Africans or as an American? Do we walk the two miles to church with our children or not? To our chagrin, there seemed to be a constant cacophony in our lives, even though our hearts desired unity with the other missionaries and acceptance by the Africans. While those are, in themselves, noble aspirations, time and experience taught us that with fellow missionaries, unity was usually achieved when we sometimes agreed to disagree. We also realized after the first few years, that the Africans never placed on us the ardency to be like them; we did that to ourselves.
Though there are circumstances that might try our patience and ruin our plans, we are learning to let God be God. Every delay, every hindrance, every frustrating “monkey wrench” thrown into our tightly woven plans, could very well be our Heavenly Father answering our prayers of safety, protection, and provision. We are such self-centered creatures to think that God should always provide for us, protect us, and care for us in the way we think is best!
Often the “clash of cultures” would bombard me with an irrepressible desire to reach those around me along by giving me a sharp, aching sense that I was not culturally equipped nor physically adept to plunge headlong into the dense jungle with a Bible in my hand like Mary Slessor. It is so common for us to be tempted to set our sights predominantly on what we think is the bigger picture, the incredibly brave and adventuresome calling that others seem to enjoy. That is where we think, if we were totally honest, that God’s favor hovers. Nothing could be further from the truth.