65. Sweat is normal. If you’re not sweating, something is probably wrong.
64. Carrying things on your head really is the easiest way of getting things from point A to point B.
63. Beaches exist where there is no water.
62. We hunt house cats here.
61. Always….always plan on your plans going wrong. And then plan on your plans for your plans going wrong to go wrong.
60. Kissing at someone is the equivalent of saying “Hey! You!”
59. Remember those glittery jeans you girls donated to Africa? Yeah…guys wear those now.
58. You can always find a way to fit more people in your car.
57. When there really, truly is no more room in your car, you can always hang off the sides or sit on the roof.
56. Absolutely do not smile when your photo is being taken.
55. Sometimes, snakes just fall out of the clear, blue sky.
54. Fanta is the drink of the gods.
53. Water can still be “clean” even when there’s dirt and stuff floating in it.
52. Teaching 130 African kids Capture-the-flag is next to impossible.
51. Hallways make terrific slip-n-slides.
50. Pagne are the most technologically-advanced, multi-purpose tool of our time.
49. It’s okay to be naked in your courtyard, even if you’re 11 years old.
48. It’s okay to walk around in your courtyard wearing only a towel no matter how old you are.
47. Saying “shut up” to a crying baby is normal. And “shut up” in French sounds a lot like “earth yourself” in French.
46. One common chore involves sweeping the ground outside until the dirt is all clean.
45. If you don’t talk to strangers, you are actually quite rude.
44. Umbrellas are more common when it’s sunny than when it’s rainy.
43. Peeing in public is normal.
42. Personal boundaries are like Santa Claus. There’s no such thing. Sorry kids.
41. Holding hands is a way of showing friendships – yes especially between guys. So don’t freak out if they grasp your hand and hold onto it for a couple minutes while you walk along the road together towards the beautiful setting sun.
40. Everyone wants to marry the white girl.
39. If it’s an animal, it can be eaten.
38. Snake tastes better than rat.
37. Monkey tastes better than snake.
36. Sand. It’s everywhere. So get used to it.
35. When having morning prayer time, expect to be interrupted 5 times on average.
34. Eating with utensils is weird.
33. Sometimes, camels just walk right by you on the road.
32. Live roosters make great gifts!
31. It can always be fixed. no like…it really can. I promise.
30. When talking to someone, try speaking French first. If they don’t seem to understand you, try speaking Dioula next. If they still don’t understand you, make increasingly intense random hand gestures. Eventually they will understand that you are an idiot and walk away.
29. You’re not dancing right unless you’re moving your butt up and down violently in the air.
28. If you eat too much rice, your body will create a second stomach in your elbow.
27. God made mangos to give the world hope when it’s hot as you-know-where outside.
26. God made mosquitoes to make us thankful for dry weather.
25. It isn’t cheating if you do someone else’s homework for them.
24. Looking like a brick, having skin like a pig, having hands like an elephant, and being fat are apparently good things – especially if you’re a girl.
23. The most common form of celebration is dancing all night until dawn.
22. Children just love announcing to the world that “white skin man” is walking by.
21. One can play football (soccer) with any size ball.
20. Sometimes the driver of the moto taxi sits in your lap.
19. Ants wait until they’re well inside of your pants before they start biting.
18. Empty Heineken beer bottles make great roach traps
17. The telephone conversation is over when the other person abruptly hangs up.
16. House keys don’t open post office boxes.
15. People will never forget you as “that one guy who brought a house key to open a post office box.”
14. In English “America” = In French “Barack Obama”
13. In English “Texas” = In French “George Bush”
12. In French “Cote d’Ivoire” = In English “Didier Drogba”
11. When paying for things, don’t use big bills – people don’t have change.
10. Banks only give out big bills.
9. Motorcycles can transport literally anything. Anything.
7. They’re not laughing at you; they’re laughing with you. Even if you’re not laughing.
6. When an elephant charges, the best thing to do is hold your ground.
5. Africa is the place where computers go to die.
4 – There are many different ways to worship God.
From all that I have seen here in Africa, worship takes place in more ways than I had originally thought. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said that worship takes place when we sing praises to God with a grateful and joyous heart to Him. But from my experience here, worship takes place when dancing before God with a joyous and grateful heart of worship toward Him. Working in your fields is worship when done out of joy and gratitude to Him. Walking along the road, reading the Bible in different languages, eating, teaching Sunday school, every aspect of our lives can be worship to God if we make them worship to God. This is where the meaning “heart of worship” comes in. Whatever we do, wherever we go, whatever we eat, drink, and breathe, it has been given to us by God. So why give Him anything less than our hearts in worship in everything that we do?
3 – When you ask Him for something, God gives it to you, and then some.
I cannot tell you how many times this has overwhelmed me and frustrated me. I remember one day i was having really bad back problems. A blog that I wrote a little over a year ago shows a series of three herniated discs that I had in the lower part of my spinal column. Well i got those taken care of by spinal injections, and hadn’t had much pain until this past January. Well, this past January, I was reading through Genesis and I had just passed the part where Jacob and the angel of the LORD wrestled and the LORD touched Jacobs thigh to dislocate it. So I prayed that God would do the same-and-opposite for me – touch my back and heal it so I could work unhindered. Immediately, I felt the pain go away. Not five minutes later. Not five seconds later. Immediately. And I haven’t felt it excessively since.
Other times, I find myself humbled before the throne of God asking Him to teach me patience, kindness, humility, etc. Well many times, when I ask for that, He grants me some of what I asked for while also giving me something in my life that requires a lot of patience, humility, kindness, etc.
2 – God uses both the wonderful moments and the hard times for His same Purpose.
Throughout my life, I see the evidence of God’s will playing itself out through good times and evil. I would probably not be here in Africa experiencing God in a radical way if it weren’t for God’s will acting itself out beyond my knowledge and power in the past 10 years. It’s amazing to think of the series of steps that has progressed to my being here right now and how if any aspect of my life – whether a good time or a bad time – were taken out, I would not be where I am now, both physically and spiritually. Additionally, I have seen God do wonders in my life and the lives of those around me during the hardest times here in Africa. We went through our struggles and various sufferings only to come out at the end with a better understand of God and the role in His Kingdom that He wants each of us to play. Meanwhile, we also had many easy and fun times where God showed us all how to simply have joy in life, even when it feels like everything has been stripped away – our culture, our comforts, and what we used to think were our basic needs.
As I look at the man I am now and the man I was before I came here, I do not recognize my old self at all. I don’t understand him anymore. It makes me marvel at how much change God can do in a person in just one short year. I know God is with me.
When the people of the church are desperate for the rains which are already late in arriving, and the Lord sends a drenching storm that very night, I see the evidence of a loving Father who gives good gifts to His children.
When I ask God to give me the patience and the words to speak to someone about Christ, and I begin speaking better French than I have all week, I know God’s Spirit is empowering me.
When 14 young adult volunteers put on a thriving and successful (though utterly exhausting) Kid’s Camp for 130 wild and crazy Ivoirian kids, I am absolutely sure that God has His hands in even the smallest and seemingly trivial things.
God is in control of Creation. Not a bird sings nor a tree grows without His knowing it and putting it there. God’s Spirit moves and empowers at necessity. The Lord does not grant prayer requests to those who are far from Him. He does not change and empower those who are in a place He cannot reach. He does not perform the impossible in places where He does not dwell. There is no place He cannot reach. I may not be able to see any miracles of healing, revivals of faith, or displacement of mountains, but all I have to do is look a little below the surface, and I see God in everything that is happening. Yes even here in the “Dark Continent”.