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Flexibility

J.D. Willetts

In Africa, it is important to be flexible.  Schedules are more of a loose suggestion than they are set plans. A fresh thought may crop up that seems better than the original plan. The new idea might be instituted without notice, even to those who are supposed to implement the new idea. Allow me to give you a few examples.


Preparing for our trips to Burundi is quite an undertaking. We know that we will need to teach for at least six hours a day, five days a week. We carefully select and prepare our materials, and I develop a schedule for the 20 days in 15-minute increments. Ok, I'm a little OCD in that department. While talking with our African host less than a week before we leave he mentions, "Oh. By the way, we are not going to have you teach on the first Monday." This is known as plenty of advanced warning. My little 15-minute blocks become a tangled mess of confusion. However, we are going to serve so we roll with it.


Once we arrive in Burundi, our host informs me that he has scheduled me to preach the next Sunday. I'm thrilled. I love to preach, and I have nearly a full week to prepare (when I'm not teaching). We discuss appropriate topics for my preaching and I settle on a text and topic. Feeling good about my preparation I look forward to delivering my message.


We arrive at the church which is bursting at the seams.

Apparently this is a special Sunday and lots of extra people are present. As Westerners, we are marched up front to sit on the platform, embarrassing as always. Five minutes before I am about to speak our host leans over to me and says the leaders want me to preach on giving. This has nothing to do with what I prepared. Not to mention that I am looking out at a sea of faces for whom a good annual salary is a bad week for me. In this severely impoverished community they got together and decided that the rich white guy should teach about generous giving!


This is Africa. Roll with it. Don't fight the culture, just keep calm and carry on. I love Burundi – It makes me a better man.

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