So let’s be real. I’m a young, white gal living in the middle of Rocklin dueling as an Intercultural Studies (ICS) Major at a primarily white school. Is it just me, or does that seem to clash?
The newsflash: I’m going to Uganda for 4 months in August.
The not-so-newsflash: I am in for some major culture shock.
This is not the first time that I’ve been moved to expand myself culturally. Not at all. Honestly, I became an ICS Major at the end of Fall semester ’11, but had no idea what I was doing. I knew I had a heart for missions and I knew that our ICS program had a missions focus. It seemed reasonable.
Spring came and I was hit left and right with different cultural experiences. We’re talking those circumstances that go on right around you every day but you don’t realize they are there until one slaps you in the face. Yes, that. That was me. Charismatic worship sessions, Hindu temples, homosexual individuals, you name it.
Now, I know many of these things seem like an ordinary deck of cards to many, but I simply do not have this kind of across-the-board cultural knowledge.
The commonly asked question… was I sheltered? I’d say “no”.
There is a difference between sheltered and culturally unaware. I am the latter.
After having beat myself up with my own words, though, I would now like to lean toward the positive side of the spectrum (and get a bit serious, too).
I began my adventure as an ICS Major with a passion for fighting sex-trafficking at the front of my mind. God has transformed that passion into a love for His gospel and willingness to be on mission…anywhere. I have strong convictions that, as a Christian, I am on mission to spread the good news of Jesus wherever I am, whether it be in the sophisticated city of Rocklin or the slums of Haiti.
For those of you who can relate to these feelings of mine, you know that a love for missions can easily turn into an overflowing NEED for action. While trying to push, push, push for an outlet to release my willingness to serve and do exciting things for Jesus, the Lord just shut door after door.
This left me perplexed. Wasn’t I supposed to act out?
That’s when it occurred to me that the Lord just wanted to plant little culture seeds within me, one small moment at a time. I became assured that these moments of culturally expanding my mind and experience were going flow steadily into my life as the Lord confirmed in my heart His reasoning. The way I hear it explained in my heart?
“Emily, I just need you to let me expand you as much as possible right now. That way, in the future, I can do so much more with you than you could ever have imagined on your own”.
So back to real life. This happens. I’m comfortable with simple life and the spontaneous culture moment with Jesus. I was planning on applying for studying abroad in Uganda during the Spring, but that was all in the far future. One night, I was about to fall asleep and I received a vision. I saw in my mind the words “Uganda, Fall” and listed before me were all the good reasons why going in the fall would be better than spring, as well as the exact due date for the fall application. This due date happened to be a week away. Seeing as visions are not a frequent occurrence for me, I thought it would probably be a good idea to apply. Also, feeling confident that the vision was from the Lord, obeying was a good path to take as well.
I applied, but honestly, would not have been surprised if the Lord shut yet another door. He was on a roll after all.
The day of answers came and I got accepted. Wrapping my mind around the concept of going to Africa simply did not happen, but I definitely announced it to everyone who crossed paths with me that day.
My thoughts now? Holy cow, I am going to Africa. I am going to shock my mind, body and spirit with new culture. First stamp on my passport: UGANDA.
It’s going to take a lot of mental processing, vulnerability, purposeful actions and reflection to prepare for this trip. And once it comes around, I will have much of the same work to do while I am there. But this blog is not named specifically for Uganda because this semester began a culture expansion journey for me. My 4 months in Uganda will be a huge landmark in this journey, but the journey itself will not be beginning or ending there. My capacity for culture will continue to grow. God has made that clear. It’s something that will be ever-changing, always shifting and a work in progress.