Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"True Christian mission is love in action. There is no better way to manifest love for God than to show unselfish love for those whom you serve." — David O. McKay

When we lived in the United States, we never had "staff."  We did have a woman who came to clean once a week who was the mother of one of Karen's students and really needed the money.  We did it more to help her than to help ourselves.  Since we have been here, having workers has been one of our hardest adjustments.  Not just that the NSSF (social security) requirements were hard to understand and implement, but since none of us went to language school, miscommunication was also a serious problem.  Then there are the cultural differences.  In the U.S. there is a thing called "personal space" and another called "personal property" which don't really exist here.  It has been really hard getting used to having other people in the house and on the grounds every single day (except Sunday, of course).  You can imagine our surprise when one of our staff didn't show up for several days because of the funeral of distant relative.  We were even more surprised to discover that we were not to work outdoors when a neighbor had a funeral (that slowed down several of our construction projects since neighbors die with a saddening frequency).  We have learned of our obligations to our neighbors to help with funerals and to help with neighborhood watch kind of things.  After living here for eight years, we are still caught by surprise by national and muslim holidays--you'd think we'd learn.  With a full-time staff of nine people (cooks, teachers, security, landscapers, cleaners, and school aides) we have also had to learn to deal with intertribal issues as well.  We have only had to fire two people in eight years (one drank on the job and one slept through his shift as night security guard).  One of those took us to labor mediation and received a small sum, although I doubled it since I knew he would not be getting any work soon.  The labor mediator thanked me for my humanity--first time that's happened.  All but two of our staff have been with us for eight years or more but there are still disputes among them that I have to settle.  I'm not whining, I'm just giving voice to some of the things we did not expect when we came.  After all, we got three whole days of training right before we left.  We respect and admire every missionary here because we know the frustrations, but we also know the joys.  God bless you all.

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