Friday, October 18, 2013

“I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being--forgive me--rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger.” ― J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

It is time for a mea culpa.  I made a big mistake and our sanitation and hygiene seminar is not going to take place.  It is another example of miscommunication that is so common here.  Often, the miscommunication is between people who both speak the same language.  We had been told that a group was coming and that a man in charge of health care training wanted us to add three of his teachers to our group.  Of course, we agreed and worked out dates with the man.  Then, we found out that there was no group of women to be taught--we were just supposed to teach the three teachers.  We have never done a seminar for fewer than twenty-five people because it was totally designed to use the group to become teachers for each other and had lessons that required breaking into five groups.  Now, we are teaching the exact curriculum that we had been taught in the U.S. by the LifeWater group out of California--the same curriculum we have taught each of the thirty-five times we have taught it, no matter where it was held--our mission grounds, in a school in a village, or even under tarps tied to poles, but always with the goal of teaching a group of women (and sometimes men) to go back and become teachers themselves to their families and friends.  We have no objection to teaching health-care teachers, and we even had a seminar just for health-care teachers, but there were twenty-two of them.  I hated to have to cancel, but we know how to do the group dynamics with twenty, but they just won't work with three.  We invited the man who arranged it to come up with a larger group and added that we would do it wherever he needed it done.  We also told him that the next time we held a seminar, we would invite his three teachers to join us.  The fault was entirely mine because the assumption that a group had already been invited was mine.  I never asked how many were coming and should have.  I don't know if there is a finite number of mistakes that missionaries can make, but I have made them all if there is such a number.  I may have even added to the list.  I'd like to say this is a one-time occurrence, but it happens all the time.  Sometimes it's the culture, sometimes it's the language difference, and many times it is just thinking you know things you don't really know.  I'm sure it never happens in the U.S., but other missionaries here tell me that they, too, have made a few mistakes now and then.  When we were in our three-day training course for becoming missionaries back in the U.S., one of the main things discussed was the ability to laugh at your own mistakes and learn from them.  We were told if we couldn't adjust to making mistakes and adapting, we probably shouldn't be missionaries.  They were right, and we do learn and adjust.  I just wish it didn't make me feel bad when I do it, but there is a saying here in Swahili--ndivyo ilivyo (what can you do?).  I use that phrase a lot.
    I must also add that some former missionaries from here that now live back in England were invited to speak in England about their experiences here.  They were given an honorarium for coming to speak, and they sent it to us through Paypal to assist us in our mission.  That is giving from the heart and we are deeply grateful, Martin and Sue.
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