Family and Friends,
As I reflect on these last few months, I can’t help but feel so overwhelmed with gratitude by your encouragement and prayers. Although there were some discouraging seasons, it has been a time of tremendous growth, and I am deeply touched by each one of you.
Below are some reflections from early April. Though a little out-of-date now, I decided to send it anyway. In the next few days will be a recent update (with a collection of photos!). Standby for that. :)
The dusty haze has disappeared now that the cool Harmattan winds have come to a rest. Now the sun beats down with strength, and the air is moist and heavy. March and April are rainier months, and we rejoice when the occasional rains do come and cool the earth. The rains refresh our spirits and remind us of the promise of mangoes soon to be. In this waiting period, however, it is hot, rain is unpredictable, and it can become very easy to forget that the mango trees will very soon bear fruit.
This has been a season of grappling with new ideas—a game of tug-of-war between differing worldviews. As I slowly probe into the worldview of an Ivoirian, it is at the same time exposing deeply embedded assumptions within my own worldview. How difficult it is to separate who we are from our own cultural upbringing… and how painful it is to let some of these things go for the sake of conforming to a new culture. These things have played a part in shaping our identity: how we act, how we make decisions, how we think and engage with the world, our system of values, our humor, etc. It has been both a privilege and a burden to wrestle with these cultural differences.
My heart was heavy in this waiting season, heavy as I searched for understanding and eagerly hoped for and desired some sort of fruit. Yet there were intermittent rains (literally and figuratively) that were deeply encouraging. I am being reminded that as Christians we always have our eyes set on the “mangoes” ahead, the promise that by grace in Christ we are saved. It is not religion where we follow a system in order to receive but rather the opposite. We have already received. Actions of obedience are the joyful, natural outflow because of that gift.
I am learning that my culture, however near and dear it is to my heart, does not define me. Jesus went through the greatest culture change of all: leaving God the Father, emptying Himself to take on human flesh when he entered the world. Our identity rests in Him alone.
Now, as a fun aside, here we are in May, and mango season is in full swing! Attached are a couple photos of a baby mango tree which has borne one, single mango.