Friday, April 11, 2014


I recently wrote about the joy of sharing some of my YAGM experiences with other YAGMs around the world.  As a reminder, the Young Adults in Global Mission program has volunteers in Argentine/Uruguay, Mexico, South Africa, Madagascar, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Jerusalem/West Bank, and Hungary.  
Living in totally foreign places, speaking in a new language, navigating new communities, and implicitly representing the power and privilege of the United States present some interesting challenges, and of course a few laughs, that are nice to share with people experiencing the same things. This perspective also gives me a greater appreciation for people outside this program who are similarly working in an international context doing hands-on work.  A family friend, Mary Redlin, just finished her third entrepreneur business training for women in Uganda.  She wrote a great blog post about patience, and recognizing that sometimes it takes longer than we expect—and want—for our efforts to bear fruit.  
We want things to work now.  We want to connect with people now.  We want to bypass failure and get right to success, because, among other reasons, failure takes time.
Living in an international context means things take longer that we would like or expect to fall into place.  It takes longer to develop relationships, not to mention trust and respect. It takes longer to communicate ideas. It takes longer to get places.  It takes longer to figure out the nuances of people, communities, and social norms.  All of this extra time means many moments to practice patience, although that’s not always easy or fun when I just to mail a postcard, or get to town, or express what I’m thinking.
Ever since winter left northeast Hungary (okay, so it was a pretty easy winter) I feel like I’m finally starting to figure out the pulse of my village and the nearby city of Nyiregyhaza.  For the first time last week I had reason to navigate the bus system within the city and transfer to a new bus after the one that brought me in from Gorogszallas.  In the beginning of March I found the public library which has a great English section, and also people who are eager to practice their English with a native speaker.  I’ve gotten to know some of the teenagers better who come to the village’s after-school club.  Perhaps all of these things could have happened earlier through some stubbornness, persistence, and the simple passing of time.  But maybe patience itself can actually help expedite and even lead to a better outcome.  Maybe more mindfulness for patience and things out of our control can help us enjoy the journey and the destination.

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