“So what are your summer plans?”
During the final month of my sophomore year at Wheaton College, this question seemed to be an inevitable landmark in almost every conversation. I’m sure many of my friends asked in earnest, but the topic can also come across as a kind of safe fodder for small talk. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s insincere small talk, especially at Christmas parties. “Oh, you’re majoring in English? What do you plan to do with that? You don’t know? Hmm.” It’s the ‘hmm’ that kills me. Part of the balance in life is recognizing who’s asking out of obligation from who really wants in on your heart. Trust repays trust, while impersonal formality follows a lack of that realness factor. I trust that those who are to be blessed by this summer’s project will read, identify with and take to heart these words, while others will skim through the first half and soon lose interest. And that’s fine – I get it! Don’t spend your time feeding on something that doesn’t give you life. That said, I pray, whether your heart is filled or broken by my feeble attempts to describe my experiences this summer, that the Lord would use our interaction to draw you closer to himself. Be on the lookout for his face and presence both in these stories and everywhere else in your life!
For those of you still tracking, allow me to answer that beautiful, frustrating question mentioned up at the top. This summer, the plan is that I’ll be interning with a missions organization called Poetice International in Zambia for a little less than three months. I say that’s the plan, but here at the tail end of an eighteen-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, it’s high time for me to start embracing this once far-off idea as a reality.
I’ll be one of about twenty interns, half of who are from the US – the rest grew up all over Africa! We’ll be walking alongside Poetice’s American and Zambian staff, learning more about how they do ministry and what their day-to-day lives look like. While I’m told we’ll be quite busy doing, a large focus of this experience is to help young people like me figure out if long-term missions is really for them. Personally, that’s totally one of several possibilities on the table at this point, but I’m not yet totally convinced that full-time ministry, let alone missions, is my vocation. Maybe I’ll be clearer on that by the end of the summer, maybe I won’t be. I’ve learned that God’s time table is usually much different and always much better than mine. He’ll let me know where I’m supposed to be when I need to know.
While I stand on fairly solid ground regarding the purpose of this trip, I couldn’t tell you much about the specifics of what we’ll be doing with our days. I know it’ll be awesome and that it will give me an eye into the missionary life, but we haven’t yet been briefed on many of the specifics. This in itself is actually a very cool reality, as a big part of the lifestyle I’ll be observing, indeed a defining aspect of Zambian culture, is an ability to be flexible; to roll with the punches and take things as they come. Such flexibility will require of me patience and grace in abundance simply because I’m coming from an engrained, schedule-driven, American mindset of feeling entitled to instant gratification. But it’s an incredibly valuable lesson to learn, and I look forward to being stretched in that way.
So, the last time I started a blog, the world was graced by two mediocre posts before I lost focus and moved on to other things. I’m committed to not letting that become the case this time around for a few concrete reasons. First and foremost, Poetice is perpetually seeking out and broadcasting the stories of Zambians who are affected by the organization’s work there. My hope is that this will not only enable that practice to continue, but that I might also provide them with stories of how some of us ‘Mekua’ (a slightly derogatory Zambian term for white, loud, ignorant Americans) have been transformed by God’s work through Poetice. Secondly, when I was a recent high school graduate, writing was a hobby – something I did when there wasn’t much else to do. Two years down the road, the dream has grown to the point that I hope to use this skill professionally in whichever vocation I may find myself. This aspiration requires me to commit to practicing and refining my craft. Lastly, writing and journaling are habits on which I depend as I attempt to process what God is doing in my life. I see this summer as a unique opportunity for him to move in me, and I believe that writing these stories and experiences will help me to keep my eyes on him. Hopefully, it will help you do the same. I’m unspeakably excited about this summer’s adventure, and I look forward to having you walk with me through the experiences and lessons I encounter.
To my friends, family and other supporters, I love you and miss you already. Three months is a very long time, especially as we stand at the beginning of such an expanse, but it will be so sweet to finally see you again at the end. Please pass this along to those with whom I’m close. Especially to Grandma Harker, who just loves to read my stuff, but doesn’t seem to get on the Internet much.
Thanks for reading. Bless you!
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William McCauley • 2015 International Immersion Intern