Change

Preparing the ground before moving the fence

Preparing the ground before moving the fence

This morning we have been outside our current fence working with our Ju/’hoansi family to make a change that our neighbour wanted. #ao put his idea to Craig seeking his input. He wanted to move the fence for several reasons. Two reasons were the proximity of the existing fence to the washing line makes it easy for passers-by to quickly and easily remove/steal items and the second was the number of cows that pass along the back fence creating a huge cloud of dust and pushing against and damaging the fence. Together they discussed the project. They spoke about the pros and cons of different ways of doing the job, where the actual fence line should go so that people could still get access, whether they needed extra help and where would they source materials. This process started about a six weeks ago. Today we started to implement the change. We cleared the thorn bushes and other shrubs, dug out roots, raked the rubbish together and buried it in a pit that we had dug and then we burned the vegetation. We then took a break as it was the hottest part of the day. We will return to the job this afternoon unless something else crops up.
As part of the curriculum that we study we have been looking at different aspects of bringing change to a different culture and what needs to be considered if the desire is to have permanent change as opposed to temporary change. We see all around us evidence of failed projects, some have lasted longer than others but all have had limited lives. As we all know we do not change ourselves because others want us to change unless there is some immediate benefit to us that encourages us to change. Once that “encouragement” loses its appeal or is no longer there we generally return to our previous ways of working.
When we cross cultures and our world views are radically different there are more obstacles or considerations that need to be addressed if we desire to see lasting change. This requires us to take time to get to understand the people and the culture in which we are working. It requires our focus to be with the people and in building the relationships through which the possibility of change may occur. It causes us to move slowly ensuring that we are building a good foundation for the possibility of change. It means we have to allow others to drive, own, decide, modify and possibly reject what we bring. We need to understand that our failure to properly understand the people and culture in which we are working can cause us to present “change”, including the gospel, which leaves the people in a place where it is more difficult for them to be open to change in the future. This is highly significant for change at any level but is extremely critical when it comes to the gospel as we do not want to leave people in a place where it is more difficult for them to hear and accept the gospel message once we are gone than it was before we arrived.

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