Adaptability May 21, 2014

Written by | May, 2014
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From the Field Adaptability May 21, 2014

There is a proverb from one of the tribes in Nigeria about Eniki the bird, who says “I have learned how to fly without perching, since men have learned to shoot without missing.” Like Eniki we must be agile in our thinking and work in doing overseas work. Leaving our American culture and working and living in Nigeria or India gives one the opportunity to change and adapt. Whether living in the village in Nigeria or the big city in India, we have to bend or else we will break. There is so much that is different in these foreign cultures that one has to be like a sponge to absorb. New learning is required. In India don’t wave at someone with your left hand. In Nigeria when they shout at you in Ibibio ‘Afiaowo'(white man), Mbakara(European), or ‘Qua Ibo'(early Northern Irish mission) it is not disrespectful, but their way of showing respect. So much to learn! Flexibility is needed.

Among our brothers and sisters overseas sometimes the hymns are ones we might be familiar with, previous Lutheran missionaries having translated Lutheran hymns into the native language. But also local songs and original music from among the people are used. Rarely is an organ used in accompaniment. The musical instruments are indigenous, though keyboards have made their appearance what with the advent of electricity in villages. While we as Lutherans are known as ‘the singing church’ our overseas brethren can very powerfully put forth praises to Him in song that rival what we have historically had. A capella is common among our brethren overseas. Worship takes on different forms yet is still directed to our God. If something is commanded or forbidden by God’s Word then we listen to our God, but beyond this He gives us a great freedom and adaptability is a blessing.