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Fiji

The other day I found some of my lost artifacts from Fiji and got a little nostalgic over my experiences there - both with the Fijians and the Alabamians. If you're new around here, check out the Fiji Mission Video. Even that video brings back memories of sitting up late at night with Lee, sifting through hours and hours of video at my office at University Church, getting just the right effects and cut on each shot. Kristy crying her eyes out at its completion made every minute worth it. I'll admit, it still chokes me up too. Perhaps I should wear my sulu to church here someday and weird some people out. It's really a nice sulu too - custom made by a Fijian tailor.

Stephanie is preparing to embark on her fifth LST project, which, I'll admit, makes me more than a little jealous for another overseas adventure. But I realize that I'm in somewhat of a lockdown, waiting mode of life right now while I plow through school. Undoubtedly my romps around the world have only just begun, especially if I end up in leadership of a campus ministry that will accept a mission mindset. I'm really thankful that my initial experiences with Sooners for Christ instilled a mindset of using every opportunity for mission - especially Spring Breaks and summers. And I know that doesn't even touch the level of some others, specifially Aggies for Christ. Nothing pushes you out of your mental box better than having to deal with the challenges of existing in the middle of something completely foreign - and NOT as a tourist surrounded by an American bubble, but as someone who is getting your hands on the gritty realities of the life and people of a place that is completely unfamiliar to you. While we were in Fiji we spend our last few days at a swanky resort on the beach, where I realized that there were tons of people who flew across the world to this place and never actually experienced Fiji or Fijians. That reaffirmed my theory that travel does not equal cultural immersion. Try walking down the dirt path to the wooden shack at the bottom of the hill and drinking some homemade kava out of a nasty tub while shooting the breeze with the local cop and his buddies. THAT will teach you a thing or two about culture! Thanks to Johnny for pushing me to do that. Or following the twelve year-old Indo-Fijian into a cab that weaves you across town and then on foot through a smelly, loud marketplace section into the little hole in the wall Indian Curry diner so that you can get a taste of his heritage. The gastro-intestinal ravages you feel are almost worth it to see the excitement on his face as he knows he is teaching you about something you have never experienced before.

And my meager experiences barely touch the surface of the depth of the experiences of a lot of people I know. But what I like to see is people take the step out of their comfort and security and into the unknowns of things like this. This is one reason campus ministry is such a huge thing to me, because it sets up the opportunities for students to do these types of things at a time in life that really alters and grows their perceptions of the world and themselves. And not only that, they do it with a purpose - carrying the light of God in the midst of another place. It's like an amazing trade - the people who experience you are better for it, and you are better because of them. Everybody wins. Many times its not completely safe. Getting outside the security of our life routines here never is. Sometimes it takes some financial sacrificing and work to make it happen. Jesus didn't check to make sure the checking accounts of the seventy-two were sufficiently padded before he sent them. In fact, he told them to leave the stuff that they did have, and proceed with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I don't think we have a clue about what that kind of faith is like.

The moral of this tale is this: no matter what age you are, but especially if you are a college student, do something that is going to take you into a world that you know nothing about. Do something that will make you the foreigner. I suggest putting your faith to work and learning how you can help others with it. This will necessarily get you involved with the real life and people of a place, not just their tourist destinations. You just might be surprised how God carries you through it and you are transformed as a result.


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