Tuesday, July 31, 2012

1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13 for Cross-Cultural Workers
Tom Krohn and Melissa Tataspaugh-Krohn, Maryknoll missionaries in Madagascar

(If you haven't read 1 Corinthians 13 lately, check it out first and this will make a lot more sense)

If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copyall mannerisms so that I could pass for a national but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock its accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt its home culture, is not proud of its national superiority.

Love does not boast about the ways we do it back home, does not seek its own ways, is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of its home country, does notthink evil about this culture.

Love bears all criticism about its home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures all inconveniences.

Love never fails, but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is linguistics, it will change.

For we know only a part of the culture and we minister to only part.

But when Christ is embodied in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.

When I was in America I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American; but when I left America, I put away American things.

Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly; but Christ will live in it intimately. Now I speak with a strange accent, but Christ will speak to the heart.

And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language facility and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

I'm Back!

Many months ago I let this blog go dormant for various reasons. I often felt too overwhelmed by my work to sit down and write something coherent.  I also worried about repeating myself to my readers, as I am struck over and over by the revelation of the same truths. Most of all, I just figured that after three years no one but my mom was still reading this thing.

Eventually, coming in to contact with old friends and new acquaintances interested in my experience reminded me to check up on this blog. Turns out, it's had a lot of traffic over the last two months. Most of that is from google or from the SLM site. People are looking for information about the missionary experience in Bolivia, they're arriving at my blog, and they're finding...not a whole lot. 

Visiting the US this month made me realize that I have neglected an essential part of my mission: sharing it with the world! What exactly makes this a fundamental duty of any type of mission work is a topic for an entirely seperate post. For now, just believe me when I say that I screwed up here. 

But I intend to fix this.

It's overwhelming right now to try to sum up the last year, not to mention the new ways I've come to understand the two that preceded it. If you've come to this blog hoping to be introduced to the SLM program or the missionary experience, here are a few of my favorite posts (that sounds vain) from previous years to get your started. 

Right now I'm enjoying a little time in "la patria" (the homeland). I spent a month in Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon visitng friends and family, and am now in New York assisting in the preparation of 18 newSLMs. On August 19 I will return to Bolivia to continue my research (now as a professional, rather than as a Salesian Lay Missioner), with the adolescents of the Zona Sud of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

I could use some help getting started, so if there's anything in particular you'd like me to write about, please let me know!