In life, there are some different ways that you learn things. You either learn from the wise words of a parent, friend, or other trusted source, or you learn from observation — You witness someone else make a mistake that results in dire consequences, and this is usually enough to keep you from repeating it.
However, there are other things that you have to learn in those real on-the-road experiences.
I am grateful for the many lessons I was able to learn during my travels to Ghana over the summer, and I thought I would share them with you:
- Be Prepared for Anything – I found that while visiting Ghana, there were so many different sights and sounds, that it was impossible to take it all in! But I loved exploring, and seeing all that the country had to offer. I learned to embrace the culture, the food (well some dishes took some getting used to), and the people. Eating, drinking and mingling in a foreign country, requires you to be able to adjust to things very quickly. There were some things that were routine to the people living there, but were completely mind-boggling to me. I learned that it is important to be open to new things, and welcoming of all that residing in a foreign country has to offer. As tourists, we should expect that there will be a surprise or two thrown in front of us. My recommendation is that while you can never fully prepare yourself for every possible event that can occur, you should make the effort to mentally ready yourself to face the new and trying encounters that may come your way.
- Ask Questions – At times, I was so nervous to be away from home that I would never bother to find out more about my surroundings. I learned in my experience from travelling, that contrary to the known saying, curiosity does not kill the cat. It is a wonderful thing to want to know more about another culture (of course, it is wise to still be tactful in your exploration process). I encourage you not to be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t know, ask (even if the question seems stupid). Learn about the food, the history, and the native people’s overall way of living. Also, try to pick up bits and pieces of the language here and there. Trust me, you will be glad you did.
- Learn to laugh at yourself – I can’t even begin to count the number of times during my stay in Ghana that I would do something awkward. At first, I would become offended when people would laugh at my mistakes, but over time, I had to learn to stop taking things to heart. By the way, this was a very difficult lesson, because I am naturally super sensitive. By the grace of God though, I was able to just laugh, and it was such a relief. Taking everything so seriously was starting to get tiring, and it was really weighing me down. So my advice is, just go ahead and laugh at yourself. You’ll be laughing when you look back anyway, why not just cut right to the chase, and laugh now?
- Mingle with others – Many people know me as a reserved person, so this one was especially hard for me to learn, and I am still learning this one. Yet, I recognize that in order to be able to reach others, we must break down social barriers. We must invest in people; we must love the ones that Christ died to save. When Christ was on earth, he mingled with sinners, and showed them what real love looks like. He wants us to do the same, with the ultimate goal being to win souls to Christ.
- Don’t try to do it all on your own – Sometimes it is hard for us human beings to accept help from others. We think we can do it on our own, or we are very suspicious of the motive behind why one wants to help. In Ghana, a friend of mine pointed out that I have this problem, and I had to slowly come to terms with it. One thing that is so beautiful about Jesus Christ is that He was forever accepting the hospitality of others. Here was Christ teaching us the selfless principles of His kingdom. In John 13, when Jesus wants to wash Peter’s feet, Peter refuses him: “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” (verse 8). Why? Because Peter still didn’t get it. He did not fully understand what Jesus was trying to teach him. Jesus was teaching us all how to truly love others, by serving them. To Peter’s comment, Jesus responds: “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” So by the grace of God, I am seeking to follow Christ’s example of selflessness, in humbling myself and putting other’s needs before my own. Part of that means acknowledging that I cannot do it all on my own, and accepting help whenever it is offered.
- Be Careful – I don’t know how many times I ended up losing important things, or ended up wandering off by myself not recognizing the danger in doing this. It is important to be careful, especially being in an unknown country. Never wander off to strange places by yourself, and always be careful of what you do or say. Also, be careful not to give out information regarding your security and other confidential matters.
- In everything, God is with you – This lesson was perhaps the most significant of all the lessons I learned. Knowing that God was with me, certainly changed the way I walked and talked; it transformed my very being. If you are completely assured of God’s presence, others will be aware of the light that emanates from within you, and they will want to know more about the God that you serve. As well, if you are aware of Christ’s presence at all times, it will give you a power that comes from above, and the work that you do can and will only bring glory to His name. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. “ (Acts 4:13).
Let your life be such that people will know that you have been with Jesus.
Glory Be To God