Wednesday, November 5, 2008

the world is watching

Today was a big day. This morning I woke up at 4am to go to the US Embassy. They showed CNN on a big screen while we watching the electoral votes stream in. (did you see that hologram person?!) Besides the fact that I ate amazing breakfast foods I think I'll be craving for months to was an amazing experience to be in a foreign country during our election. I was in a room with many Americans, watching our country's history happen, heard a short speech from the US Ambassador, and I was seeing it all through the lens of living here for nearly 3 months.

When I arrived at school this morning I could hear all the buzz around the courtyard where students sit. I heard 2nd graders telling each other that Obama is the US president, and I heard kindergarten students asking their teacher if she had "heard the news?" My students knew who the candidates were (and I teach first grade)and many older students came on 3 hours of sleep. Today I realized how much the world really is watching. What "muzungus" do is important to people across the world.
Tonight at worship we were told by a Rwandan friend how amazing it was to see our election on TV. He said that we should pray for America tonight and thank God for the elections. He said that to them an election without a single violent act is a miracle, and he is thankful that America is an example to his country. (Their local elections in October were very peaceful by the way.) They want to learn how to be a democracy from the way we do it. In fact, it is embarrassing that people who have never stepped foot in the USA know more about our government and this year's campaign than I do. It is almost painful when people asked if I already voted and I have to shamefully tell them I just didn't get an absentee ballot. (Their percentages of voters for even local elections are in the 90s)
What I realized today is that the perspective of the rest of the world really matters. They see the prosperity of America, and they want to be like us. Most know our music, some know our celebrities, they mandate our language (wow- ask me later), and they are making efforts to model government and social institutions like ours. While there are many areas of our culture(greed, materialism, self-absorption..just to name a few)that make me cringe, hearing others who are looking to America to help improve their countries is something that makes me very patriotic. And while I don't pretend to know very much about politics, I know that I appreciate being an American citizen.

On another topic entirely, I am feeling more and more settled in my life here. I am getting the hang of teaching first grade, making a few friends, and loving the church. I know my way around quite a few parts of the city, can speak a couple phrases in the language, and can appreciate some cultural differences as well. It is really hard to believe that there is little less than a month remaining in our fall semester!

Thank you for your continued prayers. I have been reaffirmed again and again that this is where the Lord has called me for this season of my life, and I eagerly await learning more about His purpose for this time.