Today’s post is written by Matthew Albright, an Envision intern with CAMA working at the Jɛgɛ Ɲuman fish farm. The project provides locals with tools to increase agricultural yields through innovative, sustainable farming methods. Matthew set out in May 2015 and is about to finish his one-year internship.
My time here has been anything but expected. I came into this year with several ideas of what I’d be getting into. I suppose some of these ideas were realized while others were way off base. So here is a bit of what a third culture kid, aircraft mechanic intern learned working on a fish farm.
1. Interns Aren’t Old
Young people can be dangerous for a number of reasons. The biggest one I’ve encountered is we aren’t old. Simple as that. While the West appreciates degrees and diplomas, West Africa notices how long your beard is, how many wives/kids you have, and the year of your birth. Not only does this make it difficult to make quick decisions, it is also difficult to get everyone on board.
Lesson: When possible, always seek out older people to run ideas past and even to share your ideas. The medium by which news comes is often as important as the information itself.
2. Value Questions
Before coming over last May I began asking questions of myself and those around me. What would I encounter? What would I be doing? Would I get in the way of Christ? Why was I going in the first place? What will I struggle with? These questions helped me process, transition, and grasp a little bit more of what I would face.
Another big question: How would I deal with loneliness? Loneliness and I have had constant conversations and battles this year, but I’ve discovered some treatments. Road trips, Skype calls, game/movie nights with colleagues, reading, and prayer helped me deal with loneliness when it manifested itself.
Lesson: Ask yourself and others honest questions.
3. Holistic Ministry Takes Work
Holistic ministry is the profound cousin of development work. When I came to work at Jɛgɛ Ɲuman, I knew that I would have certain roles on the Alliance team as well as the fish farm. I knew I would have a steep learning curve and would need to do a lot of research. After all, fish are not airplanes. But I never could have imagined the layers the work entailed.
CAMA has come into this particular location with a goal of satisfying the very visible needs of a community. But CAMA has come with so much more—it’s come with the Good News. As Christ says in Luke 18:19, “’Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good–except God alone.’” We are here to preach Good in many different ways. We get to form friendships with the staff of the farm and have casual conversations with them. We get to learn the village way of doing something and see it holistically.
While I’ve seen so much Good at work here, I’ve also seen we are so full of the flesh. I’ve seen myself get in the way of something so much bigger–of the good God has planned. I’ve gotten lost in the intricacies between maintaining finances, digging ponds, pumping water, forming relationships, understanding culture, and carrying out Matthew 28:19-20.
Lesson: Everything is so tiered and yet equal that compartmentalizing anything is impossible.
This is what I know: God alone is good.
God speaks through fish and pumps and rivers and ponds and people. He spent time in the flesh and knows that it is weak. He knew not only the questions I would ask of myself before and during this time but also why I should ask them and how they would be answered. I’m seeing that the Good is willing to bear with my mistakes, my downfalls, my weakness. He is willing to holistically develop me; to disciple me.
If you are interested in interning with CAMA Services, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org