Inventam uma realidade daqui e fazem os planos sozinhos.
"They invent a reality, and then they make the plans alone."
Let that sink in for a while.
|My actual description of a road to a real place we are going to visit in the next few weeks.|
She is right. I am guilty. I am so glad for this blast of wisdom when I least expected it.
So much of what we do on the ground in development or mission work is based on an "invented" reality. How patient are my African colleagues who do not shout at my stupidity! How kind they are to say, "ok," and then kind of ignore my missteps and good intentions.
We are careful to collect all the facts. Data is important. But background is difficult and hidden and messy and we don't even know what to call it or how to calculate for it. So we fill in the blanks with something that makes sense... to US... from where we stand and all that we know. We process it all very neatly into an "invented reality".
In the past couple of years my real advice to anyone starting work in "Africa" (with a big A) is: Don't even open your mouth to teach anything for the first year. Shut up and learn; watch and listen and wait. You have no idea what is really going on and your advice and teaching may be completely irrelevant. (The Holy Spirit can help with that a lot. But still, you should listen before you teach.)
In most cases, anyone planning something based on invented reality is writing science fiction. And we wonder why so many careful plans fail. I've been struggling with this feeling for awhile now, and my teacher friend nailed it. Thankfully, I was ready to listen this time.