Coming in to the mission as an outsider, I’ve been doing my best to fit in by picking up on and using all the most hip and current OPC Karamoja Mission phrases. This one, “I do what I want,” may be the most popular, ahem overused, one of them all. It is usually used to justify creative, socially unacceptable, or just plain weird, behavior. Naturally, I make good use of it everyday. A recent example would be last Saturday, when I went through the buffet line in the wrong direction. Instead of confessing that I had made a mistake, I puffed out my chest, and proudly proclaimed, “I do what I want.”
However, as I have been here for the last four weeks, it has slowly dawned on me that this catchphrase is more than just an excuse for brainless or boorish behavior. The missionaries here, including our dear Chris and Chloe, truly “do what they want.” And the fascinating thing is that what they want to do is live in rural Uganda, serving others, with no obvious (i.e. worldly) benefit to themselves. You should see how Chloe applies herself to the Karamajong language, becoming one of the best speakers at the mission in just a few months. It is a joy to watch her interact with the Karamajong people, greeting each by name, and to see in turn, the love they have for their little “Grass” (Chloe’s Karamajong name). Or come and see Christopher working backbreaking manual labor for eight hours a day, six days a week. My definition of “hard work” has changed from watching his example. Raking leaves is no longer “hard work.”
Why would anyone leave a life of ease and comfort, in familiar surroundings, for one where matches (rather than two sticks as a fire-starter) are the latest technology? I can only surmise that this is what happens when Christ is so dear to you, that all other things become like “rubbish” in comparison (Phil. 3:8). All of a sudden, priorities shift, and “doing what you want” may include “doing things everyone else is trying to avoid.” Although I was only able to come here for six weeks, I have been blessed by this slogan in the selfless lives of the missionaries here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go push cows off the bridge and eat a whole jar of peanut butter.
Rachel Van Heest
The author, Rachel Van Heest is 20 years old, and from the Midwest. If you ever want to feel insignificant, summarize your life into one sentence. Wow.