Jonathan and Dawn Barnes – South Africa
We find our family in the middle of our time of interpretation in the United States of America. We left the Republic of South Africa behind three months ago and have had the experience of readjusting to life in the USA as a young family. Before we took on the assignment as missionaries in South Africa, we were only two, Jon and I. And now we are a family of four with our two children, Khaya and Aly. It is a whole new world now!
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
As we have taken our family from church to church, stretching from Kansas City to Virginia, we have taken time to make some reflections about life here in the USA. Life is so fast….shall I say almost in “fast forward” compared to life in South Africa. What made me first realize this is in the airports. You now have the “fast lane” (you know those walking sidewalks) even within the buildings of the airport! Your own feet can not even take you fast enough from one plane to the next. There are not only faxes and phones, but there are emails, text messages, cell phones, pagers, and the list goes on as far as the technology that now connects us. One does not have the privilege at times to be “disconnected” from the world that surrounds us. As far as the kids, there are now not only videos, but DVD’s, ipods, hand held games, emails and computer games that consume their attention, not to mention school, homework and extracurricular activities. There is little time for the family to sit, chat and spend quality time together. And then there is the work ethic that one should work from sun up to sun down, and then some, in order to get everything done in a 24 hour period. Whew….I am tired thinking about it all!
It is such a contrast to life in South Africa. The African life is much more community and relationship oriented. If work gets done today, that is great, but should it not get done until tomorrow that is fine as well. When a visitor shows up unexpectedly, which often happens, you drop whatever you are doing, make a cup of tea/coffee and sit down for a long conversation to catch up on everything. We do have cell phones, but they are often turned off and calls returned at a later date. Kids entertain themselves with outdoor sports mainly or being creative in the toys in which they play.
It has caused me to reflect in the Psalms. “Be still and know that I am God.” When will we learn as Americans to take time to just be…..time to enjoy the trees and grass that grow in our backyard and not worry about when we will make the time to cut it? When will we learn to slow down, get out of the fast lane, and enjoy the world that surrounds us? When will we disconnect from the world and focus on our families…not just a chat before bed, but quality time together? In this time of interpretation, I have learned that part of our ministry is to ourselves, to our family and to encourage the people that we come in contact with to “be still.” May God teach each of us to be still and know that God’s presence surrounds us all day, everyday, but we must look around, take the time and just “be.”
Revs. Jon and Dawn Barnes
Jonathan and Dawn Barnes are missionaries with the Kei Regional Council of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, South Africa. Jonathan serves in pastoral ministries among the churches in the region. Dawn serves in pastoral ministries and social work.