Sunday, March 15, 2015

Small Missionary, Big Mission

Hello everyone!

I apologize for the delay in posting- I have added a few things to my schedule so life has started to become busier for me. I’m happy to say that after 3 months of trying to figure out how to best make cost-efficient, yet aesthetically pleasing comic books, we have finally figured out the workflow and I finished Comic Book 1 out of 13! Although this first book took me 3 months to complete, the weeks and weeks of troubleshooting and planning have paved the road to efficiency, so now I am able to complete one comic book in about a week. Here are some photos:

My fuzzy cubicle buddy has multiple sleeping positions in a day

These comic books series will be distributed all throughout East Africa, to be accompanied with 13 30-minute animated episodes! Our partners, VisionFund and World Vision have been really stoked about the quality of our projects ☺ It’s really quite something to see what a small group of dedicated, passionate people can do.

And if you’re curious, here are some of the other projects Pamoja has done, including one of the first Swahili television series for children, and a beautiful Swahili musical about a girl choosing freedom and love over enslavement to spirits of witchcraft (a very real issue here in Africa.)

Apart from work, I have also been exploring a lot more of Africa- I went to some safari trips, I went hiking a few weeks ago with a friend, joined a community group from church, and I also made a dress out of some traditional fabric that I bought!! My language skills are also improving- I wish I had more time/discipline to practice on my own, but I’ve also realized that the best way for me to learn is just to go out there, speak Swahili, and not be afraid of sounding like an idiot. But above all, I have also been reflecting a lot on why God has placed me in Tanzania, and the lessons I have learned here since.

Sunday outing with church friends
I made a kitenge dress!!

Tash photobombing me
some of the awesome feser kids

waterfall hike in a national park!

natural hole in the middle of a hugeee fig tree
we were sooo lucky to see lions in the national park


Small Missionary, Big Mission 

When I hear the word “missionary,” one of the first images that come to mind is a radical evangelical Christian—actively proclaiming the gospel in a third world country. Maybe she runs an orphanage, takes bucket showers, and lives in a hut with the people she is trying to reach. Maybe he has to keep his faith a secret in order to avoid persecution from the government. I sometimes think of John the Baptist—arguably one of the first missionaries, and envision some crazed hippie dressed in camel hide eating bugs and honey—screaming “REPENT!” and baptizing anyone who would listen.

And here I am, sitting on a queen sized bed after taking a hot shower, typing on my macbook pro with unlimited Internet in Tanzania, trying to decide if I want to keep my hair green or not (although the power did just go out). Unlike John the Baptist, it is highly unlikely that I will be beheaded here, or significantly persecuted for my faith—but I too, am a missionary.

Over the past few months, I have been musing over why God chose to place me here, in the relatively peaceful country of Tanzania. Instead of traipsing through jungles or wandering LA’s skid row, I work in an office. I am not actively fighting against homelessness, human trafficking, or injustice, or poverty. On a normal day you will find me staring at three screens rendering out gazillions of comic-book images. I have no heart-wrenching stories of “starving African children” to share, but I can tell you about the frustrating hours I have spent wrestling with Autodesk Maya and reorganizing computer files. I can tell you about the tight-knit community that Pamoja shares and the dreams we have dreamed together, in unison, for East Africa. They are lovingly and painstakingly pieced together with visions of Swahili musicals and stories; intertwined with the hope of weaving more of Jesus into Tanzanian culture. And I begin to wonder whether God’s intention of leading me here was.

one of Tanzania's beautiful national parks
I’ve learned that missions work isn’t always explicitly “humanitarian” or “charitable” –nor should it be. In fact, when missions is run purely out of “passion” without education and professional expertise, it often does more harm than good. Our popular Christian culture has done us a disservice by convincing us that the ideal missionary runs an orphanage in some developing country. As an animator with a heart for missions therefore, I never dreamed that there might even be a place for me in the mission world outside of sharing with coworkers—and I am sure that I was not the only soul feeling misplaced.

But one does not build connections with an elderly, traditional Hong Kong woman and an educated Muslim Tanzanian in the same way. Likewise, to spread the hope of the gospel means that different people must approach this task with different tactics. Admittedly for quite some time, I was having internal conflicts because unlike the Los Angeles Urban Project where I lived in unsafe neighborhoods and befriended people in shelters—efficient missions at Pamoja means getting the comic books printed and distributed. Our different focus and goals require different strategy. If I took bucket showers, hand washed my laundry, and had no electricity, nothing would be accomplished—and I daresay we would even be laughed at. If we don’t come up with creative ways do missions outside the box, we will only ever reach people in the box.

There are a number of things I’ve learned since coming here, and perhaps the biggest blessing and challenge was knowing that animation is needed in missions—that creative skills are so useful in bringing stories filled with truth, hope, and love. Sometimes making financial literacy comic books feels small, because this isn’t the grand, cinematic, spiritual-warfare-ridden mission that I envisioned. But in addition to curbing my ego, I am blessed that I don’t have to live in fear due to my faith, and that I can come home to a clean apartment, hot shower, and warm bed every night. This is the missions field that God has called me to for the past few months—a softer, more comfortable place for me to experience God’s quiet majesty—but missions nonetheless. Maybe in a few years my missions field will be elsewhere—safer, or more dangerous—who knows? For the moment I am learning to delight in my role as a small missionary, taking part in God’s big, big mission.

Coffee tour- and yes now I have green tips in my hair ;)

Prayer Requests:

Container shipment 
In order to print and distribute the financial literacy comic books I am making, we need the huge shipment of printers we ordered from the states 6 months ago. However, they are still in government custody and we are waiting for them to release it to us, which can take anywhere from a few days to months. We are already delayed in delivering the comic books to some of our sponsors, and we cannot do much without the printers. Please pray for a speedy delivery of the printers to Pamoja Ministries!

Software issues 
One of the annoying things about working with the animation software Autodesk Maya is that it is such a deep program with such a high learning curve, that when something goes wrong it can hours to work out. I am much more familiar with the workflow now so many of those issues are minimized, but prayer for problem-less days with the program would also be greatly appreciated.

Lately many of us have been getting sick with some type of flu- I was sick briefly last week and just got a minor fever again today. Please pray for health for everyone- our staff, volunteers, missionaries, and local friends. There is a lot of work to be done already without sickness.

elephants for days :D
Asante sana everyone for your support and prayers! Sending love to everyone back home.

Con tanto amore,

1 comment:

  1. love this kayee! definitely cool to hear how your mission is different but just as important in God's great commission! love your dress and omg the lions!