As a missionary kid growing up in Africa, I always struggled a bit with my identity. I knew I was an American, but when I was in the States, I didn't feel like I belonged and it never really felt like home. But I also knew I wasn't Ugandan (where I grew up) because my skin was white and my culture and language were so different. As a child and even into my teen years I tried so hard to be like my African friends - acting like them, doing the types of things they did and even trying to speak with their accent. One day I even went as far as rubbing charcoal all over my body just so I could be black!
As a new missionary to Sudan I again feel the struggle of who I really am. I've tried so hard to learn their language and culture and learn how to do things the way they do (although I've completely failed at carrying large jerricans of water on my head!) But I'm learning something. I will never be Sudanese. I'm an American and that means it's OK to act like an American, as long as I'm not offending anyone. My Sudanese friends know I'm not Sudanese and they love me just the way I am. As I grow more comfortable with my own "culture", I'm learning to glean the good things I admire from each culture and mix them into my life. The result? A little bit of everything. But isn't that what heaven will be like?