Princess Diaries: The Story of Ashley Moving to Africa

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“I do not know where I got this idea that being a Christian was at all glamorous.”

By Ashley Mandanici | Twitter: @ashleymandanici

So, in case you were unaware, I do not like camping. I have tried, both in my own resolve and by force, and I have concluded beyond a shadow of a doubt, camping ain’t my thang! Friends insist I do not like camping because I have not gone with them, but I’m pretty certain the company has nothing to do with it.

I do not like sleeping on dirt. I do not like being cold (and I always am). I do not like cooking my food over an open flame (it tastes okay I guess, but it’s a hassle). I do not like squatting over holes to use the bathroom. I do not like the heightened likeliness of running into a wild animal …

I do not like camping. If I am going to go to the trouble of booking time off work, I am going somewhere that involves room service.

*Cue Ashley moving to Africa. *

Many people told me that around the second week of moving to Uganda I was going to freak out a little. Well the second week had come and gone and I was handling everything like a champ!

Enter week six.

I’d had a pretty good attitude about most African-eccentricities since I arrived, but week six marked the first week that the Princess in my head stomped her cold muddy little feet and said, “Get me out of here!”

A few of the moments that led to my “rich-little-white-girl” meltdown are as follows:

–          The four days our water was brown.

–          The three days we went with no water at all … and no power.

–          The several days in a row I woke up to rat poop on my bed.

–          The day I realized my feet had not been clean for an insurmountable number of days.

I was just over it. I was over being the only one on time for anything, I was over being acknowledged by the colour of my skin, I was over bartering, and I was most certainly over rice. I missed drinking water out of the tap, I missed consistent electricity, I missed my car and I missed, what I considered, normal life.

 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” –Matthew 5:3

I do not know where I got this idea that being a Christian was at all glamorous. It is most likely because I live in North America and deep down I might have believed that we should all live like celebrities, or at least like Reality TV Celebrities (a little more modest, right?)

Somewhere along the line I seemed to have forgotten that Jesus had dirty feet, lived with no electricity and drank questionable drinking water.

Somewhere along the line I’d bought into the lie that I deserved certain things.

#Firstworldpains

Have you ever seen the Twitter feed #firstworldproblems? Basically it is an expression of the “problems” from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that our friends in the developing world would probably roll their eyes at.

I found this video (below) some time around Canadian Thanksgiving and I reposted it to my blog. The purpose of the video is to help raise funds for clean water in underdeveloped nations. I was surprised when I received a less than enthusiastic responses from some people. Opinions that spanned from, “Stop being such a Debbie Downer on Thanksgiving” to “I can’t help it if I’m rich.”

I’ve felt the pressure lately of returning home to North America. Not just the lifestyle and cultural changes, but also the pressure of being “changed;” for the good or the bad. I feel like people are expecting one of two things of me:

  1. I will become a hippy that no longer wears shoes because the money is going towards the funding of my 12 sponsor children.
  2. I will become that jerk who pretentiously rants at anyone who leaves food on their plate because there are children starving in Africa.

I honestly don’t feel like I’ve changed that much, though. You know that old corny adage, “Wherever you go, there you are,” I have discovered that to be true. My issues and hang-ups did not change because I can now be found at a different geographic coordinate.

I feel like the only thing that has changed is God. I know that’s not really theologically accurate, because God never changes. Perhaps it’s simply the way I see God that has changed.

“We must not portray you in king’s robes,
You drifting mist that brought forth the morning.
Once again from the old paint boxes
We take the same gold for scepter and crown
That has disguised you through the ages.
Piously we produce our images of you
Till they stand around you like a thousand walls.
And when our hearts would simply open,
Our fervent hands hide you.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

_________________

My dear SheLoves friends:

  • How has your perspective of God changed this year? Has it?
  • I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

____________________________

About Ashley:

My name is Ashley and I am the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Relate Church in Surrey, B.C. My mission is to develop the God-given potential in every child who crosses my path *Insert Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” here*. I love all things jazzy, particularly music, and I tend to break into song throughout the day for no apparent reason. I blog here and tweet @AshleyMandanici

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Ashley Mandanici
My name is Ashley and I am the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Relate Church in Surrey, B.C. My mission is to develop the God-given potential in every child who crosses my path *Insert Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” here*. I love all things jazzy, particularly music, and I tend to break into song throughout the day for no apparent reason.
Ashley Mandanici

Latest posts by Ashley Mandanici (see all)

Ashley Mandanici
  • Daniela

    I love this story so much, and i LOVED the video. I am disturbed about the rat poop, and when you get back….pedi date? On me? 🙂 We do complain about ridiculous things here, but I am aware of how incredibly blessed we are to live in this country. I read a thingy on facebook the other day. About someone praying and asking God why there was poverty in the world, why there are children hurting and people suffering, and God said “I could ask you the same question”. He who has been given much, has much to give. So profound at 7am? I know, shocker. I’ll resurrect Skype on my computer, I need to see your face again. Message me how I connect with you. xoxo

    • Video is great right!? Was i wrong for wanting to get violent with the person who responded, “I can’t help it if i’m rich.” BLAH! Like you said, he who has been given much, has much to give! Oh, if i could only understand that completely. So much that is needed here it’s hard to even know where to start. Please let’s skype— i’m the only Ashley Mandanici in the world so i’m easy to find 😉 I MISS YOU!!! <3

  • SomeRandomMother

    Love this! Thanks so much for sharing and for giving me some much needed perspective this morning. I was flipping out over some first world problems and the reminder to be thankful always was appreciated! Blessings to you and may your water soon return to a non-sewage color!

    • I am happy to report that my water is crystal clear now! still drinking my good ol’ bottled stuff, but showers are a lot more effective now! hehe. and yeah, i’ve had my fair share of first world problems here too—“the power went out and now i can’t watch my dvds on my computer”— oh the strange things that concern us sometimes! thanks for the read friend

  • Oh man. I’ll admit the brown water for a couple of days is disconcerting but how I *love* that you are rocking princess-esque flip-flops with clean-ish feet. 🙂 Africa or Canada, you can’t take the princess out of Ashley. *Z-snap*

    This sentence is gold:
    “Somewhere along the line I seemed to have forgotten that Jesus had dirty feet, lived with no electricity and drank questionable drinking water.”

    #oyvey

    So much work to be done on my (mostly first world) heart.

    I love you bugaboo. Now, COME HOME. [insert private video gesture here]

    xoxo,
    Teen

    • You must know that as “princess-esque” as my flip flops are, Ugandan women are ALWAYS in amazingly fancy (high-heeled) shoes. i am always the most casually dressed person at church… maybe not on the road, but at church for sure!

      The funny thing is too, that in comparison to most i’m still so distanced from “roughing it” it’s not even funny! #toomuchtolearn #ionlyhave2moremonthstolearneverything #caniliveintwoplacesatonce?

      miss you poopsie!

  • As fellow person living in Africa (though one who DOES enjoy camping) I love your honesty. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sarah Anderson

    Oh Babe, I so hear your heart in this. I’m so excited for what Uganda is doing for you personally. And there’s no pressure or expectation in that. Just excitement and a proud smile. This is where you’re meant to be. These moments are the ones that will bring you life, believe it or not. My heart is full just from thinking about you. I’m crazy proud.

    This post also got me thinking about my own trip to Africa this year. Here are two of my posts from my time in Tanzania that might resonate with you a bit. And if you’re like “psssht, resonate with me she says. You don’t know me gurrrrl. Back dat ass up.” Well then, I hope it’s at least an enjoyable read.
    http://sarahupdate.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/vulnerable-musings-and-a-beached-whale/
    http://sarahupdate.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/a-swordfish-named-freddie/

    Big Love.

    • I am sure that the more I learn about you, the more convinced I am that we are soul mates <3 I totally LOVE your posts friend! And I do remember having similar transportation experiences except take out the swordfish, and add live chickens inside a taxi… swordfish is a lot more poetic though! Haha. And you are so right– these are he moments that bring life… in a strange way that is almost unexplainable.

      Side bar: your line "psssht, resonate with me she says. You don't know me gurrrrl. Back dat ass up" made me laugh heartily and out loud! You are my sunshine! xoxo

  • Kari MacKenzie

    I love hearing about your journey…thanks for sharing…what a special season in your life…it reminds me of when I went to India with Relate church or VCC years ago on a missions trip…and now I am married with 5 kids…who would have guessed that was Gods plan…I am excited to see what he has for you!

    • Thanks so much Kari! I’m excited/slightly-nervous/joyful/flabbergasted about what God has in store too!

      Meanwhile– i miss your fam-jam! I haven’t even got to meet your 5th addition! Hope you’re all doing well xoxo

  • Nikole MacGregor

    Ashley, I loved this. I have lived in africa for around 4 years and I still hate dirty feet. First thing I do when I enter the house is go straight to wash them before I expose my house to whatever is on my feet.

    And that video kind of made me laugh/cringe. Just yesterday I had a meltdown that my semi high speed internet broke down. And I live in Africa. Oh my….

    Thanks for your honesty and giving people a peak into our world over here.

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