Princess Diaries: The Story of Ashley Moving to Africa


“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.


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