Friday, June 12, 2015

Outline of What's To Come--George's Post

For my own purposes, I have organized my observations about our experience in Malawi under the rather grand caption "Doing Good in Malawi--A Mormon Missionary's Experience."  Another rather less pious title equally or more appropriate would be:  "An Azungu's Perspective--I Haven't Got a Clue What's Going On."  But whatever title I use, the purpose of writing is to make sense of our experience here and to give those thoughts some shape and organization. 
The initial challenge was to figure out how to organize my thoughts.  I found doing that harder than expected.  After all, everything was new, sometimes challenging, sometimes confusing.  There was no particular natural form to it.  All  I had were largely random impressions at the end of the day, growing out of our experiences on the streets and from visiting members and from sharing thoughts with Carole.
The general outline continued to change for several weeks, thanks to the wonder of the modern word processing.  At least for the last month or so the outline has remained fairly stable.  Here is what it looks like today, showing just the first level headings:
"Doing Good in Malawi"
(A Mormon Missionary's Perspective)
I.    Introduction

II.   Key Principles

III.  Malawi--A Case Study in Poverty

IV.  Charitable Aid to Malawi--The Elephant in the Room

V.  Malawi--Selected Observations About the Religious and Social Context

VI.  The Church in Malawi--The Church in its Infancy

VII.  Non-Financial Charitable Aid--What Is the Right Way to Help

VIII. Teaching the Members About Their Duties in the Church

IX.   Relationship between Senior Couples and Local Members

X.    Working with the Younger Full-Time Missionaries

XI.  Have We Done Any Good?

Some sections are largely written, others are only in outline form, while yet others are  just place holders, set aside for a later time.
Each day I try to write a bit, jumping around as the mood dictates.  For example, I have largely completed a first draft of the last section, "XI. Have We Done Any Good," but have yet to move beyond the outline stage for several of the middle sections.  Moreover, I expect re-thinking and probably rewriting many of the sections as time goes on.  One might reasonably ask why I tackled the last section so early in our mission experience--we are less than half way through our time in Malawi.  Certainly, the jury is still out on how much good we have been able to accomplish.  Yet I find myself constantly coming back to the question, turning it over and over in my mind, so I wanted to capture my current thoughts, knowing they would likely change as we gain with time a broader perspective.
Upon reflection, I have decided to try annotating the releases of the text with a few photos--otherwise, no one will look at the new blog entries at all.  The photos will not be interwoven into the text, but should be loosely connected to what I am writing about.  They should supply some context and hopefully make the text more readable.   Somehow I need to find a more efficient way to compress our photos for insertion into blog entries--now the process is painstakingly slow and frustrating.