It wasn't that she was dancing in a particularly humorous way. Instead, it was because she was dancing for all she was worth in front of a crowd of strangers, who were also laughing hysterically, while moving forward, to join in her dance. This was her explanation, "Well, they asked me to come forward and dance, and I figured I could just do some simple swaying from side to side. Or, I could really dance. I decided to just go for it." The crowd of strangers soon became friends, as person after person came forward, among cheers and laughter and shouts.
These past two weeks, the three young women have decided to just go for it, over and over again. They immersed themselves in a village stay, spending three nights sleeping on woven mats, hauling water from streams, learning to grind maize by hand, learning to eat properly and sit properly and dance properly. They have led Bible studies and given speeches. They have learned to wrap chitenges and eat with their hands. With only two weeks in Zambia, they have stood in front of hundreds of people, to offer their greetings in Chichewa. These three YAVs know what it is to jump right in, to choose courage over fear, to just go for it.
Even after two years here, I still worry about getting it right. Before I stand up in front of a congregation, my stomach rumbles with nerves: Will I get the grammar right? What if I forget the Chichewa word? Can I remember the order for a proper greeting? There are even times when I have avoided eye contact, in hopes that I am not asked to stand and address a church.
And yet, when I do, something amazing happens. It is not that I get it right. In fact, I frequently get it very, very wrong, especially when I try to branch out and try a Timbuka word or two. But when this happens, and the congregation is roaring with laughter, because I said the word for "forgiveness" while acting out the word for "tree," I am laughing, too. Being wrong is not the problem, but being scared of other people...well, that is a problem.
I am so proud of these three young women, who are willing to risk being wrong, who are willing to risk looking silly, who are willing to risk discomfort, in order to build something beautiful, to trust a community with their vulnerability. They have not had an easy two weeks. But they have certainly jumped right in, with singing, with dancing, and with lots and lots of laughter. It bodes very well for their year in Zambia.
When we offer ourselves, our real, silly, crazy, fun, flawed, grammatically insufficient selves, that is when laughter and love flow. That is when we show that instead of being scared of one another, we are united with one another. Brothers and sisters dancing our lives, calling one another into the dance. I am grateful for the inspiration of these young women, and for the reminder that being vulnerable, being real, is what leads to real relationship. And I am also really grateful for that video. Because it was funny. Really funny.