By Stacy George
An American Woman
Being raised in the States, I was fed images of the strong Rosie the Riveter as a role model. My family and community encouraged me to be a confident, independent woman. From this environment, I was able to graduate with a college degree in Public Affairs and Economics within three years from a well known state university and a job waiting for me in the consulting industry. I am passionate about equality, care deeply about empowering voices, and painstakingly crave to be taken seriously.
An American Woman in Sierra Leone
Being on day three in Sierra Leone, the mission team coated their bodies in sunscreen, sprayed themselves with Deet, and headed over to build the foundation of an observation room for potential Mercy medical patients. While my teammates equipped themselves with hats, speakers, and water bottles, I brought my full-fledged spirit of American womanhood: a strong, independent woman. Sierra Leone is a patriarchal society which meet my zeal with resistance, confusion, and curiosity.
In the early morning, as I glanced at a shovel to break ground, the local men would rush over to the tool as they saw my thought forming. My waiting and silent observation tolled on my nerves.
As the day progressed, more roles were needed to move pans full of wet concrete from the sidelines to the foundation. I waited my turn just in a line of workers to be told that I would need another to help me carry the pan. But before someone could step up, I dropped down, lifted the pan, and carried the basin to the designated spot. I could sense the eyes track my every step, I dodged several male’s open arms signaling assistance, and caught wind of the statement “be careful.”
The day was long. The tasks included removing two large tree stumps, digging a trench on three sides of the future structure, mixing and moving concrete, carrying cinder blocks, and filling water buckets throughout the process. Because of my supportive teammates from the States and my desire to serve through manual labor, the local men begrudgingly welcomed me into the process with increasing responsibilities as I continued to prove my capabilities.
The highlight of my day came from this lesson in womanhood. I loved the instances where I could feel the trust of each male in various circumstances give me their trust and respect. However, alongside the gift of their trust, came a more sensitive nature within me to the males’ interest in my movements. Therefore, my low was that alongside trust, came their intrigue and an interest that, at times, surpassed innocent friendship.
An American Women of God in Sierra Leone
Since my mind spent the day comparing and contrasting who I am in various countries, reflecting on my identity in Christ demands equal discussion. Being a female has its ups and downs as seen through my high and low of the day. Yet a more important takeaway hit me as I read over the team’s devotional passage.
Romans 14:7-8 states “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”
God designed me as a woman with a determined, independent spirit. Today, there were moments my womanhood had to die in order to respect a beautiful and different culture. In other moments, I was able to live into who I want to be as a capable woman. The importance is that both actions were done under a life claimed by the Lord.