100. That was my score.
Before our mission team moved to Tanzania, we did some relatively extensive psychological testing in attempts to explore both individual health and team dynamics. [Someone once told me these tests are developed not to tell you if you're crazy, but rather to tell you what kind of crazy you are...]
There were a number of tests and just as many scores. But only one score stood out to me; and it’s the only one I remember today. On the test assessing extroversion (a scale of 0 – 100), I scored 100. And that is not my score rounded to the nearest ’10.’ I don’t have even one introverted bone in my body. All 206 of them are outgoing and sociable… to a fault, perhaps.
But I don’t want to talk about the dangers of extroversion — though there are many, to be sure.
In 1997 I transferred from Auburn University (25,000 undergrads?) to Lipscomb University (2,500?). I remember, a couple of months into school, glancing around the student center where I was sitting. I said to myself, “Yep, this is all of us. I’ve likely met everyone already. Every friend I’ll have for the next two years is in this room. I’ll never sit next to a stranger in class again.“
To some of you, that would be a dream come true — never sitting next to a stranger, I mean. To me, though, it felt like the walls were closing in and I’d soon begin the slow process of death by suffocation.
Two years later, I graduated from Lipscomb University. I made a lot of good friends during my time there. I’m sure the “Class of 1999″ 20-year reunion will be awesome. If all ten of us show, we’ll be able to divide up and play a game of basketball.
Life in Geita seems compact. I pass thousands of people on the street everyday, but my circle of friends (applying a western concept of friendship) is small.
But I’m not writing this blog post to complain. Extreme extroversion notwithstanding, I am thankful. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with:
- incredible relationships here in Tanzania. If it weren’t for my teammates (and our nearby missionary neighbors in Mwanza), I’m sure I would actually go crazy. [...scoring 100 on numerous psychological tests.]
- family and friends who are supportive of our work in Tanzania and keep in touch with us via email and Skype.
- a sending church who remains in contact, always offering conversation, encouragement, advice, and prayers.
- a blog that allows me to talk and talk (and talk some more) — but better yet, that has connected me to a community of people willing to offer discussion and friendship over the internet. And a limitless possibility of new friends.
- Google Reader, which daily feeds me a mass of dialogue and conversations (from which I can at any time, without being rude, take my leave if I lose interest).
God is good. Even to this excessively extroverted missionary living in small town Africa.