Sunday, April 4, 2010

The 4-1-1: What to Wear

The Muslim culture encourages modesty in dress. Shorts should not be worn outside the home, and women should not wear pants, short dresses, or tight clothing. Due to the HOT climate, cotton clothing tends to be more comfortable. The preference for loose, ample clothing that fully covers the body reflects the Muslim belief that the body is both sacred and profane, both powerful and dangerous. Clothing here, as in western countries, is a status symbol. The wearing of tight clothing that clearly reveals the body shows a lack of respect for oneself and others. Thus, the offensiveness of shorts, mini skirts, and tight clothing will be attributed to European eccentricity at best, or to shameless immodesty at worst.
The months of April and May are "scorchers"!!  Even for those acclimated to the heat, some days seem almost unbearable.  Plan your trip and clothing accordingly. As evening temperatures from November through February tend to be cooler (60's), you may prefer long sleeves, a light jacket, or sweat shirt if you will be outside.

You may wear long (knee length), loose shorts inside the Niamey Guesthouse compound for exercise and relaxation.

You may have need of a modest swimsuit. Bring a long pair of pants or jeans for riding camels and for evening picnics at the river. Thick-soled, supportive sandals or tennis shoes are good to walk in. Appropriate clothing for sports varies from place to place; please ask us to make sure what is acceptable.

Let us say upfront that visible, multiple body piercings and tattoos, as well as radical hair styles and chewing gum are not permissible on the field simply because it detracts from The Message, drawing attention to the individual rather than Christ. If you have a question about this, please contact your Songhai Team Host.

When you are out in the villages and speaking to an individual or teaching, please take off your sunglasses. In short, remember that you are representing the IMB and Christ. We are not asking that you dress in your Sunday Best, because panty hose and heels or suit and tie will not work in the bush. However, we are asking you to look your best daily as you minister.

Jeans or khakis are good with T-shirts, Polo-type shirts, or collared, cotton shirts. The grunge look is not acceptable. "Fashion" holes in jeans are not the fashion in West Africa, just a necessity of the poor. Men do not have to tuck in shirts in the village; this style is called a "Thank You". Baseball caps are fine outside; take your hats off inside the house. A beard is fine; no beard is fine. Just do not use your time on the field to grow one. Caution: untrimmed goatees are the mark of conservative Muslims here in Niger; please trim beards and goatees short before coming. 

Short sleeve (not sleeveless or low necked) T-shirts with mid-calf skirts and jumpers or dresses are good. Tops must meet and overlap waistlines. No spaghetti strap tops or tight, form-revealing shirts. Definitely wear bras. No spandex, please. Double check to make sure that your skirts are not made of such thin material as to allow a see-through effect; we have lots of sunlight here! Depending on where your ministry is located, you may need to keep your head covered with a bandana or scarf. No baseball caps or cowboy hats. Your bathing suit does not need to have knees in it, but should be a modest one-piece. You may wear loose jeans or pants to and from the airport.  You do not have to cover your head in the airport.

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