It is Sunday morning, and I am thinking how relieved I am that Thursday was essentially my Sabbath, because today I am going to be working very hard. I will join Phiona, Nakato and go to Abul’s family for church which is nearby the orphanage. After a lunch meeting we will go to the orphanage because we have been invited by the church committee there to meet with them on official business. That is going to be a very long meeting, I can promise that for sure.
Yesterday we went to the orphanage so that we can begin to assess the true stories of each child in our sponsor program. James arrived while we were beginning with his children. He was not agreeable with us. He said he doesn’t want to start something without the whole church involved in what he is allowing to occur. He said they were all hurt because I have not come to greet the whole church committee since I have been in town. This reveals that they believe I come to Uganda only to be with them. They desire to have me all to themselves. I mentioned I had not been invited for a meeting, and they slapped their forehead as if they locked their keys in the car. So we arranged this meeting today.
Here is what I am promised: They will be completely open and honest about every person and child. They will tell me what work they do, how many children they have, where they live, and where they come from before living here. Anything I desire to know, they will bring forward. They know my heart is to understand and help and they trust me. They know I am here to make a difference in their children’s lives and I don’t have a secret agenda of my own to get rich or make money.
Here’s what I am understanding, this will be a long long long meeting. We all agreed to arrive with our stomach’s topped up because we’ll be sitting in that place listening to everyone’s long story for hours and hours. I am tired just thinking about walking into that meeting.
James is concerned that I don’t know his true heart and his intentions. He’s desperate for me to know who he really is and it drives him crazy that we require a translator to communicate. That’s a fair assessment. I am still trying to understand him. When I interact with him one on one I have the inclination to trust and believe him. But when I get reports, or watch behavior, the trust wavers, and I wonder what I am missing in the cultural gap, or if someone has misled me.
On one hand I feel so honored that they accept me and welcome me to their “tribe”(that’s what it feels like) and I am amazed they will let me inside the circle. They no longer believe the lies Adams once said about me. I have earned their trust by consistent and faithful honesty, and because after all this messy Adams business I returned to keep the children in school. But they have so many customs and traditions that I need to understand before I can help shift their problems towards solutions. I can’t just snap my finger, make a decision and get it done.
What I’m learning is that where I could grasp a concept with an hour’s explanation, this group needs to have a dozen consecutive six hour meetings to understand it. They begin from a position of assumption and desire about me and it becomes their truth. So, first I must go back and remove what they think is true, and reestablish the truth. These meetings always feel like a formal hearing and when I hear the children outside playing, I just want to go be with them.
I really wish my husband were here. He’s handling so much on his own at home, and our chain is weakened, I need him here, and he needs me there. We are so strong when we are working together. This last week of my work here is going to be a trial for him in one way, and a literal trial for me. We welcome your prayers for endurance. His mom went home, and now my mom has arrived for the second week.
I look at the week ahead and I remember the time when all of my books were scattered in a mess on the floor and empty shelves were waiting for me to arrange them in such a way that I could find what I needed at any time. Right now I’m looking at the mess: land purchase, starting up Kirabo Seeds Uganda, the trial, the feeding at the church, the school fees, sponsor communication, understanding who are true orphans…. and there are all those empty shelves behind me. I hope when I get on that plane we at least have the books sorted into piles so Phiona can arrange them into the shelves when I return to my family. One book at a time…