I’m not a pretender. If I had a job where I had to schmooze someone to get me some money I’d rather eat dirt and walk to my tent made of tarp and rope. When I engage in a conversation I’m not going to tell you what you want me to say. So don’t ask me if that dress makes you look fat because I’ll tell you if it does. I’ll try my best not to hurt your feelings, because I also care about you as much as I care about truth, but I’ll tell you if your fly is open, your deodorant isn’t working,your breath is bad, or if there’s oreo stuck in your teeth. If all of that is happening at once you’re having a really bad day and I’ll opt for serious intervention. Either you love that about me or you avoid me. I’m ok either way. (and I can take it if I’m the offender.)
So I’m not going to tell you it’s always roses and sweet cake as we work with orphans in Uganda. There’s sticky messes all the time, cultural barriers, injustice, communication breakdowns, power struggles and financial disappointments. In one week we can allow it all to make us feel buried, or we can breathe, handle one problem at a time, pray, and have a few good laughs. Hopefully we get enough sleep to take another round each morning.
I’ll share one specific frustration: our car at Kirabo Seeds. We bought a second car last year so Robert could have some relief from doing all the driving. Having a second car meant he could take time off so it was important. Not long after it arrived there was an accident with it so it crashed into a wall to avoid hitting a small boy. No one was hurt but our good car now needed old mismatched spare parts. It hasn’t worked since so we sold it today for less than one third what we paid for it a year ago. Sigh. With Darren’s excellent understanding of mechanics he verified it was junk and we were lucky someone wanted to take it off our hands. I’m not feeling terribly excited about starting over again.
Even though I could list ten reasons to get frustrated with orphan care I made a list instead of ten reasons I love Uganda. And I’m not making these up. Remember, I’m not a pretender. So here they are:
I love the way people greet one another with genuine joy to encounter one another. Time stops and they take full advantage of the chance meeting to catch up. They have time, lots and lots of time for friends and family. I admire that so much.
I love the way people dress up to go out. If they know they will meet people they dress to show respect to those they will see. People always look like they put some effort into looking their best.
I love they way they wash their shoes, polish them, and keep them in good repair. A pair of leather shoes there can last many years. Rainy season or dry season their shoes will sparkle. ( I especially love it when the kids scrub my sandals clean as a small surprise after I’ve walked in the mud.)
I love to see children playing with babies. There’s a true adoration and comfort with little ones. The girls especially are so proud to be a mother’s helper with the babies. (It’s even cuter when the babies are naked and propped on a preteen hip.)
I could watch boys play football (soccer) there in their bare feet all day. They are so athletic, driven, competitive and committed to the game.
It amazes me what they can create as art from a banana tree. And when they aren’t making art they use all of it to assist in a variety of household chores. I’ve seen Julie make rope. The leaves are used to wrap meat as a packaging for steam cooking. There’s genius recycling and not to mention delicious eating to credit the humble banana tree.
Hard. Working. Moving. Busy. Bodies. Everywhere all the time. I get my heart rate up just watching them carry bundles on their heads with multiple children tied to their body and large sacks in each hand. Determination looks like that.
They prefer to be together, around one another, in groups, meeting up, and hanging out with PEOPLE. Lots of people together enjoying one another everywhere.
Finally, the thing that truly makes me wonder about my own culture, is the way they can have it out and argue then go back as if nothing ever happened. No grudges. No memories. No distrust. No sulking. No cold shoulder for a week. Problem solved, done, forgotten and they go right back to that specialty: socializing. Impressive.