I wish I could be cool and greet you with a Ugandan “hello”, but I have no clue how to spell it.. I can barely say it at this point! I’m sitting outside in my new jungle home, and trying to figure out how to put the right words together..The last few days have been a whirlwind, and have definitely required a lot of adjusting. Life here is much different, and with almost no sleep I hit the ground running- figuring things out as I go. The culture here is very people oriented, and much different from the task oriented culture I am used to living in. Ugandans are always in and out of the house just doing life right alongside each other. For those of you that are unfamiliar with my situation here, I am living with a missionary family from Texas. Jenn and Damon Cupp have 4 kids, Jonathan (aka Jon-O), Issac, Nate, and little Emma who is 4. Most of my time is spent doing laundry, cooking, dishes, and taking care of the kids. Normal, every day life takes a lot of time. Everything is made from scratch, and if you’re out of food then you are really out of food.. There’s no quick trip to the grocery because it’s approximately 2 hours away depending on traffic. Before I came Jenn would talk about living in the jungle, and she really wasn’t kidding. It is one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen, but also very remote. As I was doing dishes this morning, I watched monkeys play in the backyard. And rumor has it that there is a leopard that lives around here, but I have yet to see it.
When time allows, I spend every second I can in the village. I am really trying to be intentional with meeting people and just talking.. I try to take frequent walks through the village and stop and talk to anyone that’s around. Surprisingly, there are several people here that speak english. Since english is the national language, anyone that is educated through high school can speak enough english to have a decent conversation. All of the SOS staff speak english, and a select few in the village can. If you are educated, typically you will not be in a village. Where I am living is nice, but what’s surrounding me is not. It is every bit of poor. Small shacks made with mud, sticks, and anything else they can find describes the living conditions. As I was walking through the village, there were naked kids running around, babies playing in the dirt, and many children with distended stomachs from bacteria or malnourishment.
Yesterday, I walked quite a ways through the jungle to get to a women’s Bible study. There was just something about that Bible study that was so sweet. Many of the women there were new believers, or not believers at all, yet they had a hunger for the Word and a desire to be there. We sat outside someone’s small hut, while the kids played in the dirt, and discussed Scripture. With these ladies, the foundation for a life hidden in Christ is beginning to be laid. I am so thankful to jump in to this season of their lives, and walk alongside them as they journey deeper into scripture.
Before I came, I kind of made a deal with myself that I would be brutally honest about my journey.. Sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think this world needs to see authentic hearts that are weak (really weak), yet moldable and resting in the power of Christ. But if we’re honest, sometimes it’s a fight to get to that place where you are resting in the power of Christ. It’s quite humbling to be brought to the end of yourself and literally not know how you will emotionally make it through the next day. That happened quite a few times on my extremely long plane ride(s) to Uganda. Two of three flights were delayed, and for whatever reason, tears just kept flowing. Saying good bye to family and friends was really difficult for me, and I began to realize that I didn’t have the first clue about what I was getting into. I panicked, and felt extremely unprepared. I’ve wrestled a lot emotionally, but I’m learning to embrace that part of this journey. My faith has been shaken a little, and quite honestly Christ has been the only familiar thing to me here. The first day or two was definitely the hardest trying to adjust to Ugandan life, and meet/get acquainted with the people I will be living with for the next few months. There’s a beauty to stepping out in faith, but there is also a messiness to it. My weakness is exposed, and I’m brought to my knees feeling unworthy to stand in the presence of such a strong God. But here’s the beauty- when you come before Him weak, undone, scared, and just a mess, He wants nothing more than to graciously give you His strength. And that’s what He did, and is doing, for me. I have had many sleepless nights, and have literally been learning to “work out my faith with fear and trembling” as Paul says in Philippians. His strength didn’t come immediately, I had to fight for it. I’m learning that it’s a daily fight to get to that place where you can stand confident in His strength. So there’s the ugliness of my weakness, but by the grace of God I am relying on Him to take that ugly and make it pretty.. In whatever way will best display His glory.
Being here in Uganda, I’ve had to figure out in a totally new way how to rely on God and trust in His faithfulness. And I’ve also had to figure out, on the fly, how to do life here with a family of 6 that I met 6 days ago. I am totally convinced that God gives us more than we can handle so we will learn to just let Him show strong when we are in over our heads. After dinner tonight, the boys found some skittles and Nate’s face lit up- obviously revealing that he had just had one of those mind blowing revelations. Nate asked, “You know what’s better than eating one skittle at a time?” to which I responded “not a clue..” and his excited response was “EATING TWO AT A TIME!”. How true that is in my life these days- I’m learning to see that “eating two skittles at a time” is way better than just one at a time- because that’s when God begins to take over. Nate’s mind blowing revelation resulted in a mind blowing revelation for me as well- I am thankful for skittles tonight. Here in the jungle, we get really excited about eating not one, but two skittles at a time.