I slept pretty well with my pepper spray under my pillow and the fan I requested blowing directly on me all night. Although my room is small, it’s good enough for me and at $12 per night, you get what you pay for. I can’t complain. I am safe. The staff know me and take good care of me and I got the quiet side of the hotel this time. J
Jane came to ‘pick me’ for church around 11:30 and it was so meaningful to walk into a church where I recognize the faces of most, and they are happy to see me. Ugandans are always very honouring of guests and so my seat was in the front once again, facing sideways so I can feel the eyes of everyone on me as they very rarely have muzungus come this far into the village and away from the larger centres. I made one toddler scream in terror, and hide her face in her mom’s dress, but I have come to expect this and just take it in stride, greeting everyone with the typical eyebrow raise and head tilt that quickly becomes a habit when I’m here. This trip, I have also found myself speaking Ugandan English and with their accent because they find it so much easier to understand. I only need remember to turn it off when I’m speaking to whites – trickier than you think.
Vincent’s children all stayed back from their first day of school (Monday) to see me and spend time with me and I really got to know them a bit better this time. I was asking Stephen, the seventeen-year-old, about girls and if there was anyone special back at school. I wish you could see his face. Of course, we cannot see blushing on their dark skin, but his smile told me what I needed to know and I teased him throughout the day and we had fun with it. They did a special dance and when it was time for everyone to dance, instead of looking like an idiot in the front while everyone stared at a white girl trying to dance (can you imagine), I moved my way back to Vincent’s family and danced with them as they taught me their moves and I tried to keep up. I was sweating through my clothes by the end of about 30-40 minutes of dancing and for the last 20 minutes, I was holding one of the grandchildren of the lady we went to see yesterday. Who ever thought that worship time could be a workout. I spoke a brief word of thanks and a story from last week’s ministry time. I greeted them with Katonda akuwe omukisa (God bless you) which made them all laugh and clap. I’m telling you this – learning some of the local language for out bike trip and keeping it fresh in my mind has made 100% of the difference in my ability to reach out to people on this trip. They are so surprised at first and then seem hounoured that a muzungu would go to the trouble of learning a few things in their language. It has opened doors that would have remained closed and I’m sure helped me avoid threatening situations at times just because I can greet them and say things like tewali buzibu (no problem).
Various people got up to give testimonies and I saw the lady whose house we built go to the front holding a live chicken. “Oh, man,” I thought, “What if that is for me? How do I hold a chicken and what is appropriate for what to do with it? What if it flaps or pecks me and I freak out in front of everyone?” Sure enough, she sweetly shared about the changes that her new house has made in her life and the lives of her children and then walked over and placed that chicken right on my lap. I was struck with the immense privilege to live the life I am living and be here at this exact moment to receive a live chicken from a woman in Uganda whose name I cannot pronounce. Who gets to do that? I am so grateful. Thankfully, after a few minutes someone came and took the chicken from me and set it on the floor by the stage and there it happily stayed for the duration of the service.
After the three-hour service, we walked to Vincent’s house for the typical Ugandan lunch of boiled chicken, rice, matoke, greens, Irish potatoes, and soup (a bowl of beef broth with a piece of meat in it that you pour over your entire plate). They always heap your plate so high that I told Vincent I would eat what I could and then we gave the rest to one of the children. We took a bunch of photos and the children that are getting sponsored for 2020 wrote thank you letters and I tried to show them photos of their sponsors from Facebook. They really loved that and took much time to write their sweet letters that I will bring home.
It was like I spent the day with family. What a privilege.