community. engaging with diverse populations. simply being present.
Prior to coming to Uganda I’d say that I understood these principles and that I practiced them. Liberty University is all about creating good community, in my social work classes we are taught ways to engage with diverse populations, and prior to coming I read the popular book, Present Over Perfect. I thought and felt like I understood these in practice and in theory.
And then I moved into a Ugandan home for two weeks and learned that I knew very little about community, simply being present with people, and engaging with diverse populations.
For two weeks this sweet family opened up their home to me. They gave me food to eat, water to drink, and my own little room to sleep in. They took me to church with them, introduced me to their friends, and took me to both a wedding and an introduction ceremony (it’s like a proposal!). They fully welcomed me into their home and accepted me as their own. Renaming me Namakula and adopting me into their clan, the Pangolin clan. They let me help them wash dishes and mop the floors, gave me instant coffee, rather then tea, and let me watch them cook the Irish potatoes and the matoke over a charcoal fire pot.
But far more than the introducing me to their delicious new foods, their friends, and their cultural norms. They taught me what it means to be still. Not to plan ahead and worry about what is coming up next, but just to sit down and drink a cup of tea (or in my case, coffee). They taught me what it looks like for a family unit to work together and help each other in all things: cooking, cleaning, laundry, house work. And they truly taught me what it looks like to engage in a diverse population. It’s tricky. Combining two totally different cultural backgrounds and placing them in the same house requires lots of patience, but they were so gracious with me when I failed to greet them properly or mixed up my Lugandan words. I certainly have a lot to learn – a lot. The longer I am here, the more I am realizing that.
I’m grateful for my Ugandan family, away from my family. I’m grateful to have so many little sisters in Uganda and a sweet mom who makes herself so available to me. While challenging at times, I’m grateful for a program that sees the value in placing you with Ugandan families and not just in a dorm room.
Looking back I cannot believe that Wednesday will make a month of living in Uganda. Time here has seriously flown by. Can’t wait to see what the next three months hold as I continue to live and learn in Uganda.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3