In my last blog post, I shared that I was a bit confused because I haven’t experienced the culture shock I have been expecting to have. No, I’m not about to say that I’ve experienced it yet. But I am going to share about what God has revealed to me about this situation.
Last Saturday, Sydney and I spent the weekend together. What a huge blessing that was! She showed me around the town of Jinja. All day long, I kept singing, “It’s a whole new world!” from Aladdin.
First course of action; we took a boda. A boda is the term for motorcycle. We both hopped on the boda (my first time!), and rode from the village to the end of the road; the highway. We decided to take another boda into town. Don’t worry; they’re safe-ish, and they’re super cheap.
We went to the bank and exchanged my American money to Ugandan shillings. Then, we went for lunch at “The Deli.” It’s like a healthy Subway, owned by a Dutch woman. We sat outside and began eating our sandwiches.
A man came up to our table.
“Don’t make eye contact.” Sydney told me. I tried to keep my eyes down and stuff my mouth with sandwich so I didn’t have to talk.
The man put his ID on our table, lifted up his shirt, and began telling us that he needed a hospital for his burns, which were all scarred over. We didn’t reply, and it was killing me. I began to squirm and feel so uncomfortable. Sydney handled it, as she has had a lot more practice than I. I needed to see how it was done.
He begged a little more, walked away, and wondered back to us a few minutes later. Finally, the Dutch owner came out and told him to stop pestering her customers.
After he left, I shared with Sydney that that has been my biggest struggle being here; saying no. I see children in the streets, begging for money while wearing rags. I see women and men begging, asking for money for their sick kids at home, or money for food. It breaks me every time. But the truth of these situations break me even more; those children are victims of trafficking, the women are pimped out, the men have alcohol addictions.
As Sydney and I talked about it, it suddenly dawned on me that the homelessness here in Africa is no different then Terrace, Summerland, or anywhere else in the world. No matter where you are, the practice of discernment and the leading of the Holy Spirit are in demand. The fact is; they may be lacking an amount in their pocket, but they are lacking Jesus in their hearts more.
We then went and got $5 manicures. It was an all-guy staff; it was a little weird at first. I’m looking forward to many more $5 manicures, even if the nail polish comes off the same day.
We walked up and down Main Street. It’s setup like an open market. Everything is out on the sidewalks to lure you inside their shops. It is extremely busy, especially on Saturdays, and we saw lots of white people; which was weird. When you go to Africa, you don’t expect to see white people. When you see white people, they are either part of a mission or on a tourist trip. You can pick how long they’ve been here for by just looking at them; that turned into a fun game all day!
As we walked by men, women, and children, we were constantly being addressed as “mzungu,” or “white person.” Men ranging from ages 15-70 are always looking at you, and most try to get your attention, flatter you in some way, and either ask you straight up for money, or ask if you’re married. The women are so kind. One woman we walked by said to me, “Hello, mzungu. You look very smart!” I smiled and nodded, not having a clue what that meant. I later found out that smart means beautiful, rich, or nice-looking. I would’ve said thank you if I had known! The children here just love saying hi to the white person. They are always smiling, waving, and trying to get your attention, just so you can wave back at them.
We shared a piece of pumpkin pie and drank ice cream shakes at a higher-end café, where the tourists don’t really go because it’s a street over from Main Street. By the way, this is coffee country, and it’s unreal. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with going back to Canadian coffee.
My main point of interest was to get a SIM card for my phone; what a hassle. There are TONS of phone booths here that advertise SIM packs, new cellphones, contracts, etc. There’s also a lot of false advertisement, and it took us all day to find my phone a SIM card! Our next problem was that we couldn’t find anywhere to get the SIM card cut down, since they’re bigger here and don’t fit properly in iPhones. After all of our failed attempts of trying to get my SIM card cut, we gave up and took a taxi back to the highway by my house. A taxi is not your typical taxi. A taxi is a 12-passenger van that gets filled to fit about 12-16 people. It is constantly stopping to drop off people and pick up more people. What could be a 15-minute drive, could easily turn into a 15-40 minute trip.
“Welcome to Uganda!” Sydney said to me, as I was uncomfortably squished between her and a really, elderly woman.
We got my stuff at home, and then I spent the night at Sydney and Emily’s, which is about a 30-minute drive…or a one to two hour taxi ride. We stopped at the supermarket and then took a boda to the village. We almost died, but we’re obviously totally fine (hang in there, Mom and Mama Maki!).
I met Emily, the babies, and the others girls that live there. We had a fun night of question games, FaceTiming family members, movies, crying babies, screaming babies, and a little bit of puking. Needless to say, we didn’t get to sleep until 4:00 am (solely by our own choice to watch another movie), and Sydney and I got up at 8:30 the next morning for church the next day. Having someone here that I know from home is such a beautiful blessing. I’m looking forward to many more sleepovers with those two lovelies!
The whole ride from their village to church in Jinja, I was still confused as to why I wasn’t feeling that culture shock that every missionary I have ever known talk about. I’ve been praying about it since I’ve gotten here.
Should I be praying for that feeling? Am I doing something wrong? I’ve been praying for Your eyes to see. Maybe not enough time has gone by? Is it because I have that much pride in my heart that it’s blinding me? Oh no…search my heart, O God…
Then God revealed something that I didn’t even explore as an option.
Every person is different. I have been surrendering my heart and life daily to my Master. I have been praying for His eyes to see. And I do see the brokenness. I do see the hurt and pain. I do see the trials. But I also see a beautiful culture that God is also working in. I have recognized that I am not here to change, or “solve”, anything in my “American-ized” eyes. I am here to serve whole-heartedly. I am seeing God moving through a whole different culture, and I love it. He has revealed to me that my heart is open for adventure and risk. He also revealed to me that I may not even experience a culture shock until I get back to Canada.
But even when, or if, I do, I am at peace to know that He is in control. He is Sovereign. He is Yahweh. He is the One who saves. And at the end of it all, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Today as I write, I am sick and very exhausted from making trips to the bathroom to empty and rinse out my basin. But I am extremely excited to see what God will continue to do in my heart and how He is going to use me as His servant in future encounters during the remainder of this African adventure.
“I will bless The Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know The Lord is always with me. I will not be shake, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.” – Psalm 16:7-9