Well the past few days have been riddled with some fun cross cultural lessons. Lesson one was on Saturday afternoon. I went to the market with my friend Amy, who is a missionary and teaches at Christ School and RMS, and Kizza, one of the guys that I will be working with in the workshop, and also Charles. Charles is probably between 13 to 15 years old and he has come to my house a few times for "coaching," which is what they call tutoring. One of the things that I quickly learned when arriving in Uganda, especially in the rural, non-westernized area that I am in, is that it is quite common for male friends to hold hands. As you all know, this is not common in America (at least for regular male friendship). So I'm sure that you can all see where this is going…I had been anxiously awaiting with fear the time that I new that a male Ugandan would try to hold my hand, because I was quite certain that my reaction would probably not be culturally sensitive. Well Saturday was my day as Charles snuck right up and grabbed my hand. It only lasted for about 30 very long seconds and then it was over. I'm sure he could tell by my hands limp response that I wasn't so interested. So I wouldn’t say that I passed the cross cultural test here with flying colors, but hey, I did hold a boys hand for 30 seconds, so that's gotta count for somethingJ.
Cross cultural goodness number two was Saturday night (it was a busy day for me). I had Bhiiwa and Topi (my neighbors) over for dinner…well actually Topi cooked and brought the food over. We had chicken, rice and beans. Now so far, this all sounds just fine and normal to you all, and it was a very good meal. Well, about ¾ of the way through the meal, Bhiiwa says, that it is a cultural tradition for the person for who the chicken was prepared to eat the gizzards. Now, I'm not sure how many of you have eaten gizzards before, but my chicken from publix up to this point in my life never included them and I was quite fine with that. Fortunately for me, Bhiiwa was very understanding of my cultural background and clearly said that I didn't have to eat the gizzards if I didn't want them. Unfortunately for me, I had been determined to be as culturally sensitive as possible. So down went the gizzards into my little belly. Wow. They actually weren't nearly as bad as I expected them to be…gizzard does sound like it would taste nasty! However, I'm not sure that I could really describe it. Cultural Grade: A+.
The last cross cultural goodness was this morning at Church. Now I know that many of you (me included) can get a little complainy when church service runs a little long…but let me tell you of the African way of doing things. First off, church doesn't exactly have a starting time. It's generally around 10:30 am, but if it rains then it can start much later. I just walk up there when I hear the drums starting. Now since the service includes a substantial prayer time and multiple bible readings in both English and Lubwesi and a sermon in both languages and today even included communion…it is quite common for the service to run a little long. Like to 1:30 pm or so. Since it rained this morning, service didn't really get going till around 11, but that still means that our service was 2 and a half hours. Wow.
The really beautiful cross cultural thing today was taking communion with the Ugandan brothers and sisters. Wine is very expensive here as well as grape juice. So today we had communion with honey grahams and warm coca-cola. I thought that is was a beautiful picture of the people from every tribe and tongue worshiping God and partaking of the sacraments. There's not a lot of money here, but the church is serving God with what they have. As a missionary, it was a fresh reminder of what the sacrament of communion represents and that we are remembering the body and blood of Jesus Christ, his body broken on the cross and his blood poured out for the forgiveness of our sins. And this remembrance can even be done with honey grahams and warm coca-cola.
Be praying for me this week as I will be traveling to the sub county of Kiragutu to repair a poorly designed water intake and install some new taps. This water project was not originally a WHM project, but done by a local contractor. We will be there for 3 days this week, Tuesday thru Thursday and I will be staying in a local lodge (which likely means mud hut or something near to it). We will be hiking up into the Rwenzori mountain range each morning, a one hour, very steep hike/climb. And we will hike back in the evening. Be praying for safe hiking and that the malaria carrying mosquitoes would stay out of the lodge and for the opportunity to share the gospel with the local laborers that I will be working with. We will be bringing a few skilled workers with us, two of which I know are Christians, but the laborers that we will hire there I do not know about and hope to be a witness to. Keep sending those e-mails, it may take a while, but I do like to respond to everyone individually. Grace and peace to you all in our Lord Jesus Christ-