So I had my first opportunity to visit Kampala. If you want to know what Kampala is like then in your mind think of a really big city with a lot of people, for example, New York. Then mix in a little bit of 3rd world "not yet developed"ness and then a whole lot of "not going to follow the rules while driving." Add to that a ton of diesel smell and little motorcycles (called boda-bodas) that seem to multiply like rabbits and definitely never follow the rules. For a final touch add barbed wire around the fence of the jail – oh I mean the hotel that I stayed at – and I'm sure the picture is getting a little clearer. This ain't Kansas anymore.
Sort of a bleak picture. But Kampala also had many, many plusses to being there. There are grocery stores, stores that resemble (vaguely) wal-mart, and actual restaurants, banks and even a mall. So my time in Kampala was really a mix between trying to rest while away from Bundibugyo and trying to plan and shop frantically to get supplies for the next several months. The two don't really mix.
One of the more interesting things that happened while in Kampala was the end of the Muslim holiday, Ramadan. During Ramadan, all Muslims fast during the day and eat at night. There are many special services that are held during this time. Ramadan is ended when after the new moon a piece of the moon can be seen in the sky. (I think this has to happen by some big wig in Saudi Arabia, much like only the real groundhog can check to see if he sees his shadow and it doesn't count if anyone else does it). The other thing is that they don't allow this day to be predicted. The reason I am telling you this is because we were supposed to be in Kampala Saturday night through Tuesday and the banks and government offices are closed for most of the weekend, except maybe sat morning. So we wake up bright and early on Monday morning to attack the day and run our errands and we find out to our surprise that Monday was the end of Ramadan (because the moon was seen the night before) and that all of the government offices would be closed. Bummer. One of the biggest problems was that some of our teammates needed to go to the bank to get money for supplies and since the banks were closed, they were limited on the cash flow. We ended up extending our stay in Kampala by an extra day so that we could get all of the shopping done that we needed.
Things that make you say hmm: So there is a very, very interesting service dynamic in Uganda. And by service I mean the service (or lack thereof) that you receive at a restaurant or hotel. Basically every restaurant that we ate at was about a 2-3 hour event and that doesn't include travel time. It's just the way it is. Slow. However, and this is the amazing part, is that the service in what I will call Ugandan fast food is AMAZING in comparison to American fast food. When traveling on the main roads for long distances there are certain villages along the way (pretty much any village that you come too) and all you have to do is pull you car off to the side of the road and a hoard of excited venders will race (literally) to your car and offer you Chipatties, Muebende Chicken (only in Muebende), cooked beef, cold soda, cold water, roasted bananas…if it's available in town, the venders are offering it to you, and in the comfort of your own car. Visiting the fast food court in the mall isn't much different. All you have to do is sit at a table in the food court and workers will bring you menus from each of the fast food restaurants and you can order from them, the food will be delivered to the table, and you can even pay at the table. That side of the service dynamic gets two thumbs up from this American.
Rest. So one of the things that I have been thinking a lot about lately is rest. It's one thing that seems to be so hard to find here and even in the States. While in Kampala, we listened to a sermon by Tim Keller of Redeemer in NY on rest out of Hebrews 3 and 4. In this sermon he talked about the two types of rest that the author of Hebrews is talking about. One type of rest is physical and the other an inner rest, an ability to lay down your work and be satisfied. Where in a culture that wraps our identity in the success of our work do we find that ability to lay it down and be satisfied? Why are we so tired and overworked as a culture? Because we don't have rest, physical, but even more importantly, the inner rest. What is it about Jesus Christ being your Lord and Savior that allows us to enter that rest? And is it automatic once you become a Christian? Keller presents that it's not automatic and that this inner rest is a heart issue and that many Christians are currently struggling with rest and being tired especially in the inner parts. What he gets at is that at our core we trying to justify ourselves with our actions. He says that even as Christians we can acknowledge with our minds that Christ has justified us, and then in the next moment continue to seek to justify ourselves before God even by serving him which keeps us from entering the internal rest that is in Christ being our justification. He also talks of how the heart is bent towards self justifying work and if left alone always ends up back there. Which is why having a Sabbath allows us to consciously reset our heart into the inner rest that we have in Christ. It's an excellent sermon and I highly recommend that you track it down and give it a listen because my paraphrase is an inadequate rendition.
Oh I almost forgot – the purple room. So many of you are probably wondering, what in the world can this be about. Well in Uganda, not everything works out like you expect. One of the things that we purchased while in Kampala was paint to help spice up the walls of the house that we are living in. For my room, I got a deep soothing blue. However, even in America, what you ask for in paint isn't always the color that you get at home…less so here. As I start painting on the wall, my Ugandan friend says, oh this is purple. Of course, my heart skipped like three beats while thinking what SINGLE man who has what I would consider is on the verge of a very burly beard would PAINT HIS ROOM PURPLE. Good thing the team has a no dating policy for short term missionaries, because this pretty much ends all hope. HAHAHA. Fortunately for me, the paint has dried into what I am going to enthusiastically call royal "masculine" blue. With continual brainwashing I expect my teammates to thoroughly be convinced of the blueness of my room :-).