I went out and explored Dubai on my long layover. This took some encouragement. I did it because I wanted to see the city, but mainly I did it to force myself to deal with some fear.
My trepidation had nothing to do with being in a foreign country. It was one simple thing: taxis. My least favorite method of transportation in Cairo was taxis. I hated having to argue with drivers who saw an American and claimed the meter was not working, hoping to score a higher fare. And they never seemed to know how to get where we needed to go unless it was something huge and obvious like the Pyramids. I walked a lot of kilometers in my efforts to avoid them (taxis, not the Pyramids). It was a decent way to get some exercise anyway, and necessary given all the gelato and Kit Kats I ate for comfort after a stressful day of learning Arabic and being stared at.
Anyway, the thought of getting into a taxi anywhere in the Middle East is not really high on my list of fun anymore. It’s trailing right behind hemorrhoids and stepping on scorpions.
Remember how I said I did not feel up to this assignment? I spent all of December and January wondering if I needed to sit down with Matthew and Graham and explain the 100 ways I expected to fail and the difference between journalism and photojournalism, and also remind them that I majored in neither one.
I wanted to beg them not to send me on this one.
OK, so that makes it sound like something totally awesome happened. And it sort of did. But it’s maybe less cool than it really sounds. It’s a cultural thing and I will try to explain, but given that my experience in this culture is limited to two visits, I might not nail it. Bear with me.
As part of my investigation of the cross training element of the Uganda Workshop, Steve and Melinda took me up to a small village near Luwero to visit Kirabo Jonah (last names go first here) and his family. Jonah has a large family and in small villages tradition and hospitality is very, very important. We were treated like royalty. Honoring guests is really a big deal. A family will pull out all the stops for you, and it does not necessarily end at food.
I had a schedule all planned out for me when I arrived in Uganda (thank you, UG office staff), and it listed Saturday as a work day. What that meant was I had the option to work, but since Steve was not going in, it was not actually happening unless I asked for it. But after a week of many interviews up in Jinja, I was fairly well brain-fried and feeling the need for a day off, so a day off it was!
Steve and Melinda sometimes take walks in the botanical garden, which is adjacent to their home. They invited me to join them so I grabbed a camera and my Chacos and made for the door.
When I first learned I’d be going to Uganda on my own, I’ll admit I was disappointed. I have only traveled with project teams and I have always loved the camaraderie that develops through the week, the friends I make each time. I felt I was losing an opportunity to enjoy that once again, and it took me a few weeks to see the other possibility. Instead of staying in guest quarters of some kind with a dozen other people, I’d be hosted in staff members’ homes. It makes for a smaller “team” but an excellent way to get to know other EMI staff deeper than I had a chance to at our World Staff Conference in 2016.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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