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.
This is Alex. He was my driver to and from the office and around Jinja for my time there.
Matt (my host while I was in Jinja) rides a motorcycle to work, and as much as I would have loved to just ride on the back of it, he only has one helmet and I only have one brain and my mom reads this blog.
So Alex was hired to drive me as needed. He took me to the office and back, a 15-minute trip one way. That was 30 minutes daily of time to chat. Alex told me all about his schooling, his family, and mostly about his deep respect for Pastor Henry and how the man changed his life.
Alex does a lot of driving for tourists taking safari-style trips to places like Murchison National Park and Sipi Falls. He likes to make sure everyone gets a little taste of Africa in the form of something local and legit, so he pulled into the market one afternoon and bought me a slice of jack fruit.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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