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.
Jonah’s wife and daughters cooked a really big meal for us, which we enjoyed after church. They made matooke in a way I really liked, which is saying something. The first time I came to Uganda and ate it, I left thinking, “If I never see matooke again it will be too soon.” If you don’t prepare it well, it’s a lot like eating a throw rug, but with less nutritional value. But Jonah's wife and daughters can cook like nobody's business. There was also pork, cabbage, yams, Irish potatoes, avocado, rice, and beef - nothing at all like rugs, totally delicious, and probably loaded with nutrients. I felt like Wonder Woman, but also could have done with a solid nap.
But I digress…
As we were waiting to eat, Jonah was going about the room introducing us to all his children and grandbabies. He mentioned that the newest was born that very morning at 5:30. He already has a couple of grandchildren named after Steve and Melinda. They told him, jokingly, they should name the baby after me. Not jokingly, he agreed. True story.
OK, back story. In Jinja you’ll recall I met Cossy’s family. They have children named Hoyt and Melinda. I mentioned that to Steve and Melinda when I arrived at their home down here in Entebbe and they said, “You stay in Africa long enough to make friends and you will have children named after you.” I figured “long enough” meant a few years. Turns out you just have to earn a teensy bit of respect. And apparently be in the right place at the right time.
Let me be clear: no one named a baby after me because they think I’m some sort of saint. I think it was part of honoring a guest, as the child was born the day we visited. Also, this child will have more than just a first, middle, and last name. She will likely have at least four, and “Jenni” is probably not what they are going to call her all the time. Or maybe ever. Or they might...
Jonah has a lot of respect for Steve and everyone at EMI. It is evident in all his words. We have a lot of respect for him. A lot. He has done much with his life and EMI is just a connection. It’s not like we came here and made Jonah who he is. He was doing great things already and our organization is just blessed to have found him and to have him join the team. It’s another story that will probably be in the magazine or online later this year, so I won't spill all the details here. I think it’s going to be a good one.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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