it’s fascinating returning to a place you once called home only to find that nothing feels the same. it doesn’t feel like home [right now]. i know this is mainly because i’m not with her, but there are also some other things that have made me feel like i’m suspended between two worlds. in limbo. i feel unsettled. restless. my stuff is all packed in boxes. i have some things in kampala with friends, and some here in my new house in charlotte. i am so blessed to be moving in with my good friend Patty, who has graciously opened her home for me and M. but i am not unpacking because i don’t know when we’ll be back. so it’s strange.
it’s surprising how you can live for years in a one place and not notice certain realities for what they are. everything is just part of life as you know it. you adapt and get used to it. it becomes okay. and then you leave for a few months, experience another world, gain some new perspective, and change the way you think. and returning to the place you call home, you recognize distinct voids. societal patterns. some things that are really good. some things that are really bad. and a lot of gray in between. things that make you go hmmmm.
it’s nice that everything here is so clean and organized, but i have to say that there’s something very liberating of the dirt and chaos of uganda! life here is very orderly and scheduled. life there is chaotic and unpredictable. here everything is sanitary, clean and hygienic. in uganda, cleanliness is relative and you spend your days covered with a layer of red dust. here, we have so much stuff. things that make our lives more convenient. lots of entertainment and schedules packed to the max. in uganda, life is simple. less about pleasure and more about survival. i know that every country you go to will present different levels of comfort and different types of challenges. i love that about this world! but i think we are too easily molded by the culture we live in and too quick to conform to a set of standards or expectations. so i like to think about these things.
at night, i look up at the sky. instead of the sheer vast blackness splattered with billions of crystal clear starts, i see a gray blanket of nothing. it’s tinted on the edges with a salmon pink smog. the orange glow of the streetlights is eery. the car lots are lit up with a staggering fluorescent glare. the tail lights on the cars in front of me reflect off of the clean black pavement. the traffic lights change colors in their cycle of red, yellow and green. it’s all very functional, but it doesn’t really feel like night. it never gets dark. i don’t have to walk home by the light of the moon. i don’t have the terror of wondering if the night dancers are following me. or the sheer bliss of lying out in the dry african grass counting the shooting stars as they arch across the sky. it’s not better. or worse. it’s just different.
i noticed the other day while driving that there are no people outside. it is strange to be able to drive for miles and never see another human. really isolating actually. the only people i did see were behind the tinted windows of their cars. alone. talking on their cellphones or putting on makeup while they drove. but alone. this observation made me think more about the way that the independent nature of american society is causing extreme isolation. people feel stupid if they have to ask for help. they are programmed to think that you have to live on your own. in a big house. with an alarm on the door. locked in. shutting the world out. where are the people?!?
i knew it would be difficult for me to go grocery shopping. but i guess i forgot just how difficult. i felt completely overwhelmed and incapable in that store! i could not figure out what i wanted, and kept changing my mind on things i put in my shopping cart. we are so excessive here, without even realizing it. i am just as guilty as anyone else. it is just much more obvious now that i really wasn’t living as simply as i thought i was. and i want [desperately] to change that. it is just much more difficult to live a simple life when culture tells you all the things you “should” have and what tools will help you reach your full potential or achieve the greatest success.
what is success anyways?
i met a homeless family yesterday. they were out on the streets begging for money. i stopped and talked with them. i held their little baby and cried with the mother. this encounter reminded me of the opportunities i have right here to live radically for God. that really i don’t have to go much farther than my neighbor to “be the hands and feet.”
i am thankful for these new insights on the culture i am part of. it doesn’t make me angry or sad to be coming back here with my little girl. it makes me excited. i know it will be a huge adjustment for her, but i know she will adapt to this environment and will really thrive here, especially with all the therapy and sensory input that she will receive in different areas of her life. i am looking forward to ways to reach out more once i return in [hopefully] just a few months. i am going to keep searching and never stop walking on this winding road that God has chosen for me. it terrifies me that i can’t see what’s around the next corner. but it makes me trust Him more. that is the biggest lesson i’m learning in this whole process of coming and going and waiting. TRUST.