Today my dad and I took a trip into Kampala. It wasn’t much different from any other trip into town. Shop, eat burgers and ice cream, drop off things at my Ugandan brother’s room... and of course, get singled out by Ugandans (mostly men) who like to call out “muzungu, muzungu” (muzungu= white man) and wink at me if I meet their eyes.
|My dad and I|
Let me tell you. It’s unnerving.
My dad and I had a good laugh though, at a cashier at a supermarket. The man and I went through the pleasantries, “how are you,” “fine”, etc etc... then he asked me if my dad was my husband. I admit, my cheeks were probably a little pink when I told him no. He then promptly continued the conversation by asking how old I was.
“Seventeen,” I replied.
“Oh, well then I’m still older than you! I’m twenty two.”
Great. I can see where this is going. Thankfully my dad joins me at that very moment and the guy shuts up pretty quick.
But really- it is hard. Not just because I am constantly being harassed by the men, but because of the fact that I stand out - I’m like a “diamond in the rough” as my friend once put it - extremely out of place and overly noticeable. Even now as we drive through the outdoor market in Luwero, I can feel the eyes of those around the car boring into my head. There’s a saying here, that if someone’s being talked about they’ll “feel their ears burning”. Well, it’s almost like that. When I’m being stared at, I can almost feel my head ‘burning’. It’s a strange psychological phenomenon.
What is it that’s so fascinating about a white face? Is it simply because I’m different?
|Can you guess which one is me? ... (Point made)|
Sometimes I long for America- where, in most places at least my skin color won’t attract curious looks or hostile stares or even unwarranted winks from taxi conductors.
But I have to stop and think, because if I go back to America, could I really blend in?
I can’t blend in because of Africa.
Because of Uganda.
The askaris (security guards) around New Hope call me “muganda muzungu”, which essentially means “white African”, because I greet them in their language and do it well enough to sound like one of them.
|"As it is, you do not belong to the world, |
but I have chosen you out of the world." ~John 15:19
I have been branded with that name. Not visibly, of course.
But it has left a mark and I will never be able to entirely rub it off.
I have one foot stuck in this country and one foot caught in the other.
So I won’t be able to blend in. I can’t blend in anywhere. When I go back to the States, Luganda words or little exclamations will probably stay part of my vocabulary, and Ugandan facial expressions and actions will be woven into my mannerisms. I will never be fully American again- and that will cause me to stand out.
However, my strength lies in that weakness- and you’ve heard this before, but it’s so true:
Because I know that I don’t belong anywhere here on earth, I more fully realize just how much I belong in heaven with my Father.
I praise God that I don’t fit in! Because if I did, I wouldn’t realize just how much I’m not meant to fit into this world. If I was to go back to America and blend in, how would people ever see Jesus in my life? I could go on and on with that subject but that’s the basic truth of it.
For now, the trick is standing out in Uganda in a good way- not the way the typical American tourist would stand out, but rather learning to stand out in a way that is glorifying to God. No idea how I'm to do that. I guess that's part of the adventure, right?