Thursday, March 1, 2012

Daily life in Uganda

by Marjorie Broce
[NOTE:  Before reading the below, you really need to understand something.  We ARE here to help the people of Kampala, and to learn from them.  We love them and our hearts go out to those who are suffering in poverty.  BUT, we feel strongly, and God has been teaching us this for many years now, that giving handouts is NOT the way to help them.  This only encourages them to keep begging and/or to look to the mzungu (white man) for provision and not to God. It keeps them thinking "in the box" and not "out of the box".  It has been such a problem here because of past missionaries and NGO's, that it is expected that a mzungu will be the answer to their problems.  We don't want to further that attitude.  We are working with Pastor Joshua to help them CHANGE their thinking.]

On to daily life in Uganda.

There’s always something interesting when we are out walking to the store.

Yesterday, we walked to the store to get some bread.  It’s about ¾ a mile away, I’m guessing.  It just takes three blocks or so to get out of our neighborhood and then we’re on a semi busy street with lots of people walking on the side.  They usually just walk by us but with lingering eyes.  They are so curious about the mzungus.  On the quieter streets, I usually say Good Morning or Oliotia (how are you), to woman especially, and they usually REALLY light up with a big smile and ask, “How are you?”

Pastor Joshua showed us a short cut to the supermarket and so we take that dirt road all the time.  There are attendants at the entrance to the parking areas and guards so we have befriended about 4 of them, like Charles that you’ll read about in Erika’s blog.  They LOVE to see us.  They always ask us for water or food or something.  I think it’s a joke, but I’m not sure.  I told Charles that he needs to bring his own water from home.  He said it was so far and so heavy, so I told him to fill a plastic bottle and put it in his pocket…..They are always looking for handouts and although I’m quite tempted to give them something, I try to refrain.  The missionaries before us have done the mzungus a great disservice by giving hand outs so freely.

As we were approaching the mall, I saw three little kids set on the sidewalk by a very busy street, made to beg.  They were about 15 feet apart from each other.  They so wanted to play, I could tell.  Who knows what they had been threatened with if they did not comply?  I don’t give to these little ones either, because it would only encourage the mother who was probably watching from a distance.  But I did talk to them as I went by with gentle tones of “Hi, sweetie.”  I was saddened for them.

Then on the way into the store, there is a female guard and attendant at the entrance.  They are there to check any big bags you may have over your shoulder.  We have made friends with them and their names are Perina and Monique.  They only have 3 days off a month and it seems as though they work more than 8 hours a day.  Well, it’s quite common to be asked if I know any way that they or their children can be sponsored so that they can go to school.  They don’t ask me directly if I will, but that is the intention.  Perina asked me the other day.  She said something like, “Do you know if there is any way I can find a sponsor so that I can attend school?”  I just have to tell them, that is not why we came, but I’ll tell you what…I will pray that God makes a way for you to go back to school.  Then they say, “You are born again? Praise God!  I am born again too!”

Then, also yesterday, on a quiet road near my house, a young man approached me.  He said he had seen me in the store (which made me a little more cautious—had he followed us?  Three of my kids were with me).  He asked me if I was born again. He said he was too.  He wanted to know what church I attend.  I told him.  I did not want him to know where I lived so I stopped walking and called my kids to do the same.  Then he began to say, with his Ugandan/British accent, "I want to speak to you as a mom.  As I said, I am born again, and I trust God for my provision, I am 39 years old and an elder in my church…” He droned on for another minute and to tell the truth, it seemed he had memorized and it was not at all from the heart.  He was really bugging me (and let me say, I am not easily bugged, but it was the spirit behind what he was saying that bugged me so much).  So, knowing that he was after a handout, only deceptively (because he was not anywhere near 39 years old and he had NO life in his eyes at all), I interrupted him and said,  “I don’t give hand-outs.  Goodbye.”  And walked away.  I turned a few seconds later to make sure that he too was walking away and he was.  You may find that to be harsh, but I have little respect for someone who pretends to be a Christian to get something.

Two days ago or so, we found a snail with a shell outside that was about 5 inches in circumference and we were all gathered around it (my kids and I) and Erika was taking pictures.  Two girls walked by and found it incredibly funny that we would be so interested in a snail!  They laughed.

OH, and yesterday I had bought some biscuits (hard cookie/crackers that you would find in England) and thought I’d just give one to Simon, one of our guard friends.  Well, I should have followed my own rule of no handouts because when I gave him two, first of all, he tried to take the whole thing, then the other guy near him put his hand out too, so I gave him one, then I guess, according to my kids, I was gathering a whole crowd all wanting a biscuit, as I turned and walked away.  I heard a lady laughing about it.  (At least they weren’t mad!).  And my kids chided me….   I think my kids keep me out of some trouble since I have very little fear.

As I came into our gate, I saw one of the gardeners that attend the apartment grounds very well.  His name is Andrew.  I had heard the day before that Andrew's wife had lost her baby in a miscarriage and so I asked him how his wife was doing.  He told me she was healing.  I talked to him about how we are free from any curses through Jesus and he said he was born again too and we prayed together there, coming against any curses and calling forth as many children as they wanted to have, all healthy and all full-term.

Those are some recent stories.

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