This summer marks our 10th anniversary of saying, “Yes Lord, send me” through our sending agency SAMS and the beginning of our relationship with the people of Brazil as SAMS missionaries.
One of the most intriguing and different parts of life in Africa is the abundance of different languages. In Uganda alone, there are more than 30 languages spoken. I live in Mukono, near Kampala, the capital, where many people from around the country have moved to this area to work. Most it seems also keep in contact with relatives in the village they are from, go back to visit, have second homes in the village (for those who can afford it), and also continue speaking their tribe’s language, teaching it to their children at home. Most people at Uganda Christian University and other professionals here speak English and Lugandan in addition to their native tribe’s language.
Many times here, friends have asked me what my language is where I’m from. They are surprised when I just say “English”. I try to share some of our Texan modifications, but “Howdy” and “ya’ll” seem to pale in comparison to the rich variety of languages in Africa.
The other night, I was blessed to be invited for dinner at another lecturer’s home with his family. We had delicious traditional food, watched a World Cup game, and enjoyed good conversation. After we finished eating, I was asking about which area of the country they are from and about the language spoken there. The family’s 5 year old daughter was an eager teacher when I requested to learn a few words. She would say a phrase, then I would try to repeat. After a time or two of that, giggling, she exclaimed “she’s saying it wrongly!”. But her persistence to teach me didn’t stop there. By the end, she was walking me through the phrase syllable by syllable, “counting” on my fingers as she went for emphasis! The whole group had a lot of laughs. What a fun family dinner!
A good friend who also works at UCU has been helping me to learn some Lugandan words mpola, mpola (slowly, slowly), but this afternoon, I got a chance to expand my horizons to another language too. Our neighbor and her husband are from Western Uganda where they speak Runyankole. As we enjoyed a cool late afternoon on our back patio, she taught me some phrases.
Greeting: Hello, how are you? – Agandi / Reply: I’m fine – Nimarungi
Thank you very much – Webare munonga
God is good – Mukama nimurungi – All the time – obwire bwona
Because that is his nature wow – ezo nizo mberaze
My Friend – munywani wangye
I even got to learn a few short songs in Runyankole. They go like this:
Yesu nankunda, Yesu nankunda, Yesu nankunda, ahakuba ndyowe
“Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you because you are His.”
Ruhanga akantorana… ntine karungi kona. Yanyekundirawenka yanyozyahoebibi mbwenunka…marayonta ibanja…ryangyeryona
“God chose us even when we had nothing good in us. He washed away all my sins. How can I ever repay my debt?”
As I meet all these new friends, many with different native languages, these verses come to mind.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
Philipians 2: 9-11
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
What a beautiful day that will be when every knee bows and every tongue, from every tribe and nation and language, confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord! As we who know Christ as our Savior long for that day, may we be bold in faithfully proclaiming the Gospel that none should perish!
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Over the last few weeks, I’ve made more trips into Kampala. Although it’s just about 14 miles from Mukono (where Uganda Christian University is located) to Kampala, because of the large amount of traffic on few main roads between the two places, it takes at least an hour, if not more, to get there. For those who don’t have a car, the standard transportation method is by taxi.
Taxis are 14 person vans that work a little like a bus route (point A to point B and back with ability to get off at a few places along the way). There is a driver and usually a conductor who manages the sliding door on one side and collects the fee from passengers as they get off, as well as, calling for more passengers whenever there is room (and at times, when there is not room!)
My first trip to Kampala other than just passing through, I was accompanied by a UCU friend, another lecturer at UCU. About 15 minutes into our ride after setting off from Mukono, we were pulled over by the traffic police who do random stops on major roads to check for brake lights, licenses, etc. Our driver handed his license to the police woman who had him get out, look at the tires…then we notice that as she turns to talk to another officer, our driver walks across the road and keeps walking away from our taxi! Apparently, he did not have the right credentials for that taxi so to avoid getting arrested, just walked away! All 14 passengers piled out and hopped in other taxis within a few minutes. That’s one way to do it!
Once in Kampala and along the way, there is often “jam” (or traffic), but while you putt along in the taxi, there are many people selling snacks and drinks along the road. The one I have enjoyed are the bunches of small bananas. They are sweeter than the larger bananas and a delicious snack for the journey. A more exotic option is cooked grasshoppers sold in large plastic buckets. I asked my friend if she liked them. She said, “Yes, but it’s better if you cook them yourself.” Who knows? Maybe one day I will try…
The “point B” of the journey to Kampala on the trips I have taken has been the old taxi park. It is an overwhelming place, but the system works! (I am borrowing the photos of the traffic and the old taxi park because having your phone out in town is not advisable.)
Mornings here during the week usually begin with greeting Paul who takes care of the garden outside our house. He is a joyful person who is always wearing a big smile. We prepare our coffee and sit down for a small breakfast of jam and toast (though Paul highly prefers his bread untoasted) and morning bible study (currently the book of Galatians). During our discussions, Paul often shares cultural insights that give me a better understanding of the Ugandan culture but also often sheds new light on part of scripture. For example, as we studied Galatians 5:1, Paul was able to share with us his experiences of training oxen with a yoke in his village.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
He shared that early in the training, the ox goes this way and that and has to be trained to go straight in order to plow the fields. At times, the yoke is left on its neck overnight so that the ox can get used to it. When they finally submit to the yoke and the training, plowing with these 2 giant animals can be done with just one person quietly instructing, back and forth down the rows of the field. As he shared, Matthew 11:28-30 came to my mind.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Let us not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery, but by the grace of God through the cross, let us submit each day to His leadership in our lives, knowing it is an easy yoke and much lighter burden than we carry when we choose to go it alone!
P.s. The picture above is from a Friday morning when we treat ourselves to mandazi (a Ugandan doughnut).
(Photo of oxen borrowed from http://blog.peaceharvest.org/2009/10/third-post.html)
While I haven’t been able to meet with students yet to review business plans, our gardener, Paul, is a jack of many trades and took me up enthusiastically on my offer to put his business plans into spreadsheet form to help him make decisions about how best to grow them, etc. He is currently selling beans and also has plans to open a piggery. We spent a few days the other week discussing the inputs to the model for these businesses, building the models and reviewing them together. It was a fun experience to learn about new industries I had NO previous exposure to and to see Paul giggle at what seemed like silly questions I was asking – like “does 1 pig eat a kilo of feed each week or each day? – A week? No, a day!” “How much does a piglet cost?”
Seeing the excitement on his face as he took printouts of the different financial models we built with him to discuss with his brother and father in his village the next weekend made my week. It reminded me that God’s economy doesn’t work like our human economy. Blessing one person is just as important and valuable as blessing a multitude because our God is a personal God who loves each of us individually out of his glorious riches. I’m excited and hopeful to see where Paul’s business plans take him!
I have been here in Recife for 2.5 weeks already and I’m LOVING it! I am grateful that Brazilians are so warm–everyone I’ve met is extremely welcoming which has made settling in easier.
Every day I go to Casa da Esperança, the day care center where I’m working. I love Casa and am so impressed with the organization as a whole. Every day, up to 60 kids come for the whole day–7:30 am-4:30 pm and are bathed, fed 5 meals, and then do different educational activities. When they’re at Casa, the kids are safe from getting dragged into the drug industry and it enables their parents to work consistently. The children are absolutely precious. It’s been special to begin developing relationships with them. I’m mostly with the 2 year olds, and when I arrive they say, “Tia Mada! Tia Mada!!” and I get many hugs and kisses.
I’ve been able to help out with English translation in the office at Casa–they want to develop English versions of a number of media documents and I’ve been able to help by editing Google Translations. Besides Casa, I’ve also had the opportunity to lead a worship song in Portuguese/English with a Brazilian girl on Sunday–it was at the small Anglican church that meets on the day center grounds to reach the surrounding community. The picture to the right is with members of the Casa da Esperança team after working a bazaar to raise money for the day care center!
Please pray for…
1: continued improvement in my facility with Portuguese–I can get around fine, I just want to keep improving
2: blessing for Casa in their current work, and provision for the improvements and expansions of their programs toward which they’re working
3: my precious host parents Xandau and Andrezza–that they would be blessed for the incredible generosity with which they are caring for me!
4: that each child that enters the day care center daily would be surrounded by the presence of Jesus and his love for them.
Thank you for your prayers, and the support that makes my time here possible! God is so good. Living and working here is an immensely beautiful gift.
P.S. Follow me on Instagram for more photos of what I’m doing! @madeleineruch