What is Your 20/20 for 2020?

They say that 20/20 is perfect vision. But what is your 20/20 for the new year? It’s hard to believe that it is 2020 already! Have you given any thought to what’s ahead in this new year? Do you ask God each year for a “word” or key “phrase” for the year? Do you have a list of resolutions? Whatever your approach to starting a new year, we would all like to have 20/20 vision for what’s ahead – oh, to see clearly!

If only God would share complete insights about what is ahead or give us a full road-map to success for the year … Perhaps He has given you a glimpse by offering you a ‘word’ or ‘phrase’ to follow for the coming year. Perhaps He has even shown you some of what’s in store. Perhaps you even know some concrete ways He wants to use you. But if you are like me, you still want to know more, thorough details of what’s ahead.

You see, I can be impatient. I can be near-sighted. I can get distracted. I like to follow clear check-lists and how-to’s, all based on my goals and objectives. I can allow myself to get frustrated when these things are not clearly outlined before me. During these times, I have been known to even abandon those things that I already know to do – at least for a time. You see, if I allow myself to get overwhelmed or stressed out, I just want to stop for awhile. Take a break. I get stuck!

The only way for me to get started again is to focus. Yes, focus! If I had not taken my focus off what was the aim was, I wouldn’t have lost my focus to begin with. Sounds a bit backwards, but it’s true. I bet you can guess where my focus should lie … and remain! Yes, I must focus on Him, the One who has made all things new. Focusing on Him makes things come back into view clearly. I may not know all of the answers to the questions flinging around in my mind, but when I focus on Him, I don’t need to. I can see what I need to see for that moment.

When I forget to focus on “Him,” and instead focus on my to do list or goals, that is actually when I get overwhelmed and stressed out. It makes sense, but it often creeps up on me. I am having great quiet times with Him and remembering to speak with Him throughout the day. I am playing praise and worship music regularly. I am doing all of the things that help me keep my focus. But if I allow myself to break my routine, my habits, that is when my focus begins to wane. They say it takes 21 times of repetition to make a new habit, but 1 time of missing that repetition to break that habit. Oftentimes, one must start over multiple times before the new habit is formed. I have found so much truth in this in my own life.

It is good to remind myself that to focus on Him is to have 20/20 vision. While it doesn’t necessarily mean I have all of the answers, I do know what to do next. I just need to do the next thing that He has revealed to me, the thing that He has given light to. I need to be faithful to follow what He has revealed to me. I don’t need to worry over what I cannot see ahead. I just need to take the next step that He shows me, just one step at a time, and keep focusing on Him.

What next step has He revealed to you? What light has He given to you? Is he asking you to draw close to Him, to focus more fully on Him? Perhaps this is the one and only resolution that each of us needs to make as followers of Him – to focus on Him. If your habit of time with Him or habits of how you continually connect with Him has been waning, perhaps there is only one real resolution. Rebuild that habit that connects you back with Him. Yes, focus. Focus until you see clearly just the next thing that He has shown you. Focus and have 20/20 vision for 2020. Pick up the challenge!

Africa Invades My Heart Forever

Before we moved to Uganda, I had no idea how cultures would collide in my heart!  Perhaps I should say Africa invades my heart in just about every area of my life.  It might surprise you the many ways.  It surprises me!

I love music and now there are certain songs that immediately draw my heart to Africa. For instance, “Africa” by Toto will always tug deeply. And then there’s this song on You Tube that my daughter sent me this week during Christmas which sent my heart soaring for Africa called “12 Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser. It just sounds like a normal Christmas song you’ve heard before, but listen to it and see! Check out especially from 1:30 to the end HERE. It will draw you towards Africa also. One that might surprise you is “Feliz Navidad.” I will never listen to that song without remembering Africa again. During the Christmas season, it is easy to hear it playing in town on any given day in December especially.

I am not sure that I can ever listen to Kenny Rogers again without thoughts of Africa either. I have taken many night bus rides from Uganda to Kenya and back with Kenny Rogers’ songs blaring pretty much the whole way. Somehow it surprised me as I would have expected to hear Ugandan or Kenyan music instead. But I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that each of us have our own individual preferences. Easy Coach bus drivers apparently prefer country music.

Then there’s the desire to slow down and put people as priority. Africa, especially Uganda, has taught me so much on this plain. Hurrying and scurrying to and fro is difficult to do here. Instead of checking off items on my to do list, it is much easier to slow down. Stop and greet my friend and neighbor. Linger and visit a little while longer. The to do list can keep. I wish I would have learned this many, many years ago.

I discover many ways Africa has invaded my life whenever I go back to the states for a visit. Instead of walking/driving on the right side of the road, I find my tendency is to go left – even in the shopping aisles at the grocery store. It seems I am forever turning on my windshield wipers instead of the blinkers that I am reaching for when driving down the road. Responding to others in conversation with my eyebrows frequently before remembering that I am not in Africa anymore is also a recurrent response.

Shopping at Walmart or Costco is overwhelming nowadays. So many choices and flavors for just about everything. Who knew that my favorite Wheat Thins is now called “original” and mixed in the middle of umpteen different flavors. And then there’s cereal. Oh my, I can’t even talk about cereal … and it’s not just food. Can you imagine how many choices there are when shopping just for underwear? How does one decide quickly when there are so many options?

Storms that seem unequal to other places I have lived also welcomed me. Many storms are what I call “Africa dumps.” It’s not just rain, but it’s a huge downpour. It’s as if the heavens open up all at once and just “dump” its contents in a very short period of time. I will never forget the sounds of heavy rain and in the midst of it huge clatters of thunder coupled with lightening, all indicating the storm is overhead and not at a distance. One of my favorite parts of these storms is that they often came in the afternoon or in the middle of the night. If it was an afternoon rain, it wasn’t long afterwards that the sun would shine brightly. And in the night, the calm that followed afterwards lulled one to sleep peacefully.

During and sometimes afterwards, storms would bring power outages. Not that this was the only time for power outages, but at least one would know to expect an outage. I think that any time the power goes out in the states or a light-switch isn’t working, I will forever be reminded of when I lived in Africa. During our ten years here, I could never even begin to count the number of times the power has gone out or even the number of hours. I never even knew what load-shedding was or that it existed before living here. If there’s not enough power to go around, you basically share it on a scheduled usage basis. I also never worried about power surges, although we were always taught to use power protectors for all of our electronics.

Of course, there’s also the water. I never filtered my water or worried about drinking other people’s water. I freely drank from water fountains and the tap without a second thought. Now when I go back to the states, it doesn’t feel right to brush my teeth with tap water let alone drink water that hasn’t been at least filtered. Daily I was reminded here in Uganda that water is a precious commodity that not all enjoy freely and/or easily. It was a rare day that I could drive somewhere and not see people carrying water in jerry cans. Will I be able to go back to taking water for granted again? I hope not. Hopefully water will remind me to pray for my Ugandan neighbors and friends when I am back in the states.

Yes, for sure, Africa is forever in my heart. It’s not just the place, it’s the people. It’s their ways and their priceless lessons that are ingrained in me. May I never forget. May I forever be changed. May Africa never leave my heart and always remain within.

8 Ways to Help Your Missionary Get Through the Holidays!

Holidays are so great, a time to be with loved ones and those close to you. We celebrate Jesus! We celebrate one another! But sometimes holidays are just plain hard. When you are separated from your loved ones, especially at a distance too far to navigate, it can burn a hole in your heart. Missionaries are not immune to such times.

It might surprise you that there are some simple things that you can do to encourage your missionary’s heart during the Christmas season. It need not even cost you much, if anything! Even if you only pick one or two, it will bless them … and you. Here’s a list of some suggestions that you might try!

  1. PRAY for them! Not only pray, but TELL them that you are praying for them. When you claim a specific scripture to pray over your missionary and their family, the blessing hits even deeper. Taking the time to think through and choose a scripture demonstrates a true act of caring which will bless them deeper than merely choosing a random scripture. There’s power in the Word prayed over someone. Try it!
  2. SEND them a Christmas card! But this one needs to be sent with a little fore-thought. You can’t just send a card overseas and expect it to be there in under a week. Planning ahead is huge! Missionaries are grateful to receive Christmas cards in February, but they are even more meaningful when they arrive in a timely fashion. A simple gesture, to be sure, but it speaks volumes of care and shows that they have not been forgotten during a time when they feel so far away.
  3. REPLY to their Christmas newsletter that they have sent to you! It only takes a few moments to not only acknowledge that you received their greeting, but to communicate your care for them. Respond to something specific that they shared in their newsletter also. It lets them know you read their news and are interested in what’s happening in their lives!
  4. SHARE links to music, blogs or podcasts that you think might encourage them. Again, choosing a meaningful link speaks volumes of care when you express your thoughtfulness along with the link. Not just any song or podcast, but one that clearly is thought through in advance gives special weight to your thoughtfulness.
  5. VIDEO yourself, your family or one of your children expressing a Christmas greeting to them! This kind of love goes the extra mile even though it is simple to record a short video on your phone these days and send it to them! Keep in mind that shorter videos are more likely to be viewed as many missionaries have unstable internet. But having an “in person” greeting adds a special touch no letter or email could match.
  6. PURCHASE a gift card for them to iTunes or Amazon where they can get some new music of their own choosing. This need not be a large amount, but thoughtful nonetheless.
  7. DONATE frequent flier miles to them or make a Christmas donation to add to their end-of-the-year fundraising campaign. Missionaries always have needs and could use a timely gift to boost their funds.
  8. ASK them what would bless them! Your missionary knows better than anyone else and an honest ask might surprise you!

There is no shortage of ideas on how to bless your missionary during the Christmas season! These are just a few of the ways that you can try. I challenge you to consider doing one or two of these ideas and think through at least one more of your own! Letting your missionary know that they are not forgotten is huge during this time of year especially. It can ease the pain caused by the separation of continents and oceans. It can bridge the gap of distance. And … bless them while at the same time in the process you likely will find you are blessed!

Take a Motorcycle Taxi?

Before I moved to Uganda, I had no idea how convenient motorcycle taxis could be. Here they are referred to as bodas or boda bodas. But after a decade of living here, not only have I seen them as handy transportation, but I have often relied on them during times when my car is either in the shop or busy with my husband.

When we go to the states for a visit and only have one vehicle, I find myself feeling impatient that I cannot just go to the nearest street corner and get going wherever I need to at that moment. You see, boda bodas are everywhere in the town that I live. We stay on the outskirts of town and yet, they are even here. You can hail one by merely nodding from a distance or raising your hand in the air. They are always on the look out for a new fare.

Imagine how cheap when you share!

And it isn’t just their availability that make them so valuable. They are reasonable to hire. You can go across town for about 70 cents and then get back home for the same. If you are “tough,” you can get a fare for even less like the locals. But, for us, 70 cents suits us just fine and we don’t mind paying a bit more than my national neighbors. After all, it’s supporting local business.

Even more than their affordability is their resourcefulness. You see, you can take just about anything on a boda boda! Stacks and stacks of trays of eggs. Dozens of chickens. A goat. A cow! I have seen multiple people on one – six at once. Piles of charcoal bags. A huge fish with its tail dragging the ground. I have seen another motorcycle. Stacks and stacks of plastic chairs. A living room suite (couch and two chairs)! I have even seen them towing another motorcycle. It is truly amazing what one can get on a boda boda! I have posted several pictures here for you to see some examples.

So much versatility!

It never ceases to amaze me the resourcefulness of the Ugandan people. They use what they have very well. And if it’s a boda boda for transportation that you have to use and can afford, then that is what is used to transport whatever the need! You see them rain or sunshine. Sure, less of them transport in the rain, but some even have umbrellas over themselves to protect from the rain and sun overhead.

Now, some of you safety gurus may be wondering if it’s safe. Well, very few actually have helmets let alone offer them to their passengers, although nowadays you can see some around. But it is not unusual to see one wipe out. It is also not unusual to have a close call yourself with one while driving your own vehicle. You see, boda bodas aren’t really regulated here, at least not in our town. It might surprise you to find how few actually carry a driver’s permit endorsed for motorcycle driving. One might even wonder how many have actually been given driving lessons.

Waiting at an intersection with traffic police in Kampala, a larger city.

Boda boda drivers dart in and around traffic. Part of their versatility is their ability to get through tight spaces in the midst of traffic jams. When other vehicles are sitting still, boda bodas can maneuver on through. It is not unusual to see people get out of a car they are riding in and hop on a boda boda to get to their appointments on time if traffic gets stuck. You can see boda bodas driving in between cars, down side walks, and yes, even going the wrong direction just to get where their fare has requested. They take short cuts to arrive at their destination quickly and get on to the next fare.

So you can imagine that safety is not of the utmost concern for most. Some times as you are driving down the road in your car, it feels like you are driving in the midst of a “sea of bodas.” They part as your vehicle approaches – or not. They are on both sides of you as you move forward. If you want to turn off, you need to look in both side-view mirrors and still look around, giving plenty of time with your blinker (called an indicator here) to show that you want to turn. Even then, there is no guarantee that the boda driver will see your turn signal. So it is really an art to be a part of the flow of traffic here and show with your vehicle what your intention is as you turn.

A whole living room suite!

But one thing that puzzles me about boda boda traffic is that it seems like they don’t really have their own place on the road. You see, if they are driving down the road and a car approaches behind them, it is often assumed that they will “give way” by getting over to the side of the road in order to let the car pass on by. True, they often are not going as fast as the car that approached behind them, but sometimes they are. A car will beep its horn and not reduce its speed as it approaches, expecting the motorcycle to be on the side of the road by the time it reaches.

Another thing that might surprise you is that they often do not stop at intersections for traffic lights or stop signs. Many times it is just preferred to not stop, but other times, it is purely easier and more convenient. If you have a heavy and full load, to stop may mean it will be hard to get going again. I can understand why many choose to drive on through. It is a common sight though to see a boda driver proceed on through a stop sign or intersection without looking both directions. I am amazed at their apparent peripheral vision, but I have also seen many near crashes as a result of this practice.

So while the system of boda boda taxis may not appear to be perfect, they are certainly a vital part of the economy here in Uganda. They give many a way to earn money and offer a service unequaled to those requiring a lift. Take whatever you like or need. Expect the unexpected. Perhaps you would like to try a ride yourself? Just prepare yourself … and maybe bring your own helmet? You will be in for the ride of your life! Come, enjoy!

Parenting Missionary Kids: Uniquely Gifted

When we first moved to Uganda about a decade ago, I hadn’t thought through any changes that might need to be made in my parenting style. After all, we were the same parents, the same children, the same family. It didn’t occur to me that moving to a new culture might mean that I would have to adjust my parenting style. Besides, our morals and values hadn’t changed. Surely that would remain the same and there would be no need.

What I didn’t account for was the fact that I would be consumed with the details of learning to live in a new culture, adjust to cultural norms, and even just getting through the day would take so much energy! At the end of the day, I had little left to concentrate on parenting my kids well. I didn’t give much thought to the fact that they were also in a new culture and the learning curve was just as high for them.

When signs of stress started surfacing in my children, I needed to realize that my lack of care couldn’t continue. I couldn’t rely on past lessons that they had learned and habits that we had put into place. Even though there was some normalcy to our family life in the home, everything else was topsy turvy. Even our home life wasn’t quite the same as there were new schedules and ministry looked so much different now.

As soon as you move your children from one culture to another, they become someone new. Someone that they never were before. It can take one by surprise even if you are expecting it. My top priority for them should have been to help them understand this new identity, their new role, if you will. You see, when children move to a new culture, they readily absorb so much more than we adults do. We may take on some new aspects of the new culture and make it part of us. But for children, it is integrated in a whole different way. Deeper. Strongly embedded.


Missionary kids become “third culture kids,” as the current label is given. Once mono-cultural, they will no longer be that. They are now multi-cultural. They have their original culture (often coined as their “home” or “passport” culture) which has combined with their parent’s culture. But now there is a third culture that has come into the equation and it seeps in deeply, almost unconsciously. It becomes a part of who they are.

And yet they are not thoroughly this new culture nor are they their ‘home’ culture and yet again, definitely not fully their parent’s culture. It is as if they have created a combination of all three cultures into a whole new culture. This is how they have come to be known as Third Culture Kids.

It is an interesting phenomena to observe. When we would go back to the states for a visit, our children would gravitate towards the other missionary kids. It is almost like there is this invisible magnet inside each of them that draws them together. You could put 100 kids in a room with only a few of them being missionary kids. It would only be a matter of time and they would have found one another.

If you are a parent of a missionary kid, I encourage you to learn about what life is like from their perspective. Try to understand them. Ask questions and ask more questions. Then listen and listen some more. Helping them process through the unique gift that God has given them in being missionary kids is one of the best gifts you could pass on to your children. Help them to see that while their identity as a kid has changed, their identity in Christ has not. They can ground themselves in who He has made them to be no matter wherever life takes them.

One great book for parents to read and increase their understanding is Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds which you can purchase from Amazon HERE if you would like to know more about your MK’s perspective.

So back to my parenting style. Did I adjust my parenting style? Well, I guess I would say that it wasn’t so much that my entire parenting style changed. Rather, it became apparent that I needed to learn more about what my children were going through. I needed to stop and ask more questions. I needed to listen, listen and listen some more. I know that I didn’t do this perfectly. Perhaps I didn’t even do it soon enough. But I did.

And if you aren’t a parent of a missionary kid, I encourage you to pray for the parents that they would have wisdom to parent well in the midst of cultural stresses. Pray for their children that they would be willing to be open to share with their parents. Pray that the missionary families around the world would be lights to all those around them. Yes, pray. For only He could guide them well!

What are Your Eyebrows Saying?

One of the things that I didn’t expect when moving to a new culture was just how easily I would adapt to certain aspects and sometimes without even realizing it.  For instance, I thought body language was pretty universal. But now, when indicating for someone to come, I don’t just use my pointer finger. I understand that you can use all four fingers to communicate that and your hand is positioned differently.

One day my daughter suddenly pointed to something in the kitchen with her lips. Yes, with her lips! I was surprised but then realized that both of her hands were busy. How else do you point if your hands are full? A nod of the head is a little too unspecific, but now using your lips and your head in the direction of the item … well, it is much easier to see what one is pointing at! Try it!

It’s actually a real thing!  In fact, www.semanticsscholar.org defines it this way:  “‘Lippointing‘ is a widespread but little-documented form of deictic gesture, which may involve not just protruding one or both lips, but also raising the head, sticking out the chin, lifting the eyebrows, among other things.”  It is so much more involved than just pursing your lips!

When I came back to America for a visit, I also realized that I was using my eyebrows as a primary form of non-verbal communication. I am not sure if my American friends noticed, but I would respond to them by raising my eyebrows.  (I guess they would have noticed if they actually looked at me in the face long enough, but this isn’t really culturally appropriate there.)  I think I most often use my eyebrows as I drive down the road or in a conversation. Ugandans often look at me in the face even when I am driving and I somehow don’t notice them soon enough. I have just enough time to respond with a lifting of my eyebrows to acknowledge and greet them briefly. My hands are busy on the steering wheel and it is just easier! Raising your eyebrows can be an acknowledgement like that or it can be made in agreement during a conversation. It shows you are engaged and listening. It really is a great skill to acquire!

If you read about ‘eyebrow raising’ on the internet, psychology websites claim that it is a universally unconscious acknowledgement of someone from a distance wherein one is possibly preparing for social interaction.  Perhaps you do this without knowing it yourself.   Simply put, it says, “Hey, there!”   Some even claim it means other things like, “I’m surprised to see you.”  Or perhaps it’s a fear reaction like, “I’m intimidated by you.”

There are likely other nonverbal communication responses that I haven’t even realized yet that I am doing.  Think about it.  We do them all the time and it helps us understand one another more thoroughly as we communicate.  Have I made you feel self-conscious yet?  Pay attention as you converse with others and see just what expressions do you do that complement your verbal communication?

But if you see me and I “greet” you with my eyebrows or say “yes” in agreement while you are speaking to me, now you know what my eyebrows are saying to you!  Give it a try!!! You might just pick up the habit, too!

A New Perspective on Time

Before I moved to Uganda, I didn’t really “get” (what seemed like to this ignorant American anyways), the seeming disregard for ‘keeping time.’ What I have come to understand, at least in part, is that it is not so much a disregard for time as it is a cherishing of relationship. People and relationships are extremely important and play a key role in just about every decision made in life. Whoever is before you is priority!

For instance, it’s not so much that church starts promptly at 10 am as it is that it starts when the PEOPLE arrive … the drums may start “calling” everyone at 10 am, but if the people aren’t there until 10:30 or 11 am, then church doesn’t necessarily start until 10:30 or 11 am. This is especially true in the village, even today.

This also means that if you are on your way to somewhere and you happen to cross paths with a friend … well, you stop and greet that friend! Just because you only have 5 minutes left to get to your next appointment doesn’t mean that you don’t stop and greet! Remember – it’s the relationship that is key.

One cannot simply say ‘hi’ and move away without further conversation. After all, how is their family? How is “there?” So much more to know and appreciate about one another than a simple, “Hi.” It takes time to ask, listen and acknowledge. Then you give time for them to also ask, listen and acknowledge. One cannot simply do that in a few minutes if you see one another on your way to your next appointment! One must stop and cherish the other person or risk being rude.

So friendly!

It was also extremely helpful to give me a little perspective when a local friend pointed out something. “You know, it’s 3 o’clock until it’s 4 o’clock!” Think about that. It’s actually 3 o’clock until 3:59 is over … whoa! It’s 3 o’clock for 59 minutes! That was revolutionary and helped me to relax a bit on expecting on-the-dot timing. I was able to realize something new!

Once again, the western influence of ‘time keeping’ has had a large influence on the culture here, especially in towns and larger cities. You can see it as they adapt to on-the-dot time keeping for appointments’ sake. But the value of relationships carries on!!! And Ugandan culture is no where near what my own culture has taught me about keeping time. Definitely a lesson being learned here by me … and I hope that I can grasp it by putting it into a practice that becomes a habit.

While time is important, relationships are far more meaningful to cultivate. A new perspective could perhaps benefit us all. Slowing down enough to visit with a friend may be just what we need. And perhaps allowing this new perspective on time can help us not to be so stressed out with our schedules. Think about it.

Uganda English … Uglish

Before we moved to Uganda, I didn’t realize a nation in Africa would call one of their main national languages “English.” I just didn’t know! But in Uganda, just about anyone who has been to school knows English, at least to some degree. And English is considered one of the national languages here.

It is not unusual to see Ugandans walking down the street speaking English to one another even though they may know another African language.
English is required in school here, especially after a few years of the primary grades. Secondary school students are supposed to only speak English to one another and all teaching is received in English. So it is easy to understand why everyone speaks English that has gone to school.

If there is a group gathering, there is often interpretation in English and not just because foreigners might be present. There are many, many languages in Uganda (in our area one of the primary ones is Luganda) but the common language throughout the country is still English with Swahili more prevalent in some areas. Where we live, Luganda is the more prevalent language. However, the deeper you are in the village, the less English you will find (same within the islands of Lake Victoria) as less people have completed secondary school education.

If someone has not gone to school (or perhaps only had a few years in primary school), they might not know English. But nowadays (especially the nearer they are to bigger towns and cities) one need not go too far before finding someone that does speak English here. As an American, this has made communicating easier for me overall. But here in Uganda, there is a special kind of English. It’s called Uglish.

But what is Uglish, you say? Well, it is a word coined for the English that Ugandans speak here. With a heavy British English history because of colonization by England, many British English words remain. But Uganda English is definitely not purely British English. Uglish is Uganda’s unique way to express itself in English. As unique as Uganda itself, some of its words are as well.

I may not know British English very well, but it has been fun to learn the “Uglish” spoken here. “Smart” doesn’t mean intelligent or witty; rather, “smart” can mean that you are “looking good!” When one is dressed up in their Sunday best, they are called “smart.” One doesn’t use “blinkers” on their vehicles here, but rather, “indicators.” Closing the “boot” of your car is actually what is referred to as closing the “trunk” here.

Some common sayings might include: “You are lost!” This means that they have not seen you for a long time. Speed bumps are called “speed humps.” A “bath room” is where you bathe. “Toilet” is for other business. When you move to a new place, you are “shifting.” And “well be back” means welcome back after an absence. And “chips” are French fries, not potato chips as we know them! (Those would be called “crisps.”) Or get this: “Extend a bit.” That means you need to move forward some. How about this one: “It’s paining me.” In other words, it hurts!

A “store” is not a shop or supermarket. Rather, it is a pantry or any place that you store your items really. “It’s over” or “It’s finished.” There is no more of whatever you are discussing. And, “I am about.” This means you are about to finish or about to reach, whichever the context refers to. Or get this one: “You are looking fat!” This one is actually a compliment here. You are healthy and looking well.

One of my memories involves the “You are looking fat” phrase. I was walking through the market and looking at a food stall. The lady was being quite pleasant and made the comment. I smiled and said, “Thank you.” Then she said started giggling. I looked at her inquisitively to which she replied, “You are with child.” I told her no and explained that I am already 50, and that I could not be pregnant. She just shook her head and continued to giggle under her breath. Later I learned that it is not the custom here to reveal that you are pregnant until you are about to pop! Surely the lady didn’t believe me when I said I was not pregnant … because she knew otherwise! It was only a matter of time … oh, my!

So yummy!

One of favorite Ugandan English (I mean Uglish) words is “rolex.” A rolex is definitely not known as a fancy, expensive watch in Uganda. Instead, a rolex is a rather scrumptious street food that you can purchase for way less than $1.00 at a small stand. It is a chapatti (a flat bread, thicker and oilier than a tortilla) with eggs and some vegetables. The eggs with small pieces of tomato, onion and sometimes other vegetables are prepared something like an omelet. Then the eggs are placed on top of the chapatti and it is rolled up. Rolled up … rolled eggs … thus, ROLEX!!! Actually rather tasty!

Oh, so much fun learning the different meanings of similar words! Uganda is full of treasures and pleasantries … an endless Uganda English dictionary to learn! So come visit Uganda and learn some Uglish! Uganda will not disappoint.

Wood … a Temporary Structure

Buildings built out of wood are temporary structures? What? Not in Oregon, the green state full of trees where I lived for the first 40 some years of my life! But in Uganda, there are termites here, there and everywhere. Building with wood can be an expensive choice here in the long run.

Structures built out of wood are temporary and often only last a few years. It is only a matter of time before the termites do their thing. You see, the termite population is huge here! You might think it is just a pile of dirt, but more likely, it is a termite mound.

Two of our sons on a termite mound

More permanent structures are built out of red clay bricks with a layer of flat cement stucco over the top. It reminds me of the story in the Bible that talks about the wise man building his house. In Uganda, if one has the money, a firm cement foundation is poured. Houses here can take years to be built. You see, most people don’t borrow from the bank and then build it all at once. Instead, as the money is available, different stages of the house are built. When we first moved here, I wondered at all of the houses that looked like they had been started but then forgotten. I didn’t realize that this was actually just a house in progress. Now some were completely abandoned and all hope lost of finishing. But most of them were just a work in progress, it seems. It takes some real commitment and tenacity to finish a house here. Would that we would be so intentional about building our relationship with God and building a firm foundation.

After the house is completely built, a suitable section of cement veranda is then placed around the base of the house to help protect it from storms to prevent deterioration of the foundation. Houses that skip this step are in danger of not only corrosion from the surrounding soil conditions but also damage from storms. It is a layer of protection that is key to the survival of the foundation for a long future. Would that we put priorities in place to protect our relationship with God in such a way that it is preserved for all of our days.

If wood is used, it is often just thrown together without a foundation. Either sticks are used exclusively with mud thrown over them. Or sticks are used to frame it and wooden boards are nailed to the sticks. Then either grass or tin is placed on top for the roof, depending on the budget. But it is known that it will be a temporary structure and there is no reason to invest in a firm foundation. It is only a matter of time before either the termites eat through the wood or a storm knocks it down. Would that we choose the right materials to build our foundation with, the Word of God and not that of mere man whose words will pass away.

Yes, it reminds me that God calls us to cultivate our relationship with Him in much the same way. We should be building upon His foundation with purpose and resourcefulness. We need to put protections in place to preserve and continue nurturing/caring for it. When the storms come, that foundation will not waiver and the house will not fall. Instead our faith will give us hope and help us rely on Him Who truly builds the only foundation that will never fail. May each of us build our homes (and our hearts) on His foundation that withstands whatever comes our way!

Is that your real hair?

Before I moved to Uganda, I didn’t know that most of the women’s hair was not all theirs … let me explain. For some reason, it seems that Ugandan women’s hair (as a general rule, certainly not everyone) doesn’t grow very long like mine does. Because of this, it limits the hairstyles available to the ladies. Therefore, hair style changes are usually due to varying extensions that are plaited into their existing hair. Sometimes they are even attractive wigs. They look just like the real thing and are beautiful!!! They are worn for something like up to a month or two at a time and then removed or changed after a brief break.

The different looks though can fool you if you aren’t paying close attention! After all, you don’t want to not greet your friend just because you didn’t recognize her … (not that I have ever done that before …. tongue in cheek … oops!). Actually, it has been rather embarrassing when someone I have known in one context shows up in another context with a new hair-do. I must admit that there has been more than once that I didn’t recognize them in their new hair-do! Even driving down the road, I may pass someone before I realize it is someone I know …

It may seem like a simple thing to add extensions to your hair, but wait! It can take as much as eight hours for someone to plait in all of the extensions into your own hair!!! In fact, I read online that it takes an average of 5-8 hours to complete a new look. Imagine the commitment. But, oh, they are ever so beautiful! It’s no wonder they leave a particular style in as long as possible even though the average is only between 4-6 weeks at a time.

Not only is it an art and fashion statement on the part of the recipient, not just anyone can plait hair extensions well! While this has been done for centuries now in Africa, the hours it takes to transform a woman’s short hair into long braids is short of a miracle. Once the braid or weave is done, the braids can then be styled into a further fashion that literally transforms the look! For the look to be perfected, it requires some skill on the part of the beautician. While some hand down this skill from mother to daughter, most attend beauty school in Uganda to learn it well. The braids are tightly woven purposefully in order for the style to last.

No matter the budget, women seem to have a deep need to look good and this is one innovative way that is relatively inexpensive in Uganda to obtain it. From corn rows to extensions braided to perfection to wigs, It seems Uganda has again demonstrated its ingenuity to do well with what is available!

Now just think of the possibilities and versatility of adding extensions or wearing wigs that one can have. It could offer you similar options like changing your wardrobe! You don’t need to cut your hair into a new style. Just try a new one every month or two! Settle into one of your favorites or go back to a preferred one now and then. Have some fun! I can’t believe I haven’t already tried it myself! Ingenious.

Pin It on Pinterest