Those coming from a North-American individualistic background will slowly learn that things are much different here. There are of course things that are hard to adjust to and relate with in this community respect, but I’ve actually grown to love and enjoy the basic community value that is inherent in the culture.
One humorous example is the time I bought a new wall clock for myself for my birthday. (ok, I needed a clock and I found a cool one that could also serve as a decoration… and at a reasonable price!) I purchased it, brought it home from the Kampala, hung it on the wall, and went about my day.
Later on I heard a commotion… kind of a combined traditional sounding “yippee” / praise and worship service happening. I entered the room to find our old Mama Suzanna and her friend dancing around the clock. Mixing praising Jesus with happy screams. Then, they turned to me and said “thank you for OUR clock! Now we will know the time, and cannot* be late for work!”
No, they didn’t expect to take my clock home and hang it on their wall (although sometimes…), but they genuinely rejoiced for something new in OUR community.
You see, here someone won’t simply say MY project, MY family, etc… But rather will ask: “how is OUR project?” Or, “how is OUR work coming along?” “How is OUR boy?” No, they may or may not be connected in ANY official way! :) But they do feel ownership and connection to one another in a very inherent way that is not just expressed, but very much believed. Americans say “good luck with YOUR project” but Ugandan’s express community and ownership of one another, what they’re doing, working at, hoping for: “how is OUR ministry coming?”
I didn’t realize how much I had adapted to the Ugandan way of “speaking” (and thinking!) community until I was back in North America on furlough. Several of you interrupted in conversation and said: “you’re saying we, who is we?” (No, I don’t have some secret family over here. But rather the “we” is all of us! :)
Sometimes the “we” means you, my supporters. WE are in this together. Sometimes that “we” means “us” here in Uganda, my friends, my co workers, my staff and volunteers, “our” children. But I’m thankful for OUR “tribe” made up of people from all Nations, ages, and communities. I hope you know and realize that you are truly an integral part of what WE have the joy of doing in step with Jesus in Uganda.