Today’s student perspective comes from Jake:
Time slows down in Africa. Emmy D comes to pick us up at least 45 minutes later than the agreed upon time every day, if we are lucky. Some of the Type A’s around here are annoyed at least somewhat by this, however, when you take a step back, it is quite refreshing.
Rwemikoma came and went in a flash. It seems almost paradoxical, considering my previous statements. And yet, here in the moment, you cannot help but feel that simplicity that runs through the veins of Ugandans is the reason that both speed and sloth can coexist. As someone once said, “K.I.S.S.”
Simplicity is lost on us, for the most part, because of all we have. The more I observe, the more I realize: the greater possessions you have, the harder it is to appreciate that which you possess. Rwemikoma exemplified the opposite. Every child there, with a toothy smile and a joyful laugh, were content for us to simply sit and listen to them.
They sang, they danced, they recited verses, but the simple, overarching theme was joy. In an instant, we saw that although Americans had everything on this earth, they missed the mark- material goods “don’t last eternally,” sure, but they hardly last during our time on Earth. Children in Rwemikoma were infinitely more joyful than children in America.
I slept on the bus back to Katyazo. Well, I tried. My eyes were closed, but my mind raced. My body was idle, yet my brain wandered far away.
Coach Reed was the only one who did not nap. He related a quick story that exemplified servitude in the KISS lifestyle. We drove past a construction crew, toiling in the equatorial sun, and without thinking twice, SuperMom tossed them a bottle of water and we went on our way. I’m sure the workers were grateful, but we didn’t have the chance to ask. She passed more than just a sip of water to them: she passed a small taste of the joy she had.
No one could be content living in the squalor we see; at least we are lead to believe that. They KISS and abide in God, and they have no need for MacBooks, iPads, or even running water. They find true joy in their King.
For the most part, I show just an inkling more emotion than a wooden plank. As in very little. I definitely show more emotion than McCray, as a wooden plank would show more emotion than him. Which is weird, since it’s inanimate. However, it was hard not to feel something when we made it back to Katyazo for the very last time. Even McCray claimed to have felt emotion, although I didn’t witness it. I’m sure it was beautiful.
The kids at Katyazo bid us goodbye to America, where we will return to reality TV, microwaveable popcorn, and Snuggies, all while they drank some porridge out of the one cup they owned. And yet it was weird; in a way, I was envious of them. Their smiles were glowing, a rarity in our nation. I keep repeating that notion, almost superfluously, but that was what I noticed the most. A KISS lifestyle, bringing them so much joy. They were satisfied with the porridge, thankful for us, and grateful to God.
The pain that came from saying goodbye wasn’t because we were leaving. Partly, yes, but not entirely. It came from my fear that by returning, I’d be faced with the material excess in America, and I would be reclaimed by it, forgetting what true joy looked like. When I return, it will be hard, but I will hope to:
Keep It Simple, Stupid.
A note from the leaders:
Jake has really captured one of the common themes that most teams come home to contemplate. What are we to do/be when we return home. My wife has put it well in several mission trip meetings that she has worked. You leave your home as a square person, and you travel to a place of round people. After spending some significant time around those round people, you will inevitably return home a little more round, and a little less square than before. So how do we now live in a square world with slightly rounded edges?
We are returning home from a place with beautifully simple lifestyles. Their shining faces are a reflection of the joy of obedience and blessing. God is in the little things, sometimes, and we have to learn to be content by recognizing the grand value “little things” have.
Rwemikoma was a lively group today! They were so excited to see us and to just have us listen. They wanted to perform for us more than any other school on this trip. There was lively dancing, wonderful singing, and exhibitions of scripture memory. It was wonderful!
The two things that stick in my mind were how close the children wanted to be to us, and the singing by Amon.
We learned later that possibly up to 50% of the kids there have never seen a white person outside of PCM teams. That explains why they would stare and stroke our arms as they held our hands. I guess I seemed like a white, slightly fuzzy stuffed animal. It was pretty funny! One kid liked to come up to me and just squeeze my forearms as hard as his little hands could. Not sure if he was trying to extract something or pop me like a balloon, but it was amusing.
The singing of Amon was one of the things that Beth and I were looking forward to most. We saw him sing last time we were here, and it was so great. Amon sings with just about every ounce of his young body, tilting his head back and shaking it like a bobble-head. It is adorable and entertaining. A little known fact, that we learned from Pastor Emmy: Amon sings like that because one of the previous U.S. teams came with a puppet who would sing and dance. Amon enjoyed it, and began to emulate it in his own singing. So precious!