I choose to go to church again with the family rather than staying and sleeping, which is what I really desired to do. And yet… this practice of choosing different things and ways is inspiring… so I get over myself and join them for church.
My mind wanders during the sermon. I’m not quite following his story. The woman next to me kindly shares her book of hymns with me during the songs so I can sing along. My voice is softer today. I don’t have as much energy and enthusiasm. This cold is kicking my butt.
The little boy who sat in the pew near me last week pushes his way down the row to sit next to me. He’s wearing a white suit and looks sharp and adorable.
I connect with others outside of the church following the service. Kids come up to me to say hi. Or they come stand near me but are too shy to say anything until I say hello.
My Ugandan family’s extended family is here with their 3-week old twins. They ask me if I want to hold them and I say no because I’m sick and don’t want to get them sick. I sense these words of mine don’t register for them with their world view, as one child after another takes a turn holding these little babes. I’m amazed at how confidently and expertly these young children are at holding the twins… and then remember they’ve most likely been caring for younger siblings since they were much younger themselves.
I watch the mom and her sister get in the seat behind the driver of a pick-up truck, each holding a twin in her arms. No seat belts. I lean over and say hi to the 7 kids piled in the truck bed. I wonder who the driver is and where all those kids are going. I think about how, where I’m from, the babes would be in car seats, the children all buckled in. I let go of the comparison. I let go of thinking I should say something.
I remember the sage wisdom my sister, Jen, shared with me before leaving for Africa; she said the biggest cause of culture shock is the ego. So if I can let go of my ego and my ideas of the ways things should be done… less shock, more receiving, more humility, more potential to discover what else is truly possible? What if my way of doing things isn’t the right way?
On the way home, conversations with Ronald about race… about how white skinned people are perceived as being more and better; more important; wealthier; about how more and more of the youth and newer generations are letting go of their traditions and pursuing Western ways and values. Not the values of seat belts and car seats but the styles of clothing and wanting to have more money. Who wants to remember their traditions for dancing and dating when they can move from the village to the city to try and create a better life from themselves that will involve more money and being able to buy things and ensure food is on the table and they can send their kids (or at least their boys) to school? Can they have both? Tradition and new ways? There is never an end to these conversations. They are paused as we arrive home and transition to having tea and changing out of church clothes. They will pick up again another time, perhaps over a shared meal or drive to or from church.