As I type, I am being jostled left and right as I sit midway back on a smallish bus full of my fellow missionaries. It’s so bumpy, I will probably hit the delete key more times than the correct letter keys. But, as I ride along, traveling to Jinja, I’ve had a not so subtle revelation. My key descriptor is “aesthetic.”
Before you scroll on and stop reading, I promise this isn’t a self-deprecating post about how I’ll never measure up to how the Ugandan’s grasp contentedness. I mean, I won’t but my point is that maybe we’ve been set up to fail at this because we’ve fallen for the classic busy syndrome, so we are never able to take any experience deeper than surface level.
I don’t want this to be true of me, but my reflection over the past ten minutes (and more of my life) is leaving me little room for other explanation.
We are driving through the slums. But I’m the only one who thinks so. The locals just call it work. Or home. Or the market. Or where they hang out.
Just now, I looked over my shoulder to see my window filled with a woman mopping her bricks. They are outside and dust that never seems to leave is just waiting for her to walk away, so it can land on her new clean surface. The pace here is repetitive. Mop. Turn around. Dust settles. Mop. Turn around. Dust settles.
It makes me impatient, how often everything seems to be pulled to this cycle. Everything on repeat. The American in me wants to say, “let’s move on.” But the care of a Ugandan displays differently. Especially when it comes to church.
I don’t know what I was expecting—long, I suppose is all I imagined—but I didn’t expect church to feel like a celebration. A six-hour celebration. Actually, it was over double that, but my American body bunked out at the 6th hour. Yah. I said “bunked out.” I went in with some intention—with an understanding that I was not there to give anything out, which is different than this pastor’s typical Sunday morning. But, I knew this could be a once in a lifetime experience—something I wouldn’t possibly see again until heaven. I wore a skirt because it was required, but I didn’t understand any of it until I watched everyone else begin to worship. I don’t mean sing. I mean really worship. Like that woman mopping her bricks; she was giving everything with her whole heart.
Everything about the people at church was a celebration. The words they sang seemed to really mean something to them. I know because they repeated songs for at least 10 minutes each. Their dancing expressed joy in the blessings they have already and those yet to come. Their clothes—their very best clothes that they walked here in—convey the message to God that they are here to celebrate. Him. I can’t think of the last time I walked into church with the understanding that I was there to celebrate God.
When I compared my usual Sunday roll into church and how they celebrate, I realized I was focused more on getting through it than bringing something to God. I love worship, but I can’t think of the last time I did it with my whole self. With all of my belongings. With my attitude and conveniences. Thank you, Uganda, for teaching me this so well. For showing me the beauty in being perfectly imperfect. All I can really say in return is #ohuganda