Top five things I have learned when traveling to Uganda

While it may not be time to share the stories I have heard, there are a few things so noteworthy that I feel I must pass them along…

So, here they are so (although there will most likely be a Part 2 to this list)

#5- If you have ever wanted to know what it feels like  to be the Santa Claus at the mall, come to Uganda.

I can’t tell you how many babies and small children have caught one glimpse of me only to have their mouths drop open and their eyes grow so large it almost looks like they are going to pop out. I try my best to use my sweet little playful face, and for some it works, but there have been many- I mean many- that I make the smallest move towards them and they shriek and bolt, running with an arched back as if they were trying to escape the scariest monster they have ever seen. Oh bless’em. 

I had several mothers hand me these children who thought I was about appealing as Godzilla to pray over.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure they don’t think I’m on Jesus’ team the way their body parts morphed every which way in the air so they didn’t have to touch me. Definitely didn’t think I was playing for the good guys.

#4- What we call worship in the American church is really, I repeat really, not worship. I mean the dancing and the chanting and the shrills that go off.  I am convinced that when we get to heaven this group is going to be in charge of the choir. They are seriously legit- in the churches- walking between the areas of the camp- on the bus. I would bet my money on it they even sing when they are using the bathroom.

#3- and on that same note, I have learned that dance breaks through  all barriers. Today I was dancing to their music and they were dancing to mine.. I put on a little Pitbull, some Echa Pa’ella and we had a blast. For the first time in my life it looked like I actually knew how to salsa. It was beyond awesome. We were all singing and had no idea what we were saying! They were laughing (I am pretty sure at me shakin’ my booty) and dancing with me. Oh sweet Jesus, I know you love dance. I’m convinced of it!

#2- Always, I repeat always, like always always always, bring tampons when headed to Uganda. Even if you are nowhere near that time of the month. Why? Because you never know what your body will do and because it is an utter disaster and terribly humiliating to have  to have your friend go up to the Sudanese pastor (because you are too chicken to do so) and ask him where to buy some, to which you learn that you and he will need to make a special trip in the bible bus to a market to see if they have any. Gulp…. just swallowing up a big chunk of pride right there.

#1- Expect to get a new name. I was given my Dinka name today. Turns out Alisa is a very common and very simple name here, kinda like our Kristen or Jennifer, so this group of girls gave me the name A-thien (that is how you pronounce it… almost like you are saying Aunti Em, you know from Wizard of Oz).

I love it,  I exclaimed, clasping my hands together.

They handed me a baby (one of the rare ones that didn’t cry) and told me it was her name as well and she was like to die for cute, which made it a hundred times better.

I love it even more! What does it mean?

“It means cow”

Yea, okay all of a sudden I didn’t like it so much.

And then one of the other gals piped in, ” No it means the color of a cow,”….

aaaand it just got worse.

Uh, Okay. Is this a good thing? Are you sure this is a good name, girls?

They assured me that it was and I learned that cows are like cash here- very valuable. This isn’t looking so bad after all. And I looked at this darling little babe I was holding and figured if it was good enough for her it was good enough for me!

And I glowed. I love feeling like I belong!

Don’t we all?

That is it for now dear sisters. May you know today that you belong. May you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are loved and that you have been given a new name. God calls you his beloved- his most cherished.

My prayer today is that you are reminded that He, like these sweet girls, has renamed you and that never- NEVER- goes away!

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