What does Uganda mean to you?

24 days.

That’s how long it’s been since I stepped off a plane and fell deeply in love and in step with all that Uganda has to offer. The beautiful, broken, inspiring, mixture of ebony faces, foreign language, new customs, and everything in between. 24 days, and yet it took less than 24 hours to feel like home. 

I can’t quite put to words what Uganda means to me, but here is my feeble attempt.

It’s a sense of peace so deep to the core, that my body has finally found it’s normal stature free of tense muscles and headaches. It’s an inner stillness that allows for a clear mind to be present in each moment, fully aware of the sounds, smells, and colors. It’s the sweet sound of unfamiliar words being spoken at a distance, with a coo of birds, a buzz of a boda, and a long bark from a dog. It’s the cool mornings drowned out by days so hot that my sweat traps the red dirt dust to my clothing, and smudges my face.

It’s walking down main street, or walking across the football field, or sitting in a crammed taxi being the only muzungu for miles, fully surrounded by beautiful ebony faces staring back at me, questioning. It’s the long nights of conversation by moonlight comparing our two drastically different worlds, yet sharing so many similarities. It’s learning new linguistic sounds and moving my mouth in new ways to produce new words according to the Native language.

It’s greeting every stranger in passing and being fully aware to greet others before paying or asking a question, even as it pains my timid spirit to do so. It’s being fully and completely out of my comfort zone in so many ways that it’s almost refreshing. That through discomfort, God is teaching me more about myself and how to love others than I thought possible.

It’s allowing the culture and the people around me to strip me of every bias and every predisposition, to be replaced with a yearning for love, and understanding. To be fully immersed in the rich culture all around me.

It’s a constant string of questions, some answered and some still waiting to be answered. It’s all these things and so much more. Uganda is home.

It’s the place that my heart has longed for, unknowingly for so long. That missing piece that never felt quite right everywhere else. I don’t know why and maybe I’m not supposed to, all I know is that it took less than 24 hours for me to fall in love and as the end draws near, and the reality sets in that I’m nearing my half way point, my heart mourns the idea of returning Stateside. I tear up just thinking about it. These red dirt roads and beautiful ebony faces have changed me, and I never want to lose sight of today, of these lessons, and this sense of peace.

Oh how I pray that God never lets me forget!

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