Saturday, August 21, 2010

too much time

I feel busy yet I have nothing to do, at least obligation wise. This last week has been real slow. The ministry trip to Nairobi got postponed, all the kids are away on holiday, I think I've written everything that I have to write for the moment, I'm waiting to hear about decisions concerning Gulu, I can't do anything in the new computer lab until the glass goes in the windows, and the printer is broken so working up an outline for the leadership training isn't that big of a deal. That said, the days go by as fast as ever and I always seem to be doing something (important or not, I don't know). This down time doesn't really bother me, and I'd hardly even notice it if I had a beach to go to or a project to work on, but I don't. Instead I get to dwell on personal issues and let minor thoughts play out to their full extent.
I don't think that either of these are bad things to do, at least as long as you don't beat yourself up about your chinks and cracks. I think it's good to stand in front of the mirror sometimes, maybe even essential. One of the things that I've been reminded of is that I'm not very good at loving people, which I think is connected to being moderately antisocial. I don't usually dislike people, more often than not I just don't mind not being around them. This is a totally foreign concept to most people in Uganda. Out here most people don't really have that much to do and most of them take a long time doing it. One of the reasons for this is the way people treat relationships. Being an hour late to a meeting is less rude than walking past someone you know on the street and not having a conversation with them.
The strange thing is, this cultural social mindset doesn't mean that local Ugandans are any better at loving people than those of us given to more antisocial tendencies. I think that this is because, more often than not, for most of us love is a lifestyle choice that is easily overlooked.
I started thinking about this because I read a blog about some missionaries who have chosen to live their lives in a slum area of Uganda. There was just some big emotional stuff that happened with them when they got involved in the lives of some seriously neglected women who had their toes over deaths door. These missionaries threw themselves into loving the women and ministering the love of God on them, and it is beautiful, it is redemptive, and it is confrontational to those who didn't and don't do it.
I loved reading the story of their love for these women and how they got involved in their lives, but then I got irritated at how it was a couple of western women living in other people's country, a country that has a social/communal culture, who were the first to love these broken and neglected women. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that they got involved, but I'm sad that no one else did. I love that these women are living in a poverty stricken slum full of neglected, forgotten, and malnourished people, but I'm sad that the larger, socially oriented, rich in food, and full of churches/Christians local community left them the chance.
There are great and real challenges for many people born in Sub Saharan Africa, but practical resources and capacity to love shouldn't be among them. In a place that is full of "social" people, where everything is green, and it is as easy to find a church as it is to find a bar, there is no excuse for neglect and malnutrition. I'm sad that love is a choice that most people don't make and that those of us who do usually aren't very good at it.
I wish that I was better at loving people, but I'm also glad that there are those who already are.

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