Anybody remember your elementary school cafeteria? I don't....I didn't have one since I was home schooled, but that's besides the point. I certainly got to HEAR about all my friend's school cafeteria experiences (you know, the whole "I'll eat your brown stuff if you'll eat my green stuff"), but I thought I'd show you the school cafeteria at Covenant Primary school here in Mbale.....
Here, everyone just eats their brown stuff. otherwise known as ebijanjalo, or to you muzungus, beans. and posho.
Posho or rice with beans is definitely one of the most common meals here in Uganda, and they eat plenty of it! I seriously marvel at how much one Ugandan can fit in their flat stomach.
When I was growing up, the most common concern I heard expressed about being a missionary was what you would have to eat. Pictures of bugs, slimy slugs, and floating chicken heads danced through my mind, and I asked myself, "Would I be willing?" I said yes....but since those days I have learned that muscling down one locust one day is nothing compared to getting used to eating unappealing food every day. It's not even that the food is disgusting most of the time. It's just usually bland. Maybe it's because I grew up spoiled with my mom's wonderful cooking....maybe it's because of my own fascination with cooking and flavors (insert theme music from Ratatouille), but eating the same posho and greens, or rice and boiled chicken or beef every day has been a challenge.
I knew that I wouldn't be the perfect missionary, but I really did think that I had the food aspect nailed....until I got here! Successfully swallowing enseenene (grasshopper) is much less of a concern to me now than finishing my 6th bowl of rice and chicken this week with gratitude and thankfulness for having such food before me. It does of course help me to remember that my friends here would LOVE to have chicken, since in their home they get it only about 2 times a year. A couple of weeks ago, I ate lunch at the church with the rest of the church family. After helping serve rice, I took my own bowl of rice and beans and sat eating with my fingers with my friends. That was one of the best meals I've had here, even though I'm sure the beans didn't taste any better than they usually do. The difference came from being with the people I loved, and watching them eat with gratitude made me that much more thankful for the food I was eating.
As I come to my first Thanksgiving here in Uganda, I have a whole new perspective on the holiday I thought I understood. I have a whole new basis for just how blessed I really am. I have daily reminders of the wealth of physical and spiritual blessings I have been showered with my whole life, and I am left here begging the Lord to continue to inspire that attitude of thankful awe at all He gives.