Friday, July 15, 2016

Muganda Wange (My sister)

Almost every day I have the joy of introducing various people here to 'Muganda wange,' which translates to 'my sister' in Lugwere and Luganda. The common response is almost always, 'Yes! For sure, you resemble!' (aka, you look alike:) ). The many commentaries that have followed have been priceless! Showing her off to all my friends and acquaintances has been so much fun! This is a joy that I have longed for since the very first time I came to Uganda in 2003.

 



Over the past 5 years of living overseas, I have found that living in a totally different culture and environment from my friends and family in the States can certainly lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Struggling to describe especially the small things that make my life so different here can be frustrating to the point of not even wanting to try.


Things like…

making sure the water filter is full all the time so if water runs out, at least we have drinking water…

maneuvering the the potholes in the road that are changing on a daily basis…

being surrounded by such vibrant color and beauty every day…

the vast differences in my vocabulary (even when I’m supposedly speaking English!)…

needing to lift the bottom tray of the oven to light it with a match…

forgetting to properly greet someone (as in the very moment they see me) and having to make it up to them the rest of the day…

making sure every appliance is fully charged at all times for when power will inevitably go off…

feeling foolish and a failure if someone says something to me in Lugwere that I don’t understand…

how funny and irresistible my little ones really are, especially in their cute accents!…

and especially, my mindset changes and the way I approach many situations and solutions different now.




These are some of the simple actions and moments that make up my daily life here, and even trying to describe them on paper makes them seem simplistic. But they make life feel so vastly different here than in the States.


For years, I have struggled to try and describe and share with those I love on the other side of the ocean. I have my life in America, and I have my life in Uganda. But rarely do the two really interact with each other. I spend a lot of time talking about my American life and family to my fascinated children and friends here, and I spend a lot of time telling people on that side about my wonderful life here. But the whole time, I have longed to actually share these moments with someone from back home. Someone to help bridge the gap between my two worlds.


Finally, that moment came! After almost 13 years of praying for the day to come, it finally did! I welcomed my sister, Michelle to Uganda in the midst of a surreal haze of happiness and joy. I’ve spent the past month experiencing Africa again through her eyes, and realizing afresh just how different it really is. She makes me laugh at my own funny vocabulary and phrasing by finding them delightful also. She fills the seat next to me in my Rav4 and listens to all my ramblings each evening as I process the day and what happened. She hugs my friends, and high-fives my kids. She teaches in front of my classrooms, and has gotten to know the names and faces of my students. She knows which kids are quiet, and which ones are the trouble makers now. And all of these things, I no longer have to explain to her. She knows. And it’s heavenly.





I know the impact these weeks have had on my soul already, and I have an idea of how they will continue to affect me even as Michelle goes back to the States in just a few short weeks. The companionship of not just her presence, but her new understanding and insight into my life, work, and what I value has made such an impact on that somewhat distant, but ever lingering ache of loneliness.

2 comments:

  1. Melanie, I'm SO, so very glad Michelle was able to spend these few months with you! Am I remembering right that she would like to return full-time at some point? I hope so!

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    1. Well I certainly am praying for her to come full-time! She's still finishing up school and seeking the Lord's best plan for her future. But she really did love it here :)

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