Sunday, June 19, 2016

Caught Between Two Worlds

Thursdays are my day off: a day to get errands done, laundry, housework, or just watch TV; a day for me. Last week I went to Kampala, about a 20 km drive from where we stay. I felt good because I got into town and to the Immigration office in about an hour (which is pretty good here, considering how traffic can be). I was the first in line at the desk to renew my children's student passes (so they can continue to be here in Uganda legally). All went well, without any issues, of which I am thankful. I even had a pleasant conversation with the immigration officer who was asking me if these applicants were my children, which led into a conversation about my Kenyan husband and how our first 2 children are twins. (In Uganda, I am called Nalongo, which means mother of twins.)

Because it was my day off, and I was near a part of town that has a mall that I had not been to in quite some time (as well as a good coffee shop), I decided to treat myself. I was sitting in a booth and couldn't help but overhear the people behind me. Sitting there was a group of about 6 women, all expatriates (what we call foreigners in Uganda), thinking to myself, I sure do miss that. I miss being able to meet up with friends over a cup of coffee, just chatting about life and family, in a context that we all mutually and culturally understand.

Don't get me wrong. I have made some very good friends. Ones that I really enjoy spending time with and talking with. Some that I have made very good connections with - people who I can say will always be my friends. And really, even though we come from different backgrounds and cultures, there is so much we have in common. It's amazing how being united in Christ breaks down barriers of so many kinds, and people really do become like family.

Yet, there are still these longings I have to meet up with people who have known me from long ago in a different place. It's normal. I miss my friends and family. And that isn't something that I should feel bad about. It's that place of being caught between two worlds.

Even the fact that I am sitting and enjoying a treat in a coffee shop is, in and of itself, uncommon in the area I currently live in. Living outside the city makes it difficult to go (as stated above, it took me an hour to get there), and most Ugandans don't have the means to "splurge" on a coffee treat. Many do, but not many from our neighborhood, and not many from our ministry. It's like a little taste of home, the familiar. And again the tension of being caught between two worlds.

Alas, I finish my coffee, alone. I do a few errands in the mall, And I head back out onto the road, where it feels quite normal to be driving on this highway, on the left-hand side, with taxis (mini-vans) and boda-bodas (motorcycles) cutting in and out of traffic.

This tension reminds me of the fact that we too, as believers, are caught between two worlds. We are here, temporarily, and look forward to eternal glory with Him. In the meantime, I pray that God will use me to His glory, in what He has me to do at this time, here in Uganda. Though it is good to long for the things I miss (and will, Lord willing, see soon), that I need to also focus on the present of where He has placed me to be used by Him. May this be my prayer every day. May this also be your prayer.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)