I am a missionary to Kampala, Uganda sent by Simple Free Church serving Ravens Ministries (a Ugandan Christian organization that assists underprivileged young adults). I moved back to Uganda three weeks ago.
This past weekend I had the privilege to attend the kwanjula (a traditional Ugandan celebration weeks prior to a wedding where the bride and groom’s families meet each other, specific to the Baganda ethnic group), of two good friends. Both are staff at Dwelling Places (the organization I worked with in 2008 that rescues and rehabilitates former street children). Ruth was one my bosses in 2008 as she is the Education Director at Dwelling Places and I was one of the elementary teachers. Chris works with one of Dwelling Places’ special projects- reaching out to the streets kids who come from the Karamoja region of Uganda. Uganda (one of Africa’s 54 countries) doesn’t have just one ethnic group. In fact, Uganda has dozens of distinctly different ethnic groups! Historically and culturally speaking, all the different ethnic groups do not always get along with each other.
In recent history, there has been some tension between the Karamojong people (from remote northeastern Uganda) and the Baganda people (from the Kampala, the capital city, area). Without going into too much detail, essentially these two different groups probably just do not understand or appreciate their cultural differences. Each ethnic group has very different customs, traditions, languages, values, lifestyles, and so on. The reason I bring this up is because Chris is from the Karamoja region and Ruth is a Bagandan from Kampala. And of course, their wedding customs are different as well. But what was really cool about Saturday is since Chris is marrying a woman from the Baganda people, he had the ceremony in the custom of his future bride! So his family and friends all came from the Karamoja region and adapted their customs and ceremony practices for the family of the bride. The bride and groom’s families respected and enjoyed each others company. A really special sight!
Here of the photos from the kwanjula: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2151094&id=63200801&l=ef0b9d7158
I am enjoying working with Pastor Abel. I’m still learning exactly how I will fit in at Ravens Ministries and Christian Family Fellowship Church (Abel’s church), but Abel and I have plenty ideas how exactly that will all look in the coming years. Ultimately, I desire to serve how God wants me to serve and that’s what I’m sorting through now. As mentioned before, Abel has been really flexible in letting me catch up with old friends, helping me get my apartment in order, and assisting me (re)adapt to Uganda. Ugandans are very relational people who really value friendships and spending time with one another. It’s fair to say, most of my day is spent in relationships with others: my bodaboda (motorcycle taxi driver- this is my mode of transportation), Dwelling Places kids and young adults, Ravens Ministries members, with missionaries who live near me, and others in my neighborhood and community.