On Sunday I was traipsing through the masses of people in Kampala transferring from the old Taxi Park to the New Park, I was headed home from Jinja and I had my hiking backpack on. I try to play it pretty smart when I have my backpack and not put any items in the outside zipper compartments; I tie everything down and secure the entry points; mainly because I have been warned about the thievery that happens in Downtown Kampala. However this Sunday, I happened to run into someone that took pick pocketing to a whole new level. As I am bobbing and weaving through people, dodging potholes and cars I look down at my waist strap and the zipper pocket is undone, luckily my wallet was still sitting inside. Puzzled, I zipped it back shut. No less than 5 seconds later I feel a tug at my waist and I look down to find a hand pulling back quickly. As soon as I came to it and realized what was happening I raised my ukulele and swung at the man, lucky for him he dodged the swing and darted off across the street. Meanwhile I shouted and pointed “VAYO! VAYO! That one is a thief!” I was in disbelief and I suddenly felt so vulnerable in a crowd that one minute earlier I had felt somewhat a part of; and that is never a good feeling when you are investing your life for the sake of someone else’s country. Luckily for the thief, I didn’t chip my uke and I won’t get any second laughs at his attempt to mess with the wrong muzungu!
With that being said… sometimes life here gets exhausting and I just get tired of always watching my back and making sure I don’t get taken advantage of, especially in the market or when taking public transport.
However today, just when I needed it most, my faith was restored. It came through simple acts of love and generosity. It started as I was taking a boda into Wakiso this morning, when I asked “sente mekka?” (how much?) he replied, 1,000 which is such a fair price. Normally I have to haggle with the drivers and move on to another driver after they won’t budge on the price. So needless to say, it was refreshing to just ask the price and be treated like everyone else. Once I arrived in town, I boarded a taxi and said “is it 2,000?” and he could have easily just said yes, but he corrected me and said it was 1,500. I just smiled so big and got into the van and took a seat. It doesn’t stop there people! Later I was getting some groceries at the market. The market I used today was down by Lake Victoria, I’ve never used it before and those people don’t know me from Joe. So I picked out about 5 small tomatoes and asked the lady how much? She replied 500, so I said I’d take them. The price really wasn’t that bad and I did hand pick them myself, but when she went to put them in a bag, she selected 3 more tomatoes and added them to my package. She didn’t just grab 3, but she examined her selection and individually picked the 3 brightest red tomatoes. Normally you will find about 7 or 8 small tomatoes for 500; I had only picked 5 and she could have easily sold me just those, after all I did agree to the price. But the fact is, SHE DIDN’T! She knew what was fair and she treated me with love and generosity. And that spoke volumes to me! Lastly, as I was on my last taxi back home, the sun had hit the level in the sky where it is just blinding as it shines through the window. I was putting my hand up to the window trying to block the rays that my sunglasses weren’t. Then the kid next to me tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a book to block the sun. He said “we saw that you were struggling”. My mind was blown. That is loving your neighbor, people.To you these encounters may seem insignificant, but for me, it really meant the world. After the past three days of pent up angst about Sunday and just feeling all around somewhat blue, today was a gift from God. Indeed He knew what I needed and it was His presence through people, or rather my attentiveness to his presence. This verse comes to mind and is quite fitting, “And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ after you have suffered a little while will Himself RESTORE you and make you strong firm and steadfast” 1 Peter 5:10.
I don’t so much understand the part about letting us suffer... but if the past 3 days hadn’t been so hard, today probably wouldn’t have meant the same to me.Indeed my faith in the work I am doing has been restored and I couldn’t imagine serving any other nation right now. The Pearl of Africa will rise again; these people hearts are too lovely.