Friday, August 28, 2009

Are you a Negro?

I met Mama Aida and the rest of my family on Wednesday. I exchanged introductions with all eight of my new brothers and sisters as they proceeded to make my bed and unpack, unfold, and hang all the contents of my suitcase. Calling them hospitable would be an understatement.

While all of this is going on my new 22 year old sister, Florence, looks at me and asks, "Are you a Negro?" I think for a couple seconds and give a hesitant yes. "You look like Obama! You Negro!" By this point I'm in mild shock. I haven't heard the word Negro used in years... and never have I been asked whether or not I was one. This has been my most awkward but hilarious social interactions so far. Brian (my roommate) and I are the 17th and 18th students my family has hosted and I am the first Black American, or Negro according to Florence. Many Ugandans never even see Black American except on TV.

While all the students were filing into the DC airport I realized I was the only Black student out of 43. 42 Mzungus (the Ugandan term for white person) and me. My experience will be very different than theirs', when I walk to school from my house nobody stares, I actually feel like I fit in everywhere I go, and my family is very happy and proud to have a Negro live with them for a change.

Tomorrow I leave at 5AM for Rwanda to learn about the genocide of 1994... It will be a very intense 10 days. I will blog all about it (along with bucket bathing and eating Matooki) when I return.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dads and Doors

A couple of months ago my Dad surprised me with a new car, a 2006 Honda Civic named Bella. Bella replaced my Ford Focus which I could not justify spending the time or energy to name. Bella was a pretty big upgrade from the Focus, to say the least.

When my Dad first gave me the car he spent about an hour explaining how I needed to be responsible by taking good care of my car and how I needed to show him that I appreciated this gift by cleaning it and taking it in on time for routine oil changes and what not. He went on ...and on... and on.

Last weekend while out with some friends I got into a bit of an accident. I was entering a parking lot and got stuck. The decline into the particular parking lot I was entering was too steep, my wheels lifted off the ground leaving the undercarriage of my car resting on the gravel. I tried multiple times to maneuver my way out but Bella was stuck. We called a tow truck to pull Bella out of the ditch and it seemed the saga was over, until I tried opening the door.


The weight of my car had been resting on the body of the car instead of on the wheels and somehow in the process the gap in between the body of my car and my door closed... and my door wouldn't open all the way. The rubbing was causing the paint to scape off every time I got in and out of my car. This made looking cool as I got in and out of my car very difficult.

I made a split second decision once I noticed my door: "I'm NOT telling my Dad...He'll be pissed."

I got through the weekend without him noticing, I even got through Monday. I got home Tuesday and as soon as I walked into the house he asked me, "What's wrong with your car?'

"Ummmmmmm..." The stuttering problem I immediately developed upon arriving at my house prohibited me from explaining what happened as articulately as I just did.

"Let's go downstairs and see what's wrong." By this point I had an attitude. First, because keeping this from my Dad was an epic fail and who doesn't get an attitude once they've been caught for something? In addition to being upset that I got caught... I knew I was in store for a very long lecture on how to be careful while driving and a lesson on how to drive and not have accidents happen. Needless to say by this point I was not in a good mood... pride never deals well with the humility that comes from being exposed and honest.

We get downstairs and within ten minutes my Dad had fixed my door. He closed my door, walked towards me and said, "If you had just told me sooner, it would have been fixed. It's not good to keep things from me."

How many times have I tried to hide the broken areas of my life from the only One who can fix them? ...countless

How many times have I said, "I'll fix this on my own. I don't need God?" ...countless

How many times have I been too full of shame or fear because of mistakes that I've made therefore I purposefully hide from God? ...countless

Tuesday as I walked back to my room I realized that the door of my heart was just as damaged as the door to my car... unable to open fully and hidden from the one with a solution. Just like I misjudged my dad, thinking he would just be upset at the fact I made a mistake, I had misjudged the character of God so many times, unable to trust the One with my best interest at heart. Just like I thought I could hide my car from my dad, I've been foolish enough to think I could hide the contents of my heart from God, pretending like secrets don't fracture relationships.

Tuesday God used my dad to remind me that I can trust Him more than I think, that nothing is hidden from Him, and that He's waiting to mend, heal, and fix whatever mess I've made. Maybe I'm the only one that has tried to drown out God's voice calling for me to return to him and desperately hiding from His presence. Maybe I'm the only one that has made mistakes and been too afraid and full of shame to confess and repent and allow God to minister forgiveness to me. But what I know about human nature tells me otherwise. I pray we learn from my dad as well...

Hope you enjoyed this Kristie... it was for you.