Learning with Lynda

I am now writing on one of the couches out in the living room, and my sister is curled up asleep next to me. We picked her up at the airport in Entebbe this morning. As we got there, I pushed away images from my mind of arriving there, ready to depart and head to my family. Not yet.

But she’s here, and it’s good to be able to talk with her. I’m not sure where she’s staying, probably here since it’s a little tricky getting a guesthouse when Vena has offered a bed here. Lyn is such a good sounding board about African vs. American things. And she’s so comfortable with all the cultural differences that it helps me to be completely at ease as well. It’s interesting to find out how much I’ve learned in my two weeks here. Not so much about getting around, but lots about the family and the ins-and-outs of this particular household. That’s cool.

All for now.

It is now Monday morning. So much happened this weekend, but is has been very good having Lynda here. She reminds me to give grace with differences, to be honest about them and not evasive, to not pretend that everything is okay or that I understand. I’ve been learning so much, and she has speeded up my learning curve, and helped me to continue to learn the lessons the Lord has for me—that cultural differences do not create superiority (a head lesson that has to also be learned by the heart—and all the senses: eyes, ears, nose, touch.) To be gracious and compassionate, to be more and more like You, Lord. Thank you.

Okay, so Saturday we just stayed at the house and watched a lot of bad television with Vena—talking during most of it, but being oddly fascinated at the same time. Nigerian television is interesting—and so big they are now calling it Nollywood (India  has their Bali wood—funny). Much of it has a moral lesson of one kind or another, and you learn much about culture from watching it. People here still have strong beliefs in spirits, and they will often turn to a witch doctor or “spiritualist” (considered less “evil” by those at least nominally committed to Christianity) for a charm or healing or get-rich-quick spell. The movies show this, and also show the deep-seated cultures that resist education and globalization. It’s a true representation, though. Wilfred was just telling me about a well-educated and travelled medical doctor who still visits a witch doctor. Vena tells me that when a building is built, there is traditionally a sacrifice required, and the bigger the building project, the bigger the sacrifice required. So for several of the tall buildings downtown, a child sacrifice was probably required, a street child snatched for that purpose, or a small baby taken from a poorer neighborhood. It would be so easy to do. I watch at church as the children run all over the neighborhood with each other as the adults sit in the service, and I wonder which of the men living in which house is a child molester? Culturally, I resist pointing the finger. This is the African way, and generally the village as a whole DOES take care of the children, but the exceptions exist, and they seem to exist more and more (or maybe they always have and I am just assuming it’s increasing because I am learning more and more of it). I wonder if there is some elaborate plan of childcare that I am just unaware of. Vena does not seem to be concerned about where Patrick is (so I must act as if I, too, am unconcerned), but when Wilfred wants him to be brought to the front of the church, he is there within a minute, carried by some girl around the age of 11 or 12.

It is so easy to judge what you don’t understand, and in my humanness, I don’t even realize I do it sometimes. I must rely (I sure hope I’m learning to do this more and more) on the Holy Spirit to reveal that to me. I’m very good at hiding my sin nature, my pettiness, and my pride from myself—or at even disguising it as something good.

So, back to Saturday. No U.S. soap operas, but several Latino ones (I’m assuming Mexican , but I may be wrong) that have some very un-U.S. American twists. For instance, in Second Chance (and I’m confused by that English title, because the Spanish equivalent doesn’t translate to that. Oh, well.) the household of Don Pedro is filled with controversy and scheming because the honorable Don Pedro has died, leaving a loving daughter, a scheming, unfaithful second wife, and the trusted young worker (who just happened to be having sex with the wife). Here’s the strange twist. Don Pedro reincarnates as a gorgeous hunk with secret, brooding eyes who gets a job in the household as the chauffer. He then tries to influence things so that the daughter is taken care of and the wife and her lover do not get their way and take over his company.

I write all of that because I’m a bit amazed that I’ve been watching it (and actually following the plot lines) and because I think it’s funny that Mexican soap operas are airing in Africa. Anyway, Lynda and I watched with Vena Saturday afternoon and evening—and then with everyone else as they got home—and then escaped to the kitchen when it got a bit steamy—the show, not the household. We had an interesting discussion about that. In the States, conservative Christianity would say that Wilfred and Vena were not very strong believers because they watch stuff that we might say is questionable. But their entire lifestyle is built around helping orphans and people poorer than themselves. Seems to me they have their priorities in better order than I do.

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