This morning I woke up alone to a still house. For the first time in a month — complete silence. There were no good morning’s or how are you’s. There were no hugs or loving pats. I sipped off-brand Keurig coffee instead of my usual freshly French-pressed Ugandan coffee order at The Source Cafe. I sat on my back porch, missing sounds of whizzing boda bodas and warm sunlight. The gray sky added to my melancholy. I yearned for my friends, familiar sites, sounds and flavors — I ached for Africa.
As I returned to my ordinary American routine today, I failed to find contentment. Church was too slow, too boring. My appetite was non existent. Conversations were not challenging or spiritually insightful.
The place that should be most comfortable was a place of great discomfort and distaste.
And to a degree, it still is.
I miss red dirt in my sandals and greetings from strangers. I miss dancing in 90 degree heat and stopping termite mud with my bare feet. I miss learning Lusoga and figuring out the culture of Uganda. Most of all, I miss the family I shared four weeks in an Ugandan apartment with.
This past month, we learned how to partner with people to help alleviate poverty. We learned how to work with a team in serving God. Best of all, we learned how to love each other well.
The Kibo and Source staff members exemplify Christ in their caring for one another. They are excited to see each other every morning. They spend time together on their days off. They hold one another’s babies and tell each other stories. They hug. They smile. They are kind and patient and overflowing with joy.
Today I struggle to assimilate back into individualistic, fast-paced American culture. I struggle with loneliness and misunderstanding. I struggle with the heartbreak of leaving Uganda, and how I can somehow bring a piece of it back to the U.S. for others to see.
Though I learned about poverty, missions and in-profit work while interning with Kibo, I think the heart of the organizing is loving well. I think that is the key to changing the world, for both the wealthy and impoverished in Africa and in America.
Today, maybe it’s not so much Africa I yearn for so much after all. Maybe it’s the people who have loved me so well, and who inspired me to do the same.