27 March 2019 – Bug Bites and Floods

If your oven threatens to trip the power, kill the electricity and turn your banana bread batter into banana pancake batter. Baking is a mission here with no baking soda and no baking pans. Despite my host home having an oven manufactured in China for Uganda specifically, it appears it uses more energy than Umeme–the local electricity provider–can offer here. While it was preheating there was a pop and we hurriedly switched the extension cord off. Having thought through all potentially barriers and problems and challenges that could arise trying to bake a simple mix of ripe bananas, flour, and eggs, I was prepared to quickly adapt.

We ate banana pancakes for evening tea. Evening tea is what occurs around 6:30PM before making dinner. Then at 7:30PM dinner preparations began. A chicken was defeathered as we sat on the porch, cut apart, and cooked in a soup. Matooke was peeled and boiled. An avocado as large as a newborn baby was cut into cubes. Fruit was blended into juice. Everything is cooked for a long time on high heat. Whether or not Ugandans view it as such, it’s a great way to kill bacteria.

As we waited for dinner, I realized how dusty I was. The winds were ferocious this afternoon, threatening rain but delivering none. A gust would sweep through and immediately coat whatever papers were in front of me and the surrounding surfaces. I have a bug bite behind my ear that is driving me up a wall. Also, I am pretty sure I was visited by a Nairobi fly, a fly which basically acid burns your skin when you brush it away. Someone else had it and I realized that was the strange constellation of bug bite type splotches on my ankle appearing some weeks ago, now faded to a faint scar.

I bathed before eating, scrubbing away the grime and thinking how badly my nails need to be tended to in order to remove the orange hue they’ve developed from the dirt. We ate while watching the news detailing the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. There have been major events on this continent in the last month. The cyclone and resulting mass death and despair in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, the Ethiopian airline crash, and Uganda/Rwanda border tensions to name a few. I hang out in this little house in Uganda dreaming up health education initiatives while watching Western aid workers tending to cold and naked children just a few countries south of me. This humble home feels like a palace. 

On the news, someone was grilling a Mozambique reported why wasn’t the country better prepared, and he was baffled trying to answer how do you prepare for a freak cyclone? How do you build homes to withstand a storm like this when those homes are built by families entrenched in poverty with whatever resources they have? All this is what makes the bug bites quite forgettable.  

I have two days left in Uganda. It is amazing how fast a month can go and how much the past four weeks have been filled with stories of disease and death and war. When you star sharing life with people, these stories naturally flow forth. Our shared depravity and fragility as humans is simultaneously suffocating and uniting. A number of people I have talked to during this trip who have been long-term missionaries or are Christians in the international development field continually say, “You can’t do this type of work without Christ.” It really is unimaginable how people engage with all this without the hope of Christ. Things are broken beyond repair and expecting to solve problems or working towards impressive results is really not the focus.

Jesus went to the lost and hurting, healing one at a time while loving deeply. At every turn there were forces fighting against him. He was victorious on the cross, but would we measure his ministry as a success today? He sat around at a well, he smeared mud on faces, he retreated to mountain tops when people called out his name, and he got a little too close to the sick. He limited himself to 12 friends and asked people to forsake their families. He threw tables and told people to keep secrets. It was never for a show or nice packaged end product.

It was all about loving who was right in front of him. The pain is a touch easier to bare when you live like this, knowing simply flooding other’s lives with love in the humblest way is an expression of Christ, the Hope of Glory.

-Brooke Adams

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