These past few weeks I have found that I’ve been subliminally comparing and contrasting Gulu, Uganda to Knoxville, Tennessee (and almost any other place that I have traveled in this great big world). I’ve been pulling apart each little fiber of the blanket that has covered me and sheltered me in each of these towns in order to distinguish what exactly makes a place a home.
What is it I love about Uganda and Tennessee?
Uganda: Mangoes, how everyone (male and female) tries to dance like Shakira, women who make dresses in the market, the huge moon and sky at night, the sense of humor every one has, goats walking aimlessly, strength in women that I have never seen before, ARLPI, never having to worry about my hair cause it’ll get big anyway…
Tennessee: Chicken and dumplings, my insane and wonderful family, the big mountains, Marble Slab ice cream, Oakland United Methodist Church, dancing in the moonlight, Southern accents, how people say yes’sir and yes’mam, Sarah Mitchell Tweed, ahem…never having to worry about my hair cause it’ll get big anyway…
Does being in one place make me fonder of the other? The more I have thought about this the more anxious I get about my future and where I will be living during the next few years and how my time here has affected me and will continue to affect me in the years to come.
I brought the issue of home up to some of the people that I work with. A Muslim member of ARLPI, explained that he has two wives and two homes and that he has worked very hard to maintain those households, especially because of the conflict that consumed northern Uganda. He has also lived and suffered in Russia during the Cold War and has worked in London, England. He graciously described his life in Gulu (how one of his wives is HIV+, how he had to remarry, how he has SO MANY children) and I understood that this place is his home because he worked the hardest here to make something out of his life and ached to come back to the town, even after the war.
Another member that I work with, a Catholic female with two children, informed me that she moved here from southern Uganda when she married her husband. She explained that she has always been in love with her husband, even though their marriage was arranged, and that “where there is love, there is a home.” However, she did admit that living conditions have been harsh during the past decade but that she could not imagine relocating because of the blood that has been shed for her family and household.
With these thoughts in mind I had a devotional session with my friend, Jayanni, on Sunday around 4:00 p.m. After reading a few passages from Psalms and Proverbs aloud I felt a little foolish and slowly remembered that HOME is where GOD is. This was the answer that I was looking for all along.
It doesn’t matter how much I worry about the future because God already has all of the answers. He is always ahead of me, always behind me, and always with me at every minute of every day. I know I could plan exactly what country I will be living in for graduate school, where I could go on vacation, and where my heart’s greatest desire lies but it’s pointless to worry because I am ultimately not the one in charge. Even though it would be great to have some sparkly red pumps that I could click together every time I want to go home, wherever that may be, God is always in control (which is why I have to go shoe shopping so frequently or else my life would surely be in shambles)!
So, I found this short message when I flipped to the index of my bible and searched for the word ‘Home.’ I can’t help but grin because God knows me so well. Home truly is where the heart is and He is my home.
“It is comforting to have God, who is as much at home on one end of the earth as the other.
Where is the end of the Earth?
To me, it may be in China or Africa;
To a Chinese or African it may be New York.
Physically, the world has no end.
When I come to the end of myself, wherever I am in the world, God is there.
And from that seeming dead end He can create new life, and give new strength.
I never need fear that I have not taken him along.”
--Gladis and Gordon DePree