Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Homeland

On Monday, we hosted a meeting for American Citizens in our home. There were 15 of us gathered...including the Consular from the Embassy. He drove in just for the meeting and shared information on several important topics.

Here is my summation:

1. Stand Fast--I think this phrase sounds so military and important. It basically means "stay home"....but that sounds so ordinary.
This was the reccommendation concerning the day of the Presidential Election next week and the days following...especially the day the results are released.

2. Sell the Poultry Farm--We don't actually have one...but there could be very tough times ahead for those who do. The Bird Flu has reached the Africa Continent (specifically Nigeria) task forces are being formed, money is being doled out and precautions are being taken. We were advised not to handle live poultry and to prepare to (ahem...) Stand Fast in case of quarantine. There is a large CDC (Center for Disease Control) office in Kampala so Uganda should be well equipped to handle problems if the need arises.

3.Electricity Joy--We were told it would probably get worse before it gets better. Apparently, diesel generators have been brought in to provide the little power we are currently receiving which in effect means--- diesel shortages. No generators...less power. That is unless God graciously dumps eight feet of water in Lake Victoria soon.

I have been about this international living for over 10 years now. And I always enjoy the dynamics of American gatherings overseas.
In our living room were:
-- four 20-something Peace Corp on nothing, serving, sharing, volunteering, missing home.
--one single woman, who in her 50's decided to take all of her money, leave her home in Hawaii and move to Fort help orphans. And she has...
--seven missionaries...from California, Oregon, Texas, Pennsylvania and South Africa...from different backgrounds, doctrines and training...but (check this out) One Christ
--one Catholic sister...she came to Ft. Portal for 3 years and has stayed 34. Amazing.
--and one American Embassy consular staff person...willing to drive to our town to give us information....

We shared something. Citizenship.

We are all foreigners, stand-outs, Mzungu (white men). We exist and cope in surroundings and world views that will never be our own. We came because we CHOSE to. We stay, because we feel we have something to offer. And yet, we all maintain citizenship in a place that means the world to us. Home.

For one hour on Monday, we gingerly stepped back into the bounds of American politeness and greeting. We told American jokes. We wallowed in the joy of information...true, factual and precise. Our greetings were shy at first. We were shifting our minds back to our American rules of social order. But we got there and in many ways, relaxed into the social acceptance we understand.

I love the diversity our life here allows. I love the international understanding I have gained.

But I adore the American-ness of me. I am a West Texas born girl. Who always sings the National Anthem at football games(though I haven't been to one in awhile). And whose heart races everytime she sees Old Glory waving in the wind.

I'm glad for all the flavors of this life. And for the joy of being a Citizen.

"Ohhhh, Say,can you see...."


Jim Coffey said...

Three cheers for singing the Star Spangled Banner !!!!! I love this post ... it really helps us get a sense of what it is like in Uganda.

Mr. Nail (our beloved band director) insisted that we learn the Star Spangled Banner and the school song so that we could sing it in our head as we played.

I love travelling out of the country to learn the cool stuff from other cultures, and to really appreciate how good we have it back home.

When we have an election, the losing party graciously congratulates the winner, and peacefully transfers power without guns and other nasty stuff. This is HUGE and very unusual from a world viewpoint and yet we take this for granted.

Thanks again for writing. Your ECISD schooling is very impressive [grin].
Ms. Moore, Ms. Durrett, and other brilliant English teachers had a huge impact on my life.

Johnathan M. Thomas said...

What an ADVENTURE! Thank you for going with God to a place that many would never go... and for 10 years.

May God contiue His blessing on you all... and may He give you rain.


Patty said...

I would say, "Keep your head in the game," but I know you're doing that. Good thoughts on citizenship-- we share commonalities though we're so diverse.

Have you looked in to bio-diesel options? Edwin runs his truck on vegetable oil. He buys it already processed, but there are ways to process it yourself. This might be an option for those who have access to oil but not diesel. (Our only visit to Ft. Portal we were stranded because of a diesel shortage and that was 16 years ago-- how little things change!) Write to us if you're interested. He has lots of info.

Patty said...

Duh... I just reread and saw that it's the government generators that are run on diesel. This sounds so much like Togo... What finally solved our problem, we think, is that they figured out another country upriver had built another dam and was stopping the water from coming down to us. No chance that's happening there, I guess? Oh well.

SM said...


Something about the way you write makes whatever it is you're writing about interesting and engaging. Especially the last several posts. I like it, especially that i can sort of imagine what you're describing from the brief time I was blessed to spend with you guys. Wish I'd discovered your corner of the internet sooner!

You and Jeff both mentioned the Mzungu word in recent posts... Jessica, myself, and our Taiwanese boss have been using that word for over a month now to refer to other white people when we don't want them to know we're talking about them. Very convenient!

The Taiwan locals have two primary phrases for white folks, "Foreigner" (literally: "outside country person" - wai4guo2ren2) and "Big Nose Foreigner" (da4bi4zi wai4guo2ren2). They seem to be hesitant to use either phrase in our presence - I'm not sure why yet, but our friendships are growing and I hope they'll start giving us the 'real' answers sooner than later.

anyway, all I really meant to say was great writing! You should start a book!

Steve Maxwell said...

Hey Cheryl,
Thanks for the comment on our son. I agree with you. :-) WOW! Very well communicated. You know, you and Jeff both should keep notes and put together a journel of life lived out for Christ in your "home" away home. Thanks for the encouragement.