Here we sit outside chatting after dinner, our rented vehicle in the background, our host to the right, our new driver Godfrey all in white at center (while Alfred sits at home with his wife awaiting his new baby due anytime now).

From Gail –

We had a few days early last week to recuperate and sleep a little later after the intensive five day Bible Institute in Tororo last week. It was a nice break.  Wednesday night we were invited to a friend’s home for dinner. It is always a treat to accept a chance for hospitality and fellowship in a private home where we get to share how the people actually live. Most often we are not in a town or village long enough to be invited. Our schedule is packed from morning to bedtime. When we arrived at their home around 5 pm, there were several of our friends there and some new faces as well. A nice group.

This was our second week in Tororo, and we finished our stay here with a three day Parenting Seminar. I think it went well. We were also invited to dinner on Saturday night with the host pastor and his wife after the seminar ended that afternoon.  Then Sunday morning we made a very early start to drive to Mbale where Bob preached and I met with 25 ladies in the afternoon.

An odd thing happened at the Wednesday night supper – a sort of clashing of cultures that provided some humor and emphasized to us that we can rarely let down our hair while we are here. We had finished a delicious typical Ugandan meal of rice, beans, matoki (a kind of banana that is only eaten cooked), chicken, beef, and greens.  We were having some good conversation, and our hostess brought in some nice bananas that served for us as a sort of dessert, though in our experience, the Ugandans never have dessert, so perhaps a nod to musungu customs.

 

A close friend helps set the table for dinner.

Bob decided he wanted one, but I just wanted a bite since we have them for breakfast most mornings and I get a bit tired of them after a while.  He broke off almost half of the banana for me, but it was more than I wanted, so he broke it in half again and handed it to me.  All of a sudden, there was a flurry of talk among the Ugandans, making vivid the expression, “The natives are restless.” Their enthusiastic discussion was not in English, and maybe there was even a little bit of laughter in among all the Japadola flying about. What was happening, what had we missed?

These folks love us well and we never doubt it, so we were sure they would tell us what was going on, though sometimes we are left in the dark when we are with a less familiar group and this sort of thing happens. So when we asked, here is what they told us:

Our banana exchange had been closely watched by everyone in the room. They tell us often that they watch the way we interact as married musungus and enjoy seeing a “true Christian marriage” in action, and they see our marriage as a model, which puts us under a serious spiritual responsibility to them. Most of the time, though, we are just “us,” take us or leave us.

More chatting – we enjoyed the evening until dark, listening to a testimony of how a new friend met Christ after her anti-Christian husband became a Christian to her and everyone else’s surprise, and how she resisted and watched him for “evidence” until she finally knew it was real.

In this instance, they couldn’t believe Bob was breaking off a piece of banana for me. It is the woman in Uganda that always serves the man. Bob’s action caused them to wonder, “What does it mean? Was Gail too weak to do it for herself??” They thought that was hilarious. Finally, when they shared the joke, Bob explained that I only wanted a small bite of his banana; he tried to give me half, but I only wanted a little, so he broke off the small piece for me.  Not a big thing, just a husband-and-wife private exchange without earth-shaking spiritual implications.

Only, of course, it was not private at all. We are a curiosity to them, something to be watched and studied. It is hard for me to always keep that in mind. We are just being us – a married couple of 48 years (rare in Uganda, apparently), comfortable with each other, and doing things for each other without really thinking about it.

Guess I better remember to pay better attention! Who knows what we might be modeling with whatever we do next! I wonder if the men will be breaking off portions of their bananas for their wives next time we come. I hope they have picked up some of the things we actually try to model.

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