what i would be wondering if i were you

perhaps you have noticed that when you ask me “how are you? how is kotido?” my response is generally the same, “hot.”(paris hilton, be damned for making that a catch pharse. ‘thats hot.’)  and then i move on to talk about something else. this generally means i will ask you a question to change the subject.

perhaps you haven’t noticed–but i’m going to explain anyway.

when i just say “hot” there is a lot packed into that little three letter word that is just too much to try and talk about every time someone asks how things are. it is a concolation to myself that  i haven’t lied about how things are here–but it also means that i can skirt the most difficult things to talk about.

yes, it is hot–that is very true–and kind of oppressive at times.
it is also generally dry. we had some rain two days ago-for about 30 seconds. everyone is worried that the rains will come too late (they should have started by now) and that means that the harvest will, again, be weak. if there at all.
with the dryness comes the dust. the same wind that is blowing the rain clouds north toward kidepo or west to acholi-land are the same winds that fill my eyes and house with sand and dust. at times it is even difficult to walk the 1km into the market–sometimes it is just not worth the slog through the dust…

with this heat, lack of rain, dust and the threat of a bad crop comes hunger.
many people are already supported by the world food program–but it looks as if wfp is planning on bumping the number of people that food is distributed to.

there is a distribution point for women and babies between my office and my house. so i periodically walk through their lines when i am going between work and home. they still look surprised when i greet them in their langauge–but smile and respond, greeting me in return. many of them force their babies to shake my hand and greet the mzungu–this makes some of the babies cry and look terrified. i suppose i’d be afraid if i’d never seen a white person before as well.

i also get put-off by some of the kids who are peturally chasing me when i am trying to go between my office and house. i don’t mind greeting them four times a day (on my way to work, going home for lunch, going back to work, going home for language lesson) but they have taken to demanding tamtam (sweets/candy) and amieat (100 shillings) and will all latch onto my hand/arm and pull me.

pulling the mother that is burried deep inside of me out and shaking my finger at them and looking angry genearlly does the trick–but its draining to do this four times a day. i consider going home a different way (cutting through bishop’s yard and not walking by the clinic) but i feel like that is cheating and would feel guilty for it…

life here is hard.
and its hard to watch people not thriving–and not really being able to do anything about it.
every time i tell someone i meet “emame ngislinga” (money is not there) when they ask for 100 shillings i can hear “give to everyone who asks of you” ringing in my ears–but don’t know how to reconcile that with the cultural circumstances (that i won’t explain here because it would take too much space. maybe in another post) that make it acceptable to not give away money. (especially as white people–because people would then seriously be lined up at our gate wanting their share…)

so when i say “its hot.”
this is part of what is behind that.
there is much more–but–its hot today, and i need to go in search of water to drink.


4 thoughts on “what i would be wondering if i were you

  1. oh my. this posts resonates strongly with my experiences in cambodia as well. (although you stated it much more eloquently than i)

    i too, hear jesus’ very same words, when people here show me their empty bowls & ask for money for rice. i agree, the contextual reconciliation is a struggle with no apparent clear answer.

  2. Someone asked me yesterday if I thought you were homesick. My response was no. After reading this post I think I was right. I don’t think you could ever be homesick, I think you are disappointed and sad. Disappointed that there are situations in which you find yourself unable to fix and wishing it wasn’t a certain way. I miss you terribly and think of you daily. I worry about your safety but have faith that He will keep you safe. Snapple.

  3. thanks for writing this. i understand how difficult it can be to try to explain all that lies beneath the easy answers we give to people who ask how we are. i wish i could send some of our rain your way 😉

  4. hey thera–it’s great to have fast internet and be able to read blogs and facebook postings! i’m eating my way through this visit–come have breakfast/come have lunch/come have supper. OK!! It has been good to be able to attend Holy Week services and i hope you’re having some in Kotido–Jen mentioned you are beginning the Bible study plan this week or next.

    i do know that ‘it’s hot’ hides lots of other feelings and events, and it’s good that you unpacked it for us a bit. sometimes when i let you ‘get away’ with that reply, yet you need to say more,then please cue me to ask for more. sometimes i’m lazy to hear the hard things that my sisters and brothers need to say, just as sometimes i’m lazy to reply to others’ queries, and a fuller answer touches emotions that i am shy to reveal. that’s especially true here in the US. lots of love to you, Thera. The LORD is Risen! gann

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