I entered the new Friday Market area with high hopes of seeing people that I had come to know as friends in the time that I lived in Uganda. I love exploring. I'm a curious person naturally. So getting to come to Friday Market was a treat for me at the end of a long work week. I would wander the rows searching for creative and beautifully handcrafted items. I don't think there was ever a time when I did not see something that I thought genius. The people here don't have much, but what they do have, they make much of!
Over the years I got to know some of the vendors of the stalls at Friday Market. Certain people were always very friendly or always thinking of some new design. I would check with Judith and Annette to see if they had what I was searching for before purchasing from another tent. I would stop by and see the two jajas (grandmas) selling paper beads before considering the other places- one woman was very friendly and had great prices and the other one had a new design with different materials every time I came. So it was no real surprise to me when I started slowly going from tent to tent when I heard in the distance, "Is that Jean?!" I moved my head around searching for the mouth to whom the words belonged. I soon found Judith's face and saw her climbing over her stock to greet me. I side stepped along the end of tarps and embraced a friendly hug. She went on for a bit explaining how she thought she saw me but didn't believe it, asked after how my parents and cousin were, questioned where my friends were and what they were doing, and what I was doing back in Uganda. We enjoyed a bit of time catching up and I bid her goodbye, ensuring her that I would be back again before returning to the US. I was able to find both of my bead ladies, and both of them said to me, "Eh! You are lost!" Here in Uganda that means that you have gone a long time without seeing each other.
When I got around to finding Annette's new station she exclaimed, "Is that really Jean? Let me see your ring!" (I put forward my left hand) "It is you!" Annette was always a fan of my 3-in-1 ring. Another person recently remarked on the ring I wear on my "wedding finger". One of the guys at dinner after STUDiO_10's Worship Night pointed to my ring and asked me, "How is your husband?" I laughed and told him that God was great. I took off my ring and held it in the air to show him the symbol that can be found in the middle - the trinity symbol. I told him that there is a verse in Isaiah (54:5 if you want the reference) that says, "For your Maker is your husband--the LORD Almighty is his name..." This guy had a lot of questioning looks and words. "So you don't want to get married?" I explained that I do, but that God is the most important thing in my life, and the ring helps me to remember that. He still said that it scares away men when I wear it, but I told him that the man I marry is going to have to be brave enough to go through God to get to me.
I love the honest conversations I can have with people here. It's not uncommon for a mzungu (white person) to get followed, but Ugandans talk to each other so freely as well. When a past Heritage student, and current friend, and I trekked up the rocks at the quarry, there were lending hands along the way. One man pulled up my friend through the thicket (I was stubborn and am now suffering from a thorn in my finger). Another young lady decided to lead us to the top of the hill and show the view of the lake. I had been there several times before, but paths change and she was insistent. She was super friendly and we had some good conversation. I showed her how to make noise from my ukulele. She asked me why I play. "For a record? For yourself?" she inquired. I responded simply - "I play for God." It really is so easy to find ways to bring up God in conversations. At least it is for me here...
As I was walking to school the other morning, I stopped and snapped a photo of a morning glory. A woman was passing as I did so and started asking me if I liked flowers. We walked the red roads together as I told her about how it's necessary to take in the little things in life and to enjoy all that God has created.
I'm looking forward to more interesting conversations in my last 3 weeks here...and looking forward to learning from our Creator how to incorporate God more and more into the random chats in the US when I return.
Here's an interesting quote from the book I am currently reading, One Thousand Gifts:
"Whether I am conscious of it or not, any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down. Do I have eyes to see it's Him and not the thing? ...God is Beauty who demands worship, passion and the sacrifice of a life, for He owns it. Do I have eyes to see His face in all things so I'm not merely dazzled by the trinket, glitzy bauble dangling for the ogling, till it flakes and breaks and I strain for more to lie prostrate before?" ~Ann Voskamp