Our trip in DRC helped us remember what it is like to be a new missionary. All old(er) people like us should probably land periodically in a new country where we can't speak the language, don't know the way, and have to depend on someone half our age to take care of us. While it was kind of nice (being taken care of!), by the end of the week I think we experienced again just what all new missionaries do: being helpless, and being unknown. Watching for cues. Not knowing what was going on. Asking a hundred questions. Not knowing what should happen next. Wondering what people were thinking. Hoping we weren't causing too much trouble. When I said some of this to our team mates I could see their faces light up. Forgive us for forgetting what it is like to be new, and rootless! Communication is a human attribute, so the entry into a new country where one can not communicate is rather dehumanizing. And as people grow, they develop in the context of relationship. Suddenly being in a new country, plucked out of the complex web, is strangely disorienting. I hope I can remember that as our intern arrives this weekend.
So as we crossed the border back into Uganda, what a relief. Before we were even through customs a friendly voice (in English) was calling "Doctor, how are you!" The comprehension, linguistic and relational, was back. Tuesday Scott and I basically walked around greeting people, something we don't do enough, spending the lunch period with the CSB staff, then Alpha Primary, Melen, the Health Center, some friends along the road. We knew who we were talking to, and how to say it. Weds he was in marathon school meetings and I caught up with cooking and survival, and today I went to the hospital while Scott is working on financial and computer issues. It's good to be home.
However, we still feel the unease of ambiguity. Who are we for these next 3 to 4 weeks? Not team leaders anymore, and Scott is not officially Field Director until November. We have entered the transition zone in a major way. Suddenly it's all up for grabs: where to start, who to give what, when or if to go to the hospital, how to arrange life temporarily while closing it up. This is unfamiliar territory once again. Not quite Congo, but not quite normal Bundibugyo life either. The kids feel it. Are they still CSB students? Will teachers be offended if they don't go to class? Will they crumble emotionally if we push them to keep up old routines while plunging into packing and closure?
So we need prayer in the ambiguity of this season, help in navigating this shadowy country of not-quite-gone-but-fading.