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Africa Inland Mission
September 12, 2013 2:14 am

Fun fact alert! There are 42 plus languages (including a Ugandan sign language) spoken regionally in Uganda. Emmy and I have only bumped into about 10 so far, but will most certainly encounter more. One of the fastest ways to start a conversation with a total stranger is to whip out a bit of the local dialect. Even if we only know how to say hello, people’s faces immediately brighten. In the line for the ATM this morning I gave the most basic greeting in Luganda and received a 3 minute congratulations for learning Luganda (A language that I know perhaps 30 words of).

Part of this has to do with the social customs of Africans in general. For the most part it is considered rude not to greet someone that you have made more than passing eye contact with. Furthermore, greeting is an important part of familiar relationships. There are different classes of greetings and the more formal ones can take more than 5 minutes to complete. They consist of ritualized greetings and blessings and are specific to the language and the region. Needless to say I do not know how to say any of them.

Even so, we are learning the shortened greetings and a few other useful phrases. The best part about learning is that it reverses the assumed status dynamic between a white person and an African. The usual assumption here at the center is that the bazungu are to be treated with respect far beyond what we would normally get if we were Africans (for Africans respect is based on gender, age, and authority). But when we become learners, even a 6 year old can pause us midsentence and correct a pronunciation or teach us a word. Furthermore, we get to participate in the meeting of 2 different languages at the center.

ACHERU has patients from two main regions; the Acholli/Luo/Luong (extremely similar languages) people groups from the north and the Buganda from the central region. As the groups meet there is often some friction because most of the staff at ACHERU are Buganda and only speak Luganda and Luzungu (English). But recently they have added a nurse named Ojok Tom from Gulu who speaks Luo and Luzungu.  This allows the staff to communicate clearly with the families from the north, without using patients who know some bits of English as translators. This also lets us learn Luo more quickly. It has become a bit of a game for us to greet everyone at the center every morning and have them return the greeting in kind.

This also creates a place for other information to be exchanged. Because we are learning the regional languages we are better equipped to build relationships with the people we meet. This also means that we get more opportunities to learn how we can be praying for these individuals. Sometimes we meet people in taxis or markets who we can speak with for a few minutes. In these short windows, an appropriate greeting can create conversation where it might not have otherwise occurred. This means we have that much more of an opportunity to share Christ.

The truly remarkable thing is that for the people here this comes across as an act of humility. For my part I just enjoy learning the language and trying out what I have learned. But traditionally white people have required the locals to learn English if they want to interact or do business. In the relatively recent colonial history (Uganda has only been independent for 51 years), to be part of your own countries government or civil service you were required to learn a foreign language. Whatever the cultural implications, I love to do it, and people seem to enjoy it as well. Best of all, it lets Emmy and I have good talks with awesome people about Jesus.

A short word from Emmy-

Before departing for Kampala and Kasese last Monday, some familiar faces came to ACHERU for follow up appointments: Lydia and her son William, and Jacqueline with her daughter Consemma. The hug I received from Consemma has possibly been the best I’ve had here so far. I was so full of joy to see every single one of their smiling faces. William and Consemma seemed to be healing well and both caregivers were happy to be seeing their old friends. This has become one of my favorite parts of being at a rehabilitation center. Children come for treatment and stay for quite a while to heal from surgery, so when it comes time for them to go home, it is so difficult to say goodbye. Their presence is truly missed. Therefore, when they come for a follow-up date that we volunteers are unaware of, we are surprised and so happy to see them! It is such an amazing feeling. I am so grateful that partings are difficult and reunions are full of excitement. It shows how the Lord is helping us to form relationships with so many brothers and sisters in Christ.

Last week we went with J and others to Kasese in South-West Uganda. There we observed and learned about an organization for disabled children in that area. We hiked up and down the Rwenzori Mountains multiple times to meet the children the organization helps! It was quite a work out! After 3 days, we went to our safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park! Wild animals are cool =)

And here are a few pictures from:




He has not looked behind him..


They looked very scary up close…

He chased us!

He chased us!

This Elephant is bad at hiding

This Elephant is bad at hiding

OOOO Everybody has a water buffaloooo But these are CAPE Buffalo!

OOOO Everybody has a water buffaloooo
But these are CAPE Buffalo!


-A.B. and E.B.

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