Trying to get your mind around what it’s like to be Ugandan is like trying to understand the perils of Everest by watching the movie. It simply cannot conjure.
We’ve been here for over 10 months now, and have been deep in the bush and deep in the lives and challenges of these amazing people. But we have come to realize how impossible it is for us to truly understand them fully. We are so well cared for as missionaries that we are among the most pampered people in all of Uganda. We are very, very comfortable by Ugandan standards. So, we meet with the people and try to grasp it, but the full concept escapes us.
Just one example is how often, and what our friends eat. Many if not most adults eat just one meal a day, and that meal consists of posho (corn mush) and beans, eaten with the fingers.
I started taking a little informal survey and found many people who have not more than one meal per day. At first I thought it was rare, but have come to see it is very normal. While with people in their huts, I’ll ask, Have you eaten yet today? Based on my unscientific poll, I’d guess that more than half the adults here live on one meal per day. Otherwise, they may take some tea, or just drink water.
To better understand how this feels, I decided to do a personal experiment, which will not surprise those who know me. Starting the first of November, I have had only one meal per day. The experience has been enlightening. The first several days were difficult, but then I got used to the feeling of being empty, and just marched through the day. Surprisingly, I have a sense of lean health that I enjoy. I hope to continue this test for 100 days, so I’m only 30% there.
There are dozens of other things we cannot fully experience as missionaries, such as sickness and disease, death, corruption, and living in a hut without electricity or indoor plumbing.
My experiment has allowed me just one additional view of the life of an African, and for that I am thankful. But I think I’ll stop at that, and not venture to surrender all our modern conveniences and protections to fully understand. This is enough for now.