Wednesday, December 19, 2018

New Cultural Experiences

When we first came to Uganda eight years ago, we spent a lot of time learning about this new culture we were living in.  At the time, I think I had the idea that we would have to learn a lot of new things for the first few years here and then after that we would know all the ins and outs of the culture.  But I had a realization moment about a year ago that this expectation was so wrong!  I was still learning new things, yet we had been here more than just a few years!  (Or maybe it is that I am just a slow learner! :D)  

So, there have been numerous times in the last year that I have learned new things about Ugandan culture.  Last week was one of those times for me.  Two of our good friends from Musana were getting married last weekend.  Traditionally, there is a ceremony called an introduction that happens before the church wedding.  In the past, the introduction was the official wedding ceremony where the groom and his family were introduced to the bride's family, where the dowry was paid, and where the bride's family officially gave her to the groom in marriage.  Today, couples in the church often have a church wedding along with this introduction ceremony.  So, our good friends invited us to be part of their "family" at the introduction.

Everything about the ceremony was a new experience...wearing the traditional cultural dress, watching the traditional dances, the hours of greeting and gift-giving.  I was so thankful to be able to sit next to another Ugandan friend so that she could interpret for me and explain the meaning behind the things going on and even how the traditions have changed over the years or from family to family.  While it was very different from anything we do in the States, we appreciated the emphasis on hospitality, the blessings and prayers over the couple, and the formal giving over of the bride to the groom.  

Every time I learn new things about the culture here, I am challenged to look at my own cultural traditions, to understand the meaning behind them and see how they have changed and to see the good and bad elements within them.  Living in a different culture gives me an opportunity to take a step back and think about how God sees the things we do.  And it reminds me how He has created diversity and how He loves to bring diverse people together in unity within His family!  

So I am sure that there are still many, many things that I have yet to learn about Ugandan culture, but I am thankful that God lets me keep learning about my brothers and sisters in Christ.  He keeps challenging me to be humble and look at things from a different perspective.  And we pray for His blessings on this new couple in their new life together!!

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