Since moving to Gulu nine months ago I have discovered a multitude of cultural differences between Dan and I and the locals; sometimes I think it is even hard to identify the similarities. I do recognise that we are different; and that’s how we were all created; but struggling to find this line between accepting cultural differences and practises and challenging thinking where it is against Biblical principles.

Last week during devotions on site one of the local pastors gave an analogy saying ‘it’s just like when you get married, you start off loving your wife a lot and then over the years that love disappears, it is like that for every marriage’. I couldn’t help but disagree with him and state my reasons why. Our understanding and value of marriage is so vastly different!

There are many differences that we could argue against, including infidelity in a marriage, severely beating children and the way some wives are treated. But we can’t fight every battle. And I often find it difficult to bite my tongue and not to say something that comes out quite arrogant.

Our big ‘band wagon’ at the moment is attempting to fight the expectancy that if you hold any meeting, gathering or event then you should provide a bottle of soda, a meal (which must include meat) and transport allowance (in other words pay them to come). At our last official staff meeting at school, all teachers were served a soda (which I struggle to accept knowing that the school can’t even afford to buy books for the children or chalk dusters for the teachers – I am now on duster number four :).

Even church ministers were irate when at the last pastor’s conference on site I shared about the vision of TEAMS and then included a few words on why we were serving them a vegetarian meal that day, and not giving them a soda (trying to slowly wean them off). I have since realised that my name has been slated around the pastors in the area.  I have grown to be thick-skinned, but I believe I now need to add a few more layers of thickness for more protection J

I have been told that a meal with meat and a soda is cultural practise; but when did this practise begin? Should we just accept that it is now part of a culture? Would that be being good stewards of our finances when there are so many other needs all around us? Well Dan and I will continue to battle on and this is one we are not going to back down on; as Shakespeare wrote: “when sorrows come they come not in single spies, but in battalions”. Sometimes feel like there is a battalion against us here, but resting in the peace and knowledge that this is where we are meant to be for this specific time in our life!

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8 responses »

  1. Lillian says:

    I am a local girl living out and I say you go girl! I have encountered such attitudes and there is no culture just ‘let’s have something for free’ mentality that has infected our people after many years of ‘begging’ for daily bread to survive. We used to need to earn everything we got. God deliver us, starting from the ‘shepherds’ downwards!

  2. Ruth Newham says:

    Well done for not giving up Jodie and Dan, keep going and stick to your guns! It can’t be easy when so called Pastors say and do such things. Thinking of you, lots of love Ruthxx

  3. cassie says:

    hey guys!!!! just read your post and thought I’d share what came to mind (its the first thing that came to mind and have not long gotton out of bed…..so may change my mind once my coffee kicks in!) 1. was I remember my trips to png and our pastor who grew up there and knows the customs and language well, would always hold up the heart of the bibles standards against tradition i.e marriage/not praying to the dead, but did hear him one time say to a lady who was living with a man who she was not yet married to, that it is still right for her to evangelise if that’s in her heart (as the church were saying she were sinful and therefore could not)….our pastor knew she was being beaten but had so much love in her heart for Jesus, that it would be wrong to squash that aswell, where he said if it were any of us (the mission team being caught in such sin, that he would take a diff approach)…….so I think upholding the heart of God in every given situation is always right, just like you guys are doing:) then 2. I was thinking about the soda and meat thing, perhaps them saying its tradition is a bit of an excuse, sounds like they just enjoy it on one level and on another level it has a lot of unhelpful things attached to it…..so although there’s a lot of unhelpful things attached to it….maybe it would work well to figure out how they can still have the same level of enjoyment at meetings (as that’s a good thing obviously, especially given that I assume their backgrounds have been hard) whilst also helping them to slowly look at some of the problems associated with it too…..

    and I could be totally wrong, it was just what popped into my head:)

    hope you guys get refreshing times to help sustain you in such a challenging season, keeping you in my prayers, looking forward to seeing you very soon!!! Love Cas

    • Thanks Cas, still lying in bed and had to read your reply twice (eyes were half open for the first read); appreciate it. The difficult thing is certainly trying to show and explain the problems with the meat and soda thing – have tried this but do think its a good idea.
      Regarding the slagging of us, called a staff meeting on the church site and gave an emotive talk to them how sad, disappointed and hurt we were, think this had a more powerful effect then just coming out in frustration or anger. Time will see… Can’t wait to see you soon – hope all the preparation is going well. Oh, got the invites in the post Friday – thanks, they look fab! Feel special to have them delivered 🙂 xx

  4. I love your courage. I also agree with you about the soft drink issue. You and Dan are amazing. xx

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