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!