Kelsey in Kampala

I have been living in Kampala, Uganda for about two and a half weeks now and it has taken me that much time to put together some sort of commentary about it.

If there is one word I could use to describe the last two weeks (and every road in Kampala), it would be: bumpy.

I’m constantly back and forth, up and down. One minute I absolutely love my job at Rainbow, the next I suddenly feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. One evening I’ll be content on my own in my house, and the following evening I’ll miss my family enough to bring myself to tears.

Before I moved to Kampala I knew this time Uganda would be very different. Between January and April I lived in a village with very little access to internet, no tv, electricity that went off every day, no data on my smart phone, but I grew to love my simple lifestyle. I loved sitting on the porch of my house with two close friends, having nothing to do but chat and listen to the croaking frogs. I became accustomed to telling others about Jesus every day, to thinking about my relationship with God all the time, to expecting to see His miracles happening around me. But I knew this time, Uganda would be different.

I came prepared with the knowledge that life in the capital city of Kampala would be very different than village life in Uganda but the little things still surprised me. I immediately found it difficult to carve out time to spend with Jesus every day, like so many people with 9 to 5 jobs have a hard time doing. I have been desperately wanting close time with God but I’ve found myself struggling to do that while I’m navigating a new city and a new job, and trying to do things like get groceries home on a boda. I also became overwhelmed with the sudden realization that not every muzungu that comes to Uganda is a Christian; I had come to equate Uganda with an extremely Christian lifestyle, because that’s how I first experienced this country, but that’s not always the case. I’m also still trying to understand facets of the British school system that Rainbow utilizes and all the British terminology that goes along with it. I comprehend only about half of what my English colleagues say. And it’s still weird to be able to do things like leave my house at night. I’ve realized I’ve begun to basically live my American lifestyle in a very un-American place.

I’ll be honest and say it makes me a little sad to feel like I’m trading in my missionary life for an expat one. I’m not sure I’m completely comfortable with it yet. I miss the Uganda I first fell in love with- the lifestyle of simplicity, gratitude, and hospitality. Here in Kampala, poverty is still all around me but so are decent sized super markets, cell phone stores, fancy restaurants and hotels. I now have internet and tons of movies and my iPhone which are convenient for staying in touch with people back home and passing time, but I miss the days when, if I wanted entertainment I would go out of the gate and chase around the kids at the local well, or play cards with the little boys who lived next to the Field of Dreams. I am so grateful for my job and a concrete reason to be in Uganda for two years, but often I miss the days I spent the morning laying hand on this sick instead of discussing department budgets and photocopying. Sometimes I actually have to remind myself that I’m the same person that did those things back at Show Mercy. Even though I’m in nice teacher clothes and I’m tired after work, I am still the same girl I have been and I’m not too good to play with street children. But to my dismay, people in Kampala are different, and sometimes when I say hello to a child, they respond by asking me for money.

I am still very much adjusting to my new life in this city, and trying to figure out why it was so much easier for me to settle into a life in the village than in the city which is far more westernized. But what brings me comfort is knowing that God knew this was part of the plan for me all along, and He knows what is to come. He sees my heart’s pull to be out in the village again, among the little children who beam up at me with smiles blackened from sucking on sugar cane, back among people who invite you into their home and call you their granddaughter upon meeting you. He sees that I haven’t made any real friends yet here and He hears my call for relationships. He understands my pain of feeling disconnected from Him as I try to do the strange thing of living a ‘normal’ lifestyle in a place that is not at all normal to me. He sees it all and He knows it all and yet He has big, big plans.

I hope I haven’t sounded too negative and defeated because, most of the time, that’s really not how I feel. This lifestyle God has chosen me for is genuinely hard, but I know it will get easier. I might quit, pack up and go home if I didn’t honestly believe that God has magnificent plans for me here, plans I cannot wait for Him to reveal.

Daily I miss my family and friends, and wish I wasn’t alone so much of the time, but God is so strong, and He does not withhold that strength from His children that ask for it.

I’m excited to keep settling in to Kampala, to get into a routine and be able to fit in more time to spend with Jesus, more time to get out to the village, time to study Luganda, and more opportunities to teach people about the God who chose me.

Prayer Requests:

-Please pray that God will put great Christian friendships into my life, particularly with woman who I can relate to without a cultural/language barrier.
-Please pray that I will quickly adjust to my new job and be an effective teacher for my students.
-Pray for my family who I miss so much and God’s continued love and blessings in their lives. Also that they won’t miss me as much as I miss them.

3 thoughts on “Kelsey in Kampala

  1. It breaks our heart to hear your plight. We wish we could comfort you and convince you that all will be well, we know it will. This is a big transition; it will take time to adjust and make friends. We do pray for you everyday, that the Lord is with you, protects you and comforts you until we have you in our arms again. Love, Mom & Dad


  2. Dear Kelsey,

    Thanks for sharing all your ups and downs in your new living situation. I know it’s really hard feeling alone in a crowded place when you are new and feel in over your head. But I am so proud of you—for your faith and obedience to follow your heavenly Father and trust Him when it’s hard. I’m sure Jesus often felt the same way having left his heavenly home to be with us. I will be praying that you will be able to abide in Jesus, be reminded of His presence with you thru His Word and His children, and experience His love and blessings in the small things every day.

    Be patient with yourself and hang in there! You are so loved! Annette


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