I dress in a long kitangi dress, embroidered at hem and neck and fit for a ceremony. I wrap a headscarf over my hair, put cow horn earrings in my ears and slip on some fancy high heeled sandals. Walking down the hall of Bethel Christian, towards my daughter’s classroom, I am spotted by a line of kindergardeners, just in from recess. “ooh, you’re prreetty” they croon over me and I smile and tell them, “I’m African!”.
Naomi’s class perks up when I enter the room. Asks more questions than I knew kids could ask. Scandalize their parents later by remembering the two most “important” bits of information from my talk: polygamy and the reasonability of bare breasts. I share a slide show with them; pictures of Naomi’s Bundibugyo life. My goal is to honor Naomi, to bring more of her fullness into this life here. To help the children know her. Of course I honor a culture too. I honor our other home, the other half of our heart. I honor the Babwisi. I honor missions. I honor our team.
I tell Naomi’s friends about a place where the sun shines hot, the spear grass grows tall, where they are bujungu and carry charm in their white skin. A place where most children do not grow tall enough, their brains not smart enough because good food is scarce. I walk the classroom, tapping kids hard on heads with pencil as I explain that discipline in Uganda is so very, very different than here. I drop maize bread and root beer cans into their cupped palms as their mouths stumble over the word, “weabale” and they learn about thankfulness even where there is lack. I slip my shoes off to demonstrate the cleanness possible in a dirt floor and I sit on a mat to show the habits of sitting in silence and the feeling of being fed by those so poor as to make me cry.
I tell them the meaning of Bundibugyo; the “place that goes nowhere”, and it is only since arriving here that I have realized how powerful that word is, how we agree with Satan’s plans each time we speak it. So I ask them to speak better words, words of hope and “somewhere” over Bundibugyo as we close. Ask them to declare good things. And they do. From the ready lips and eager hearts of a new generation of world changers come these sweet things . . .
“Bundibugyo is going somewhere”
“there will be health”
“it will become rich in the Holy Spirit”
“ there will be no more stealing”
“the houses will be good strong lasting ones”
“they will have enough clean water”
Bundibugyo, we will live to see you renamed. To see your name redeemed and your culture too. To see you live in beauty, hope and progress, the best kind. To see your children grow tall. Your wives live free of fear. Your babies filled with good blood; round healthy cells. We speak this over you, in faith. We refuse to see you, speak you, victimized. Instead we will look with the eyes of Daddy-God, seeing all things re-made new, until it comes to pass.