Friday, June 25, 2010

Life Subject to Change: God is on African Time

If you've listened us speak at church or talked with us about our trip, you may have heard us joking about the difference between African Time and Muzungu Time.

Muzungu (pronounced kind of like moo-ZOON-goo) is a word we hear over and over (and over and over) while in Uganda. The kids shout it on the street as we drive by, 'Muzungu!' When we're speaking at a church and the pastor is introducing us, he might speak in the native language. We have no idea what he is saying, but one of the words we can pick up on: Muzungu. It simply means white person.

So Muzungu Time is basically the white person's time. As Americans, we take time seriously. If you tell someone a meeting starts at 6pm, what you really mean is if you show up at 6 you're late.

African Time is a bit different. When the driver says he'll pick you up at 9am, and he's on African time, 9 am could mean he gets there at 9. But more often than not, it means he might pull up, at the earliest, around 9:15. You're better off not expecting him until 9:30, but make sure you have something to keep you occupied in case you're waiting until 9:59, or if something really out of the ordinary happens (like the driver needs to put new tires on the bus before you make a 6 hour drive) and he doesn't come until 11:30.

It goes back to what we said before about how Africans are people oriented. The task isn't quite as important as the relationships you build along the way. We've been able to build some strong friendships in the time we've spent waiting.

We joke back and forth about the different perspectives of time, but African Time has taught me a lot in life.

Last year before we left, I prayed that God would guide me in knowing His plan for my life. I had just graduated from college with my teaching degree, I had no permanent job lined up for the beginning of the next school year, I had decided not to start grad school right away, and I had an ever increasing desire to pursue full-time missions work in Uganda. I left home convinced that I would know exactly where God wanted me, when He wanted me to go, and what I needed to do to get there.

Looking back, I kind of have to laugh at myself. God sure did answer my prayer, but it wasn't in the way I thought He would.

We came home and a few short weeks later I was bed-ridden with some illness no one could figure out. This entire year hasn't turned out the way I had planned. When I started college, I never once imagined that there wouldn't be a job for me. I figured I'd graduate, get a job, and start doing what I love to do - what I believe God created me to do - teach. But life didn't quite turn out that way.

Last year when we arrived in Bugongi, a small village in Western Uganda, we received an itinerary for the week. At the bottom it said the schedule was subject to change.

Isn't that just like life? I think life should come with a disclaimer:

Life subject to change. God is on African Time.

God doesn't work in our time. We can't give Him a timetable, and He pays no attention to our deadlines.

Trust me. I've been sick for 10 months. If God worked on my time, I would've been healed approximately 9 months 3 weeks and 4 days ago.

I don't know what's going on in your life right now, but maybe God's just not showing up the way you thought He would show up. Or maybe you've been waiting for something to happen and it seems like God is not working in your situation, or even worse, that He's forgotten you altogether.

I want to encourage you to remember that His ways are not our ways, and His timing is perfect even when we don't understand it. God always has a plan. He knows where we're headed, and He'll get us there in His time. But for now we wait, we trust, and we love.

Life subject to change: God is on African Time.

- Aly

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