Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Small Favor

I had given Pastor George Nsamba from the Wingate Guest House two hundred dollars (USA) to exchange into Ugandan Shillings for me. That was two days ago, and I was starting to sweat it, thinking that I might not hook up with George before our bus trip west the next day, Sunday morning.

What I didn't realize at the time was that $200 was the equivalent of about three months’ salary for a school teacher there. In other words this was a lot of cash. I tried calling George when we returned from dinner Saturday night but we were always cut off or disconnected.

We developed an expression over there when something unplanned or unexpected happened, “TIA”. This was shorthand for “This Is Africa”. At any given moment plans could change, sometimes five times a day. You really had to lose that sense of being in “control”. Sure, it was always a good idea to have a plan, but you couldn't get your nose out of joint when things changed.

So I resolved in my mind that if George didn’t show up on Sunday that was just the way it would be. I needed to guard my heart at that point from allowing this event to somehow damage or impair my relationship with this pastor. I considered him a friend. After all one of the key reasons for being there in the first place was to develop deep relationships. I couldn’t allow $200 to damage that relationship or accuse George in my heart. I went to bed Saturday evening in total peace.

Sunday morning the whole crew from Redeemer Church headed off to church service while we remained behind to pack. To my pleasant surprise, who walks in the door after church service? It was George with my exchanged money. He had joined our group at church and came back with them. He even brought his own driver to escort us to the downtown Bus Terminal! Not a small favor in the crowded Kampala streets below.

This was another important lesson for me about trust and always trying to think the best of others when you don’t know the entire story and your mind is telling you to go the other way.

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