I am living and working in Uganda with Amazima Ministries, but my eyes are set on eternity.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Slow to Annoy

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

James 1:19-20 
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 
We have been studying 1 Corinthians in our weekly Bible study.  I was convicted by 13:4-7.  Whenever I hear these verses I instantly think of a white dress, bouquets of flowers, and bad dancing.  I've heard this verse a dozen times at weddings and I always think, "yeah of course I should be slow to anger with my wife."  Well, not that I have a wife, but in fantasy land I know for certain I would be slow to anger with her.  

During and after our Bible study it hit me that I am to love everyone in this manner.  The Lord was also telling me that slow to anger may also translate as slow to annoy.  Of course I am never truly "ANGRY," but if I start looking at how often I am, what I define as, annoyed then we have a problem.

I may not have been the best at this type of love in the States, but I for sure am lacking here.  

There are so many things I see in the culture here that I admire and cherish.  

I won't lie and tell you that there are not a handful of things that push my annoyance boundaries.
Traffic cops in Uganda are hard to love.  When you pass a checkpoint they often see that you are western and pull you over.  Lots of times they have no reason to do so.  Once you are stopped they try and come up with a reason to write you a ticket (or threaten to do so in hopes of a bribe).  There is a huge range of random traffic laws that are generally not enforced, but technically can be.  That is what frustrates me so much.  As you drive up you can witness 10 traffic laws being blatantly broken and then when you reach they decide now is the time to pull somebody over.  These are probably not cases of full blown anger, but they are for sure cases of severe annoyance.

Here is a Ugandan line.  Obviously, this is a generalization, but seriously lines are hard to love.  At the supermarket whoever pushes to the front and puts their money in the face of the retailer is first in line.  There are so many personal space boundaries broken in these situations, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  The banks are the worst.  Actually, the banks do a decent job at keeping people in order, but when you come from a small town in the Midwest you are not used to waiting behind 10+ people to get service at the bank.  To make things worse many people at the bank are wealthy (lots of the poor villagers don't have easy access to banking due to transport costs) which means that the other customers are depositing/withdrawing several million shillings (1 million shillings = $400). 

Side note (man puns are a ridiculous blessing God bestowed on us), here is a list of note sizes in Uganda in shillings:
The fact that basically the $20 bill is the biggest and that credit cards and checks are almost never used means that if you are involved in an sizable transaction that you have to carry and count a suitcase of money.  Very time consuming, but it does make you feel like a "high roller." 

Sorry for the really long side note hope you were able to make the connection in paragraphs.  This is painful because it can often be in very small notes and each note has to be checked under a black light to make sure it isn't counterfeit.  Ok, well I need to change subjects cause I am getting annoyed just thinking about bank lines.  Point being lines are hard to love.

This is an image of a T-shirt that I found online.  Really tempted to buy it.  I struggle to love the cultural difference in time and pace.  Things here are very laid back.  I know so many people that come here and absolutely adore this aspect of the culture.  Yep, if you are here for 2 weeks and on vacation or a short term missions trip it can be a break from American fast pace.  If you are here trying to supervise 35 staff and a range of programs, the difference "can at times be not so appealing."  This is probably the biggest area that the Lord convicted me.  I need to find the beauty in every experience and the opportunity to share Christ and his love in every moment.  There has to be a balance between work ethic and relationship focus.  

And I need to strive to love the way the Lord does "slow to anger"
Numbers 14:18
Exodus 34:6 
Psalms 86:15
Psalms 103:8
Psalms 145:8

The Lord is doing great works in my heart.  I pray that He shines brighter in me each day.

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