I’m going to Disneyland! Not the fabled amusement park but something much bigger: America!
A pastor friend and global mission worker characterised the USA as such to me. It’s a good line, with a lot of truth.
Compared to East Africa and Uganda, my home for the past two years, flying 20 hours to get to the US is like flying to see the Magic Kingdom. With relatively smooth roads, non-stop fleets of late-model cars, endless assortment of food and snacks, beautiful homes and residents, all under gorgeous Spring skies.
We thank our forebears in America for building such a magnificent country. We have infrastructure and transportation systems here. We have public education, we have drinking water out of the tap. We have energy and limitless entertainment. It’s a comfortable life. In the fast lane.
Greeting one of my favorite people. A spirited neighbor. She loves us.
It’s a far cry from the quality of life in the villages, small towns or cities of Uganda.
Where I’ve lived in Kisoro District of SW Uganda, there is no power. There are few very cars. There is no industry. There are people walking at all hours of the day. People—mostly women—hard at work as subsistence farmers…ekeing out a living…growing vegetables in their gardens.
It’s a simple life…but it’s not easy.
There’s no glamor here in the village. There are few thrills beyond gatherings of extended families and shared experiences. Night is for sleeping and tomorrow demands more of the same labor-intensive effort.
The pace is slow here in the village, overlooking the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Well-heeled tourists come and go in Land Rovers bound for four-star accommodations and appointments with the mountain gorilla.
Residents here look up and gaze into the vehicles at the visitors. Lives are not so adventurous, not so exciting.
They live as their ancestors did, cultivating in rhythm with the rains and without. It’s not a destination here but a way of life.
As I return to the many conveniences of modern living, I find that I very much miss the simplicity and the sounds of a village life. People on foot always pass, and we can share a wave and a greeting. Some locals bring us irish potatoes or a chicken for our supper. Drums and voices carry a long way over the regions.
There is community here, worship on Sundays, visits and meals shared.
If Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth” then here in Ryarutagara is one of the simplest.
This day and age, simple is good.