Monday, January 31, 2011

Coping With the Culture

Robert & Sarah with Buffalo team 2009
Starting Over
January 31, 2011

Technology is a common ingredient of the developed world with elements like online banking, Facebook, email, texting, Skyping, shopping and purchasing all sorts of items without ever leaving the comfort of home ... or from anyplace you take your iPhone! I take all this technology for granted from the comfortable confines of my culture. It has become a part of me.

One week ago today I got hacked. Yeah ... that word is a part of our technological vocabulary. Hacked: To use one's skill in computer programing to gain illegal or unauthorized access to a file or network. Yup! That's what happened. Someone using the name of Tim Brown (mostly likely bogus) with a given address as Boise, Idaho (perhaps also bogus) ordered DVD's from my account. No goods or money exchanged hands, but it caused my gmail account to go down while I was using it. After several hours of frustration to log back in I finally opened a new email account and began the tedious task of rebuilding my contact lists and this update group.

It's just a part of coping with the culture these days. Compared to what my friends in Uganda have to cope with, in their culture, it seemed minor.

Five times! After five times what's a national from Uganda going to do? Robert and Sarah Sityo (pronounced see-tee-o) own a small parcel of ground in a small village between Jinja and Bukeeka (pronounced boo-cake-ah). It serves as the margins for their well maintained house and manicured yard. They don't have a fence or high walls topped with barbed wire and solid metal gates like most compounds in Jinja where we live. Assuming their place was more vulnerable than compounds with these security features, and after being robbed five times through open windows during the last year, they made the decision to move. The Sityos needed a larger house too. They had agreed to care for 4 orphaned sisters and a young man named David during last year and a move was justified by this increase in their family size.

The perfect place was just outside of Jinja. Everyone was excited to live, not only in a larger house, but one that had electricity and running water. Gone were the trips to Jinja for the internet cafes. Gone was the daily journey for water. And all of this was behind the safety of an enclosed compound! Finally, they had escaped the thieves.

About 10 day ago, Robert, Sarah, the girls, and David were in Bukeeka. Sarah returned to their new home just as it was getting dark ... around 7 PM. She found the house broken into and everything that could be stuffed into a vehicle taken. All of Ruth's, Mary's, Rita's and Helen's clothes were gone; so were David's. Although Robert found four shirts, Sarah had lost all of her clothes. The sheets and blankets had disappeared too. Laundry tubs, towels, cooking utensils, pots, pans, plates, cups, and the new cooking burners and the propane gas had found new homes. The only things remaining were their beds, mattresses, and large furniture ... items that were too large to fit into a vehicle.

Just when you think life has changed, it's time to cope with an all too common ingredient of Ugandan culture. Phones are stolen on taxis. Consumers are cheated in the market. Business deals are fair from predictable. Theft occurs at all levels ... and it literally happens all the time. Embracing reality, Robert and Sarah are starting over. Depending on the goodness and grace of God they will slowly accumulate personal and household items.

Robert told me that truths from Psalm 30 has been their foundation as they start over: "I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my enemies rejoice over me ... You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praises and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!"

It is with great satisfaction as we hear that friends of Robert and Sarah are helping them replace their lost belongings. Not friends from America, but friends who are their fellow Africans! This is symptomatic of genuine discipleship. It is common for people from the West to rise up and give to those who experience misfortune, whether personal or national. It is also common for those encased in an environment of poverty to be easily convinced that there is nothing they can do when tragedy strikes one of their own. The culture of the Kingdom of God proves that untrue. The King of the Kingdom is the cure for any culture.

I know that many of you will want to contribute and help Robert and Sarah rebuild. We are planning to help them from the financial resources of Next Generation Ministries. But, we ask you not to designate your contributions. If you give as the you are prompted, to the General Fund of NGM, you will find there will be plenty of funds for covering expenses and to give to the needs that arise within our sphere of influence. If we live long enough, most of us will have to find a way to cope with our cultures. It usually involves the help of others. I had lots of help last week with my security challenges and Robert and Sarah will get lots of help too as they start over.

Please note that my email address is changed to as a result of the attempts of the hackers last week.

Paul D. Hunter
Next Generation Ministries
A River of Relationships Connecting Resources To Needs

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