Saturday, March 24, 2012

Coffee

Connection

I've often thought that marriage is one of the greatest cross cultural gaps both males and females have had to cross, but they are willing to do so for the rewards of the relationship. It's the same for me when I come to live within a third world nation for six months out of each year.

I'm sure that most of those who think about foreign mission work must include the reality of cross cultural elements. Climate, economics, language, government, customs, manners, and diet are all elements that help paint the contrast between two cultures.  There are a lot of differences Pam and I live with when here on this side of the world in Uganda.  We don't often yearn for the leeks and garlic of the West, but we confess that good coffee and food that reminds us of home is something that we miss on this side.  We have kept a sharp eye out for a restaurant we could take our short term mission teams to on their way back to Entebbe Airport and the flight home.

For more than a year we have settled on a place in Kampala called Cafe Javas.  The cold or hot mocha served there is fantastic and the food has never embarrassed us when served to our friends from America.  But what has drawn us to Javas more than the coffee or the food is the wait staff.  They stand apart from any and all experiences we have had here in Africa.  Many who are a part of a wait staff simply tolerate or despise their job.  Not the people at Javas!  They love people and they love to serve them.  It was an ideal condition for a couple of relationally minded people to move beyond the mild celebration of food and coffee and fall in love with the waiters, waitresses, baristas, and bus people.

Our young friends from Cafe Javas in our home
Last year when we began to tell our friends at Javas that we were going back to America they instantly wanted to know if we planned to return and when. The reunion with them four months later when we returned this last January surprised us.  We began to ask, "Why don't you come to Jinja some time and we make and serve you food?"

Last Sunday, March 18th, 14 of the employees of Java enjoyed life outside of work in Jinja.  Peter and I went to Kampala and picked up those who had the day off and gave transport money to those who worked until 2 PM so they could all come to Jinja and be with us for the remainder of the day.  Pam had been preparing food on Saturday and Sunday morning with the help of Hannah and Robyn.

Jennifer from Gulu in the north ... a real talker!
Some of these young adults had never been to Jinja and found the quiet streets and neighborhoods, the limited number of bodas, and the cool air refreshing. But, mostly they discovered that while they really liked us, they didn't really know us.  I had hours to share my heart with them as I keep my three primary questions foundational to our discussions: (1) Who are you?, (2) Where are you going?, and (3) Why are you here?  I suspect that around a third of them had a relationship with Jesus and several were Muslims.  Some were from Kenya, a couple were from Somalia, and the rest from Uganda.

In the boat and on the water


Most had never been on the water in a boat.  I took the first group that came with Peter and me to Lake Victoria and we rented a boat to enjoyed the quiet and serene waters of the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the world.  They were fascinated by the source of the Nile River, where water starts leaving the lake and starts flowing 4,400 miles north to the Mediterranean Sea.  They were awed at our guide who captured a bird who was dying because a fishing net was locked around it's beak and who set it free.

We talked, we ate, we laughed, we reflected, we danced, we took photos and we got more connected to each other more than we ever imagined ... because of what appeared to be a casual search for good coffee!  We love these young adults and we pray that their connection to us will lead to a connection with Jesus.  We pray that each will discover the best possible answers to my three basic questions in and through Him.  Thanks for being a part of what we do here.

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