When I was leaving the village of Kubamitwe a year ago, I was saying goodbye to many many people that had become like family to me over the months that I lived there. It’s such a gift to know that you can meet people and within the span of a year you can learn to trust, you can share in life’s burdens, and they can begin to count you as one of their own. There is one family that stands out in particular when I think about this, the Kiyingi family. I would walk to the village of Kiteredde at least once a week to teach a bible study to some women out there. We would sit at the house of George and Edith Kiyingi and about 7 other women would join us for about two hours. I was really nervous when we first started meeting because I didn’t know the language and I had never used a translator before, but the barriers started falling slowly by slowly and true friendships were forming.
We prayed for women as they were preparing to give birth, we prayed for mothers-in-law who were sick and not able to attend the bible study, we laughed as someone tried to recount their incident in the garden earlier that day when their cow was stubborn and they struggled to pull her out on their own and slipped straight into the mud, we shared things and enjoyed life together. I loved that bible study.
After about 3 months in the village I started going out to Kiteredde a little more often than once a week. Edith, George’s wife, was wanting to learn English and I agreed to do my best to teach her. In return for my lessons, George agreed to give me lessons in Luganda. He received his university degree from a school in Russia and was his English was perfect. I loved how George has traveled and would be considered very cultured, but once his education was finished he returned to the village to live the life that he loves in Uganda.
Over the following months, I would spend many hours a week with George and Edith. Her English was improving as well as my Luganda, but what I was most thankful for was the inside view of a sweet and loving Ugandan family. They shared life with each other, loved their children, and tried to do what was best for everyone in the family. As Paul and I were becoming more serious in our relationship, George and Edith were there to offer guidance and encouragement. I always loved learning how to be a proper Muganda woman from the two of them, and watching Edith cook was better than any show on the Food Network. Even as I was away and Paul was no longer living in Kubamitwe, he would still take time to spend with George and check in on their family. They have remained close to us through a very long year.
We are having a very small wedding at the end of October, and as a gift to our guests, we wanted to give them a piece of Uganda. We thought and thought about what that could be, and I remembered when I was leaving Kubamitwe over a year ago, Edith hand made me a woven basket as a gift of love and I could not treasure it more. It is made from the natural fibers found in the village and twisted together by her hands to form a perfect basket. So, Paul and I asked if she could make enough for all the guests at our wedding. She was so sweet to agree and we were able to go a few days ago and pick them from her. I was completely overwhelmed at how beautiful they are and it makes me so excited for our wedding when we can give them to our guests.
As we were going out to the village again to see the Kiyingi family and pick the baskets I was filled with so many emotions as I remembered my time there. I know that season of life is over, but I loved it and treasure it so much in my heart. When we arrived I ran to greet the family and as George was giving me a hug he said to Edith that it feels like just yesterday I was sitting with them at their home. I couldn’t agree more.
It’s such a gift to have friends that you can hold so dear in your heart even when they are thousands of miles away and you know that you can’t see them for months and months. Saying goodbye a few days ago was hard because we know that it will be even longer before we see this family again. But we were comforted knowing that they will always have a place in our lives, and it helps that we convinced George to get a Facebook.