Today is a good day to live!
The sun has shone brightly yesterday. We had more clear skies. “You brought the sunshine.” My friends here love to say to us. Coming from a country that has sunshine all year round, we often respond with a smile. The winter is just a couple of days away. We are lucky to have temps of eleven degrees today.
Yesterday we had some lessons on storytelling through photography and films. The basic films like the ones you post on your IG and Facebook stories. It is important to communicate in such a simple way that reaches to the hearts of the individuals in the different donors. After some good time of talk and talk, it was time to practice the new tips we had discussed. Out we went in pairs shooting some photos out on the streets. We were to tell a brief story of our perception of Kristiansand.
Just the other day, we met up with a friend we made this Sunday at Hillsong Kristiansand. She described a bit about this town where she is born and raised. “It is a village,” she said. To which both I and my Ugandan colleague exclaimed. “How can you call this a village?” We both asked dramatically. Having visited Oslo last winter, I kind of know what she means. Kristiansand is quite small and not as busy as the big Oslo. But it is far more developed than what our minds can comprehend about a village. It is a beautiful overlooking the clear blue sea. It has tall buildings and some big brand shops like Zara, H&M, and those ones that come to your mind when you think big brands. The town is built in a way that it has walking streets for the people to walk freely without competing for space with ‘boda bodas,’ big trucks, you know how it is back in Uganda. The elderly and disabled have scooters to aid their mobility. These they receive free from the government. According to the ranking, Kristiansand is the eight biggest City. Before checking on the internet, I thought it is among the top five.
“Tell me about Uganda and the city. Is it big?” Our friend requested. We were both glad to have the opportunity to share a holistic story of Uganda. Our friend has never been to any African Country. All she has heard and seen is a single story about Africa. The one that shows the children in torn clothes, the murram roads, the beautiful countryside. At their Church, they had a giving month where they collected money towards Watoto Ministries. She wanted to understand the typical life of an average Ugandan as well as those living in poverty. We pulled out our phones and showed her some pictures telling our typical day-to-day life. We also showed her the city life, the clean streets in Kampala, our version of skyscrapers, the hotels, and resorts. We felt pretty proud of that. Then we also showed her the other side. The slums in the city, the streets during the traffic peak hours, the taxi park and its amazing parking arrangement. “Oh my, I feel stressed looking at that. How do you know where to find your min-bus?” We all laughed about that. She had a couple of questions about the situation which took us into a brief talk about our politics. We also told her there are a number of wealthy individuals, middle-class citizens and many that are still facing the daily struggles of a living with poverty. Some of the things shocked her, others were disturbing for her to hear. She shared that they made her feel a bit selfish.
Then it was our turn to ask. “What about you? What are some of the things people here have to deal with.” Barbra asked. Our new friend was equally as open. She told us about the typical Norwegian family. Many parents have to work very hard to keep up with the high cost of living. They pay a lot of taxes but the difference is that the taxes are plowed back into providing essential services. Education, Health is free to a great extent. But, there’s an increasing demand to keep up with a posh lifestyle, especially in the cities. For this, people work super hard at the expense of family and relationships. Loneliness has increased among many children and youth. They have everything they need except the things that money can not buy.
No amount of technology, development can replace the power and importance of human connection. ~ Dee
Many have turned to a virtual life that is not directly translated into reality. Some struggle with depression, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety. It has been made worse by the social media era and to be honest, it is eating away many young people. This is one of the biggest issues affecting the Rich world over here. It is sad to hear some of the stories our friends and colleagues have shared. Anyway, we recognized that we have two different worlds with different issues. Being Christian, we ended our conversations with a resolve to continue being the salt and the light of the world that is hurting since God has called us to be that. We are all connected in a way and God made it that way. No amount of technology, development can replace the power and importance of human connection.
Walking on the streets today, I saw many expressions of people. Some in deep thought while walking alone. Others with friends or family, happy to have company. Others looking around for the next shop to check out. And then there are those begging out for attention from the passersby to stop and buy the beautiful hand-made scarves, sweaters, hats they have on display. This is the only way they can get some money to survive in the foreign land they are in. Among the wealthy and rich, are also beggars and destitute. Among the happy and healthy, are also those struggling with hopelessness, depression, and anxiety.
Life can be complex. In the end, we all need a little sunshine. If you can give someone hope, then you have truly lived!
When I see the cross I see freedom ~ (Grace to Grace by Hillsong Worship)