Note: While I’m in Uganda, the Chanhassen Villager is publishing excerpts from my upcoming book about my first trip to Uganda, in October, 2011.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 8:10 a.m.

I really am getting used to Uganda time. By that I don’t mean that my body has finally recovered from jet lag and gotten used to the 8-hour time difference – although it has. Instead I mean that my mind is getting used to the Ugandan way of life.

None of our programs have been starting on time, for a variety of reasons. In a way, it really doesn’t matter what they are, since the outcome is still the same. But knowing the reasons helps to understand, and to reset one’s clock to Uganda time, which isn’t about time at all. It’s about timing, pace, and
practicality. And these things have to do with people, not clocks.

I’m glad that I’ve got two weeks of assisting with the Lead Like Jesus Encounters before doing my own workshops. I’ll probably be exhausted by then, but this way I have the luxury – and the perspective it gives me – of not being in charge right now, or responsible for any of the changes and adjustments that need to be made on the spot in the programs and schedules. All I’m in charge of are supplies and equipment, and helping with anything that comes up along the way or anything that the facilitators
need once the program has started. The frantic work is someone else’s job to do, although I help in any way I can. But for the most part, I’m just an observer for this part of it. And observing helps me to absorb what’s going on and, more important, why.

“Have you ever been to Africa before?” one of the priests asked me at the Catholic program we did on Friday. His question was in response to something I had just asked him, with regard to workbooks that hadn’t yet been delivered from the building next door, even though it was past the time when the program should have started.

“No,” I told him. “This is my first trip.”

He then explained to me, very thoroughly and patiently, how the issue of the workbooks – and much more – was related to the light rain that had been falling earlier in the day. The people who were in charge of delivering the workbooks to us didn’t want them to get wet, for one thing. And they also knew that the delay in delivering them wouldn’t be a problem, since many of the participants in the program would be late arriving in the first place.

“Many people take public transportation, or they walk or ride bicycles,” he pointed out. “You’ve seen what the roads are like here. When it rains, they get very slippery and dangerous. Traffic increases,and everything is slowed down even more. The program will start when everyone gets here, and the workbooks will be here by then.”

It did, and they were. And not only did I start adjusting to the pace, I started adjusting to the mindset. To Uganda time.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on August 1, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013

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