Digressions and names

I love the digressions our class discussions can take. While discussing the Holiness Code in Leviticus 17-27 with my Masters of Divinity students, we were discussing what was meant in Leviticus 18:8, and how it differs from Leviticus 18:7.  This led to a small discussion on various marriage customs in Uganda, particularly with regard to giving another girl in the marriage to help at home.

How “help” is defined in this situation is still a bit fuzzy to me, as the discussion devolved a wee bit as students from different tribes took exception to how others were defining it. One student raised his voice, and began, “Now, Reverend, I am a Muganda, and we – ” to which I replied, “I am also a Muganda, though adopted.”

Apparently this was enough to derail the discussion, because someone asked what my Luganda name is. I have two: I was given Nakalema years ago, and last semester, a student gave me Nasuuna. So I explained this. The class was quiet as they digested this, and I leaned over to a Rwandan student who was sitting in the front row and whispered, “This means that I’m a princess.” He looked at me with some skepticism.

However, this was confirmed when one of the Baganda said, “Those are royal names.” Indeed they are; names must be appropriate for the clan to which you belong. And since I belong to one of the royal clans (Lion), I can have a royal name. Amen.

I explained that I’ve been given names from several areas in East Africa, which I wear as badges of honor. From the Luo in Kenya, I am Achieng (born at midday). One of the Kenyan students in class was delighted to hear this, and said he will call me this from now on. The Bunyoro give pet names, and one of our professors named me Abwooli (clean, or cat), and one of the Munyoro students has already adopted it. From the Muyankole, I am Mbabazi (Grace).

And all this from a discussion of the Holiness Code.

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Happy new year!

During the holidays in Uganda, messages fly fast and furious – wishing a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and many other felicitations. Images and memes were thrown across WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger like confetti, thanks to cheap and easy bulk messaging. However, last night, two of our graduates called to wish me a happy…

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Confirmation, confirmation

One of my favorite things that we do is supervise our students on their internships, or block placement. While we certainly make them work while they’re with us at the University, it is tremendous fun to see them in their home churches and meet their families. This year, I volunteered to visit Joram in the…

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Of drones and faith

Sometimes I wonder whether my prayers are too small, or whether it’s my faith in God that’s too small. The Lord gently pointed this out to me as I landed at Entebbe last week, after a wonderfully relaxing (though not as academically productive as I’d hoped) home assignment. I had picked up a some kind…

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From fear to fiery preaching

I so love how God can turn what appears to be one thing into another… and it’s such a joy to watch that happen, and an immense privilege to be a part of it.  When I made the chapel rota for the student-led services this semester, I had more students than slots available. Hannah (not…

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Missing Meri

On April 4, my sweet Meri died. I started this post a couple weeks ago, but it’s been hard to write; I think that writing it for the interwebs makes it a bit too real. I am struggling with a bit guilt over this; she wanted breakfast at 2:00 am, and since there is no…

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Happy construction noises

Since yesterday afternoon, I have been serenaded by the happy sounds of heavy machinery beeping as it backs up, and motors grinding as the machines work. Yesterday, we begin to tarmac [pave] the campus, and it was a glorious day. Of course, students writing their exams may not have liked the noise, but it was…

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Share your stories 

I am the first to tell my students that testimonies are powerful; by hearing about what God has done, we are encouraged our faith is built up. Yet for some reason, I struggle with whether the same can be said of my own testimony.  This is the semester in which the chaplaincy focuses on mission,…

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Women’s Day gift

Today is International Women’s Day, and as it happens, it is also the time for intramural football (soccer), in which the various faculties play each other.  Someone remembered and announced in chapel that I have “ever supported” the theology football team with water and glucose, so my patronage of the football team continues.  Sadly, we…

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