mzungu.

Emotions are stirring and memories are flooding back. I’m sitting here in St. Louis at a time of racial tension being reminded of how the Lord our God made His presence known to me in Africa. Until today, I had yet to beginning blogging about my time spent in Uganda and Kenya, two weeks that changed my heart and mind forever.

You see, there were many, many moments that grasped my heart, begging me to think past myself and question the world around me. Right now, I could choose to write about the malnourished children, the sewage flooding the streets, or even the beauty of the landscape, but I’m being prompted to write about something deeper. Specifically, my heart was stirred every single day I as there on my outlook of ethnic differences.

Up until stepping foot in Entebbe, Uganda, I had never been a minority. I grew up comfortably white suburbia middle-class. With what all I’m about to say, I need to set some disclaimers. I am not claiming to understand what it is like to live life as a minority. I understand that with what I experienced in Africa as the minority, it was still widely known that because I am white, I am also affluent. Now please, continue to hear me out.

From the time we landed in Uganda to the moment we left Kenya, I could count on my fingers how many white people we saw outside of our group. I found myself embarrassed to be white, wondering why God created me this color and why in the world I have been incredibly blessed while so many people are in a deep need that I will never understand. I had to consistently remind myself of the truth that God created me this color for a reason, even if the reason had yet to be disclosed to me.

Being blatantly honest, to walk around and hear people call out to you (not in a derogatory fashion-I asked about this), “Hey, mzungu! See you, mzungu!” quickly became annoying. From my understanding and brief google search, mzungu simply means white person or one from European descent. Why was I being pointed out because of my skin color? Something I stood by going into the trip and something I still stand by is this fact: we are all human.

I shared this with a lady with whom we met in the slums of Nairobi, and after reading Psalm 103:1-5, in her beautiful Swahili tongue she stated it so perfectly:

“We all have the same Strength in us. Our colors don’t matter because our souls are the same. We remember what God has done in our lives. We wear the crown He has given us and we fly like eagles.”

For clarification, Swahili and English do not translate directly word for word but from the translation I received, my heart soared. This woman, I have no doubt from the prompting of the Holy Spirit, shared nearly exactly what had been on my heart. I think we can all learn from her wisdom. Though we all look different, our souls are the same.

My friends, I will never be able to say this enough. We are all human. For my friends who are madly in love with our Heavenly Father, always remember we are called to love God and love His people.

Walk in love and soar like eagles.

-Erica

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV)