“Aren’t you scared?” is the number one question people have asked me when they find out I’m moving to Uganda for at least two years. I’m not sure if they think I should fear being eaten by a lion, bit by a spider, contracting malaria or being captured by rebels.
“Not really,” I say. But I’m starting to realize that that’s a lie. I AM scared, but not for the reasons everyone probably thinks.
I don’t fear for my physical safety. I 100% percent believe that God has that taken care of, and I’ve given up those fears to Him. I am completely at peace about my physical safety in Uganda. I’ll be sleeping each night with an armed guard outside my door. What do you have protecting you?
Although I’m not afraid of wild animals (there really won’t be any in Kampala), or of war (always a strong possibility in Africa), there are plenty of things I am nervous about. These are the things I need to turn over to God, and I ask that as you pray for me, you pray that I find peace in these fears:
1. People won’t like me. I’ve yet to interact with anyone in Uganda who has been even remotely unkind. As a matter of fact, everyone has been super helpful and constantly letting me know that they are excited about my arrival. Still, my fear is that they will meet me and not like me. This is part of my ever-present flaw of being a people pleaser. I don’t worry about Ugandans liking me, but my fellow teachers at Heritage International School. There’s really no reason they shouldn’t like me, but it’s a big fear I have.
2. The work load is too much. I’ve never taught more than three classes in one semester, and usually it’s only been two (with the same class taught a few times a day). At Heritage, I’ll be teaching Freshman English, Junior English, Senior English, SAT Prep and the school’s first Journalism class. That’s five classes, two of which I’ve never even taught before. I know God qualifies the called, but I’m pretty nervous about taking on so much.
3. I’ll inadvertently offend someone. Cultural norms in other countries are so different from what we know in America. I’m already learning a lot about what to do and what not to do, I just fear I’ll do something terrible and not know it until I have a bunch of angry Ugandans getting upset with me.
4. I won’t be able to “connect” with my students. In America, this is what made me a good teacher. I connect with my students, they feel they can trust me, and I find great ways to relate material to pop culture in a way that they understand it. I’m about to teach an entire group of students who not only come from Uganda, but literally from all over the world. My fear is that I won’t be able to find that “connection” with them.
5. Someone important to me will die back in the U.S. As I say my goodbyes to people here, I am already thinking, “What if that’s the last time I’ll see them?” I have been especially dreading the goodbye with my parents. But I’ve also realized lately that ANYTIME you say goodbye to someone could be the last time you see them. Still, my fear is that someone important to me will die while I’m in Uganda, and that I won’t be able to be here to support my grieving family and/or friends.
I know God will help me overcome these fears, which is why it’s important that I am fearful about some things. Otherwise, why would I need to turn to Him?