“Mzungu” is a word that has become a part of my everyday life here in Uganda. From boda drivers to little kids, many locals are quick to yell “Mzungu!” to any white person who walks near.
Today we went to Nakalanda to spend some time with a missionary wife, a mzungu, who doesn’t get many visitors. It’s not exactly the easiest place to get to. First we had to drive to the shore of Lake Victoria, take a very slow boat across to the island, and then a 30 minute boda ride on bumpy dirt roads to reach the village.
There were ten of us, each on our own boda as we zoomed across the island. Since the place doesn’t get many visitors like us, we were pretty much a rare parade of mzungus. Children would bolt from their homes and out of the trees to run to the road and yell, “Bye mzungu! Bye mzungu!” or simply shout, “MZUNGU! MZUNGU!” and wave their little hands and smile.
We would smile and wave back, and often the kids would run down the road awhile as we disappeared into the dust.
The excitement. The thrill of simply seeing us from afar. It was so huge to them. For a moment I felt like a celebrity, like I was Justin Beiber with a bunch of screaming fans who just wanted to be noticed.
And then I thought of Jesus and when He entered Jerusalem on the day we now call Palm Sunday. Mark 11:8-10 says, “The people gave Him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in God’s name! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
It made me think about how excited the people were to see Jesus, and I felt like I could imagine it as if I was actually there. It was like the little kids running towards the road to see us today.
The excitement the kids had for us. The excitement Justin Beiber fans have when they go to a concert. The excitement the people of Jerusalem had when they saw Jesus. What do we have that excitement about? Are we that excited about Jesus? Or have we forgotten what He’s done for us and how excited we should really be?
The things we put our enthusiasm in are the things that mean the most to us. Sometimes it’s a good idea to reevaluate what really makes us happy and excited. Then we can see where our priorities are.
Those of us who went to the island today weren’t anything near all that Jesus represented on Palm Sunday, but I’m hoping that our little “fans” saw more than just a bunch of mzungus. I hope they saw the love of Jesus on our faces and felt Him in our hugs and high-fives.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”