Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Two "Homes"

The Nile River near Jinja.

One of the first surprises I had in landing in Uganda 8 1/2 years ago was the green - so much green in so many vibrant shades on trees, grass, and fields. The lush scenery and the rolling hills reminded me so much of my home in Northwest Oregon on America's west coast.

There are other similarities between my Ugandan and American "homes," but also some vast differences. I thought it would be interesting to explore the comparisons and contrasts of the two. :)

My hometown of Clatskanie in northwest Oregon is at 59 feet above sea level, while Jinja, Uganda (the nearest mainland city to Lingira Island) is at 3,740 feet - atop the East African Plateau.

Clatskanie is close to the mighty Columbia River (the Pacific Northwest's largest river) and less than an hour's drive from the mighty Pacific Ocean. My island sits on Lake Victoria, the world's second largest fresh water lake, which is the source of the Nile River, generally regarded as the world's longest river.

Jinja receives about 52 inches of rain a year, just a little more than Clatskanie's average of 53.3 inches. The major difference is that Uganda has about 77 days of rainfall, while the Clatskanie area has 180 days of at least .01 of an inch of rain. Clatskanie has about 142 days of sunshine. 

Portland was predicted to have 12 hours and 34 minutes of sunshine today, compared to 12 hours and 6 minutes in Uganda, which generally has 12.5 hours of daily sunlight year-round.

Today's humidity in Jinja was 73% while it was forcasted at 87% today in Clatskanie.

The average high temperature in Jinja is in the low 80s, and the average low temp is 61F, while Clatskanie's average high is 60F. 

Lingira Island is just a couple of hours by boat north of the equator, while Clatskanie is more than 3100 miles north of the equator (and incidentally about 3,000 miles away from the North Pole).

Oregon's highest elevation is Mt. Hood's 11,239 feet, while the majority of Uganda is on a plateau with a rim of mountains, which contributes to its more moderate temps, compared to surrounding countries. The tropical country's "lowest" point is Lake Albert 2,037 feet and its highest is Mt. Stanley, which stands at 16,404 feet in Uganda's western Rwenzori Range. Incidentally, both the aforementioned "low" lake and "high" mountain are in the country's western region.

Oregon's land size is 98,466 square miles, only slightly bigger than Uganda's 93,050 square miles. Despite the similarity in area, Uganda looms large over Oregon in terms of population, boasting 37.58 million (in 2013) compared to Oregon's 3.97 million (as of 2014). This means Oregon has about 40 people per square mile, much smaller than Uganda's 403 people per square mile.

Uganda's population has doubled since 1990 and is expected to grow by more than 10 million in the next decade. Uganda is the world's second most populous landlocked country, after Ethiopia.

Oregon's capital Salem had 160,614 people in 2013, making it look like a sleepy hamlet compared to Ugandan capital Kampala's bustling city of more than 1.6 million residents. 

The average of a Uganda is 15 1/2 years of age, meaning more than half of the population is 15 years or younger - the lowest average age in the world. Life expectancy in Uganda is at 59 years (as of 2012), while Oregonians live an average of 80+ years.

Children attending an island church service.

About 88 percent of Oregonians are Caucasian, while Ugandan boasts a diversity of tribes and nationalities living in its borders. Around 40 different languages are regularly spoken here and English is the "official" language. The most widely spoken local language is Luganda. The largest immigrant population in Uganda is from India. 

More than 80% of the Ugandan population is identified as "Christian," which includes a diverse range of beliefs and denominations. Oregon has the highest national percentage of religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S. at 24.6%.

One of Lingira's longtime residents, "Jjajja" Grandma Erios, holds a young island baby. 

About 2.49 Oregonians live in each household, compared to Uganda's 4.7. The average Ugandan woman bear seven children, but often cares for many others, including children of other relatives. 

Most Ugandan women spend nine hours a day on domestic tasks (cooking food, washing clothes, fetching water and firewood, and caring for children), for an average workday that stretches to 15 hours, compared to the men, who work about 8-10 hours a day. 

Coffee is Uganda's largest export, as well as tea and fish. Oregon exports more computer and electronic products than anything else.

The average annual household income in Oregon is around $50,000, while it is $510 for the average Ugandan, though more than a third of the population lives in poverty on less than $1.25 a day.

Fishermen on Lake Victoria. Fishing is the livelihood of most islanders.

I have discovered Uganda is "rich" in many ways - in diversity of cultures and landscapes, in natural resources and wildlife (364 species of mammals and 1062 species of birds), the religious freedom in varied areas of life, from government to education, and the fact that the Gospel of Christ has shone brightly for decades in this sub-Saharan country, despite persecution and political and social upheaval.

Yet, there are still parts of the country that are "unreached" by the light of Christ, communities with no established church, and many people crying for Biblical training and discipleship.

Oregon may appear "rich" in many ways, but it is "poor" in others, especially in its spiritual life. In each place, as different as they are, there is a common, yet deep need - the hope of Jesus Christ. There are lost souls here and there who need the light of the Gospel to shine in their hearts and transform their lives.

Uganda and Oregon both require "missionaries," ambassadors of Christ, light-bearers and salt-spreaders for the Kingdom. Both places are dear to my heart and I know God is actively working in each to seek out His "lost sheep" and pursue His glory.

For one day..

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:10-11

Sources included:

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