hidden immigrant

Hi, I'm Leila, and I'm a recovering third culture kid. As I try to navigate options and American customs, I become more and more aware that I have no idea what I'm doing.

I always stuck out in Uganda; being a mzungu will do that for you. Still, I was comfortable. I could navigate potholes and talk my way out of paying bribes. Now, I'm in America, and I think I blend in rather nicely when I'm wearing shoes and going along with everything, but I feel clueless so much of the time. I think the official term is "hidden immigrant"--I look and sound like I fit, but I'm not really from here.

It's the little things that get me. It feels so rude to me to shake hands with only one hand and without bending forward in respect. I still have a strangely hard time maintaining eye contact with men. It's an everyday conscious effort. I say things like "sorry please" without even thinking about how weird they sound. I thought that after nine months this would all be much easier; the truth is, it isn't. I can usually go through all the right motions now, but none of them feel real.

Sijui. Si rahisi. Bwana asifiwe.



I am pro-life. I am pro-every-life. I think that society could get along just fine without the death penalty. Tales of genocide and starvation, past and present, break my heart. I think that the potential for life within a fetus is enough reason to let grow, develop, and be born.

I am also pro-good-life. I think that every person should have experiences of love, community, joy, and beauty. I don't think that people should have to live in fear of crime, corruption, disease, or death. I think that every person should have access to clean drinking water, education, and medical facilities that will not drive them into debt.

I do not understand why these two beliefs, which are inextricably intertwined in my heart and my theology, represent two opposite ends of the American political spectrum. I do not understand how anyone can believe that it is enough to just allow a fetus to be born. If a baby has a right to life, shouldn't he also have the right to a good life?

What benefit does a child gain by being given the right to life if he never has the chance to truly live? If he never has access to basic necessities? If he's never given the chance to thrive?

If you don't want that teenage mom to abort her child, love her and support her as she becomes a mother. Adopt kids who have no other chance at having a real home. Be proactive in loving people rather than reactive to controversy.

If you're going to be pro-life, be pro-good-life too.



I think about home a lot.

I have a hard time defining, even to myself, what I mean by "home." Uganda is the place I associate with home, but Uganda is no longer the place I left and I am no longer the person who left it. My family lives in Abilene. I live in Searcy. They're both somehow homey now. I'm not homesick for those places, though.

I'm realizing now that I'm not homesick for a spot on the globe or even for an identity within a community. I'm homesick for the surprisingly beautiful glimpses of eternity in humanity.

I'm homesick for those moments when I open my eyes during team devo singing and see worship in the faces of people I love, for the times when I'm praying with a friend and masks are stripped away before God's holy presence. I'm homesick for the times when I want to be with God, living all out for him, so badly that the most eloquent words won't do justice to my desire for him. I'm homesick for the moments of complete clarity when I see the truth about the evil of my sin and then feel God's grace rush in to cover it.

Those are the kinds of things I want, and none of them are tied to this earth. They are pieces of eternity held by God's people, and they are the closest I've ever come to home. I don't know what heaven will be like, but it will be home. The most precious moments in my memory will be magnified and become an eternal reality.

I'm homesick, and it's a bittersweet feeling, but it's absolutely right. I don't want to stop feeling homesick until I'm really home.


The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

-Puritan prayer