My wife, Rachell and I are leaving.
Some people just make threats. We follow through. Later, U.S.A.
Yep, on Wednesday morning, we are embarking on a 30+ hour journey to Kampala, Uganda…and we’re staying until December 3.
No, we’re not permanently abandoning our county of origin. This is a work/mission/tourist/vacation excursion as part of our ongoing partnership with the Nyaka Aids Orphans Project (more on that tomorrow!). We have been planning this for the past few months and we are extremely excited for this amazing opportunity. It promises to be an exceptional time spent working, learning, growing, and experiencing my favorite African nation.
But what about those who have, are in the process of, and plan to leave from one country to another in the past, present and future?
Forgive my overly simplistic approach to the nuanced and complicated notion of immigration from one place to another but I am struck by the magnitude of any person who “went.”
Very, rarely does one simply choose to go to another country…and the reasons, process, and risks are far from universal for each immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker, or traveler.
Some are forced to leave by war, poverty, political instability, and fear.
Some are encouraged to leave by work, family, religious liberty, or broken relationships.
Some are escaping and some are hiding.
Some are longing to return home and some are leaving behind a long to be forgotten past.
Some want adventure.
Some want love.
Many, many want hope.
By virtue of my place in this great American experiment, I am the product of generations before me who “left.” While I’d like to assume I understand their reasons and experiences, the reality of my narrative is one shrouded in mystery and wonder. Why would my foremothers and fathers leave Scotland, Australia, Germany and France? Did they want to be here? Did they long to be here? If the choice was available, would they have returned home?
Rachell and I have experienced an incredible amount of privilege in our lives that has translated to opportunity. We have had choices at nearly every turn of our lives apart and together. We were then and are now able to “decide” to stay or go. And that is a rare position to be in…the realm of opportunity…especially when the vast majority in our world do not live with such extravagant prospects.
So why is immigration discussed, debated, and imagined in such myopic, narrow terms? I don’t believe I’m speaking anecdotally on this one, though my own experiences do shape these thoughts.
No two immigrant stories are the same…especially not the many faceted travel logs in the Old and New Testaments. Each person, each family, experienced good, bad, and indifferent events that led, called, encouraged, and forced them to go.
So, let’s stop viewing immigration through such a narrow lens.
I’m utterly intrigued to hear Ugandan perspectives on American election politics, especially as they relate to immigration. Though I would pose the same question to my American, Scottish, German, Indian, Aram and Latino friends as well – what comes next in this discussion?
I hope you’ll follow our journey over the next couple of weeks as we travel across Uganda. Pray for our family who will remain behind and pray for a safe, eventful, and glorious adventure for Rachell and me!