Entering the Latrine: The Barrier of Otherness

Behind the scenes of "How to Use the African Pit Latrine", Kampala
"First, you must enter the latrine." -- Wilbur Sargunaraj

Isn't that always the way forward? First thing is to get in there. To abandon all that holds you back and the voices which insist that this isn't the place for you.
I felt awkward when Pamela handed me a menstrual pad.  She had made it herself along with what seemed like thousands more.  She explained that they were made from all-natural materials, were eco-friendly, could be washed and reused for up to a year, were leak-proof, and life-changing. "You should take some home for you wife as a gift," she added without a tinge of satire.

I fumbled the OPAD, as the product was named, in my hand nervously and asked her how these pads were impacting the lives of girls in Uganda.  Pamela explained that girls from poor families and communities couldn't afford to buy disposable pads and suffered from teasing at school due to the inadequacy of traditional menstrual rags which leaked.  As a result, girls tended to miss an average of 5 school days per month (best-case scenario) and many would drop out of school altogether.  The OPAD was a simple solution -- cheap, durable, hi-quality, reusable, transformational -- and Pamela's little operation was beginning to lift up a generation of young women. [Special Note: I'm please to announce that Trinity will be adding OPADS as a new partner.]

Transforming mission looks like this.  It may be simple.  It will be uncomfortable.  It will involve stepping across the threshold to enter a place that a normal person -- even a normal you -- would not ordinarily want to enter.  It's not the kind of thing for which respectable folks line up and it probably doesn't resemble the mission trip that First Baptist Whatever goes on every year.  It's the best kind of "cutting edge" -- the uncool kind.
I've been trouncing around Kampala these last few days with my friend, Wilbur, and my sister, Gloria, shooting footage of African latrines, dancing boda-boda drivers and rapping baristas.  My companions have (and not only on this trip) modeled well for me what it means to break barriers and to enter the world of the "other".  Actually, I am finding it difficult to get this idea out of my head.  Could it be that the most serious problem we have as humans or specifically as the Church on mission is the ancient barrier of otherness -- to cross that most uncomfortable threshold (Acts 10:25, 28)?

But if I can do that-- if I can enter the world of those who are different than I, then I have the chance to truly understand them.  Inside, I can hear their stories, appreciate their gifts, and become familiar with their struggles.  Inside, I can discover how to bring the Kingdom to bear in their unique contexts and how I can fight alongside them in their particular battles against a broken and fragmented world.  Outside, I'm not sure what I can do.

Anyway, I am still pondering.  I invite you to do the same.  I also invite you to start breaking some barriers and to experiment with entering the world of the "other".  You might be very surprised with what you find.
Now for some Pit Latrine action! I had a blast holding the camera for the latest "Supercall Solution" with Wilbur Sargunaraj.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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