Last July my daughters and I went on vacation to Orlando, Florida and on a Sunday morning we decided to go to Church as a family, which has become harder since we live in different countries. Since we were in Orlando we thought it a good idea to attend Church at the 'The Holy Land Experience,' a tourist attraction that was built to replicate the owner's vision of what the Holy Land may have looked like during biblical times.
We had driven past the place too many times to visit the more popular, world famous attractions like Disney and Universal or just to visit the famous Orlando outlets when we lived in Lake Mary and Plantation, FL or when we returned as tourists. Each time we drove past the site of the Holy Land Experience we took in its imposing and exotic beauty and talked about visiting it some day.
The visit was a long time coming and reminded me of the old saying: 'The nearer the Church the further from God.' In this case the saying seemed to have a literal meaning. But this fine Sunday morning we dressed up for Church and made our way there. As you approach the gates the majestic grandeur of the buildings gives you the feeling that you are entering a different dimension and you expect angels to appear suddenly to announce a profound miracle. I expected to enter a huge Cathedral and attend the service with many anonymous tourists but I was wrong; it was a Sunday morning and most tourists were at their hotels nursing hangovers.
Instead we joined a small gathering in a small, cosy auditorium where an elderly and friendly couple led a simple multi denominational service. There were only about 20 people in attendance and it felt quite intimate for a church service in Orlando or anywhere. So that dreaded moment when they ask all visitors to stand up and introduce themselves arrived and to my relief nearly everyone was a visitor- it was Orlando after all.
The introductions started from the far end and as they approached our little family I was pondering on how ridiculous it seemed that 20 people could represent all the continents of the world, when my Hannah turned to me wide eyed and asked: Mom, where are we from?'
I realised from her puzzled look that she wasn't kidding. She is a Ugandan by birth and ancestry who spent her first 2 years in Uganda and the next 9 years in USA, returned to Uganda for 3 years, back to the US for 2 as a student and became a naturalised US citizen before joining her sister to live in Kenya. So now visiting USA as a tourist and the church introductions approaching our small family she wanted to be sure that we all gave the same answer to the question: Where are we from?
At 50 I know exactly where am from and no matter how far and wide I travel and live, I come from Mbarara, Uganda. I pray that Hannah will find a place in the world where she knows that she belongs.