Mr. William Bukenya

Mr. William Bukenya, our friend, is getting married. He will be marrying a beautiful woman and will be starting a new life.  I can't overstate his importance to Raising Up Hope in Uganda, and I can't overstate the encouragement he has been to me personally.  

William presided over Sonja and my Ugandan wedding
Marriage in Uganda is tricky. For the groom, there are expectations from the bride's family, from the bride's friends, from the groom's family, and from the groom's friends.  Everyone sits down to watch what the groom can provide.  Because the expectations are so unrealistic, men in Uganda go to their friends.  For months before the wedding they go to their friends and church and workplace and everyone chips in so that the groom can look good.  Everyone chips in to make their friend look good. 

William has been serving the kids at the orphanage for years, and now he is getting married.  And Sonja and I want to help him.  It is not charity, it is not tax-deductible-it is just our friend William getting married, and we want him to look good.

Charlie wrote this about William:

When William found out that I had been the Best Man at Caleb and Sonja's wedding, he clapped and said, "Yah yah yah." William's friend was getting married, and William was to be the Best Man.

So one of my days in Uganda last year, I rode with WIlliam out to the Introduction. We made a bunch of incredible passes on the narrow roads, zipping by slow cars, nearly knocking mirrors. One role, I guess, of the Best Man, is to pick up all the other "not-as-best-but-still-pretty-good-men." Our car filled up with Ugandan men, dressed in the traditional robe-like Kanzoo with a suit coat overtop. I was wearing the same. When we got stuck in traffic, I baked in the sun. William said to me, 

"Ah. You are so sweaty."

The Introduction was out at the bride's family home in the countryside. In front of the house, there were lots of chairs and a few tents forming a square where the Introduction would take place. The bride's family would sit on one side and the groom's on the other. And then I would be that one lone white guy sitting on the groom's side.

We pulled up, as part of one long caravan of the groom's family. We parked in a field off to the side. The whole family piled out of the cars. The women were wearing magnificent dresses. The men looked like they had spent one minute getting dressed. Everyone began unloading gifts from the bed of a large truck.

I wish I could remember everything that came off that truck. I do remember some caged roosters. A cow's leg, I think. A huge bag of sugar. The point of the gifts is to shower the bride's family. Forming one long line, the groom's family and I carried gifts in, setting them in one big pile in front of the bride's family.

Then we went back for seconds. It is an offering, really, and it is just really expensive to put that much at the bride's feet.

There is nothing like an Introduction here in the States. It is theater. It is at once incredibly old and serious and then also relaxed and for the enjoyment of all. 

The ceremony was long, very long, but extremely entertaining. At one point, the MC of sorts--a young man no older than 20--came out dressed as an old man with cane and grey-paint moustache. He chastised a few people. I have no idea why. And everyone laughed. 

On the phone on the way home from the Introduction, William handed me his cell. "Meet my girlfriend," he said. Then he made another incredible pass on the road. I spoke with her briefly and said goodbye. "Will you get married to her?" I asked William.
"Oh yes. I would like to," he said.

That was a year ago.

Now, I hear, the time has come. What I know about William is that his sacrifice, his offering to others, is immense. If we could somehow package those things--William's time and money and sweat and energy--and lay them as gifts at his bride's feet, it'd be far more than enough. It would pile high, because daily, William gives everything he has. 

But that is not how Introductions work.

So I think that because William gives everything he has, we can help him give some things that he doesn't have. William has certainly gained the treasures in heaven, sure where moth and rust don't destroy, but right now,


our best man needs just a bit more here on earth.