What an experience. The Lord knew just what I needed this year and He gave it to me in a big way. As silly as it sounds the one thing I needed this year was to laugh. I knew spending time with Heather would result in a lot of laughter but Christmas was an experience I will never forget.
A few days before a lady whom I have meet several times stayed at our home in Kampala. She is the director of an orphanage just outside of Jinja. Kathy did not want us to be alone on Christmas so she invited us to spend it at her orphanage. We weren't doing anything else so we said yes.
We left for the orphanage Saturday after lunch. We were going to spend one night there and then spend another two nights in Jinja.
A bit about the home. There are 16 children that live there, both boys and girls. The children range from around eight years old to fifteen years old.
When we arrived the children had made us a wonderful sign on a chalkboard in the yard. They all ran out to the car to great us. Several young men immediately grabbed our luggage and carried it inside while some of the girls picked up my twins and took them to play. When we arrived we were shown to our room. We stayed in one of the girls rooms that had two sets of bunk beds in it. We also quickly realized that as is typical in Uganda there was no electricity. There was also no running water which means you can't flush the toilets or take a shower. After settling our things into our room we went outside to meet the children.
We were quickly told of the Christmas plans: we would eat a Christmas Eve dinner, have a bonfire, open stockings in the morning, and go to church on Sunday morning. It sounded pretty good to us so we just went with it.
Christmas Dinner: The orphanage is scheduled to be moving into a new home in a few weeks. That new home is located more in the city and no farm animals are aloud. This was a problem because they had a pet goat named Cowboy. What do you do with a pet goat in Uganda when you need to get rid of it? You turn it into Christmas dinner. We got to experience the children butchering their pet. Some of the kids were not happy about this but many of the older boys took to it without any problem. Heather and I just laughed. Cowboy was quickly delt with and made his way into the stew pot for dinner. The children then thought it would be a good idea to play with his hide. This was quite disturbing but we just laughed it off.
After our feast of rice and Cowboy everyone went outside for a bonfire and to sing Christmas carols. The children wanted a Christmas tree but without one around they had to improvise. They trimmed the bushes and then tied the trimmings to a pole to make a tree. Heather and I helped them make a paper chain to decorate the tree. Singing Christmas carols and praise songs around the bonfire was a wonderful experience. The children sang from deep in their hearts. By the end of the bonfire I had two children (none of which were my girls) asleep in my lap. It was wonderful.
Then we made our way back to the house to go to bed. We brushed our teeth with water we had brought with us and vowed not to drink much because we did not want to need to use the bathroom. Heather and I each slept on the bottom bunks with the girls because the top bunk beds just swayed too much for our comfort. We quickly realized that there were an abundance of cockroaches staying with us. Heather was wonderful, she killed about two dozen of the little friends. After that we decided it would be best just to turn off the lights because at least that way we couldn't see them crawling on the walls.
Sunday morning we woke up to the sound of many happy children. Each child received a stocking containing things such as socks, flashlights, underwear, candy, and toothbrushes. They were so pleased with their goodies. Hadley and Liana even had their own stockings. We ate a light breakfast and the got ready for church. Heather and I escorted 18 children to church by ourselves.
In the end it was a wonderful experience. It was such a blessing to see the children and how happy they were. They were mostly thankful for a roof over their heads and full bellies.
This experience definitely filled my heart. And you never know maybe goat will make it on the menu next year.