We just came in from excitement in the river. There were hippos right behind us but in the river, not in our yard (yet). Since it is 9:30 at night, we don’t have a good enough light to see them really well but we could see them some. They seemed to be fighting at times and were very loud with the noise/snort and breathing they make.
When we looked up at the sky, it was like a giant Christmas tree full of while lights. The galaxy is just incredible. There is no white light to dim the glory of each star in the sky. It made us think of the first Christmas and the star in the sky that led the way to the Christ child. We had just finished decorating our little Christmas tree as we are about to celebrate our first Christmas in Africa.
Hippos, bright stars, mosquitoes, heat, rain, and lots of children to love. Our Christmas will be different but the meaning and the reason to celebrate and be thankful will never change.
I do have to back up a bit. We have been so busy I have to catch you up (using the abridged version of the last 2 weeks. The end of school celebration was GREAT! There was lots of shopping trips to buy the suggested food and awards. There was a lot of cooking: chicken and sausages on the Braii (barbeque), potato salad, macaroni salad and lots of homemade cookies by Lorna. Travis helped by encouraging and tasting each type to ensure that no one would become ill.
We had 10 guests from outside of our village. They were so thankful to be here and said that they had never been invited to anything like this here. There were people from the government offices and chiefs from the local tribes. The children were well behaved and did a wonderful job with their performance.
We presented certificates for best achievements in academics, behavior and neatness. We did have to have the celebration inside because of the day starting with rain but luckily we are blessed with a big room to make it happen. It was a delightful day and we were very proud parents and we were also proud of the teachers and all of the staff that worked so hard to make the day a success.
Sunday we had a great service with the lighting of 2 advent candles.
After the service the children (along with us) put up the tree and started the decorating process at the children’s home. We had the Christmas music playing and it was a fun time. The tree keeps looking better and better as we make additional/new ornaments to add to the tree.
This week has been full of getting the kids packed up and ready to go to their villages for the holiday. There seem to be a lot of things needed prior to leaving including updates on medical visits. Yesterday and today all of the kids that live rather close were taken to spend time with family (aunts, grandmothers, sisters, brothers and some moms or dads). I have to say that I have only been here for 2 months but it was very hard to leave a child at a place where we do not know the people and you can tell that they are excited but yet scared. One of the most touching times was when one of the grandmothers saw her grandson. She was so excited and kissed and hugged him over and over. She had not seen him for quite a while and it was such a joyous moment. I have a photo posted but it just does not begin to tell the story (as most pictures really don’t).
Saturday we took a larger than “normal” group of children to town to do their last minute shopping before they leave. The next group will leave either Monday or Tuesday. They go to the western caprivi which is quite far and will take the whole day to transport them and return. We will then be left with only 7 children. WOW, will it be quite. BUT on the 17th we are inviting the children and staff from the feeding center here to have a Christmas celebration including worship, games, lunch and gifts. Yes, there is a lot to do to prepare but we will have a great time and we pray that someone will be touched because of this time together with our staff and the children that are still here. More cookies to bake!! Anyone that wants to come on over and help is more than welcome. You can even help Travis with the taste testing!
Instead of doing a movie tonight, we are going built a big fire and roasted marshmallows. Stay tuned for the pictures. With only 38 kids left, it seems rather quite. Never thought that I would say it was quite with “just” 38 children.
This weekend our volunteer, Torie, leaves to return to the states. She has been here for 3 months (longer than us) and has not gone on her long awaited safari. So, Sunday we are taking her to Botswana on a Safari and we will take a few children with us. No doubt it will be a great time. We just pray that our car holds up so we can get the kids back and transport them to their villages on Monday and/or Tuesday. There is a new volunteer that is coming in January and staying for 6 months. We are thankful for the help to us, the ministry to the children and any talent or skill they bring and teach to the children that volunteers bring.
Please pray for our children and their families as they visit that they would stay safe, make wise decisions, remember that Jesus loves them and will always be with them.
Please pray that they might be a good Christian influence on their family and can show and teach them about the love of Christ especially during this special season.
Please pray for all of our health and safety as we travel and fellowship.
Please pray for our families as they will have Christmas and for us as we also will have Christmas without our families in the USA.
We pray that you would continue to remember the reason for the season and in the business of this time, stop and remember the promise of Christmas and how much God loves you and that He will never leave you or forsake you!