Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas in the Village

Christmas was a really wonderful day.  Rick and I got up early and exchanged a few small gifts for each other.  He wrote me a nice letter that I read aloud and left us both in tears:)  He bought me a few African items.  A cloth handbag, two sarongs, and a Ugandan picture frame.  I bought him some handkerchiefs, a pineapple slicer, and a family photo frame.  Very simple items but it was fun to exchange gifts:)  Before we left for church I prepared a chocolate cake for later in the evening.  

                                    Our early morning Christmas.....don't mind our bedheads!!

Church was wonderful!  We enjoyed greeting our branch members and wishing them all a Merry Christmas.  It was sweet to partake of the Sacrament on this special day.  We had two beautiful talks given about the Savior and his birth and atonement.  We were spiritually fed!

                  These cute little boys came dressed up in their Christmas best!  I had to get a picture!

After church we got home to a HOT kitchen.  I had forgotten to turn the oven off after I took the cake out:(  That meant that our kitchen never cooled down for our afternoon baking!  I was concerned about cooking in the middle of the afternoon anyway because it has been in the 90’s this past week and we have NO air conditioning!  Whenever I cook our kitchen swelters!  Anyway, I had prepared our turkey overnight (in the crock pot) and it turned out pretty well.  Francis had butchered and cleaned the turkey on Friday.  When he pulled it out to show us it took me by surprise because the neck was still attached!  Kind of grossed me out, actually!  Anyway, we sliced the turkey, cooked and mashed the potatoes, made gravy, chopped and cooked the mixed vegetables, and then I frosted the cake.  All in a 90 degree kitchen!! It may not have been very comfortable for us but we made a memory:)

Our evening was wonderful!  We packed up all of the food and drove out to the village to be with Francis’ family.  We love their little family!  Alfonso is the father and he is working in Jinja and could not come home for ChristmasL  The family was really sad about that but we tried to make it fun for them.  Alfonso and Mary have eight children.  Francis is the oldest at 22.  Gerald (pronounced Jarrod) is 17, Lugosi is 15, Jessica is 13, Anna is 10, Peter (pronounce Peetah) is 6, Agnes is 3, and Jimeema is 11 months.  When we pulled the box of wrapped presents out of the truck the kids started smiling and jabbering in their languageJ  I thought we would be eating outside but immediately we were invited into their home.  Their family home is a red mud brick building with dirt floors.  Mary, Francis’ mother, set out a sarong on the floor and then they placed all of our bowls of food on the sarong.  Five neighbor children showed up at the door and they were invited in for food.  I dished up my food first and then Mary dished up food for EVERYONE else in the room.  I thought that was sweet.  I thought to myself, “I’ll bet that is something she does everyday for the children.”  We enjoyed a quiet dinner with the family and then Mary, told of stories from Christmases when she was young.  Francis translated for us.  After that the family sang songs in their native tongue about the Savior and Christmas.  It was really sweet.  We enjoyed singing a few hymns with them, as well, and then Francis gave a little talk about Jesus Christ.  His family, even down to three year old Agnes, sat reverently on the dirt floor and listened. 

 This was an amazing moment in my life.  Here I was, a guest inside a primitive Ugandan home.  The sun was about down and I was sitting in a darkening room (there was no electricity) staring at black faces that I could barely see, listening to Francis’ voice bearing testimony of the Savior.  You know when you have moments that you know you will always remember and hold special.  This was one of those moments!J  I have had a lot of special moments like this.  Since I have been in Africa I have tried to FEEL and ENJOY and REMEMBER the special moment that is happening.  I am trying to live in the present.  I do this because I know that sometime in the near future Africa will be just a dream.  It will be a life that I got to experience for just a few short months.  This living in the present does not mean that I do not long for home……. because I have felt much of that throughout this Christmas Season…. but I know it is important to be in tune to the feelings that being in Uganda is bringing to me.  

                                                    Our big feast

                                                                Cute Agnes

                                                         Lugosi, Anna, and me

                                                            Peter and Lugosi

                                                            Gerald and Francis

                                                         Mary and Jimeema

My cake doesn't look that great because I used pie tins to cook them in but it sure tasted good!

                                                         Jimeema liked it!!

Lugosi singing a solo for the program

After the program we brought out the gifts for the family.  We started with three year old Agnes because she was the youngest.  (Well actually, Jimeema is the youngest but she had fallen asleep nursing on her mother’s breast and lay quietly in her mother’s arms).  I don’t think Agnes had ever seen a wrapped present before.  She was not quite sure what to do with the pretty wrapping paper.  We told her to open it so she slowly undid the paper trying to not rip it:)  Finally, she got the gift opened and all of the children oohed and aahhed and were so happy for her!  One by one they opened their gifts and oohed and aahed at each of the gifts as they were unveiled.  These small gifts were just inexpensive dollar store type gifts but they were so thankful to have themJ  The really fun part was when Mary opened her gift at the last and pulled out a small solar light that Rick had bought for them.  The kids cheered and were so excited!  These lights are less than ten dollars to purchase but this family is so poor they couldn’t even afford that.  Rick bought them two and when the second one was pulled out they cheered again!!  It was a great moment!   Before we left, Gerald (who is 17) took one of the lights out to his little mud hut where he sleeps and just set the light inside on the floor.  He giggled as he walked out of his hut looking back at the glowing light coming from inside.  

Kathy sent me some stickers in our Christmas package.
The children loved them as you can see:)
Stuck them right on their foreheads!!

As we were leaving their home our headlights were shining on all of the children as they were dancing around in the dirt and laughing and having a good time.  We kept saying, “Merry Christmas” and they would laugh and respond with a joyful, “Merry Christmas!” back to us.  Our hearts were filled with joy!  It was an evening that we will never forget.   

1 comment:

  1. My dear, dear Janell--How wonderful of you to be able to see the beauty in all that you're involved in! You are AMAZING!! I've thought of you SO MUCH during these holidays, and I'm glad that you made your time so enjoyable---helping brighten the lives of those around you! Thanks for helping me more than ever--recognize how very blessed we are!! Love, Karen