Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Village Christmas & Emalai's Christmas Birthday

We enjoyed worshiping Jesus on our Candlelight Christmas Carols night.
It is always special to me - wonderful singing, beautiful candlelight, God's Word...meaningful. 

Our kids did two dances - Joy to the World and All is Well.
Dwires sang It's about the Cross.
A lot of talent and beautiful worship!

And of course Christmas goodies and fellowship with friends afterwards!
Thursday Dec. 22 our family celebrated Christmas together.
It is amazing how simple can be so special.  It is a joy to be with my family!

Because it is so hot, we enjoyed cold hot chocolate with our presents.
The girls and I went Christmas shopping in Soroti and actually had a great time finding little presents at the second hand market, main market and little shops in town.  It is not the mall but we had fun together.
Luka was bummed he didn't get to go so Josh took him Christmas shopping too.  Luka talked Josh's ear off and was SO excited about the presents he got everyone.  He bartered for prices and all.  There was true joy of giving in our house Christmas week!

Emalai got new glasses from Luka and of course wore them the rest of the night.
He was so proud of his gift for her and she was proud to wear them!

Lots of watches this Christmas.

The girls got Ugandan sandals they have been wanting.
The joy of watching the kids get what they wanted (no matter how small) and their thankfulness was so great!


We enjoyed a long evening together.  The kids played with their new Legos while Josh and I prepared supper.
We had a special fondu meal together.

The kids played for hours together with their new Legos.

So I have to tell you about our Christmas weather - so you don't complain about your cold, snowy Christmas.
We are trying to enjoy nearly 100 degree temps (over that in the sun) and if that wasn't enough it is also dry and windy so that dust blows around like your snow.  It is a chose for me not to get crabby with the dust and heat.  I also have to force myself to believe this is Christmas.  I come from Michigan and this is not normal (even after 15 years in Africa).

Like my teammate said, "the weather outside is frightful!"

Big bummer, Luka ended up sick Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!
Poor kid.  He seemed too sick to care too much.  He just laid there and watched us.

We spent Christmas Eve with our friends the Dwire family.
We played minute to win it games - Shaardas vs. Dwires.

Special friends we are thankful for and blessed to have!
You can be praying for us as they move to Kampala next week.  Lydia especially is having a hard time.  More on that to come.

Appetizers and punch before presents and supper.

A wonderful ham for Christmas dinner.
It was a very fun, special night!
Lydia and Grace did their dance in church Christmas day.

And choir - one Ateso and Swahili.
Listen below to hear a Christmas song from Uganda.

Achia and her family came to church for Christmas!
Luka was still sick so we had to take turns at church.  Luka never left the couch all of Christmas.
Thankfully he is better now!
Our Christmas skirts.
Christmas here means getting new clothes and eating meat and rice (something different than what they normally eat).  That is what makes it special.
The week before Christmas we asked our neighbors, church leaders and others who needed a place for Christmas if they wanted to come together at our home for lunch.  They all thought it was a good idea and we made a plan.  We provided all the rice, soda, one turkey, and fire wood for cooking (all this was our Christmas present to all of them - knowing many people are in need right now), each family brought what they wanted to contribute (meat, onions, tomatoes, salt, more meat...), and they cooked it all early Christmas morning.  

Turkey and chicken cooking

Josh thought there was around 88 people including all the kids.

Achia and her mom

Everyone seemed to enjoy - soda is a real treat and people were thrilled to have seconds.
(Grace and Egles our neighbor)

After eating everyone just hung out for hours.  Amazingly I think we ate around 1 and the last people left about 6pm.
I put out bean bag toss, horse shoes and Twister.  The kids loved playing.
I was thankful to be able to spend Christmas with our friends.
And two days later on Dec. 27 we celebrated Malai's 4th birthday!
Honestly, it is hard to go from Christmas to birthday so fast, but Malai was all excited even with a simple celebration.  She wore her new bathing suit most of the day (which was fitting with the heat - but lacks water!) and she frosted her birthday cake.  She loved everyone telling her happy birthday and she still wants us to call her birthday girl.

Malai is a gift from God and I am so thankful to be her mom!
She is full of joy and fills our lives and home with joy.

Happy 4th Birthday Emalai!  We love you and God does too!
With all this said and done, I want you to know I have my moment of missing being in MI and with family and friends there.  Sometimes I just long for something normal.  Then God shows me again how much I love it here.  Yes, it can be hard but this is our home, where our friends, church and work are.  I loved that our church had different groups to practice choirs and clean and decorate the church for Christmas day.  I love that our girls want to be a part of it and are.  I find being a part of this village and church community a joy.  I love walking out of my house and greeting my neighbors, seeing my kids play with their friends, and viewing an amazing African sunset.  I have meaning in my life here.  So I do have to sometimes fight the "it isn't fair", "it isn't right", or "I want to be with family" moments but they always quickly change to thanksgiving for my home here.  I will always have a divided heart - two places I love and want to be and with people I love in both.  I read Matt. 6 this morning when Jesus said, "where your treasure is there your heart will also be."  I guess I will have to continually store up for my eternal future.