Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas at GSF

Christmas Morning, I walked around the houses to greet the mothers who were already up cooking and then the kids.  The toddlers and I sang happy birthday to Jesus!  We then had our family time of enjoying one another and opening gifts and of course, enjoying the yummy cinnamon rolls made the day before!  We also had our visitors over around 10 and then we all went to church at 11. 
The little angels with baby Jesus (which was one of our smallest special needs girls, Mercy)

There were lots of presentations in church.  The kids acted out the Christmas story.
Caralina was the narrator and Megan was Mary.
 After the service, some prepared the church for dinner and other festivities, while others went to get the food, gifts and get ready for more fun.  Then the fun continued and the eating began.

Little ones enjoying a delicious Christmas lunch and soda

Then it was time for singing Happy Birthday to Jesus--Ugandan style.   Here, Joseph and Sebastian enjoying Birthday Cake.
And then it was time for gifts!  Thank you, Greers and their church, Friendly Hills for providing so many gifts.  We also used many toys that some of you have mailed to us throughout the year.
 Merry Christmas to All from Uganda!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve--Uganda Style

We decided to make cinnamon rolls this year for everyone at GSF for Christmas!  Our matron, Julianna, Megan, two of our visitors, Allison and Sharon and I all worked on making and baking them. 

Betsy, our faithful and fabulous activities director, organized water games!  For those of you who have prayed for Philip, this is an incredible picture.  Philip has been close to death so many times including just a couple of months ago.  Praise God for his life and for this picture.
Even our two guys in wheel chairs got involved in the balloon toss.

David jubilant after catching the balloon that Titus threw to him.  They ended up coming in second place.

Titus ready to play water balloon fight (aka snowball fight).

That evening we had the traditional Christmas eve bonfire, complete with dancing in the pavilion, eating biscuits and juice and singing Christmas Carols.  Here's Patricia, Alana and Megan.

Mark dancing with Rosie!

I even joined in the fun!

Staff Christmas party

 We had the privilege to celebrate with over 80 employees and bless them at Christmas.  We had our party this year on the 23rd to begin the Christmas celebrations.

Mark and I are seen here with Ja Ja Mary, an icon of GSF. She requested a photo with us.

Each department did a presentation.  The mothers did several songs and dances.  I am here with some of them after the party.

The missionaries did an impromptu lip-sync to rocking around the Christmas tree.  Here are the "single ladies" showing some "western dance moves."  I wish I had a picture of Mark with his santa hat and sunglasses!

We then gave out bonuses, basins of gifts, 4 kg of meat, and also let them all pick out toys and books from our excess supply.  Here is one of our absolutely beautiful assistants carrying one of the basins to an employee.  

It was a great time and a blessing to celebrate Christmas with our fellow laborers for Christ!  That evening, we had a Christmas party with all the missionaries and visitors at our new house (although it is not completely ready for us to move in yet.  We also went to the houses Christmas Caroling. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Weekend

We have plenty of busy weeks or weekends and most are unexpected or unplanned.  Rarely do we have a SCHEDULED busy weekend.  Thanksgiving week/weekend was one of those rare times.  I have been meaning to send all the happenings (both planned and unplanned) of that weekend as a newsletter but time as usual has gotten away.  So I will post the events, both happy and sad here. 

Give Thanks
Thanksgiving Thursday was great fun as we had over 40 missionaries (including kids) at the GSF guesthouse for a feast.  Everyone else on the compound continued work as usual and were very respectful of us and our holiday.  This was our nurse Katie’s first Thanksgiving as she is from England.

Some of the "Groom's Family" all decked out in our traditional garb
The next day, Friday, was the wedding introduction for one of our staff members who grew up at GSF.  The introduction is the time when the groom gives the dowry for the bride.  It is a HUGE deal and each side hires a “speaker” to represent them—a drama of sorts.  The neatest thing about the introduction in my opinion is that the groom had worked very hard at the dowry but still did not have as much as usual.  The speaker spoke for him saying he was still young so he was not able to have as much for the dowry.  They asked the bride if she would still accept him and she said “Yes!”  Beautiful.  At the end, the groom’s guests/family bring the dowry gifts in.  Amy helped carry in the leg of a cow. Ha!

The Happy Couple
Saturday was the wedding for Isaiah, GSF farm worker, and Norah, his bride.  The wedding was beautiful and took place in our chapel.  All the GSF kids also got to go which was fun.  Amy helped them find clothes to wear to dress up.  Our girls helped all the GSF girls get their nails painted on Friday.  Over 350 people attended, which is more than double the number expected, yet there was still enough food for everyone.


‘He gives and takes away’
The morning of the wedding, as we were all getting ready, Big David, our tailor, called Mark and told him that his 2 year old needed to be rushed to the hospital.  Mark could tell it was an emergency and one of our drivers was heading toward the hospital at that moment.  We got word about 45 minutes later that 2-year-old Simeon didn’t make it.  Simeon was developmentally delayed and medical exams had not yet turned up the reason.  He may have had a heart defect.  It was so sad, but David (who had been very instrumental in planning the wedding) said the celebration must go on and they would have the burial the next day.  Big David said, ‘The Lord gives, and He takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ 
Little Simeon in May; Big David is in the background
Sunday was a tough day.  We had a shortened prayer service at the church.  David and his family live on the GSF compound so all the kids knew Simeon.  Some of the older girls were very close to him and cared for him often.  We loaded our bus a two other vehicles with 45 people to attend the burial.  We went about an hour away to David’s home village of Kakira for the burial.  It was somber ending to an exciting and packed 4-day weekend.