As we celebrated our last Christmas and New Year in Kiwoko for now, we wanted to cherish every moment and so I made an effort to write down some of the best moments. I thought I’d share a few with you:
1) After putting up our decorations with our very enthusiastic 3 year old, Lana settled down to play with the nativity set. Later I overheard the conversation Mary was having with Joseph, “Would you like to go to the moon?”
2) At the annual Christmas dinner for the ladies from the craft project, after they had thanked me many times for the lunch, I pointed out to them that the lunch had been paid for with the profits we had made from their crafts. So it was their hard work that had paid for this lunch. Then I watched emotionally as each lady got up and circled the room until she had kissed and hugged every other woman there.
3) I hosted a Christmas lunch for the housekeepers to thank them for all their wonderful cooking throughout the year. While they thanked me profusely for the meal I think they were more impressed that Paul was going to do the dishes!
4) On Christmas Eve, a small team went round the hospital wards singing Christmas carols and giving out sugar and soap to the patients unfortunate enough to be in hospital over Christmas. We mostly sang in English but did attempt a few carols in L’uganda. For those songs I sang quietly, but would burst out loudly when I came across the occasional word I knew like Mukama (Lord), Yesu (Jesus) and Katonda (God). At least I was putting emphasis in the right places!
5) Christmas day morning was delightfully calm. We made castles and play-doh ice-cream which Lana had received from family back home. Then, in the afternoon, many of the staff who had not traveled to family elsewhere in Uganda, gathered together for a ‘bring-n-share’ lunch in the gardens. It was such a marvelous feast with both the traditional Ugandan matooke and G-nut sauce served alongside roast potatoes and stuffed chicken.
I love the calmness of our Ugandan Christmases. I know the busyness and high expectations next year will be a shock. I also love how community-based the celebrations are here. Everyone, even the Ugandan staff, are far from their families and so we become each other’s family.
Needless to say, we are going to miss this period so much when we return to Northern Ireland. However, we must admit we are really looking forward to a Christmas that includes cranberry sauce, mince pies, and even Brussels sprouts! And of course our families.