Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts lately. We all have, of course.

Getting gifts is definitely the highlight of Christmas for children. I remember one of my favourite Christmas gifts as a child was a “play” medical bag complete with plastic stethoscope, a huge plastic syringe, pill bottles full of candies and an assortment of other fun items I used to treat my family’s feigned ailments with. I loved that gift. But the gifts under the tree weren’t the only gifts I received. I remember participating in the nativity play at church, looking at the lights and decorations on our tree, and making snow angels in the wet B.C. snow. Those were gifts too, they just weren’t wrapped in shiny paper.

Yesterday, I received an early Christmas gift from Rick and Heather: a guinea fowl.
(This isn't mine, but one of Kruger Park's Guinea Fowls...it was hard to get a good photo through chicken wire...)

She’s beautiful, especially when she makes that squawking noise which, to the untrained ear, is horrid. (Their call is akin to that of pheasants, only worse.) I’ve lived with the sounds of the African bush for over 10 years now, and the late afternoon call of the guinea fowl--to roost, I imagine--has become music to my ears. I also think they’re beautiful even though they look, to some, like their heads were dipped in a paint bucket. Yes, she’s a nice gift. But there have been others too.

This week, we held the orphan’s Christmas party and I think we adults enjoyed the event about as much as the kids. First, there was the wrapping of gifts. That’s definitely one of the fun parts (Heather and Alta at work here).

We started the day off by taking the orphans and their caregivers out for lunch to “Lamimo’s”, our nearest restaurant which is about 30 km from here. We took 3 vehicles and picked families up near their homes.

Group photo: orphans with caregivers and 3 mission staff members (Joao & Domingo, far right. Jorge, far left).

For most, this was the first time they’d ever been to a restaurant and all the dishes, cutlery, indoor washrooms with running water, etc. were quite the experience! We had chicken, rice and salad, and I don’t recall seeing any leftovers being cleared off the tables.

Following the meal, they were told the Christmas story by Rick and Joao.

Then it was games time. And if this doesn’t look like Chrismtas activities to you, then you live on the completely wrong continent!

The caregivers sat in the shade to watch, cheer, laugh and gasp. 

When the games were done, we headed to the mission farm for refreshments and a movie. I’m quite certain that was another first for these kids!

This was followed by the passing out of gifts. The wrapped ones, that is.

The grannies at the back were so happy they wooted and ululated and added a whole lot more excitement to the whole occasion!

This is Cremildo and Fole. Cremildo, on the left, is the one who suffered a burn a few months back. Since I provided his emergency care and some of the follow-up, I’m not exactly his #1 most favourite person. He barely wanted to look at me when we called them over to receive their gifts the other day but I managed to capture one quick glimpse. (He's munching on those cocoa pops Kim left behind. I'm sure they're delicious!)

Other recent “unwrapped” gifts:

Rain has finally come and everyone is busy replanting their crops.

People, bags of maize meal, and laughter. Since hearing of the hunger here, people have generously given donations toward the purchase of food. Yesterday, after a long day with several challenges along the way, we were able to finally transport the food to our storage shelter. (click here for an update on food/seed distribution on Dwight's blog).
Twelve staff members stayed after a long day’s work, through the rain, hungry because their suppertime was delayed, and still they managed to laugh joyfully while unloading the truck. There I was feeling bad for them but they clearly were not dwelling on how miserable they felt at all.

Yes, people and laughter are wonderful gifts too. They are among those without the shiny gift wrap.

Merry Christmas, and enjoy your gifts. All of them.

1 comment:

Penny said...

Merry Christmas, Lynn!