Ugandan Christmas 2008

Our Christmas tree, complete with Jonah's Lego 'Holiday Train' and tunnel we had built for him here! Small presents mailed from Grammy and Grandma completed the ensemble!

If I had to choose one word to describe our Christmas this year, it would be ‘different’! Everything from the weather, the people, the events, to the absence of livelong traditions made for a very bizarre holiday. But, though missing family was at an all-time high, there were some bright spots. Here’s a picture story of how our Christmas went down, 10,000 miles from home:

Christmas Eve started as a typical day, with me heading to town to pay our (astronomical) electric bill and Alisha and Dani baking 15 loaves of banana bread to pass out. But as the day wore on, it became more Christmassy. We started by driving around to pass out some of the loaves to a few local neighbors we've come to befriend one way or another...

Christine, who runs a nearby shop that we frequent a few times a week to get such staples as casava (tapioca) flour and eggs

Joyce, a neighborhood seamstress who has done a masterful job of converting whatever cold-weather clothes we (foolishly) brought into warm-weather clothes!

After passing out the banana bread, we got ready for a Christmas Eve production downtown. This is in our yard, getting ready for a Christmas picture before heading downtown to the production. ...I'm not showing the actual picture we took since it will most likely be our Christmas card! (which will most likely be going out sometime in late January when we return home, by the way)

We went to KPC's (Kampala Pentecostal Church) Christmas production on Christmas eve downtown. It was an amazing production, with a choir of nearly 200 and an auditorium of a couple thousand, it certainly didn't feel like we were in Uganda! The little kids in the front are the Watoto children's choir. Our friend Doug (shown on-stage) is the worship pastor at KPC and led the singing, though his wife Dawn was in charge of the entire production and conducted the choir. All in all, it was an impressive night and the only time in the entire Christmas season that we actually felt like it was Christmas!

An amazing production - it was easy to forget that we were in Uganda, and for a brief moment it not only felt but looked like Christmas! On the way home from downtown, we counted just 28 places (out of hundreds that we passed) that had some kind of Christmas decorations up (it's not that people are scrooges - quite the opposite, Christmas is huge here - it's just another sign of the poverty. When many people make just $3 a day or less, hanging Christmas lights isn't a high priority.)

Opening presents Christmas morning, Mom did a great job of making our little mini-Christmas special. Since we had written Santa ahead of time requesting that he not come until January, when we'll celebrate Christmas back home, we were surprised that Santa came anyways to deliver a couple of little stocking treats! Special thanks too to Grammy and Grandma who had mailed a number of gifts for the boys!

The boys sporting their new Manchester United uniforms! Brodie is the only real fan so far, and Christiano Ronaldo is his favorite player. But I'm working on Jonah's and Graysen's interest.

After presents, we went to visit our newest niece and nephew Becky and Billy in Jinja. Other than getting a ticket it was a great trip ('overtaking a vehicle on the bridge' crossing over the Nile River - didn't know it was illegal, especially since I was following two motorcycles doing the same thing!) But we spent a great 2 hours with them. Auntie and Uncle were really excited that they recognized us right away, running up to us and wanting to be held! They officially join the family in two weeks when Brian and Shannon arrive in Uganda! Yay!


Brodie and cousin Becky, horsing around!
The 5 cutest little kids in Uganda! (an 'unbiased' father/uncle's opinion)

On the way back from Jinja (about a 2-hour drive), we stopped for lunch at the 'in your face, Chicken Place' or 'Chicken on a stick' - just a typical, ordinary Christmas meal - Ha! (This place was much quieter than usual. Usually there are 25-30 venders crammed around every car that stops!)
Once back in Kampala, we went straight to the ARA club to swim. Other than the 4 guards out front, we were the only ones in the whole place. Everything was locked up, but the pool was open thankfully. We had a blast with the pool to ourselves. There's no diving board so the boys always want me to throw them. Here's Brodie tucking into a cannonball!

Jonah is fearless and tucks early - he makes a mean cannonball!
Here's Graysen's best attempt at a canonball! (no further tucking occurs :) )
Swimming on Christmas - not exactly a long-standing family tradition! (Actually, it was a first for us!)

After the pool, we went home and Mom and Dani did a great job of throwing together whatever food they could find for dinner. We had planned to go out but didn't realize that the entire town shuts down on Christmas! After dinner, some of the eMi people surprised us by stopping by caroling! We joined them or the final two houses! Unfortunately, that evening our neighbors across the street had a *huge* party with loud, booming music! Not even Christmas music either! It was so loud sleep was not an option. It finally shut down at 12:30am so we could get to sleep! Overall, though it was definitely not the average Christmas we're used to, with some fun highlights mixed in (Becky and Billy, and swimming) we made the most of being away from family. And, having family like Dani and Becky and Billy around was a definite bonus! (Dani is not a big fan of pictures and did an artful job of staying out of most of the pictures we took these last two days!)

Comments

Traci Morrow said…
LOVE IT!!! :)
Cant wait to see you guys - I LOVE ALISHA IN THAT DRESS!!!

BEAUTIFUL!!!
xoxoxox
Aunt Ta "The Best Knock Knock Joke Teller in all of North America" :)
Wayne Evans said…
The pictures and stories warm my heart. It reminds me of how good our God is and what He wants to do if we will but trust Him and follow His plans and purpose. I love how God has purposed a whole host of folks to support and encourage you. I love how God has prepared so many to be a part of this great adventure. You two (5) are truly a blessing. Be well my friends, may you sleep in His arms each night! Smile

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