shared by Cara Murray (and John Mugabi)
While it is hard being away from my family and friends, I feel extremely blessed to have shared Christmas with my friends and family here. We started the Christmas celebration last Sunday at church. The Sunday prior Pastor John has asked everybody to write down a person in the church who they thought deserved a gift for Christmas. He encouraged us to think of the people who go above and beyond in their service to others. This past Sunday we gave out gifts to over 20 people and it was amazing. As each person was called to the front, the entire church cheered and people hugged each other. The sense of family and community in this church is so strong. It is always a blessing to be in the presence of true, heartfelt joy and gratitude.
Then Wednesday we had the opportunity to give food to over 60 adults and 40 children in our community. We met in the church, Pastor shared the Word, we worshiped and then each adult received a gift of soap, 3 kgs rice, 3 kgs sugar, 3 pcs of corn, 1 kg salt, and 1 head of cabbage. The food was given to many of the school children’s guardians so they could cook Christmas dinner from their own homes. Many different food items and supplies were also distributed to the sick in different prisons. It was wonderful to be part of such a celebration. I was again amazed at people’s genuine gratitude and joy.
Christmas day was wonderful. Like Christmas in the US, the day began with church and was then followed by a big meal. However, unlike Christmas dinner in the US, we shared our meal with over 40 people, including 20 children.* It was truly amazing. We brought van loads of kids from the orphanage to the house, the women that stay with the kids at the school came, friends from the community joined us and we all indulged ourselves in a fabulous meal. We were extremely blessed with support from friends in the US and were able to buy all the food the kids love. There was no posho and beans. We ate matooke, 2 types of rice, potatoes, beef, chicken and chapatti. To top it all off, we also served soda with the meal. One of my favorite parts of the day was when the kids were eating their meal. They all shared their food, giving their friends the food they didn’t want, trading matooke for rice and tasting each other’s sodas. It was truly a feast and one that I am sure made God smile.
After dinner, the kids went back to the school for a day of movies and the rest of us relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company.
Like I have mentioned before, the way this community lives out the Gospel by serving each other and working together as the Church is truly amazing. They operate in true community and I absolutely love that I am able to be a part of it. I see the way this community operates and my heart aches for all church families to act the same way. I see God being glorified in their joyous, generous hearts and I am know that God is teaching me His ways through this community.
*Another larger Christmas dinner will be hosted later when children return from their villages.