Saturday, October 23 was an exciting day for dozens of children around Mbale. That day, we hosted 49 orphans and their guardians (many of whom are widows) for our triannual AIDS orphan day. The children came from far, some from districts so far away they had to travel the previous day in order to get to Mbale in time.
After all the proper African greetings, our day began with a time of praise and worship and prayer together. Several of the children came forward to lead a song or two. What a delight it was to look out upon a sea of faces and watch these little ones worship their Savior. After singing and prayer, one of the youth from MCC taught a Bible lesson, encouraging the children to remember that God has a good plan for each of their lives.
Next came announcements and the handing out of gifts. A talented seamstress from the US had made adorable dresses, and all the girls were thrilled to get new clothes! The boys were a bit disappointed initially because it is so often the girls who get special treatment, not them. However, when I told the boys it was time to go outside to play football (soccer), their faces lit up with joy and some of them jolted right out of their seats!
As the boys engaged in a rousing game of football and the girls in some calmer play, I called several of the children over one-by-one for an interview. It is often a challenge to communicate with children whose first (or even second or third) language is not English, but we manage. The kids were delighted to be the center of attention for a few moments and to answer my questions about their favorite color or sport and what they want to be when they grow up.
The day finished with sharing a meal together, handing out money to transport everyone home to their respective villages, and dealing with various medical, financial, and educational concerns of individual orphans.
Orphan days are always long and tiring, but what a privilege to join God in taking care of the widows and orphans in our midst.