Happy New Year! December was a month of many firsts for us.
We both became Godparents for the first time this month! At Watoto Church they do baby dedications on the second Sunday of every month and as babies arrive at the babies home, they get dedicated by international volunteers. We both took a child who arrived later in life, both around a year and a half to two years old. They arrived within a week of each other and could not have settled differently. If you saw Karl’s post about it on Facebook or Instagram, you would have seen that the little girl he took was very shy and nervous when she got here – and still is, almost two months later. Whereas the boy that I took has been happy as a clam at Watoto since the day he arrived. We had the great pleasure of dedicating them into the family of God and committing to pray for them as they grow into the beautiful people God made them to be.
This was Karl’s first Christmas away from home! We really weren’t sure what to expect this Christmas, and knew that it would be unlike any other. That turned out to be more true than we could have imagined. About a 10 days before Christmas, the volunteer department dropped off a tree, lights, and some decorations at our place. I had said we didn’t really need a tree and it was fine if they didn’t bring one, but in the end I think that’s what got me most into the Christmas spirit. Even now as I sit here writing this, I’m doing so by Christmas tree light and I love it.
We got to do some special activities around Christmas, including bringing some kids up to the volunteer apartment in the babies home to decorate sugar cookies! A lot of the younger ones cried until we brought them back down to their nannies, but the older ones really enjoyed it! It was messy, sugary, and so much fun. If you think I didn’t eat my fair share of sugar cookies, you’re wrong – including one that was fed to me and had already been sucked on (although I did try to avoid that part).
On Christmas Eve all the volunteers made and ate dinner together and we played games which was a great way to spend the evening. There are a lot of international volunteers right now, especially compared to most years when there are very few at Christmas time. They had to take our chairs and the table from the apartment beside us down to the babies home so we could all sit together.
Christmas Day was when our wild adventure really started. About a week before Christmas our friend Sophie asked us if we wanted to go in with her and some of the other nannies to buy a pig and eat pork for Christmas! Of course we were very excited both to be asked and also to participate. We got to the babies home earlier than normal because we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss a moment. We started by going with Sophie and another nanny named Christine to pick up the pig from one of the village mothers.
It was quite a trial getting the pig back to the home. They initially tried tying banana fibres around the pig’s back hoof and seemed to be planning to walk it like a dog? This, understandably, did not work. In the end, it was carried by this poor 14 year old boy on his shoulders! This was not his idea, but rather an idea of the two men who came to help. Once at the babies home, we watched them slaughter, shave, and butcher it – all brand new experiences for both of us.
A few short hours later – which included lots of running around, looking for spices, sharpening sticks, and chopping vegetables – we were eating pork! Honestly, I was pretty worried that I wouldn’t like it (that is, before I smelled it while it was cooking), but it was so, so good. We ate until we were absolutely stuffed and they were still trying to get us to eat more! We were also a little worried about getting sick, this is all food we’ve never had before, and the veggies were all washed in tap water, but both of us were fine! That’s a testament to how our bodies are adapting and becoming stronger in this totally different environment.
Karl and I both agreed that this was one of our favourite Christmases ever, and it is certainly one we won’t ever forget. We didn’t exchange any gifts or eat any of the normal foods we would expect at Christmas, but in the end it was nice to have a break from those things. We both feel so fortunate to have been invited, to have the opportunity to spend so much quality time with the nannies on Christmas Day, and to learn more about Ugandan culture in such an authentic way.
Normally this is where I would do some lists, but I think this post is loooong enough already so I’ll get back to the lists next month. Speaking of next month, on January 22 we will be headed to Cape Town, South Africa! We are so excited for a much needed rest period and also to explore a totally different part of Africa. I will ask for your prayers for safety while travelling, for our bodies and minds to be sufficiently rested, and for us to really be present and remember to soak in everything that’s happening both here and while we’re away. It’s so easy for weeks to slip by here, we don’t want to miss a thing!
Thank you for taking the time to read about what we’re doing here and for all the love and support you’re sending from home! We appreciate every message, comment, and email we receive more than we can express!