Happy New Year to you all!
As we anticipate the new challenges that 2015 might bring, we also praise the Lord for His faithfulness to us throughout 2014.
Christmas and all its fullness has now passed with the Cantata exceeding all expectations.
We didn’t know how many people would actually come, but we were all overwhelmed by the response. People arrived early in the morning and waited at the Noah’s Ark gate until 4 pm. We packed a 1000 plus people into our church, and turned away approximately the same number. We asked those that missed out to come to the next performance and they did – another couple of thousand, so again we had to turn half away. We ran an extra session on Saturday to accommodate the extra people, but after four performances we still had to turn thousands of people away. We considered running more sessions, but realized no matter how many we held we would still be turning people away. Plus – we were all exhausted.
People coming from two directions to line up early at Noah’s Ark gate for the Cantata
The Church is full, with hundreds of children (unseen) sitting on mats in the front
Colin helping to give out gift boxes to all the children after the Cantata
We invited our taxi driver Jimmy and his family to come and enjoy the Cantata
Whenever we need to go somewhere and our Noah’s Ark vehicles are unavailable we phone Jimmy. He has been a taxi driver for the Noah’s Ark folk for many years. He is a good man and a safe driver who cares about his customer’s welfare.
Warwick & Marilyn leaving Noah’s Ark
On the 22nd of Dec Marilyn & Warwick left Noah’s Ark to return home to NZ after working here at the Ark for over 5 years. It was a sad day for many as we waved them goodbye.
Now, how can I describe Christmas day? I know… I’ll borrow one of Warwick’s expressions – chaotically smooth. On Christmas morning we went to church where we all sung Christmas carols, etc. At mid-afternoon the children’s gifts were distributed by Papa & Mama, followed by a BBQ for everyone. At the end of the day the only evidence that Christmas had come and gone were piles of paper and scatted broken toys – Barbie dolls minus heads or legs, toy cars minus their wheels, skipping ropes without handles and yo-yo’s without string, etc. etc.
Colin & I found a quiet moment to explore the gift boxes sent by both our Church Missions team and our home group. Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement within letters and cards, and the many useful, thoughtful and fun kiwiana gifts that we received. We were also blessed by the e-mails and phone calls from our family members – thank you so much.
Boxes of presents under the Christmas tree waiting to be handed out
Marque set up in children’s playground for Christmas night BBQ
Today (30th Dec) was a rather sad day at the Ark, as one of our new arrivals – baby Joel passed away in the night. He came to us as a very sick baby two weeks ago and was dedicated to God in church on his first Sunday here. His mother abandoned him because she didn’t know how to deal with his problems. Mama and her helpers watched over and cared for baby Joel day and night; it was very painful to watch this tiny baby fight for life. His body was taken to be buried somewhere in Kampala, but we all attended a memorial service which Papa & Mama held in their garden today.
Dec 31st celebrations started with a special supper (evening meal) of Olie Bollen, a New Year’s Dutch tradition here at the Ark. Olie Bollen is a Dutch doughnut, and can contain sultanas, bananas, pineapple, or just be plain doughnut, all cooked in oil. It takes the best part of a day to prepare and cook them for so many, but everyone loves them so it was worth the effort. After supper when darkness descended, the children gathered with their lanterns and flashing lights and marched around the playground singing as they went. Some of the paper lanterns came to a sad end when they caught fire, but it all made for an exciting evening. Later in the evening the smaller children were rounded up and sent to bed, but children from 8 years up were allowed to watch funny movies on the big screen which had been rigged up in Papa & Mama’s garden. The kids also had an area which was packed full of inflated balloons, and at midnight they were allowed to jump on them and pop them all (Papa said that was their fireworks). Before that point Colin and I went to bed, only to be woken about 1pm by people outside our window beating on drums and blowing tin whistles. We just lay there in the dark laughing, and they moved off to somewhere else. The older ones were allowed to stay up all night if they wanted, but I don’t think many of them made it passed 2-3 am before crawling into bed.
Timothy wearing luminous glasses and neck bands
Jeremy holding one of the paper lanterns the children made
The next two notes are from Colin.
About a month ago, some boys from one of the family units wanted to show me an unusual little animal which had parked itself just outside their home sometime during the night. They could occasionally hear a faint, high pitched squeal, and in the morning found this tiny, unknown creature just outside. I didn’t want to touch it in case it bit me, but when I held the stick shown close-by, it attached itself and remained there for the next hour or so, while I took it around to see if anyone knew what it was. But nobody seemed to know, so later on I did some internet searching, and found it to be a Bush Baby. How appropriate I thought, it’s SO CUTE. You can gauge its size from my fingers in the second picture. After showing a number of people, a young Dutch lady who is here for a few months wanted to take care of it. She fed it with bananas, vege’s and water, But after two nights it disappeared, probably due to a predator.
These two photos of the Bush Baby are especially for Vikki as she loves little animals, especially abandoned ones.
It may be a little late, but I was taken with the following Christmas card and the attached message from Santa. How appropriate.
My dear precious Jesus, I did not mean to take Your place,
I only bring toys and things, and You bring love and grace.
People give me lists of wishes, and hope that they come true;
But You hear prayers of the heart, and promise Your will to do.
Children try to be good and not to cry when I am coming to town;
But You love them unconditionally, and that love will abound.
I leave only a bag of toys and temporary joy for a season;
But You leave a heart of love, full of purpose and reason.
I have a lot of believers and what one might call fame;
But I never healed the blind or tried to help the lame.
I have rosy cheeks and a voice full of laughter;
But no nail-scarred hands or a promise of the hereafter.
You may find several of me in town or at a mall;
But there is only one Omnipotent You, to answer a sinner’s call.
And so, my dear precious Jesus, I kneel here to pray;
To worship and adore You on this, Your holy birthday.
Well folks, that’s all from us for 2014. We’ll be back posting on this blog sometime in January 2015. Meanwhile we wish you all a happy New Year, also a very happy birthday on the 5th January to our darling daughter Vikki.
Colin & Bev