On Christmas Eve, we headed out to Bright Vision Orphan Care for our annual Christmas Celebration. We started doing this a few years ago, because Stanley thought it would be a great idea to have the people of the village, and kids from all around, come to share a special meal, enjoy entertainment, and hear the Word of God preached. This year was special, as Evergreen Baptist Church provided the funding for the whole day. We were able to buy 220 lbs of rice, 10 liters of oil, 8 liters of drink concentrate, 10kgs of salt, and lots of veggies. Their Sunday school kids donated over $500 so we could have 10 goats. This is a big deal, as most people in the village do not have rice or goat throughout the year. It's too expensive! So needless to say, it was quite a feast.
When we (Christy ABCCA Teacher, Tio and Clifford ABC students, my mom and dad, Becca, Yami and me) got there, we were met with singing from the ladies, welcoming us. This has become somewhat of a tradition over the last year, to welcome visitors. Stanley led us on a quick tour, and we me the volunteers who make everything at Bright Vision run smoothly. Then we had the program. This year we wanted just singing (in the past there have been dramas and dances also) from the two choirs at Ngala CCAP, the church we visit when we're in Chamadenga on Sundays. The kids choir performed first, and then the women's choir. They both did a great job. It was kinda' wierd to have the women's choir sing a song dedicated to Becca and men, likening us to Jonah or Moses who God sent to "save" the village. It was extremely humbling when Stanley leaned over to tell me what they were singing about. I got a little teary, realizing that God was doing a good work in Chamadenga through Bright Vision and Stanley's leadership. Praise Him for His great love for us. After the singing, Clifford got up to speak from Luke, about Christmas. He did a wonderful job, and spoke passionately for about 15 minutes on the necessity of Christ's coming to eventually save us from our sin. He shared the full Gospel clearly, in Chichewa. That's what we'd been hoping for. Well, God decided that Clifford's speaking was enough, because after that, just as I got up to speak, it started raining. In about 15 seconds, almost every one of the several hundred people there was running for cover. It's okay, I probably would have just detracted from what was already said!
After the rain stopped, the meal was served. That took quite a while, because there isn't really an efficient way to cook for over a thousand people. Nor is there a really great way to order the kids and serve the food, especially when you don't have over a thousand plates/bowls either. But the volunteers and adults made due very well. After a couple of hours, everyone had fed, and enjoyed it immensely. The guests were invited inside to "take" their food in the office. It was my parents' second encounter with nsima but their first encounter with goat. They were good sports and took some nibbles. Nothing too extreme. The food was tasty and we all had our fill.
After that, we walked up the hill behind Bright Vision, or atleast a small part of it. The view from up there is really spectacular, and gives a 180 degree panorama of the surrounding area from about 300 feet up. My mom and dad both made it up the hill, nice work mom and dad!
We came back down and hung out for a while. There was a lot of good time to spend with the kids, with the adults there, and the volunteers who work so hard. Yami had a really good time playing with the kids, and he also loved crawling around in the dirt (that's my boy!).
We ended up departing around 4pm. The day was really special for everyone there. We only hold two of these special celebrations a year, at Christmas and at Easter. Because the greatest gifts ever given, within the greatest story ever told, have their highlights at those two places. The human advent of God's redemption plan at Christmas, one that was waited for since Adam and Eve in the garden. Then Christ's crucifixion and resurrection at Easter that was the completion of God's redemptive plan for mankind (well, the story isn't exactly over :). We hope that people in attendance understood fully why all this effort went into the giving, the planning, the purchasing, the cooking, the singing, the waiting, the visiting, the preaching. It's all about Christ, and His story that we celebrate.