Things continue to be very good for both Antwain and me. I am probably the proudest mama on the continent of Africa right now, cause my boy is absolutely amazing. Yesterday was the dance performance that the kids did to welcome us to the school. At the end of this amazing dance, drumming, drama, and singing presentation that the children had prepared for our team, each team member was asked to introduce themselves to the children. Following each team member, the children politely clapped in acknowledgement. Antwain was the last to introduce himself, and it was followed by raucous applause and shouts from the children. He is like a celebrity amongst the kids. It is very nice to hear his laughter during the day and his interactions with numerous kids. The girls have discovered Antwain's cutie self, and some have attempted to get his attention (usually by bumping into him or taking his ball). Antwain has not yet learned to appreciate the art of young girl flirtation (thank goodness), so he is annoyed more than honored. Daily he is given mangos from Mama Rosemary, and he appears to be generally happy and carefree. There have been certain moments that the pride I have for him truly overwhelms me emotionally...just thankful for a really special kid!!
I have fallen in love yet again with little Petra. I simply adore her, and she is even cuter in person. Yesterday Petra was feeling sick, so I spent a good portion of my day snuggling with her (and loving every moment of it). Today her smile and spunk returned, and I was very relieved. As I worked to prepare some activities for some sibling groups, Petra sat beside me doing a small activity to occupy her time, too. She started to giggle. When I inquired about what was so funny to her, she replied, 'When I am with you, I just always feel so happy inside. And I am remembering that Christmas is coming, and you will be with me on Christmas. Oh, that is going to be a good day.' As I looked at this beauty of a girl, I was absolutely overwhelmed with the emotions and fullness of love in my heart.
For my project this trip, I am spending time with each of the sibling groups at SMK. There are about 25 groups of siblings that call SMK their home. Within their individual sibling groups, I am doing some activities to learn more about the family structures in Uganda (especially for orphans) and honor the memory/customs established within their family before arriving at SMK. I am a little more than 1/2 way through my 1st activity with the siblings (I have 3 activities planned). I am doing a quick family history, and then we are making bracelets/necklace/ring with beads to represent the members of their immediate family (living or deceased). For many of the family units there are other siblings that live outside of SMK. Some have adult siblings. Some have younger siblings remaining in the family's village, living with another relative, or attending another school. The majority of the sibling groups have at least 1 parent living...however some parents are sick, some live too far to pay transport fees during holidays, and some are not financially able to care for the children. Being at SMK is the best alternative for them. However, it has been humbling to learn that the children are not very aware of their family history. Arriving at the school so young, the vast majority of the sibling groups can not recall the names of their grandparents, as they were not old enough to have that information imparted on them before arriving at SMK. Such recognitions gives me a greater appreciation for the family and family history that I have been blessed to have access to!!
Christmas Eve will be celebrated visiting the village of Peter's family (Peter is a dear friend of CTT who has volunteered his time to be our local guide). Then Christmas Day will be celebrated at SMK with food (today there was a goat bought in preparation for the Christmas feast...yikes), singing, dancing, Talent Show, games, and many more surprises. Antwain and I are going to stay overnight (maybe with some other team members) at the school that night, and the girls are keeping my bed (and probably Antwain's, too) for me when we return."