It’s the dry season here in Karamoja. Lots of wind, lots of dust. The days are warm. Fires consume the parched fields. The harvest was poor; food is scarce. People are hungry.
“Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
Jesus said these words, testing Philip; but “he himself knew what he would do” (John 6:6). Then he took five loaves and two fish and fed five thousand men. It was a sign.
At times, we also feel tested by Jesus’ words. We have so little to give. But we remember: “…the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). The Bread of Life, our Manna from heaven, took flesh to feed the world and give us life forever. He came to us, was born for us, was placed in a feeding trough for us, was finally broken for us. Man does not live by rice, posho, or chapati, and definitely not ngagwe, the local beer, alone! Jesus is the Living Bread that our neighbors need, and as a mission, it is our great joy to share Him freely. The Christmas season provided us with various opportunities to do that and to enjoy the fellowship we have in Christ.
Things change when you move to another country, and our family Christmas traditions were no exception. But it was fun to discover that the missionaries who lived and ministered here before we came kindly left us a Christmas tree! (Thank you, Tricaricos!) The kids and several of our young friends had fun decorating it.
The excitement begins:
Beside the tree are Alebo Moses and Sagal David – Emmanuel is in the chair:
Here are Angela (ahng-EL-ah) and Louse (low-OO-say) with a couple of large nutcrackers that, in the joyful scramble to decorate, nearly made it onto the tree:
And finally, the finished product:
After decorating, we shared a meal with these young men. They are dear friends. Please pray that the Lord would continue drawing them to himself and make them very useful in his kingdom.
Some of our wonderful MKs also set up a festive Christmas corner in the common room where we eat lunch during the week. Left to right are Megan, Caleb, and Jacob Okken; then our Emmalene, Joshua, and Hannah.
Young ladies making cookies with missionary associates Angela and Heather:
…and eating them!
Friday last was market day in Namalu. The church Mercy Committee arranged to give Christmas gifts of food to some people in need, so Pastor Dave, Omena, and I went to buy the things that were needed. So many people!
Here Omena is helping fill the caveras (plastic bags) with posho:
And here are some of the members of our church Mercy Committee: Omena, Lomilo, and Joyce. I’m thankful for their love for the church, their generosity, and their desire to share the love of Christ.
Our Christmas Eve worship service was very well attended – as was worship on the Lord’s Day, which fell on Christmas. We thank God for the privilege of serving others with the Bread from heaven!
After both services, some of the ladies broke into songs of praise to the Lord:
Our mission station usually gathers to eat together on Saturday evenings, as we did again on Christmas Eve. We were immensely blessed to have many good things to eat. Here are a few of the cooks with some extras:
Our missionary associate Angela has been teaching the MKs piano, and after dinner, they gave us a lovely recital of Christmas music:
The piano is such a blessing! Thank you, dear Whitlows! Now to figure out how to tune it!
Several elderly folks joined us for Christmas lunch, which was a real delight. Here are Loyep Daudi (a church member), Peter, and Alice (another church member).
The Christmas holiday here is followed immediately by Boxing Day. We took part of the morning to visit our friend Louse John Bosco and his family in the nearby village of Naturum. Everyone crowded around to see the muzungu visitors, and I was able to briefly explain Matthew 1:21 (“you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”) and to pray with them.
Here Louse is reading the text from his own Bible. He loves the word of God.
Our family began celebrating Boxing Day some years back. Our tradition is to have “feats of strength and games of skill,” sometimes goofy, sometimes serious. Here Joshua attempts the javelin throw (using a broomstick with a rock taped on the end):
As everyone knows, a solemn parade (with fanfare) is the perfect addition to these types of events, so we always have one at the beginning and one at the end:
It was a lovely time.
God is drawing the year to its close. We expect the rains will begin again in a few months. Seeds will be sown, plants will grow, there will be a harvest. People will eat.
But that bread will not last. The only unending, sufficient, satisfying supply is the Word of God, the Son who became Bread for our faith. May you eat – may we all eat, and live forever!