On December 22nd all of the senior missionary couples in our mission, including the Mission President and his wife, joined together to do a service for the Bishop Kigen Orphanage in the small farming community of Eldama Ravine located an hour north of the site where we had had our Safari.
This came about by a chance meeting that I had with the founder and director Bishop Kigen (I am not sure what denomination he represents but he is truly a great Christian man) in a shopping mall in Nairobi a few weeks earlier. As we visited on that occasion, I was moved when he told me with excitement that the 26 orphans that lived in his orphanage were planning a dinner and activity for over 100 underprivileged youth in their community. I thought "now they really have the spirit of Christmas." Here they were kids ranging from toddlers to teenagers left alone without any family to care for them, wanting to share what little they had with others "less fortunate than they." Bishop Kigen invited Sister Nevin and I to visit them for this special program. At first we did not commit to him but when we realized that it was just another hour drive from where we were going to be staying for our Safari and that it was going to start just an hour after we were planning to leave the lodge to return home to Nairobi, we told him that we would try to stop by. There is a saying that smacked me upside the head when it dawned on me that the coincidence of timing and location coupled with our chance meeting,"with the Lord there is no such thing as a coincidence." When we told our senior missionary friends about this opportunity they too were excited about the prospect of visiting the orphanage as well. With out much time to organize we put together small bags of gifts and sweets for each of the orphans and each of the 100+ guests. And several couples pooled their money to buy a few large bags of rice, beans and flour to help out the orphanage. We all got caught up in the spirit of giving-it was such a great way to bring the spirit of Christmas into our hearts.
As we drove into their compound they greeted us with singing and those beautiful smiles and waves. Already they had given us more than we had prepared to give them. They had given us the gift of gratitude and unconditional love that melted our hearts. We were surprised to see how clean they were and how happy they were. It was obvious that they had been given new clothing for this special occasion too.
Bishop Kigen included a few of us as guest speakers (unannounced to us until only a few minutes before the starting time) in a short program. Bishop Kigen translated my few remarks into Kiswahili.
This is a very common site throughout Africa: that is children caring for children. Usually it is older brothers and sisters carrying and caring for younger brothers and sisters, but here at the orphanage, it was older orphans caring for the younger orphans in much the same loving way.
Sister Broadbent and several other senior missionaries taught the children some fun primary songs. Here they are learning "popcorn popping on the apricot tree". They also sang favorites like "I'm Trying to be like Jesus" and some Christmas carols too. Then we showed them a short video on the Nativity entitled "Luke 2."
After the video the couples went with the kids and played and talked with them one-on-one. There was a lot of hugging, smiling, holding of hands, soccer playing, pushing on the swing and laughing. It was a glorious day for all of us.I witnessed so many acts of kindness that day by my fellow missionary friends that I came away with a greater love for each of them and a greater appreciation for this opportunity to witness the impact of true love of Christ (which is the definition of charity). We will cherish the memories of this day forever.