Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Christmas


More than a few of my friends around Jinja kept asking me, "Where's my Christmas?"  Christmas is not really a season here in Uganda.  It's simply a day.  There are few trees, no gift exchange, and it has no real positive affect on the economy.  However, most people make a genuine effort to gather with family, attend church in the morning, and eat meat on December 25th.

But, that's beside my story.  My inquiring friends know that Christmas is about having something special and perhaps their question would motivate me to give them something ... perhaps some food or a little money.  I found that humor was a way to leave both of us happy.  I simply responded that Christmas was "on the way and coming.  Three days ago it was in Kampala, two days ago it was in Mukono, and one day ago it was in Lugazi!  Yesterday Christmas had reached the Mabira Forest!  But, as you and I know, there are policemen in that forest and I'm concerned that they are going to take Christmas for themselves."

Lyzette gives gifts to "her" ladies on Ward 7
We all laughed together knowing that many policemen attempt to extort motorists in order to get money for their Christmases.  On Christmas Day I extended my attempt at humor when I explained Christmas had, in fact, never reached Jinja and I had to take my friends and family to Kampala to find it! ... where we ate an elaborate meal at one of the better restaurants.  Let me hasten to say that I often told my friends that Christmas cannot be found; either in a pocket, in a day or in an event.  Christmas finds us.  Because Christmas is a Person.

Our household went to the Jinja Main Hospital on Christmas morning and Christmas found us.  A couple of people in our group exclaimed "this is the best Christmas ever!"  No.  It was not a snowboarding trip to the Swiss Alps. It didn't result in a new automobile in the driveway with snow on it or a broad red ribbon wrapped around it.  It was better than that.

Spending Christmas Day on Ward 7
Christmas found us with Lyzette Kasigwa, director of Women in Crisis, in Ward 7 of the Jinja Main Hospital.  The last time I was in that place with Lyzette was last February and I was weeping with her because she had lost her son, Hunter.  We almost lost her!  Now, with the approval and blessing of the hospital administration,  a man from Oklahoma, three people from Arizona, two from Oregon, and three from Western Uganda were scattered in the aisle, sandwiched between two rows of hospital beds of women who had given birth to babies; some of them born just that morning on Christmas Day.

Jaaja Jeannie bringing comfort
We were there to gift a small package of items that included some essentials along with some body lotion, fragrant soap, or shampoo.  Those who had the least were given a new set of bed sheets.  All were visited and prayed for.  Some had lost their baby and were waiting for their recovery and dismissal from the hospital ... alone. Even the good news of a relationship with the Christ of Christmas was shared with some.  One husband, a Muslim married to a born again, gave his life to Christ. He, along with a few others, was given a bible.

A journalist from SIMBA Radio was also in the ward.  The station typically goes to the Maturity Ward to profile a few babies who are born on Christmas Day.  This day the reporter, Collin, discovered Lyzette was in the ward to make Christmas Day in the hospital more than unusual and a source of joy.  He took a short interview along with her phone number and most likely a profile of her and Women In Crisis is going to be aired.

Christmas Day in a Third World Nation has to be radically different than a typical Christmas Day in the West.  The distinction in itself makes the experience remarkable.  But, for some, this was the best Christmas EVER!


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