Sunday, 17 February 2013

Christmas at the orphanage

Considering that it is now past Valentine's Day, this blog post is long overdue.  But it is a story worth telling even after the fact!

My roommate Becky is involved with the Church of the Nazarene's HIV ministry here in PNG.  Last year she became acquainted with the Nangbe Nazarene Care Center, located just up the road from Kudjip in a town called Minj.  Ruth and Steven are the couple who run the center.  They provide counseling services, HIV testing, and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.  The coolest thing is that the center also serves as a home for more than 45 orphans--children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.  But the needs are far greater than what Ruth and Steven can provide.  Families in the local community have also become involved by caring for another 100+ orphans.

Just before Christmas, Becky was invited to lead a Sunday service at the Nangbe Church.  And she recruited her roommates and and friends to help out!  A whole cruiser load of missionaries and volunteers joined us.  My friend Andy shared the Christmas story with the young congregation and I translated into Pidgin.  We covered the windows of the bush church with sheets and blankets and cardboard, dimming the light so that we could show the children's version of the Jesus film.  Pastor Ruth concluded the servicewith a time of prayer.  More than 20 kids and several adults accepted Christ that day!  

The children of Nangbe captured our hearts.  With Christmas just around the corner, Andy had an idea to buy a gift for each of the kiddos.  Well, the idea grew from a gift for each child to blankets and balls and toothbrushes and hair things and coloring books and chickens and all the fixin's for Christmas dinner.  On Christmas Eve, our fellow missionaries and volunteers helped us pack the cruiser clear to the top with the goodies.  

There was a bit of a fiasco when the chickens escaped, but they were soon recaptured.  (Let's just say I learned my lesson and will never again deal in live chickens.  EVER.)  The gifts and food were delivered to Ruth who would give them to the children on Christmas morning.  The smile on her face radiated her joy to the world!

What a special Christmas!  Maybe one of the best I've had.  After all, I think that this is what Christmas is all about.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
~ James 1:27

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