Upon arriving at the orphanage we wash our hands prior to playing with the babies. We go to the bathroom and use the tub to soap up. One visit we found six two year olds in a circle completely naked sitting on their little green potties. We had not bothered their privacy one bit. They were all making progress there because the odor of their success chased me out of there quickly. I was dying to get a photo of this scene but could not bring myself to do it. It was one of the funniest things we have seen here and it still causes ripples of giggles to overtake us.
Yesterday I observed “tea time”. Remember Uganda is a former colony of England and most of the sophisticated society here practices English rituals. They drink their tea the same, but with an African “spice”, it’s called “tea masala” and it is a powder added to each cup of tea and it’s wonderful. I brought some home last year and I drank it all through the year, so I was eager to be served some African tea when I returned this trip. These babies were sitting on the floor with an open mug of milky sweet tea and drinking without spilling it. I would never dream of giving a two year old an open mug. I was exclusively attached to the spillproof sippy cup. But here were six toddlers with full cups of tea behaving in a civilized British way. They also enjoyed a biscuit. Tea time at the orphanage, precious!
There’s another ritual at the orphanage I observed, bath time. I just have to say the sight of a naked black baby with white soapy bubbles from head to toe is something I’ve never seen before, and it’s quite a beautiful vision. Soap just doesn’t contrast on our skin in the same way. They put a large bucket of water on the floor.Then they have a small tub next to it. They line the babies up on the floor to wait their turn for the bath. I caught Amelia’s bath first. She was a slippery naked wet baby getting soaped and doused over the head and she had something to say about it! To rinse her the Auntie lifted her by one arm out of the tub and dumped a scoop of water from the bucket over her. Another Auntie was prepared with a towel to take her to the changing table for drying and dressing. Meanwhile the washing Auntie took my stripped down Kira and plopped her into the tub. She was covered with bubble before I could blink, all over her face and in her eyes and she did nothing but splash and spit. They pulled her up by the arm rinsed her off and passed her over. Next!
It’s such a lively atmosphere at the home. If I were a baby I would be happy there. I’ve never seen a cross expression or a weary disposition. Many times in America when I visit with people who are taking care of infants they are drained and tense from the stress. Not all times, but I’ve pulled my own kids from nursery school situations because I didn’t want them to experience someone’s frustration with their job. Here, there is great joy with the kids. Most of these women are volunteers who come every day all day to work with the children. And they are loving these kids as we love our own. It’s so difficult for them when it is time for them to go. The bittersweet understanding of the big picture feels like a heavy humid cloud. Yes we want the children go to their families but at the same time they leave a gaping hole in the hearts of those here who have loved them selflessly. We are so appreciative for their giving of their whole selves to these babies. Our little ones who come from this home have been safe, secure, loved, read to, played with, held to schedules, socialized, and even taught self control as seen in the tea time with two year olds! And still, not a cross person to be found among the children. We see smiles, energetic work, natural play, and so many giggles in response to the antics and personalities of the individual children. It’s a riveting scene to behold there at the baby home. When we are at our lodge house all of us are antsy to get up the hill to be with the babies. I suspect that once we have custody of Kira we will all say, let’s go play with the babies! Social time Kira, come on let’s go see your mates. We are welcome to visit any time any day. The baby home loves it when others come play with the babies. It’s a mentality of “the more the merrier” even in a small space. No one is affected by the noise or the activity level. One thing I appreciate about the aunties is they have a trained ear for who is crying. We will be in the play room and above the melee of sound they can individually pick out the cry of a single baby in another room. Automatically they will rise and fetch the child. A baby is never left crying here. Praise God. None of the babies need to cry themselves to sleep because when it’s nap time they are ready for the rest and all of them accept their beds as a happy place to go. Bed time in America is a time of panicked separation between mama and child. Here, the babies are lulled to sleep by the happy natural lively noise of their mates and Aunties. I will also say there’s no tantrums or extreme fussies here, apart from the babies who are sick, they cry a bit more, but that is to be expected. There’s no colic. Hmmm… I’m just trying to understand the differences from what I experience here and of those I experienced in my own culture. I’m fascinated.
We celebrated yesterday because one of the little babies in the home received a family. He was referred to a family that and we all passed him around and congratulated him. He is the giggliest of all the babies. He’s fun to sprawl across my legs so his feet are on my chest. I look into his cute face and tickle his tummy and he performs peals of giggles and wide grins. His mama and daddy are as blessed to receive a child from this baby home as any of the alumni from here. I for one am forever connected to this orphanage in my heart, and this will come out through my hands I am certain. We intend to bring Kira back throughout her life time to serve here and play with the children. This is her heritage and she should be thankful she was placed in such a loving environment. I will not hide from her the beginnings of her life. I want her to praise God and give thanks for the special hand he had in her life to bring her to this home and allow her to grow up in ours. This culture, this life is not ending for her the minute we step on American soil. I want her to grow up knowing her people here. I want to grow up knowing these people here. And together we will fall in love over and over again with Ugandans. This morning Craig said he could never really understand what missionaries meant when they would explain how they have fallen in love with the people of the culture they serve. Now he is having a glimpse of what this feels like. His heart is melting for the causes, struggles, energy and peace we see again and again in the new friends we make here.