Anna Grace Kennedy has been with Kirabo Seeds from the very first mission team meeting I held in the living room of my house in Katy, Texas. She was thirteen and she wasn’t on the team, she had just spent the night with Ali Anthis and was tagging along for the meeting.
As I described the orphan care work we would be doing that summer on the mission trip in Uganda, something inside the thirteen year old heart of Anna Grace halted, froze and caused her to alter her path. She went home to her parents sobbing that she had to be able to go on that trip with us and do this work.
They said she could go but they hadn’t budgeted for a trip so far and so expensive. This wasn’t a deterrent for Anna Grace. She decided to bake cupcakes and sell them to raise money. And she did, she earned all she needed to join us in Uganda.
The next year she continued her own fundraising to be able to go with us on the second mission trip where she was able to participate in establishing our new home with our fifteen children who are all orphaned by both parents from HIV/AIDS.
As I observe Anna Grace in a developing country I couldn’t help but see how relaxed and at home she felt with the children. At fifteen she is every bit an American girl enjoying fashion, hair styles and of course shoes. But in Uganda she’s able to genuinely sit in the dirt and play with the children, teach them songs, read books, share meals of beans and rice and pass out emotional hugs to each child. No part of the lifestyle of Uganda irritated her. She could wait patiently, shift plans with ease, go a little hungry, get dirty, and even use unmentionable forms of toilets. She behaved with an attitude that understood the mission and wasn’t derailed by the creature comforts that went missing. She’s a team member I would personally invite to join me again and again. When Anna Grace is working with us in Uganda she doesn’t need coaching to keep her heart mind and soul on the work God has for her to do, it seems instinctual for her to be selfless while working with these beautiful children. She has the heart of a missionary.
So when I returned from the October trip she sent me a message and said, “I know what I want for my Christmas present from my parents. I am going to ask them to give it to the children at Kirabo Seeds in Uganda.” I should have been surprised, but I wasn’t because I know her heart. I told her they would like a celebration day of swimming at Speke and a feast of turkey. She said, “then that’s what we will do.”
On Christmas morning when everyone in her home received gifts Anna’s was given away to the children in Uganda. I don’t suspect there was a moment of self pity in her heart as she sat without a gift in her hand. I am sure she could imagine the smiling faces of the children she loves so much enjoying a day like they never could have imagined in their lives before. She gave joy to receive a gift of her own few of us will ever know. She gave away her Christmas and received so much more.
Last Sunday the children went to church and then packed up for a fun time swimming at the Speke Hotel. After swimming they loaded up in the van and went to Lake Victoria to swim at the beach. They had never before been to the beach to play so the intensity of their enjoyment is evident in these photos. They feasted on turkey, which is only offered once a year. They can call that day the best day of their year. They can thank Anna Grace Kennedy, fifteen year old American girl, who gave away her Christmas. And I will add there was enough money left over to build a second book case for our home because we have completely filled the first one with books.
Kiah reports lately that the children are taking turns reading the books to each other, one page at a time. Their reading skills with English are soaring because they have these valuable resources. We aim to raise the smartest children in Uganda! Even the schools don’t have a book case, and now we will have two. Thank you Anna Grace Kennedy for giving a gift that lasts.
If you would like to participate in a gift for the children in our home we are beginning to plan for a puppy to join the family. Hiring a night guard is risky because they fall asleep and often take of with the valuables never to be seen again. But a German Shepherd dog who is well trained will be the most faithful, dependable, loyal guard we could ever hope to have. He will need a dog house, veterinarian visits, training and food. If this project touches your heart you can donate with paypal on this blog and designate puppy. We’ll contact you and be sure you see the eventual fruits of your gift.