Christmas in Bwindi

Christmas started early at BCH because the community nurse team go on their months annual leave in December so have their Christmas party at the end of November. There was a thanksgiving at the hospital church in the morning for the community team and for a friend’s baby. Thanksgivings aren’t common in any churches I’ve been to in the UK but are very common here. I’m not sure if it’s just a Church of Uganda thing. People give thanks for different events or achievements by asking others to give money to the church. Usually envelopes are given out beforehand and you put money in and give it on the collection plate at the church service. I’m not really sure why this is different from the normal collection, I think it all goes to the same place but encourages people to give more. People also bring gifts instead of money e.g. maize, sugarcane, chickens. These are then auctioned off at the end of the service and the money goes to the same collection. This can lead to very lengthy church services if there is a lot of produce to auction! So far I’ve been to thanksgivings for babies, a friend’s wife’s graduation, a student nurse whose  fractured leg had healed,  the community nurse team finishing another  year as a team…

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The hospital Christmas celebration was on the Friday before Christmas. We had a carol service at the nursing school, which the Bishop attended. He also blessed the new nursing school bus while he was there and introduced the new hospital chaplain who will be joining us this month. There was food and music and dancing afterwards which was fun.

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Blessing the new bus

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On the Sunday before Christmas the church choir I sing with were invited to the cathedral in Kanugu to sing carols in the morning service. We went in the new nursing school bus and arrived just as the Bishop was starting the service. This meant quickly setting up the drum kit, guitars etc while the service had already begun and trying to tune up and decide which songs to sing during the service. It wasn’t our best performance but it was fun and the cathedral was  beautiful. The principal of the nursing school gave a quick talk at the end of the service to try and encourage local students to apply to the nursing school as it’s hoped that training people from the local area will improve staff retention at the hospital.

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Cathedral

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Choir

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On Christmas eve we hosted a party at the guest house for all the hospital staff who had stayed here for Christmas. Some staff take the opportunity to visit family at Christmas but lots have to stay and work and most don’t have families here. We had food, music, dancing and lots of photos by the fake Christmas tree! My family had sent some Christmas hats and earrings which made the party fun.

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Christmas eve selfie

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Stuart and Stuart height competition

On Christmas day there was a short service at the hospital. Actually I think it was almost 2 hours, perhaps I’m adjusting to church services here if I think that’s short?! We then spent a lot of the day cooking. I’m not sure how it happened, perhaps to try and keep everyone’s Christmas tradition, we ended up cooking a roast dinner for 15 people for lunch and lasagne for about 30 for dinner. It was fun though because we don’t usually get the chance to cook very often and I enjoy cooking (and I enjoy eating even more!)

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Christmas day lunch
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Pretty pleased with my new washing rack

So although I missed my family at Christmas lots and missed playing trumpet descants at church it was pretty refreshing not to have the crazy commercial build up to Christmas and it was nice to celebrate with new friends. On New Year’s Eve some of us from the hospital went up to the Ugandan wildlife authority’s party in the national park. Luckily we got there after the speeches were nearly over, just in time for food and dancing. There was a dance competition between different community groups – the lodges, guides, porters, craft shops owners, the hospital etc. We came a respectable 5th out of 15, I’m not sure my dancing helple much…

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Party in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

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Dance competition
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3 thoughts on “Christmas in Bwindi

  1. I have been forgetting to check this blog out and sign for updates but I’ve just read your last posts. I was delighted to see the pics and learn more about your life in Uganda, to inform my prayers. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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