Merry Christmas!  This was a day I’ll never forget! First, let’s be honest — spending Christmas away from home (especially in a third-world country) is not easy, not even for me, even though before we departed I was like, “I won’t get homesick! I stayed in Spain for 3 months and never got homesick!” But spending a major holiday away from home is a sacrifice of really special traditions that you’ve followed for years…in my case, 21 years. I felt homesick at the beginning and the end of the day — especially in the morning when I opened the Christmas cards my family had hidden in my suitcase, or ate dinner without them — but at the party, all of that faded and I knew I had no regrets about taking this trip. When you’re at the MCF Christmas party, seeing and being part of the enthusiasm, wonder, and gratitude of the kids is truly fulfilling a way that no other achievement can ever be. The true meaning of Christmas, I guess you could say — no Santa Claus required.

MacDella’s wealthy friend Papa, who has a beautiful home in Liberia, opened his yard to the 600-some kids from 4 or 5 different orphanages. The women who cooked the food — chicken, rice, and pasta — started preparing last night until 1am, then woke up at 5am!  The kids are used to eating cornmeal, as you read in an earlier post, so this was a VERY special treat.

Patrice, the former Miss Liberia, got the party started with some dancing! She is a good friend of MacDella’s who I first met in New York — her personality is golden. She borrowed the deejay’s mike and invited the kids to stand up on the porch, introduce themselves, and say how they were feeling after the day’s festivities, because she told them they’re rarely given a voice.

Patrice dancing

The kids loved the cameras, especially the digital ones, where they could see their pic after it was taken. Before the food was served, Genevieve and I wanted to entertain the kids, but there weren’t any toys. In these situations, my three years as a camp counselor never fail me. I taught the kids Duck, Duck Goose and then the Limbo.

meandkids.jpg

One thing Genevieve and I observed firsthand is that MacDella is perhaps the greatest unsung hero in all of Liberia. I’m not going to spell out all the corruption in Liberia on my blog, but just know the people here give MacDella every reason to give up on her foundation with the frustrating, unreasonable obstacles they put in her path. But she never gives up. The hope she has for the future of these orphans keeps her going. She doesn’t look for credit or like being in the spotlight much, but Genevieve and I are determined to shine it bright on her!

I have so many more pictures to share later, but the Internet is being very slow today, so this is the best I could do.

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