Saturday, March 18, 2023


Today was the day of the grand birthday party. We had meat and beans, soda, and cake—just right for a birthday menu.

Before the meal began, Pastor Vincent gave a very nice welcome greeting, saying that we are today celebrating the day that each one of us was born.  He quoted King David, who said:

You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days were written in Your book and ordained for me. (Psalm 139:13-16)

 Vincent also read what the prophet Jeremiah wrote about his own experience: “The word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

I can imagine that these words were especially meaningful to the children had been rejected at a very young age by their own parents and to those who had lived for years looking for someone to feed them or living out of garbage heaps.

I then shared how as a little boy on a small farm, I could have never have imagined that when I would grow to be an old man, God would tap me on the shoulder and tell me that I still had a purpose in my later years and that he was sending me to Kenya. Neither do any of them know all that God has planned for them.

Vivian introduced herself as their “Mum Vivian,” and shared with them the importance of continuing to grow in their walk with God. They must learn the habit of saying “Yes” to God, she said. As they grow physically, so must they grow spiritually.

This also was a good illustration, for many of them have grown a couple of feet in height since I saw them when I visited the very first time in 2017. It is so nice also to see how these children have grown very firm in the commitment to God.

I had a good conversation in perfect English with that little boy who told me on the first visit, “Sir,

we would like a ball that we can kick.” He wants now to be a pastor. I am also told that he has turned into quite a footballer.

One girl who is in her last year of secondary school is also preparing to serve God. This girl I also remember from the first year. She had memorized entire chapters of the Bible in English and often led the congregation in the singing and in dance. She is still doing it.

There are so many examples. It is perhaps wrong of me to mention only two, but the stories of what has become of the children in the past 5 or 6 years are so many.

Then came the time in the program for the cutting of the cake. Three cakes had been prepared, beautifully decorated. One was made in the shape of the Bible and had the words “You are loved by God, loved by the people of the church, Your USA family loves you,” written on it.

Vivian and I and Larry were seated behind the cakes, and facing the crowd in front of us. I whispered to Vivian that I did not see how there

would be enough for the about 250 people present.

Besides the Bible cake, there was another baked in the shape of some kind of tall tower. Vivian and I also whispered back and forth about how they were to cut such a cake without having it fall in the dirt.

We did not know that when the moment came, it was to be we who would do the cutting. Thankfully, one of the older girls from the orphanage in was actually in charge. We were merely the “ceremonial cutters” of the cake. Then two or three girls cut them into smaller pieces and put them on plates.

Larry, always “Jeeves the butler,” asked me, “Do we get to pass them out.”

“I don’t know Larry,” I told him. “I usually just wait until I am told what to do.”

But much the my butler’s delight, we carried the plates around for all to have a piece.

The children were served first because they were sitting in front. Each politely took a single piece of cake from the plate. Seated way in the back of the party tents was a group of adults whom I did not know. I would guess that they were not necessarily members of the church, but people from the town. They looked like a little food would do them good.

When I went to serve them, they did not take a single piece, but their hand was able to be put around several pieces. I know that they were hungry, and coming for the cake was important to them.

I think everyone there must have received a piece, but the three cakes quickly disappeared. After the cake came the main meal. This is how I have always thought birthday parties should proceed—cake first, then, if you still have room to eat, perhaps a little healthy food.

Vivian and I and butler Larry served. The idea was Vivian’s. She had provided name tags for the orphans so that they could write their names on them, and when we served them, we would be able to learn their names.

A good idea, but like many good ideas, when it comes down to the actual implementation of the idea, it turns out it only had limited success. Our faces were mostly down as we performed the task of serving, and we had little time to see each child, much less try and decipher their writing. With some of them we did.

But the party was not yet over. Now came the time for the popping of the balloons. The children ran around competing for the chance to do a popping. Through it all, no one got hurt.

And this noise signaled the official end of the grand party. It was one that these children will remember for a lifetime.


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