I entered the chapel and I saw him there. Sitting on the edge of the plastic seat and swinging his legs in anticipation. All by himself he waited. All day, maybe even all year he had waited. Because today was the day his birthday would be celebrated. Little Ibra had patiently waited through an entire church service, gone home for lunch and was out the door before his house mother could even get him to change into his party clothes. One of the older boys had to go and fetch him so he would be wearing the right thing for his special day.
When he had the proper clothes on, he took off, running towards the chapel. And that is where he waited for the party to start. It is tradition at Eagles Wings to sing Happy Birthday to each child individually at the monthly birthday celebration, and while the crowd sings, the birthday boy or girl dances. Have you ever sung Happy Birthday 21 times in a row? I have and I wish I could do it all over again. 21 times we celebrated each of these special children whose birthday it was. And when we got to Little Ibra, he danced like there was no tomorrow. There was no stopping that boy in his unencumbered performance. He knows joy and reminded me where to find it.
Getting there to that moment did not come without some comic relief. Making 6 cakes in a Ugandan oven is an all day affair, a joyous affair if you love to bake. When it came time to ice the cakes, the power went out, so there we sat at midnight in pitch black, icing 6 cakes by the light of a headlamp. Perhaps all that was the easy part. The next day, we piled into the car, each with a cake on our lap, trying to make it out to the Eagles Wings property on those bumpy African roads without a cake disaster. Half way there, the car broke down. We waited for Dr. Macris, the Eagles Wings doctor to come to our rescue, more importantly to the cake’s rescue, when he called to say they had a flat tire. A while later, flat tire fixed, half of us loaded into the Macris vehicle, transferred the cakes and made it there without a culinary disaster. Is it just me or is this comic relief in action? This is Africa and I love it. I got to sit there at Eagles Wings and watch those children enjoy that cake and all the celebration it represented. And I sat there and wondered how I could possibly be so lucky to be there right in the middle of all that. Coming home from all that joy involved trying to wave down a boda boda (motorcycle) for half an hour to get from the property to the highway, and then finally getting to the highway and finding a taxi, promptly to have it break down. From there we stood on the side of the highway in the middle of Uganda for another 45 minutes to wave down another taxi which finally got us home, and all that only makes me laugh wild, because it reminds me that life is always full of these surprises and sometimes they just make for one heck of a story.
Broken down on the side of the road with all those cakes
Ibra waits patiently before everyone arrives to the party
Ibra dances with some wild joy
Trust enjoys the birthday cake in her pretty party dress.
Fred helps baby Triumph eat her birthday cake. Such a loving boy he is.