What a day! Our entire team went to the land purchased by Smile Africa and helped put on a tea party for women in ministry. Pastor Ruth invited everybody and planned the program while we came to support and serve. We arrived in time to help set up the tent and chairs. Pat played the clarinet at the entrance while the women began to show up on foot, bicycles, and our rented bus. Some women took three days to arrive from an island 40 miles away! The balloon squad made animal shaped balloons for the women and for the children who came to watch. We unpacked the dishes and cups and garden hoes and Shawn and Pat took turns entertaining the women inside the tent with their music while they waited for the tea to begin. Even men came!! We told them they were welcome to eat with us but the gifts and the party were for the women. Pat started things off by playing “When the Saints go Marching in”. Everyone was on their feet clapping, dancing and singing along. We were ready to begin.
Pastor Ruth was mistress of ceremonies and a leader in her church gave some opening remarks, telling how Smile Africa began. Jenn and Kristi sang beautifully accompanied by Shawn on the guitar. I told how the tea party came to be. Patsy talked about God putting dreams within our hearts and Wendy spoke on the churches’ response to the AIDS epidemic. Akua, who is in public health demonstrated some basic hygiene practices. Then it was time to eat! What a beautiful sight as we had the women remain in their seats while our team and some of the Ugandan men served. Tom was having a great time serving tea and teasing the women knowing that for some-they had NEVER been served by a man! Pastor Wilber made a HUGE statement by serving the women! Shawn played the guitar and sang while the women enjoyed their meal.
It was time to hand out the gifts and we decided it would be good if Colleen and Stephanie did the closing prayer before we gave out the gifts because the women were going to be so excited they would forget all about the prayer.
We were a little concerned as we had 250 purses filled with cosmetic bags, shampoo, soap, deodorant, Kleenex, hankies, band-aids, washcloths, wallets, journals and pens, etc. We originally thought there would be 100 women at the tea-that quickly jumped to 150 so we scrambled thinking we wouldn’t want to run out. We gave out 175 filled purses, 175 garden hoes, 700 pounds of rice and beans (Colleen loves to feed people so she and Stephanie purchased bags of food and the women had Smile Africa weighed it and bagged it for the women) and 350 orange tree seedlings!
The women were thrilled! They laughed and cried and laughed some more. They were so grateful.
We loaded up the extra gifts and took them to Pastor Ruth’s to be distributed to the many widows who are in great need. We were told the hoes were a perfect gift as it is planting time and rather than eat the beans most will plant them.
Robert was in town and caught women walking home with their gifts balance upon their heads.
I was so proud of our team! Everyone played a part-we have a couple quiet ones like DJ and Sam who just work hard. Bill and Cindy entertained children away from the tent during the program. David was caught holding a baby for one of the women. Tom had his Ugandan daughters help-teaching them to give back. Angie and Elizabeth photographed and videotaped the event. Mae and Audrey stood by the gate welcoming the women and pitched in on serving and handing out the gifts. Paul, Greg and Kent are awesome and do whatever is required. Laura was busy on the balloon squad. Gwen served wherever she was needed. Robert and Jim helped set up the tent and carried heavy items but had to leave the tea to fix the generator at True Vine. Everyone worked really hard today and I am sure will sleep well tonight.
Thank you for all who contributed to this great day. Those women will never be the same!