All this to say that while the daily duties of Saturday life were still unfolding, we didn't have any program set up with the children. We simply enjoyed their company.
Of course, children don't typically like to sit around innactively. They are each little balls of energy...little balls of energy that are waiting to be directed. So while the older children finished chores or quietly socialized, Hannah and Ashleigh focused on the youngest ones. As dark clouds rolled in over the lake it looked as if outdoor play would have to be postponed. Their sollution: duck, duck, goose.
The game was an instant hit. Although, the title got lost somewhere in translation. "Dog, dog, goosh" was the outcome. It was so incredible to see the energy and speed of the children. They seemed tireless.
Their enthusiasm for the game was tireless too. Ugandan children have remarkably long attention spans. Ugandan culture is slower paced than Western cultures. People sing repetitive songs without wearying, they sit in silence for long periods, and school days are extraordinarily lengthy. All these cultural factors keep the kids unusually focused, but my main thinking for why these kids are able to enjoy something longer...they don't watch a lot of TV.
Television and the internet teach children to expect fast and flashy things. No image or idea is sustained for too long. And if you get bored you can always change the channel.
I am not denying that TV has its benefits. In fact, I see firsthand how deprived our children are educationally and culturally because they are deprived of that window into the outside world. Kids in the States can turn on Animal Planet and see elephants moving in their natural habitat in Africa. An eleven year old Ugandan girl seemed surprised when I told her that we had chickens in the USA. They have few ways of glimpsing anything beyond the day to day world of their own village. Even books and magazines are few to be found. We take so much for granted.
Yet toady I was very glad that our Ranch children had not become so accustomed to motion and bite sized information that they couldn't appreciate a simple and redundant game for well over two hours. They squealed endlessly with delight and I think they would have been happy to play "Dog, dog, goosh" all day if we hadn't diverted them outside with a soccer ball.
Their lives are simple in that regard. Just what children's lives should be. Because at the end of the day, the lives of Ugandan children are extraordinarily complex in other regards. When we found 13 year old Ronald two years ago, he was taking care of his four younger siblings. They all shared a mat on the dirt floor and had to figure out a way to obtain food each day. They were each malnourished and heartbroken.
I know precious children who have watched too many relatives die, have nursed their HIV positive mothers, and slaved on fishing boats to feed their families. They have seen and tasted things of life that should not have to be bourne by little ones. They have feared. They have suffered. They have endured. But at the end of the day, they are still simply children. I am grateful for the simple, unspoiled life they enjoy at Ranch on Jesus-a place where they can play.