DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — For a few hours Feb. 4, the Highland Lakes will have a connection with children who live an ocean and a world away when the Watoto Children’s Choir performs at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls.
“They really transform the sanctuary into a Broadway production,” said Joni Bedard of the church. “But it’s really the joy you see on the children’s faces and hear in their voices that, well, has the chance to transform people.”
Every member of the Watoto Children’s Choir has lost a parent, or both, to HIV/AIDS, war, poverty or disease. With their backgrounds, it’s hard to believe they can find any joy or happiness, but they have found more, much more — they have found hope.
The Watoto Children’s Choir is an outreach program of the Watoto Child Care Ministries, founded in 1994 in Uganda by Gary and Marilyn Skinner. Through the ministry, organizers have built schools, medical clinics and community centers. At the heart of the ministry is caring for the whole child, physically, mentally and spiritually.
The Watoto Children’s Choir brings the story of the Ugandan children and their hope to people outside their villages and towns.
“It’s such a joyful experience,” Bedard said. “The energy they bring, the smiles, the songs and dancing, everybody leaves with this big smile across their face. It’s incredible.”
The church has hosted the choir in previous years. One of the greatest experiences for church members is the opportunity to host several children and adult leaders when they stay in Marble Falls. This year, when Bedard put out request for host families, the list filled up within two hours.
But the performance isn’t reserved for church members; Bedard encourages everyone in the community to attend.
“The last time, the church was packed,” she said. “We just love having them and giving them a place to share their love and joy and their relationship with Jesus.”
When the choir was here previously, Bedard watched, not just the Ugandan children, but the youth in the pews. It was their excitement that encouraged Bedard to again book the choir when the opportunity presented itself.
“I was watching the children in the pews; they were standing up in the pews trying to see,” she said. “Their faces just glowed. But then, everybody was like that from the youngest to the oldest in the audience.”
The performance is 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the church, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive. Admission is free. The choir will have merchandise available for purchase before, during and after the performance.
Call (830) 693-4341 for more information.
Asked what she hopes people get from the choir, Bedard said the children’s message of hope resonants the loudest.
“It was inspirational; it was motivational,” she said. “It makes you want to do something, even if it’s something here in your own community. You want to make a difference.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Watoto Children’s Choir performance
WHEN: 6 p.m. Feb. 4
WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive in Marble Falls
FOR MORE: Call (830) 693-4341