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December 2, 2014 – Ruston, LA Lafayette, LA based author, Vicky Branton, visited the Ruston campus of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home, sharing her children’s book Donkey Otie’s Forever Birthday Story with residents there.
Donkey Otie’s Forever Birthday Story, is a 24 page beautifully illustrated story of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, told from the perspective of the donkey that Mary rode into Bethlehem. The detailed and animated expressions of the characters show the feelings of humans and animals on the night that Jesus was born. A description of the story on the author’s webite says “Donkey Otie knew the moment his life changed forever! Never had he felt such love, acceptance, and peace … or was it simply joy? As a young and orphaned beast of burden, a frightened and stuttering Donkey Otie carried a girl named Mary, guided by a man named Joseph, into Bethlehem to be counted for a census. While there, Donkey Otie witnessed the birth of a child. They named him Jesus!
Before he met Jesus, Donkey Otie had only dreamed of being part of a loving family. Beginning that very night into the days and months following, Donkey Otie grew to love Jesus more and more.”
Branton connected with youth from the Children’s Home while sharing Donkey Otie’s story and the events that led to her writing and creating the book. The book was originally a poem written for the children of a lifelong friend who was dying of esophageal cancer. The friend, Mike, whom the book is dedicated to, shared with Branton that his only regret was that he had not taught his children to know Jesus Christ. Branton shared that after much thinking and praying about her friend’s regret, she was inspired to write a poem telling the Nativity story in a new way. She hoped it would open the door for further discussion about Jesus during the family’s last Christmas together. A framed copy was given to the family as a future reminder of their father’s last wishes, that they would know Jesus. Mike died the following summer. Many years later, Branton would be inspired to expand the poem into a children’s book and animated movie (which is still in development).
The children’s home youth enjoyed their time with the author and engaged in a question/answer session at the end of her presentation.
Thanks to the Women’s Ministry of First United Methodist Church of New Iberia, LA, each resident received a signed copy of Donkey Otie’s Forever Birthday Story.
The youth and staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home wish to thank Vicky Branton for taking the time to visit with the youth on the Ruston campus.