Our weekend was spent cleaning up the mess created from tiling two rooms, and planning for Christmas. Christmas can be trying for me if I spend too much time thinking all by my lonesome. I miss family and even friends this year, since our teammates are on furlough. Cooking Christmas dinner can overwhelm as I desire to have a nice traditional meal, but have no outside help from family to cook or enjoy it together. This disappointment is lessening, but I also miss the spirit of Christmas–the crisp, cold air connected with so many Christmas songs, decor everywhere, cantatas and special programs.
We did have a Christmas service at church Tuesday morning, and although I’m getting more accustomed to life here, I still had to adjust my attitude about “working” on Christmas. (Church is definitely “work” for us!) South Africa is old-fashioned in that regard–they have Christmas morning and Good Friday church services–a lingering effect of having a state church (Dutch Reformed). Once I summoned my energy for the task, I enjoyed our service and felt that it was the best spirit we’ve had in a long time, with lots of people in attendance from the three Baptist churches in the region (Pastor Godfrey’s church from Mashamba village, our teammate’s church from Mbhokota village, and our church in Elim as host).
Caleb quoted Luke 2:9-14 in front of about 50 people! I think I was more nervous than he was. I wasn’t sure if he’d cry from fright, but he was excellent. I sang a song, accompanied by piano recorded on our church member’s Blackberry, which I find funny. Seth preached–a shorter sermon, under half an hour. That too was funny. 😉
There was a sweet time of testimonies coupled with heartfelt singing. Then my Sunday School class acted out the Christmas story, with the help of a teen narrating. Seth was convinced that we must have a “real” Jesus, so Carson must be it, being the only baby in church. Carson was not convinced, being extremely hot and tired. I rescued him halfway through the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, replacing him with a black baby doll I had in reserve (since I was equally convinced that Carson would not be convinced by Seth’s conviction!)
This funny church member put out money for a Santa suit. You never know what you’ll be surprised with!
We went home to an overcooked leg of warthog we’d been given from a friend who owns a game farm. I’d been instructed how to cook it, but it didn’t work out like planned and tasted like a dry pork roast. After a couple of days gnawing our way through it, with suffering teeth and swollen gums, I gave the leftovers to a lonely church member who had come to spend Wednesday afternoon at our house.
It was SO hot that we brought out the water balloons for a fight with the kids after our Christmas service. Even Mommy played!
Then we opened a package from Seth’s mom, which had awesomely arrived on Christmas Eve! Notable gifts were pepperoni and circus peanuts for me, and ladybug jumper for Callie accompanied by a book for the kids How the Ladybug Got Her Spots, illustrated by their talented Aunt Bethany.
Backing up to Monday, which is when we had our family celebration, Callie, ironically enough, woke us up with a little board book with a button that says, “Ho ho ho! Meeerry Christmas!” Seth read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Perfect Christmas Tree while I got myself and baby ready. We read the Christmas story, opened gifts, and had a dinner of rice and shrimp and chicken curry with cheesy broccoli casserole and cheesecake for dessert. Quite a splurge! Then Seth went with the boys down to a river to get more sand for their sandbox, with poles now rebuilt and shade cloth restored after termites destroyed the structure.
Wednesday was supposed to be a day off, but we were invited to a birthday party, with all of the traditional Tsonga elements of celebration. Too long of a story for here–just imagine music loud enough to hurt, rain, mud, and Tsonga culture (see “Bride-Price”) with a bunch of white babies mixed in.
Thursday we had a beloved teen in our church over for his birthday dinner. And today Seth began a college and career group, which took him away for over three hours. Seth has a Greek test to study for this weekend, but he promises me that he’ll take New Year’s Day off. 🙂
We miss all of our dear friends and family in the States and hope that you had a blessed time thinking of the Christ-child. May your new year be blessed with growth in grace and knowledge of that same Christ.