With the help of xanga, I’m vicariously experiencing the “thrill” of Christmas in the SA. Quite a few years ago, I remember muttering to myself, I thought (Guess God is always listening), “Gee, it would be nice to have a “normal” Christmas for a change without all the kettles, food baskets, snow, ice, having to find time to put up decorations, parties, etc. etc.” Be careful about what you mutter!
It was 11 years ago today that I got on a plane and headed to work in the Caribbean. Although life on a sunny Caribbean island is nice, it takes a lot of effort to get into the “Christmas spirit”. No bundling up. No crackling fires. No snowflakes drifting down outside our window. At least in Antigua we did Christmas kettles (instead of frostbite I struggled with sun burn), LOM visitation (got up Christmas Day and started at the main hospital with the band at 6 am!), open house at the girls’ home, big food parcel distribution, etc.
Not so here in Haiti. Too dangerous to stand collecting money on the street. Too much need to do Christmas parcels…where would you even start? Christmas lights strung around the trunks of palm trees just look out of place. We were in PAP the first weekend in Nov. and when I saw the Christmas items for sale in a store I thought that it just seemed way too early. Is it really that time again? We even got our first Christmas card from the TC, who brought it with him on his visit to Haiti.
In the corps, “Harvest” (Moisson) is the big thing right now. It’s their biggest fund raiser of the year and the money helps to make repairs to the corps. Ours is this weekend so I will try to post some pictures of the auction sale on Saturday. I’m actually going to make some bread, cakes, and “bonbon Katrin” (Catherine’s cookies) to take.
So, the corps don’t do anything with the four Sundays of Advent, no Advent wreath, no candles (too Catholic). Maybe they will put up a few decorations for the Sunday before Christmas. I’m scheduled to preach here in FDN for the 24th and want to make it special. Any brilliant ideas?
Here at the clinic we put together about 100 food parcels and on Christmas morning we get the corps band to come (around 8 am…NOT 6!) and we gather the patients and their family members who are caring for them together in the main waiting room for a short devotional time together. Then we distribute the parcels. Then the group goes over to our TB sanatorium and repeats the process. The corps LOM members come and help and then they take some of the parcels to the corps’ shut-ins.
lady who helps us with our cooking, prepared the live turkey that we
were give by one of our officer friends and we invited a retired Swiss
SA officer over for dinner. I think two years ago we didn’t get around to opening our gifts for two days. It was kind of funny…the day would end and still the gifts were under the tree.
Mayotte sewing up the turkey
Last year we were in Nigeria, Christmas fell on Sunday and there were no wrapped gifts under the tree to give out. What was a typical gift was a piece of cloth that could be made into a nice outfit. We were blessed with three such pieces and the tailor and seamstress in the village were able to make beautiful outfits in about 2 days! Incredible!
(The dress I’m wearing (2nd from left) was one of those made in one day!)
Don’t know how Christmas will turn out this year but I think Matthew is kind of figuring out the gift thing with the help of videos such as “The Santa Clause” so I don’t think we will be able to leave them wrapped for days.
Thanks for sharing your activities with me. I will be praying for God’s special blessing of stamina for you over the next five weeks!