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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Chirstmas from Africa!

Hello friends and family. I just wanted to say Happy Holidays and let you know you are in my thoughts and prayers constantly at this time. We are having a good holiday season, though it is quite different obviously being away from you. On top of that, it is Summer here so we are having a "Warm Christmas" rather than a "White Christmas." The past two months have been FILLED with excitement. I apologize for the delay in updating this blog as well as my newsletter. I have wanted to write when I could include all of the months happenings, yet they continue. So briefly I will share yesterday's activities. On Saturday I was spending the day with Anthea Jaffa and her girls as they were having a joint birthday party... one in which I spent the night with 10, nine to eleven year old girls who had a "stay awake" party. Anyway, on Saturday I was suggesting to Anthea that we take the kids Christmas Caroling on the following Tuesday as most of the families were getting ready to leave for Christmas. We agreed that we could get on the phones and make it work. I had recently introduced the children to Christmas Carols in our Wednesday night class. Some funny things; First, these children don't sing songs about snow and cold weather. You try to find a Christmas song that doesn't! Second, I experienced my first "cultural barrier" due to words. In the song Jingle Bells, the second verse sings of Miss Fanny Bright sitting by his side. As I taught the children this song, suddenly their eys got huge and they began to mumble. I didn't think much of it until I got home that night and Carolyne asked me if I realized that I had asked the kids to say a "bad" word. I quickly said "no" and then she pointed out Miss Fanny Bright. In South Africa "Fanny" is not a nice word, not a terrible one, but still not one that the people use. So... I felt terrible and when putting song books together I changed Fanny to Maggie. I told Anthea about it and she just laughed. It is nice to have the parents on your side in situations like that!
So, back to caroling. I made a few calls and the ball was rolling for Tuesday. I planned to take the children to a nursing home that a member of the church is very active in as well as the government hospital down the road. When I spoke to Judy my coordinator's wife about what was planned she suggested that we make some props for the kids to use. Our team had a prior engagement out of town Sunday night and were not returning until Monday late afternoon so the prop construction began about 7:30 PM on Monday night. We made reindeer antlers, Santa hats, Christmas trees, Frosty the snowmen, jingle bells, and two "packages" for the kids to wear. They loved it all! We had about 30 kids and several adults who helped spread some Holiday Cheer to Port Elizabeth. We also bound 15 Christmas Carol books that the church will have for the future.
I was so proud of the kids. They showed amazing courage as they sang songs they didn't know all that well and visited the sick. Visiting isn't easy for everyone and especially children, but they jumped in head first and visited with the people at both the nursing home as well as the hospital. In the hospital, we visited the children's ward, as well as the men's and women's wards. This hospital is government funded and quite honestly not some place that you want to find yourself. The smells of sickness lace the halls and are a constant reminder of the poverty and disease that plague South Africa. I pray that everyone has a better appreciation and thankfulness for their own health after visiting yesterday. All in all, I would say that the launching of Christmas caroling was a success. Thank you again for allowing me to be apart of such an amazing work in South Africa. My prayer is that you all come to know and love these people as they are the fruits of your efforts by sending us here. They love you and appreciate you though you've not met. I will post the pictures of the day! Hope you enjoy them. Have a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

With love,


Guy & Nan said...

WOW - you are a busy girl! Your "stay awake" party with all the little girls sounds AWESOME! We should definetely have one of those when you come see me!!! :-) Well, I am super glad you updated your blog. No big deal...I only check it EVERYDAY! I was glad to see something new!!! OHH so I am looking up Japanese steak houses in Houston for Guy's birthday. There is no OHANA's here....Oh how I miss our monthly...weekly....OK OK daily lunches there with just the two of us at those large tables!! HAHA! Miss you. Happy holidays - Nan

Mike & Lucy said...

Sorry it took so long to read your blog. I've been busy here! It sounds like you are keeping super busy, but doing some great things there in SA! I LOVE reading about all you do. I second Nancy, as she said she was "super glad" you've updated! I DO understand that you are busy and don't always have time, but when you do, it is a treat for us. I am storing away some of what you are doing as ideas to do when we are in Moscow! Keep up all the good work. We love you.