11th). This is always a happy day when the end of the month-long fast is celebrated. Everybody starts getting ready days ahead of time by plaiting their hair, putting on henna, fixing up their house, and going to the market to buy new things. On the day of the fete, everybody puts on their new clothes then goes to the mosque to pray. When they get home the women get busy fixing a huge celebratory meal. The men sit around playing cards, chatting, and listening to the radio. The kids run around, make a lot of noise, get sent on errands to buy spices for the sauce, and generally get in the way. Finally the big meal is served and everybody feasts. Extra food is cooked to give to friends, neighbors, and especially to the poor. Friends eat together and forgive each other for the past year's offenses. Later in the day everybody visits everybody else and small gifts of money, gum, or candy are given to the children.
We do not celebrate Ramadan, per se, but it is fun to watch our friends celebrate. Suzanne went with some of her girlfriends to get henna done. When they got there, the lady was already doing somebody else, so Suzanne had to wait her turn. Then it took hours to do her feet and left hand. It was quite a work of art, as you can see! She also had a matching outfit made, but as she didn't celebrate Ramadan, she didn't get to pick it up at the tailor's until later this week. Our neighbor brought food to Suzanne and me (she was too busy for us to go sit with her to eat). John went and ate with her husband, though.
I also got a new outfit, but it was quite by accident that it turned out to be a Ramadan outfit! I took it to the tailor well before Ramadan and he promised me it would be done by Sunday. Then we were called to Niamey to be with Suzanne during her asthma attack....that was the Friday before the Sunday I was to get the outfit. So I stopped to tell him to just set it aside and I would get it when I got back to town. Well, he just assumed I would celebrate the fete in Niamey and since he had mountains of work to do making new outfits for dozens of people, he just put my outfit aside and didn't work on it. So, when I came back to town, he didn't have it ready, even though a week and half had passed since he said it would be ready!
I've been reading I Thessalonians 4 & 5 where Paul reminds us that Jesus will come back like a thief in the night. We'll be saying we have plenty of time and will be doing other things and with out warning, He will be here. The whole thing with the tailor reminded me of that. He thought he had plenty of time and so he busied himself with other things. Then he was embarrassed when I came back unanounced and he was not ready. What a vivid picture to go with my Bible study! Maranatha! Let me be ready for your return, Lord.