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Showing posts from December, 2012

Words and Sky View

Yesterday's photo was supposed to be Words, but I failed to take a picture.  So both yesterday's picture and today's are really from today.

This time of year finds us busy getting ready for our Spiritual Life Conference.  John is leading one of the worship teams so he and some of the team members were found this morning learning the words of some new (to us, anyway) songs and reviewing the words of old favorites.





And look at the moon!  When the moon is full here it is really bright!  I've sat outside and read a book just by the light of the moon.  When we used to sleep outside, it would be hard to get to sleep on full moon nights.  It's pretty spectacular.

Grateful and Night Time

I'm grateful for a man whose primary focus is on God.  Here he is reading the Scriptures before we open our gifts.  I'm also grateful that he knows I like chocolate.  Especially Lindt.  Absolutely the best chocolate around.  Truthfully, I liked all the gifts he gave me!
And here is our living room at night.

Morning

Most of our years here we've been so involved with church celebrations that we find it hard to fit everything all in in one day....that being the 25th.  So today, like most other years, we went to church and had dinner there.  Tomorrow we will have our traditional sticky bun breakfast and open our gifts. We enjoy having Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Christmas Again!

I just want to say that Cokes (as well as Sprite and Fanta) are served at every good party!

Favorite Part of Christmas Eve

Our Christmas Eve was pretty low-key.  I got food ready for our Christmas dinner potluck at church, which was today, the 25th.  I made a meat pie for supper which we ate while watching The Preacher's Wife.

It was a cold, windy, dusty Christmas Eve in 1985 that I received my best Christmas gift ever......a diamond ring.  With that ring came a wonderful man.  Oh yes, we have had our moments, and marriage is a lot of hard work.  But I'm sure glad I accepted the ring and the man!  



One day....already emotional because we had just said good-bye to our kids at Sahel....we were buying vegetables and fruit and then were going to head back to our town.  While at the vegetable stand I looked down and the diamond was completely missing!  Of course, I was in tears....I'd left my kids and lost my diamond all in the same day.  We looked everywhere, but it was likely lost in the market somewhere.  So the ring I have now is not the original, but it has eight prongs and I will hopefully not …

Scarf

I'm sure whoever dreamt up this photo challenge was thinking winter scarves that you wrap around your neck.  However, the kind of scarf I usually wear is a head scarf.  Here, a head scarf is part of a well-dressed woman's wardrobe.  Here in the city married women often don't wear scarves, but in smaller towns married women pretty much wouldn't leave home without one.  I struggle with scarves.....I can't tie them right and they fall off my head.  On the other hand, if you're having a bad hair day, it really doesn't matter.  Today was church and it was chilly outside, so I was wearing both a head scarf and the bigger shawl-thing that can be wrapped around the head or draped over the shoulders.

Tradition

Christmas is a time for traditions.  However, today I don't think I did anything especially traditional.  So I sat down with my journal and wrote out some of our traditions.  I did forget "Make fudge".

Peace

Today's photo is PEACE.  This is a great time to remember the true meaning of Christmas.  God sent His Son Jesus to save us peace and forgiveness of our sins and He calls us to come and give Him glory.

Tree Topper

Yesterday was Day 20, but I ended the day way too tired to even think about posting anything.  So here is our tree topper.  A straw star that we've had for a VERY long time.  John's family was very involved in a Covenant church in Connecticut.  Historically it was a Swedish Covenant church and there are still a lot of Swensons, Johnsons, and other Swedish-sounding names in the congregation.  When John and I got married, somebody in the church (I don't remember who!) gave us a set of Swedish tree ornaments.  I'm guessing they were homemade.  26 years of dust and extreme dryness later, we still have most of them!  The nice thing about them is that they are small so they are perfect for our little tree. This star was the biggest and so it's always found its place at the top of the tree.

Candy Cane....or maybe not

Today's picture is supposed to be a candy cane, but I don't have any candy canes, don't miss candy canes, don't want candy canes, and therefore can't photograph candy canes.

So I'll tell you about my day yesterday.  Almost two weeks ago I wrote about our neighbor man who had died.  The tradition here is that when somebody dies for three days the friends and family members go sit with the family of the person who died.  So I wanted to go up to sit with my friend right away, but we just couldn't fit it into our schedule.  Yesterday was a national holiday and I didn't have to go to the office and John didn't have to teach, so we went up to greet the family.

As we drove out of town we noticed police and military standing guard all along the way.  We realized somebody important was going to be passing through.  When that happens, all traffic is held up until they pass through.  It causes huge back-ups and delays while the waiting traffic unsnarls itself.  …

Stockings

Yesterday's photo challenge was Stockings.  I've already written something about our stockings.  So I've not got much to say about this post.  I decided to take this as how a 2-year old sees the world.  It seems blurry to me, but maybe the world is blurry to little kids, too.

Presents

This post was supposed to have been done yesterday, but the internet was really not working very well.  And I just wanted to go to bed.

So yesterday's challenge was presents.  Presents is another of those things that we do differently here than we do when in the US.  When we're in the US, I wrap presents as I go and put them under the tree at any time after it's been put up.  But here we traditionally have waited until Christmas Eve to put out the gifts.  The main reason is that we didn't want our friends to see all our "stuff".  We didn't want Christmas to be about stuff and about adopting our customs.  Another reason to wait is that this is an extremely dusty time of year so gifts under the tree just get really dirty.  But then, so does the tree and all the decorations!  And the final reason is that putting gifts out early makes kids hyper for the entire month, not just for the night before Christmas.

So, where do we keep all these gifts?  We used to have…

Shopping and Outside Christmas Lights

Today as we were coming home from church, we drove through the market area.  Since John was driving, I was able to take some pictures out the window.  One of the biggest shops here does a booming business during Christmas.  The store was jam-packed full of clothes, housewares, kids' toys, games, shoes, etc.  We have done a lot of Christmas shopping there through the years, especially for the kids.  About a month ago the shop caught on fire during the night.  This is a huge loss to the owner of this store.  It's not likely that his store was insured, but maybe it was.  I never heard if it was arson or electrical.  

Christmas lights at night are not something you see much of around here!  So this picture is not taken in our present locale and it's not even a recent picture.  I took it the Christmas of 2010 when we were living in Maryland. This is a lesson to all of you who do outdoor Christmas lights on how NOT to do it.  Personally, this is not my idea of beautiful Christma…

Joyous

Day 4's challenge was Joyous.  This isn't really a Christmas post, but it's such a joyful event I had to share it!

One of the leaders in the Christian school movement who is also a teacher at our MK school (he taught our kids French) is somebody we've known for a very long time.  He and his wife have a 15-year old son, but the years have passed and they were not able to have any more children.


So, imagine their joy when God blessed them with a son last week (well, actually nine months ago!). Most men here don't talk about their wife's pregnancy, but this guy just couldn't contain himself!


The entire family is happy and it's a blessing to share in their joy.  Yesterday we went to the naming ceremony which was held at a church.  There was a meal at their home following, but we weren't able to go as we already had something else scheduled.  The little girl in the photo is their niece who lives with them as a daughter.

We're just very, very happy for th…

Favorite Holiday Song

Today's photo challenge is Favorite Holiday Song.

It's hard to choose a favorite Christmas song.  Some of my favorites are "What Child Is This?" , "Angels We Have Heard on High", "Mary's Boy Child".  When I was a kid I loved the song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".  I'm not sure why as it isn't typical kid fare.  I still like it, but it isn't one you hear very often.  I'm featuring it today because, as a Facebook friend pointed out, the words speak to the tragic event of yesterday in Newtown, CT.  It was written in 1864, during the American Civil War, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I heard the bells on Christmas day,
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night …

Christmas Tree and Red

Today's challenge is Christmas tree.  Now, I'll have you know, we have a small tree, not a bush.  Though it's been called a bush, it just ain't so.  We LIKE our little tree!  We have a small tree for four reasons.
1.  When we first got married, that's all we could afford!
2.  Then when we came to Africa, it fit perfectly in one of our packing boxes. (This is our 2nd tree.  We finally had to throw out the first one, but it lasted almost 20 years.)
3.  We personally (and this is not a criticism of ways other people celebrate) decided that we didn't want to have a lot of big, flashy Christmas decorations.  We live in a land of poverty and try to keep things simple (though compared to many of our friends we come across as pretty rich!).  Also, the Christians here focus more on spending Christmas day together than they do on the giving of gifts, Christmas trees, and so on.  So we didn't want to do anything that they would feel they needed to do to properly celebrat…

Family and Your View Today

I'm not gonna lie......I miss family this time of year.  It's amazing how many of the things we've done for Christmas we've done because of the delight it would bring to our kids.  Without them, it just isn't as much fun.  And no matter how old I get, I still wish I could celebrate Christmas with my parents, my sister and her family, and my brother and his family.  I miss John's side of the family, too, though we usually do Thanksgiving with them so that's when we miss them the most.

So, this is my picture of family (sorry they are a bit blurry today!).....We are buying (I hope) this beautiful cupboard from another missionary who left a while back. I think it's meant for dishes, but we use it as a bookshelf and game cupboard (there are more shelves below with solid doors on them).  On this shelf are pictures of John and I when we were dating, and of Daniel and Kelly and Suz and Theo.  Atop another bookshelf are pictures of Daniel's high school and c…

Favorite Holiday Movie and A Beautiful Sight

Day 2 was your Favorite Holiday Movie.  Many of the years we spent in Africa, including when I was growing up, we didn't have a TV or any way to watch movies.  So I never saw all the traditional Christmas movies like It's a Wonderful Life.  After we got a TV and a VCR, one year we were home this movie, The Preacher's Wife, came out, so I picked up a copy. Suzanne and I love it and watch it together every year.  This year we'll have to watch it alone. * sniff, sniff*  I've since replaced the video with a DVD and plan on watching it sometime this holiday season.

I think it's well acted.  I mean, what would you expect from Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston?  There are a lot of great one-liners in it.  And I think I especially like it because it's about a preacher who is burnt out in ministry and how it affects their marriage.  I think any body in ministry can identify with a lot in this movie.  That said, the theology of angels is terrible.  The Bible nowh…

Today's Temperature and Green

Day 6, I'm skipping for now.  It's supposed to be "Shopping" and there's no way I'm going shopping right now.

Day 5 was "Today's Temperature".  This is a picture of today's indoor temperature with a nice layer of dust on the thermometer.  The high indoors was 84 and the low was 72.  Outside the high was probably 100 and the low 70.  We close all our doors and windows in the morning and it stays pretty nice inside.  I know YOU might not think 84 is comfortable, but it beats 94 in the house like it is many times of the year.  So far this "cold" season hasn't been very cold.  We should get temps in the low to mid-50's before the end of January.

Today's challenge was "Green".  John found this wine bottle in the back yard when he was digging a compost pit.  I stuck a clipping from this vine thingy in there with some water.  I hardly ever add water and I do absolutely nothing to it and it never dies.  My kind of plant…

Bright and Wrapping Paper

Day 7 of the photo challenge was "Bright".  When you live in a country that has as much desert as we have, finding bright is not hard.  In this picture, you can see the window in the background but you can't see any details of it because of the bright sunshine streaming in there.  Here is another one showing the sun shining on the floor.  In fact, the sun shines in the windows on the west side of the house so brightly, we close the windows and the curtains in the morning and it really helps to keep the temperature of the house down.

Today, Day 10, is "Wrapping Paper".  It's pretty hard to find Christmas wrapping paper here so we bring our own with us.  Whenever we are in the US during the Christmas season I try to pick up a couple of rolls during after-Christmas sales. Maybe better yet are gift bags as they can more easily be re-used.

December photo challenge

Suzanne pinned on Pinterest a photo challenge for December.  I decided to try this to give you an idea of Christmas in Niger.  It's already December 9 so I'll double up on photos for a few days.  Some of these will be challenging to get as they are concepts rather than things.


Day 8 was Ornaments.  We have a VERY small tree, so we don't have a lot of ornaments.  I got "my 1st Christmas" ornaments for Daniel and Suzanne, but have never gotten one for each year.   So I don't have many ornaments that are sentimental to me. This one is, though, because it was given to me by my friend, Waltraud.  Waltraud was from Germany and she gave this to me one Christmas.  She then moved to Benin so we didn't see each other much after that.  One year she was visiting here in Niger and we spent a little time together.  Then she headed back to Benin and within a week the Lord took her home.  She did not go through a prolonged illness....I think it was something to do with h…

Sad News

Yesterday, as I was working at my desk, I received a phone call from H.H., the young man in T----- to whom we had given the radio.  "Hello, Hannatu," he said.  "My father died in the night."

Our lives have been entertwined with those of this family for most of the 16 years we lived in that village.  At first they lived across the street from us.  The mom and I got to know each other a bit.  She was very pregnant with her 6th child when she came to me one day with the then youngest child.  He had just been kicked in the face by a donkey.  His cheek was gashed open, so I took him to the dispensary.  They scrubbed the wound out well, but had no sutures to do stitches.  When I asked for a tetanus shot for him, they said they didn't have any available.  In spite of it all, the wound never got infected, but he sports a scar on his cheek to this day.  We left for home assignment a day or two later and just a day or two after that child #6 was born.

When we returned from…