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Christmas Celebrations, Part I

We've got it good in Tera because we celebrate Christmas twice. We have a church Christmas celebrated Nigerien style and a family Christmas celebrated American style.

Christmas Eve was a Sunday, so we had church and Sunday school as usual. Then we had a nice curry dinner, a Christmas Eve tradition for us. After a short rest, the preparation for the Christmas feast began. I'll spare you the slitting-of-the-goat's-throat pictures, but here are two of my friends cutting up the meat. When it was all cut we kept it refrigerated until the next day when it was cooked into a delicious sauce. That night John went to a 10-12 p.m. service at one of the other churches. He got there and found nothing planned and he ended up having to give the message without any advanced preparation or warning.

On Christmas Day we were up early getting things ready. John and some of the men finished preparing the cornstalk shelter that serves as our church. Then he made three trips to Doumba to pick up the women and children...the men walked the four miles to Tera. Because of all his driving back and forth, the service started late. But waiting for things to start is more normal than abnormal here in Niger. Once we got started we had lots of singing, prayers, and an excellent message in Songhai by John with a Gourmantce translation. The children in our group were not very well behaved, unfortunately. Maybe it's because they were sitting on the ground, squished together with no room to move. Maybe it's because they were hyper with excitement. Maybe just because they're naughty children in need of a Saviour! Probably a combination of all the above. We were thrilled that one of the Tera Six attended the service and ate with us afterwards. Also in attendance were the wife and two sisters of one of the believers.

After the service we walked the nearly 1 mile distance back to our house. Our yard soon filled up with over 100 people. Some were the ladies doing the cooking, but most were people who had attended the service. The women served a delicious sauce and rice and "maaka" (maccaroni) on huge serving trays. A group of people, such as men, boys, teen boys, women, gathered around each tray and ate with their hands. Doing dishes was pretty simple! In this picture you can see Daniel, Jeremy, and Soumeyla enjoying their dinner. Again, the children were so naughty that we kicked them out of the yard as soon as they ate so we could have a little peace and quiet.

The men and a few kids spent the afternoon watching a video and the women and I listened to Bible stories on cassette. Later we had a snack of peanuts fixed three different ways (raw in the shell, roasted in the shell, and ash peanuts) and "treetop" (Kool-aid) to drink. In the late afternoon John made three more trips returning the tired, full, happy Doumba folks to their homes. We were tired, too, and I had a raging headache by then and John was just plain old exhausted.

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