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Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas, though it seems that this year it snuck up on me before I could get ready!
The first thing to do for Christmas, of course, is to get ready! We were busy right after Thanksgiving, so we didn't decorate until the 7th of December, which was Tabaski and a national holiday, therefore a day off school. John is decorating our little, tiny tree. We LIKE our little tree, and contrary to popular opinion, it is NOT a BUSH!!!

Here's our favorite little elf. She's wearing two of our Christmas stockings, decorations that Alesha made when she was a little mite, and a Santa hat.

This year for the first time ever, I got a little string of lights and hung them on our front patio. It looks very festive.

Then, of course, there was the office Christmas party but I never got any pictures of that. It was fun, though. Very low-key and laid back.

Then there was Carols by Candlelight, or as one friend quipped, Carols by Mosquito Bite. This was for the English-speaking community and was held at Sahel Academy. The nice thing about living in Niger is that you can have Christmas services outside. The highlight this year was the live creche. There was a calf, a sheep and her baby and a goat and her baby. Mary rode in on a live donkey, too. Everybody was a bit distracted when the lamb and the kid were taken from their moms for the shepherds to carry in. The mama sheep went beserk, running around in circles, bleating and trying to find her baby. They had to put the lamb and kid back and the shepherds came in without baby animals. In the picture, the shepherd on the left is holding the kid.

We also had three Christmas services at church. The first was Sunday morning before Christmas and all the Sunday School classes had special numbers. Of course, the youngest class stole the show. Here is the little Mary and Joseph. Then there was a Christmas Eve service that we opted out of. We did go to the Christmas Day service. I didn't take any pictures, but this is the church from the Sunday before. You can see all the decorations hanging from the ceiling. One of them even got caught in the fan during the message.
Before going to church we had our gift-opening and special Christmas-morning sticky buns that I stayed up late making. Again, as last year, we missed not having Daniel with year in America. About the picture...I had just gotten up, was still tired, and had a headache. What can I say?

Later in the afternoon, we went to our friends, the Chamberlains, house. They had invited a lot of people and we all brought something. The meal was great and we just sat around and talked and talked afterwards.

The men did the dishes which was really nice of them!

Naomi Brown, whose family had gone back to England in 2007, got to come back for the holidays. She was staying with the Chamberlains. Here is Naomi, Jessie, and Suzanne. Aren't they beautiful?!

Here's Suzanne having a cuddle with our neighbor boy, Tom, and reading a book to him. Family is what Christmas is all about, isn't it? Our own family here in Niger, our church family, our mission family who really do become like brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins, and our American family who we miss. I thank God so much for sending his Son so that we could be part of the family of God! Merry Christmas to each one who reads this!
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