Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More Christmas Fun

Sunday the 24th I helped lead carols at church with my girls who come over on Thursdays. I found French versions of a few familiar ones on line (O come all ye faithful, Noel noel, Angels we have heard on high, and Silent night). The songs were new for most people but the pastor had us sing them again at the end of the service, so they must have liked them OK. Here Christmas is considered by most (except perhaps those in the more liturgical churches) as a children’s holiday, so in my church the kids all sat in a special section and had some special activities and prayer. We ate cookies and peanuts afterwards

In the afternoon I took Carol with me to a theatre production I’d been invited to by some Congolese friends Nadine and Alan. Not only was the French difficult to understand, but the themes were so cultural that I could hardly understand what was going on. My translating for Carol was less than helpful, so she made up a story line in her head. The rest of the audience seemed to really enjoy it, though, and I think it was well done.

When the power went out and we could no longer see the actors (ha, ha, gotta love Brazzaville) we decided it was time to leave and have dinner with Anne and Barb, two CMA missionaries that have worked in Africa for like 25 or 30 years. Hamburgers scarfed down, we ran off to another church where my musician friend Louz had invited us to a concert…
He told me it was starting at 8pm, but when I asked what time I should get there he said a quarter to 9 :o) He said it might go as late as 11pm, which would be like my latest night out on this town! When we got there everyone seemed to already be there, choirs practicing, children and old women sprawled out on blankets in the courtyard reserving their places for the show. Carol and I sat at a table and quickly had an entourage of curious people, mostly young African men :o) Carol was like “Why are they staring at us?” “Because we’re interesting and beautiful.” “Oh.” It was fun and we had a lot of good laughs.

Finally at like 11 o’clock (!) the concert was ready to begin and some guy I’d never seen before came to fetch me and Carol and lead us to our seats. The instruments and microphones were set up just in front of the church building and everyone was sitting on the ground or standing out in the large courtyard. To our dismay he led us straight up to the front and sat us in a row of chairs behind the musicians in facing out to the enormous crowd! It would have been rude to refuse and they would not have allowed us to sit on the ground or stand the whole time, so we just had to accept the royal treatment.

We enjoyed a choir and a drama and listened while a pastor preached in a language neither of us understood. At one point a man was making announcements in an African language and suddenly I hear the words “Les Etats-Unis” which means the United States in French. Then I heard my name mentioned like 3 or 4 times!! I had no idea what he was saying but we were laughing so hard. I think he was just welcoming and blessing me and thanking me for being there. This is what it’s like to live in Congo. If you’re white, you simply cannot hide and even though you’re simply a spectator, your name gets announced in front of a thousand people. When I asked Louz about it he was like “Oh yeah, I asked him to do that.” Thanks so much. At 1:30am after we’d heard the kids program that Louz had helped put together (including writing some of the songs in his mother tongue Laari) we decided it was time to go (don’t forget Carol had just arrived the day before and that’s a long trip!). Got home at 2am and called my mommy to wish her a happy birthday. Overall, I’d say it was a very successful Christmas Eve, probably one of my busiest and definitely filled with the most cultural discoveries!

Christmas morning is my favorite morning of the year. Every year we go to my brother’s house for Swedish pancakes and baked grapefruit. I wear my PJ’s. We open copious amounts of presents. This year I did none of the above, and my family swears they ate All Bran with skim milk. I had planned to make crepes and baked pineapple which would hopefully resemble our traditional meal, but we had to set it back a day because my friend Annette was sick. So instead Carol and I ate again with Anne and Barb. Anne is pretty much a domestic goddess, so we had a delicious blueberry bake thing. She even made a cheese ball! The food and the company were both very good. Now none of my presents that were shipped to me have arrived and I confess I cried when Anne handed me my one gift of the day, a box of very tasty caramel corn :o) When I stopped by the Winter’s house to greet them, you should have seen the look on their boys’ faces when they asked what I got for Christmas as they stood in the traditional American wreckage of dozens of unwrapped presents. Guess this makes me a big girl now :o) But I will say that not having gifts doesn’t automatically make you appreciate the “true meaning of the season.” Wherever you celebrate Christmas, in whatever way, remembering Jesus is always an intentional choice.
Not long after breakfast was over, it was time to help get Anne’s little apartment ready for the 12 of us who would be eating dinner there and playing games all afternoon. A highlight of Christmas came that night when I got to call home and talk to the whole family, including aunts and uncles I haven’t heard from in a year!

On the 26th I had my traditional Christmas breakfast with Byron and Annette and Carol. My crepes turned out nothing like mom and Casey’s Swedish pancakes, but they were pretty good.

1 comment:

jeff said...

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Oregon!