Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Kenya

I’m not fond of snow. But Christmas without snow is still a bit difficult to get used to. Getting a bit of sunburn the day before Christmas Eve felt weird and wonderful all at the same time.

On Monday afternoon I met some of the ladies from the Chronological Bible Study at the newest restaurant in Karen, called Dari. It sits in a beautiful garden just off Ngong Road. While the service was complete crap, my hot chocolate was divine and the scenery was fabulous. And my friend Kim invited me for Christmas Eve lunch! YEAH! I had already been invited for Christmas Day dinner at my Canadian friend, Jana’s home, but had been hoping for another invitation!

Kim is an America. She and her husband, Joe, are missionaries here and have two adorable children Sophia and Theo. They had friends and neighbors over so there were about 15 of us. It was a nice relaxed sit where you want kind of lunch. Milly tried some new foods. Pork is not a winner in her book. But she is a huge fan of pumpkin pie and wants to know why we don’t make it. Well, there is no such thing as frozen pie crusts and pumpkin from a can here…my friend Kim had made her pies from scratch, including cooking the pumpkin. I told Milly she could go to Kim’s to make pumpkin pies!

Judie opted out of all holiday celebration. She is an introverts, introvert. She recently got a job as a nanny, so she said she just wanted to stay at home. In her defense the people she nanny’s for were invited to the same Christmas day party we were, so I can’t blame her for wanting some down time from her charge, although he is a cut little bugger. His name is Zikomo. He is 8 months old. Every time we have Tamara and Zikomo together we tell them they were destined to be together.

After lunch at Kim’s I headed to Nairobi Hospital to see Josephine, my downstairs neighbor. She has some issues with her back and has lots of pain. She was in the hospital in Karen a few months ago and then went in again this past Sunday. Her son, Martin, was in the compound in the morning so I asked if I could go with him to visit his mom. He was glad for the company. When we arrived Josephine was being moved from her bed in the common ward to a bed in a private room. Martin and I helped pack her up. As we were moving her into her new room another patient, a white woman, passed us in the hall. I spent about an hour with Josephine before another friend of hers arrived. As I was leaving her room, I ran into Joep, a member of my church who is a development worker from the Netherlands. He was on his way to visit Esther, the woman I’d seen earlier in the hall. Esther is a friend of Joep’s sister. She is a volunteer in Niger, where she was involved in a bad horseback riding accident and had to be flown to Kenya for an operation. Joep had never met Esther before and I decided since I was already there I would go visit Esther with Joep. It was a nice visit. And I promised to send Esther some baked goods with Martin the next day. I also introduced her to Josephine as they were both going to be in hospital on Christmas, they might as well know another person nearby to spend a few minutes with to celebrate the day.

I loved the food and fellowship at Kim’s but I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the spirit of Christmas than by visiting people in the hospital. How lonely it must be to be in pain and alone and have no one with whom to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

Joep gave me a ride to where he turned off to go toward his home and I hopped on a matatu that smelled of the usual Saturday early evening perfume of body odor, booze and cigarettes. I prayed my way home as I usually do when I will get home after dark. God is good.

Tamara in her 11-month old adorableness, was a hit at both parties. Have I mentioned she’s walking! 

Mobile Tamara at 11 months.
She walked at 11 months and 2 days. She now has two nicknames, Houdini and Hoover. We really don’t need to sweep, we just waits until she puts whatever is on the floor in her mouth and then we take it out of her mouth. Better than having to deal with a vacuum bag!

Anyway on Christmas got up and made pancakes for my girls and then headed to church because I was responsible for the welcome team (ushers), who were made up of new recruits because this was not a Sunday service. Which meant I needed to do most of the seating. The auditorium we meet in has a capacity of maybe 250, if you squeeze them in. After most of the seating was done, I did a head count…not counting some of the kids, I came up with 350+ people. Needlesstosay, I didn’t get to hear much of the program.

We went home after church and at about 2 in the afternoon, I woke Tamara up from a nap and we went with my friend Wendy and her two children to Jana’s house. Jana had invited people to arrive starting at around 3p.m. We played games and sang Christmas Carols and visited with the approximately 40 quests until 7p.m. when we finally sat down to eat. The food was marvelous, but Tamara, who had only slept about 40 minutes, was grouchy so I couldn’t really enjoy my food. Milly was supposed to come join us after a friends party but couldn’t find Jana’s in the dark, (she was supposed to come much earlier) so we had to pick her up on the road after rounds of desserts and a conga line that threaded its way through the house. It was a Canadian Christmas, so in true British/Canadian tradition, we all pulled crackers and put on our paper hats, and read our jokes to one another. 

Mine went like this: “What did Adam say to Eve the day before Christmas?”
“It’s Christmas, Eve!”

In those crackers is also a little charm…mine was a snowflake! 
My snowflake cracker pendent.
God has a funny way of always reminding one where ones heart is. To my parents, family and friends back in the states (those of you in the snow especially). I love you and miss you!
Merry Christmas and may you have a blessed New Year!

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