Monday, December 28, 2015

Celebrating with Friends

Earlier this month, we got to experience another African first.  Ryan’s assistant had his first baby boy, a very handsome fellow.  As is the custom in this part of the world, they hosted a baby naming ceremony, which we were happy to attend.  We began by attending his church, one Sunday about 2 weeks after the baby was born.  A portion of the Sunday service was set aside to allow he and his wife to share, sing, and announce the baby’s name.  For many folks, this is the first time they share the name with anyone.  

Our friends are actually transplants from Nigeria, which is obvious from their outfits in this photo.

After the service we went back to the family’s house, where they had a big meal prepared to share.  Our friends had at least 70 guests.  We were invited to sit inside the house to eat, but most folks sat just outside the house under a giant tent.  I didn’t mind sitting inside for a little while because that meant I got to hold that beautiful baby while the family was busy greeting guests and making sure everyone was getting food and drink.  

Isn't he the cutest?

The inside of the house was a bit small for the crowd that was weaving in and out, so the kids quickly made their way outside.  Our hosts had invited drummers who were kind enough to drum us from the car to the door of the house with great eagerness.  After the kids piled back outside, they found the drummers quite entertaining.

It was a pleasure to spend a few hours helping our friends celebrate the birth of their first baby boy and it was fun getting to experience a different aspect of the culture here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Spirit

This year, we celebrate our first Christmas in Niger.  It is our 5th Christmas in a row celebrating in  different country.  Five years, five countries... that's a lot of change.  Canada, Nigeria, Ghana, America, and Niger...each year has definitely had distinct memories, with specific highlights.  We are hopeful that this Christmas will be the first of many in this place and that we'll begin a series of Christmases that could actually run together with "what year was that?" kinds of similarities.  We shall see!

We have had a really great Christmas.  One of the things we really like about this place is that we can enjoy the simplicity of Christmas in Africa, while still having a great community.  Of course, we really miss our family and friends in the States as well as the hope of snow and all of the lights and glitter.  However, we are thankful for lots of new friends and a mission family that we have been able to share lots of new traditions and fellowship with this year.

We have enjoyed Christmas music concerts at the school, caroling by candlelight in worship, hosting a movie night with 20ish high school girls and teachers, caroling around our neighborhood with other friends and then gathering for cookies and cocoa back at our house, a cookie exchange at the US Ambassador's house, a Christmas Bazaar, a Christmas festival, a party for members of our mission.  We've baked and shared 40+ dozen cookies and candies over the last 4 weeks, and had the pleasure of sharing rice and beans with some of the less fortunate folks we have met around our city.  We've had lots of fun, gotten to know many folks, and had just enough activity to keep ourselves busy, but without the frenzied pace that sometimes comes with this time of year.  It's really been a lovely holiday season.

We shared Christmas Eve with a few friends and then we have had a quiet Christmas Day at home...just us.  We are thankful for such a sweet celebration of our Savior's birth.  Here are a few pictures from this Christmas season.

Lily helped with a silly skit in the Christmas Assembly at school.  She was a lamb and she's sitting beside her friend, Rudolph, waiting for their turn on stage.
Abe enjoyed decorating cookies...especially with sprinkles.

Lots of reading and relaxing going on over Christmas Break!

The girls enjoyed getting dressed up for a Christmas tea with friends.

Abby made 25 bottles of rice and beans to deliver with a friend to folks around town.  Here they are on delivery day.

Getting ready to go to a Christmas Eve gathering.

The whole family sharing Christmas Eve fun with friends.
Excited about Christmas morning goodies.