Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Christmas Day

Setting: The guesthouse living room with a Christmas Tree we put up the day before...all lights attached. We decorated all around us with festive trimmings.
Celebration 1: Barry, Terry and I all went to the Christmas service at the Bambara church. Lots of choirs, songs and celebrating Jesus' birth, tho I didn't understand much at all and it lasted about 3 hours. This service was the true celebration of Christmas for these brothers and sisters!
Gary made his traditional Christmas Chocolate covered Cordials, to the delight of all of us!
Celebration 2: Back at the house, we fixed a Big Breakfast for lunch and then opted for an afternoon nap. We decided against making a Christmas Dinner - nicer to relax.
Celebration 3: Around 5:00 p.m. someone suggested that we open our Christmas Gifts! What a novel idea on Christmas Day. We started by reading the Christmas Story from Luke and praising God for the Birth of Jesus. Each of us handed out gifts and just enjoyed watching each other open them one at a time. We were surprised at the delightful things we had found to give each other with very little shopping options! That made it even more special!
Conclusion: This was the most laid back, restful Christmas we've ever had. What memories we made!

Christmas Day

Terry and I wearing our new Christmas scarves

Baobab trees

Traveling to Mali

Have you ever had a Christmas experience you just never expected? It didn't come close to what you were invisioning? Well, this was our year for "Our Most Unusual Christmas"! That's not to say that it wasn't great, but, in fact, is was very special and memorable. Some of you know my sister, Terry and her husband, Barry...and that they are now living in Mali. So naturally when Christmas rolls around, we want to be with family if it is even remotely possible. So that's just what we did!
On December 21st, we left Makalondi, crossed the border into Burkina Faso, and sped down the highway to make good time. With only a few days to do all the "Christmas things" with my sister, we wanted to get there FAST. Not only that, but since Gary and I had been so busy, neither of us had done any Christmas shopping for each other, so we had great hopes for doing some of that when we arrived in Ouagadougou, where we would spend the night. It's a very large city and the capital of Burkina. Much to our dismay, we found out that the town was under a curfew starting at 4 pm!...Just when the stores re-open for the afternoon. We both saw our hopes for any shopping fading fast. BUT, we did have a relaxing evening just reading and resting.
Early the next morning, we drove off toward the south of Burkina to reach the city of Bobodialasso before noon. There we would have to find the Government office of Visas to get our visas extended before going into Mali (so that on our return, we could re-enter the country). All the officials were so pleasent and very soon we were off on the road to cross the border into Mali. What beautiful countryside we went through!! Plantations of Papayas, Bananas, and rice paddies in one area and then into gentle hills full of Baobab trees, each with its own personality!
Once again, pleasent officials soon had us over the borders and before long we drove into Koutiala, our destination city. We found Terry and Barry at the guesthouse, where they were temporarily living until the house they would rent, would be ready to move into. We unloaded our belongings and just enjoyed being together for supper, chatting up a storm.
Here it was, Christmas....and we were in a Guesthouse in the middle of Africa without one decoration in sight or one piece of fruitcake on the table, BUT we were just so thrilled to be together!! (I forgot to bring the fruitcake I'd made...I left it in my freezer!!!)