The week of Christmas was different for me here in Africa than it would have been if I had been in the US, but it was nevertheless blessed by the Lord.

Christmas isn’t a big holiday here, but businesses do close at noon on December 24 and remain closed through December 25. On the afternoon of the 24th, I hosted my second annual party for my co-workers, this time in collaboration with the family with whom I live. Preparing spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, garlic toast, and salad for 50 people outdoors with only a charcoal stove makes for quite an adventure! I grew nervous as we fell behind my anticipated cooking schedule due to poor planning on my part, but nevertheless the family rallied and we finished the food just as the guests arrived. The party included singing, harp-playing (by me), lively conversation, sharing of blessings from the year, laughter, speeches, prayer, distribution of Scripture verse gifts, and the group photo presented here. Please pray for the impact of our testimony on our co-workers, especially those who don’t yet know Christ.

Cleanup after the party filled the hours until dinnertime, after which I was quite ready for bed. However, I was the only person sleeping in the house that night, since the family went to church for their tradition of an all-night service. When they returned in morning, we prepared and ate a meal of chicken, rice, eggs, fried potatoes, and salad, then they spent the afternoon sleeping while I worked on mending projects. That late afternoon brought a heavy rainstorm, as we’re entering the rainy season. In such cases, water leaks through the roof and windows in some places of the house. Thankfully my room is mostly watertight; please pray that my possessions, and those of the rest of the family, will remain undamaged.

I think my favorite part of our Christmas week was actually the gathering Bonif√°cio hosted here on the previous Saturday morning. He invited several poor elderly people of his acquaintance to receive gifts of food and clothing items he had lovingly prepared for them, along with a very encouraging message from Scripture about the mighty ways God can work through elderly folks who might have thought their usefulness in this life was finished. I was deeply inspired, both by his discourse and by the grateful guests’ comments, to remain faithful to the Lord through the end of my life.

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