Wednesday, January 5, 2011

tis the season of . . . Anticipation

As I thought about our Christmas season in Sudan, the word that came to me was anticipation.  This season marks a year since we have moved to Africa.  Last Christmas, we were in Birmingham, AL.   Both of our families came to visit us and participated in helping wrap up our lives in the US, pack, and eagerly anticipate with great joy and fear our move to Sudan in early January.

The year was filled with anticipation as we awaited supply trucks to come from Nairobi carrying supplies for the construction, as we watched our fence being built to secure a home for the orphans, as we laid our first brick to begin Hope for Sudan, as we little by little made our home and anticipated building our permanent home, as we anticipated the arrival of the land cruiser, as we eagerly anticipated  the end of the rainy season so we could bring the land cruiser to the compound,  as we anticipated the arrival of our diamonds, AND as we came full circle and again anticipated the celebration of the coming of baby Jesus.

In the first few months of living in Sudan and in anticipation of all these events, I sensed my soul begin to loose sight of the beauty and value in the simplicity of our every day pioneering life.  I was encouraged to keep my focus on what the Lord wanted to teach me in each moment of each day. My soul began to come alive as I became still . . . waited, listened, and observed the people, events, and life around me.  The anticipation I felt was exciting, but it was in the small "happenings" of daily, simple life in the beginning stages of Hope for Sudan that began to deepen and enrich my soul.

In part of my anticipation of Christmas in Sudan, I thought about some traditions we could begin as a family.  Before leaving Alabama, I made an Advent Christmas tree to count down in anticipation the birthday of Jesus.  In the evenings, Abigail crawled up in Kevin's lap as he read the advent scriptures and then excitedly put the numbers on the tree.  As we have anticipated and made many preparations for our "babies" to come to Hope for Sudan, in celebrating advent, we shared in the experience of the Israelites anticipating and preparing for the coming of baby Jesus. 

I had a Masai man in Nairobi make our 6 ft. Christmas tree out of banana fibers.  Abigail and I made decorations and we squeezed it into our tent.

 Abigail enjoyed opening some gifts from family. 

She saw the ball on the Santa hat, got excited, and said "ball".  She LOVES balls!

With every pump by hand to get water from our well, we anticipated the arrival of our electric pump.  On Christmas Eve, Kevin, missionary Phillip Byler, and some of our workers spent the day installing a new electric pump and erecting a water storage tower!

Christmas morning, I ran over to the dormitory to capture the moment of our children receiving their first set of new clothes on Christmas.  I didn't know how significant this was until we took a drive into town later that day. We passed by people that, the rest of the year, wore filthy tatered rags.  It felt like we were driving through a card with almost everyone we passed, having new, very bright and clean clothes and shoes.  They experience great joy to wear bright beautiful clothes for that one day a year.  

As the kids dressed, they anticipated going to church under the mango tree to celebrate Jesus' birth . . . and to show off their new clothes and shoes!  Abigail greeted them all and then placed her chair right in the middle.

The kids  formed a dance group and they presented us with song and dance.

Kevin told the Christmas story. 

 In the evening, two Catholic missionary priests, Father Harold and Father Sylvester from the US came with some local youth to show an animated video of the birth of Jesus.


The priests brought coloring sheets of Mary holding baby Jesus and crayons.  This was probably the first time any of the children had held a crayon.  The kids caught on quickly and colored beautiful pictures!

The priests, Romano, his wife Susan and boys shared a Christmas meal of grilled meat, mashed potatoes, deviled (angel) eggs, and pineapple upside down cake with us around our table.

 The season was a beautiful celebration of the many anticipations of the year and culminating the year in anticipation of the coming of our Lord!

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