Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas in Africa (Part I)

Christmas in July Africa

Last year, we were drinking hot chocolate, while driving through town looking at all the twinkling lights as they danced across the landscape. We were surrounded by friends and family as we attended one Christmas party after the next. Every time we stepped outside, we were met by the bitter cold. We joined the crowds and the traffic that the local malls brought. Despite the traffic, it was a great time! Our minds could only fathom the dramatic difference this Christmas would be. With every party came another goodbye. With every opened present, we stepped closer to leaving what was so familiar. 

It is amazing the dramatic changes just one year brought, as nothing has been left untouched. Our families hundreds of miles away continue to grow and change. The heat has stolen the comforts of, "Let it snow," playing in the background. We are experiencing what we could only imagine just last year. It still seems like such a blur. No lights wrapped around houses, no songs on the radio, no movies on TV, no family nearby, no winter jackets and no malls. But also, no distractions from the real Christmas. God has blessed us with a Christmas that truly centers around Him:

 We we are daily surrounded by donkeys, camels, goats and sheep. These animals remind us that He came humbly. We also can't help but imagine the sounds and smells that were in the manger that night. 

Little shepherds carefully herd their flocks by our gate everyday reminding us that it was to shepherds the good news was brought. 

A clear night's sky, untainted by city lights or any lights, shine in it's full brilliance. We might not have Christmas lights stapled to houses, but we have billions of stars pointing to our Creator.

Not having to buy gifts allows us to focus our time on Him. We miss our family, especially during this time, but what a blessing God has given to us. We get to experience Christmas in all it's splendor, and for the first time, get to focus 100% of our Christmas on Christ!

As we enjoy our first Christmas in Africa, we were able to add a little 'distraction' in our home. We found a baby papaya tree, cut it down, and found it to make a great Christmas tree.

We brought over one shoe box of Christmas decorations from America, and we sure are glad we did. 

Here's something that will make you say,"Aaawww." Each year we have been married, we have bought a new ornament that represents the theme that year. So yes, for this year we bought an ornament in the shape of Africa.

We bought this little tree at a market in Nairobi. It is make out of banana leaves and was a back up in case the live tree didnt work out. Who would have thought we would have 2 Christmas tress in Africa, when we sometimes didn't even put up 1 in America.