Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Congo

December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Congo!  It was Christmas morning and nothing was stirring, not even Emmanuel.  Celebrating the season is simply different overseas.  I have begun to realize all the cultural elements surrounding Christmas and the holidays in America….from holiday pajamas to ugly Christmas sweater parties, caroling to silly songs like “Grandma got runover by a reindeer,” expensive presents and fancy parties, baking cookies and peanut brittle, making snowmen and going ice-skating…the anticipation of Advent.  I miss some of these things, especially the changing of the seasons and the smell of fresh evergreen.


Congo Christmas is full of gatherings of friends and family, lots of food (foo-foo, rice, fried plantains, salad, goat or fish), maybe a new shirt, church services with lots of loud choirs, and of course benevolence for the poor.  The carols are different, there is no predominance of the colors red and green, and people have no idea what peanut brittle is.

I made a simple breakfast of grits and bacon (a rarity here), passionfruit juice, and our very own coffee blend.  I decorated the table with fresh poinsettia which grow taller than the average person, from our yard.  We listened to some traditional Christmas carols.  After breakfast I’m off to check the chicken house for eggs.  I will make some dessert when the chickens lay eggs…no pressure chickens but get going! Then we gave Emmanuel his presents including a life-size elephant he has affectionately named “Boppie” and a play tent with a connecting tunnel.  Before church we read the   Christmas account from the book of Luke.  This year I marveled at how the response of everyone is praise and thanksgiving to God for this baby.  This is true of the angels, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the kings.  They didn’t meet this news with doubt and ridicule…it was as if God had already prepared their hearts to accept and rejoice in what they were to witness.  In the afternoon we joined the Larochelle family for a meal with some of their Congolese friends.  They bought a goat to help support a family’s needs in the community and we shared the proceeds together.  A good time was had by all! 


Our Christmas tree is about 4 feet off the ground, away from Emmanuel’s curious hands and our puppy.  I look forward to seeing the wonder in his eyes as he begins to understand some of these traditions…he is still too young.  It is fun to create our own traditions, a blending of both cultures.  Emmanuel must think that all the songs we sing this time of year are about him!   My guess is that he won’t really be exposed to Santa Claus out here.

Coffee
We are reaping the benefits of Warren’s first long-awaited coffee harvest.  We have learned that harvesting coffee is a lot of work, but quite interesting!  Actually every step in coffee growing, harvesting, preparation of the beans, and roasting is a lot of work!  I now have a great appreciation for the time that goes in to one bag of coffee from Starbucks.  I think we won’t need to buy coffee anymore, although we will accept gifts of Starbucks coffee from visitors.

Safari
We just returned from a trip to the Kenyan coast for some fun in the sun before Christmas.  It was   How much fun it was to see Emmanuel encounter the ocean tide for the first time!  He ran towards the water and then turned around when he realized the water was chasing him.  Curiosity is a strong force when you are 16months old, so he soon found himself feeling pulled (literally!) back towards We spent a lot of the day swimming in the pool.  Emmanuel is quite the socialite, making friends wherever he goes.  He gets a lot of attention with his beautiful curly blond hair, infectious smile, and cute way of saying “hi.”  Emmanuel enjoyed dancing in the evenings with some of the staff…it is really fun to see how he has no fear of crowds.  One evening he was in the circle with the lead dancer while people danced all around him. 
On stage, no fear
 

The trip was good timing as the hospital census was not very high. The steamy heat, warm Indian Ocean, and sand were relaxing.



Traveling with a small child is a challenge.  Our son is VERY active and has a strong will without much discernment.  We are learning that children are quite flexible, but really thrive on routine.  He seems to be very happy in his home, eating in his highchair, sleeping in his own bed, chasing chickens, and playing with his dog Cocoa. 


Back to the Hospital

We are back to work in the hospital after the Christmas holidays.  It’s funny but there are always people getting sick and crashing their   motorcycles.  We will always have work this side of heaven.

It is our prayer that you will hear and experience this “good news of great joy that will be for all people.”  May our hearts be filled with joy for this baby that came to redeem and renew the broken world.

Blessings and love,

Lindsey for the Coopers
A few days with our friends the Samuel family in Uganda
(he is sitting on an elephant outside Nakumatt)










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