25-Dec-2011 05:57, Canon Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL, 5.0, 18.0mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 400

A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS!

It’s Christmas Day and here we are up at 5 a.m. getting the beef together for the Christmas church and community meal. An hour later we are sat outside chopping onions and tomatoes with the cooking team amidst an atmosphere of excitement and expectation. On the wooden fire the beef and pilau rice is being stirred in the sufarias (large cooking pots). Smells delicious and only 6 hours to go!

What a fantastic sight to see the classroom used for the Tumaini church overflowing for the Christmas day service.  O.K. apart from “We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year” we didn’t understand much of the songs but the praise and worship of the infant Christ was vibrant and joyful. No Christmas service is complete without a nativity play and we weren’t disappointed as an array of angels, shepherds, sheep, wise men,   plus Mary & Joseph came forward.  Prior to Christmas Day we had spent the previous 3 mornings with the children explaining the Christmas story and making decorations for homes as well as church. It was good to link these activities with this service using the stars we had made both adults and children wrote on the stars their promises to God and their expressions of what He means to them. These were stuck on the walls as a vivid reminder that the Saviour born 2000 years ago dwells with his people across the world today.

25-Dec-2011 09:03, Canon Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL, 4.0, 24.0mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 400

In this country of contrasts it was still somewhat bizarre to find a large musical Santa Claus outside a supermarket, to hear carols inside, to see a snowman and Christmas  tree carved in sand on the beach,  and to see Father Christmas (complete with red suit, beard and trainers) handing gifts to children in a restaurant. Away from this Western commerciality for many many children there is no magical delivery of presents.  So the fruition of many hours of wrapping small gifts ( around 240) was completed in the space of a few minutes as after church we distributed gifts of small  toy cars, pencils, pens, notebooks, jewellery, hand stitched crosses, key rings hair accessories  etc. to everyone. And of course Christmas day isn’t complete without a lollipop enjoyed by both young and old.

22-Dec-2011 09:02, Canon Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL, 5.0, 35.0mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 400

So to the meal.  Men & women sitting separately and children sitting with siblings and friends enjoying this wonderful mixture of beef, spices, expertly chopped onions and tomatoes, and pilau rice. We are in Kenya after all so of course we eat from the plate with our hands (apart from Emma who resorted to a spoon).

The afternoon is spent chatting, renewing old friendships and making new ones and also praying for someone who broke down in tears on us.

Who needs turkey? Well you can’t refuse the hospitality of an English lady living locally can you?  Whilst known to Maureen Clayton, Linda had met us only very briefly as we dropped bottled gas at her house but very generously invited us to share a Christmas meal with her plus other friends. So at 9 p.m. we were sat enjoying Turkey plus the usual trimmings and vegetables.   When we went to bed at 1 a.m. there wasn’t much time to reflect on the day as sleep beckoned. Looking back it was a day of both sharing what little we had and more lavishly under different circumstances. Our God is equally and without favour the God of the rich and poor and we will forever remember this special day with its contrasts and fun. In closing we would like to thank family & friends who generously gave so that we could finance the community meal, gifts and so much more. Thank you.

David, Maureen, Emma & Matthew (St. Lukes, Nottingham)

25-Dec-2011 10:00, Canon Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL, 10.0, 18.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400