It has been hard in the lead up to Christmas to feel at all Christmassy. Firstly in being so far away from family, secondly the weather is just all wrong, hot bright sunshine (with a few intermittent rain showers), and thirdly it hasn’t been rammed down our throats with excessive commercialism (which was actually a nice change). Decorations and Christmas trees are only just catching on in this part of the world, so things in general are very low key, as well as only being put in at most 2 weeks before the big day.
We were enticed into festivities however by being invited to a number of different festive events. The first of which was a Christmas meal in a hotel with all the staff and families of the FH office. We felt a little out of place in being the only white faces amongst a sea of brown faces, particularly as we knew so few people at the time. On our way to the hotel I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t going to be the usual turkey roast with mince pies and Christmas crackers, particularly as that image had firmly fixed itself in my mind. Instead we had the typical Bolivian Christmas dinner – Picana, which consisted of chicken and beef, cooked in a spicy stew with veg and served with ‘Chocklo’ (corn on the cob only bigger). Sadly there were no mince pies to follow but it was an enjoyable evening all the same. We also got to see some video clips of the areas in which we are to be working which was encouraging to see the places and people.
Our next engagement was a little more of what we are used to, in singing Christmas carols with a group consisting of other missionaries who are working in Sucre. This was a very enjoyable evening as we were able to have fun and laughs, enjoy good fellowship and food, and Alana had some other little friends to play with.
Sunday evening we went to the carol service at the church which as lovely (apart from Alana being a bit grumpy as it was past her bedtime). We got to sing some more carols then the children did a number of different sketches and dances. Finally it was beginning to feel a bit more Christmassy.
Christmas eve whilst Ed was busy painting cupboards at our new house I spent the day in the kitchen helping Delphina prepare large quantities of cake and other foods. Part of the plan was to prepare some mince pies, but Delphina had not been able to get all the ingredients, so sadly this year I had to forgo my mince pies. There certainly was no shortage of other cakes however. We had planned on going back to our church for a Christmas Eve service, but time had passed to quickly. We were also then due to go to mass at 10.30 with the family, but the weather had turned stormy with heavy rain so that didn’t happen either, which in part was a blessing as we didn’t really want to have to disturb Alana for a second night.
In Bolivia Christmas day is celebrated the moment it arrives, so we struggled to keep ourselves awake the whole night, with two power cuts early on in the evening. But we made it we kept our sleepy eyes open, to drink cocktails and wish everybody a happy Christmas. We then exchanged gifts and at 1am tucked into a roast turkey dinner, finally by 2am I was allowed to head bedwards.
Not too surprisingly we didn’t feel too good the next day, so Christmas day passed in a bit of a blur, and quickly became forgotten, as Alana turned ill with sickness and diarrhoea. Having never been ill before it was a bit of a frightening time for all of us particularly when she became dehydrated. We thank God though for a good paediatrician, who in fact turned out to be the auntie of our contact person in the FH office here and who herself worked for FH some years back.
After a couple of days of medication and a simple diet of rice, carrot and chicken, she was doing much better and getting back to her normal confident, cheerful self.
New year was a much happier affair celebrating with friends at church, another late night meal, but not so late as Christmas. It was something special to be with other Christians to pray in the New Year. Being the sleepy people we are, we were very happy to be home and in bed by one, unlike the rest of our household who didn’t return till 6am.
We look forward to see what God does in and through us in 2008-01-02 Happy New Year!
The midnight meal
Nativity sesne in our hosts house
Nativity sense on one of the University buildings